Sales and the Art of Data Storytelling

by   |   October 23, 2015 5:30 am   |   0 Comments

Nikki Wegner, Vice President, Regional Sales, Gamut

Nikki Wegner, Vice President, Regional Sales, Gamut

The digital landscape has expanded rapidly in recent years, catapulting the amount of data available and simultaneously showcasing the potential power of this information. When Cox Media Group launched Gamut, we set out to leverage data to better understand this landscape and drive the sales approach. The idea was to use data to inform the entire sales lifecycle, from recommendations and interactions with potential clients to analyzing the results of executed campaigns.

This data-driven approach has significantly impacted performance, though it came with its fair share of challenges. The main challenge was mastering the art of data storytelling and creating a narrative that could speak to non-data-savvy audiences. We were faced with an internal and external communications quandary: How do we communicate data internally so our sales team feels confident referencing the information, and communicate our data story externally in a way that is easily digestible for clients of all sizes and levels of data sophistication?

Turning to Technology

Gamut’s work focuses on aligning planning with research, inventory, and execution in a single, smart service offering. For this to be successful, it was important for our sales team, along with the rest of the company, to be confident in their use of data. But sales teams typically have little data analysis experience, which creates a steep learning curve. The same challenge exists on the client side. Without knowing the comfort level the audience has with data, it is vital that we present our insights in an easily consumable format.

To address this issue, Gamut turned to technology. We needed the ability to cross-reference multiple datasets (including proprietary and third-party data), as well as a tool to communicate the data stories we uncovered. We found that, without a vehicle to help communicate data insights, the power of this information was lost. In turning to technology that helped us craft a data narrative, we were able to drastically improve our success rate, and we have gained access to new clients that we might not have otherwise.

Crafting Our Narrative

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Gamut’s strategy to create an insightful data story is rooted in the analysis of several sources of information. The company subscribes to several datasets – including a healthy mix of information, methodology, and demographics – that help us derive interesting data stories about a prospect’s target audience or market potential. This information is used to fuel our sales pitch, as well as our planning and execution stages for any digital media campaign.

To help our internal team adjust to this process, we looked to technology that could standardize the data-analysis process and provide one common platform to review all of the data to which we subscribe. One of the tools we use to solve this challenge is Rhiza, an online data analysis platform with the ability to create presentations and visualizations quickly. The technology enabled us not only to identify key intersections from large, disparate datasets, but also to standardize the process of creating a data narrative, making it a much more autonomous task for our entire sales team.

Using Rhiza also enables us to visualize the intersecting insights easily, creating a data story not just with numbers but with compelling graphics. This has become core to our sales pitch. We use the information we uncover in conjunction with the client’s goals and objectives to inform our recommended media curation intended to reach a target audience in the most effective way. Through the use of visuals, both our sales team and our prospects have been able to better understand the information they are seeing, and sales has been able to leverage that knowledge during the execution phase to achieve maximum results.

Data-Driven Sales

The use of storytelling has become a particularly important part of our sales process, as we have been able to differentiate our approach through the data insights we are able to offer. We have found that the knowledge we uncover often is unknown to the prospect, and the data narrative has really helped to showcase our value as a partner.

There is a clear correlation between the success of our sales team and our ability to effectively communicate a data story both internally and to prospective clients. Our top sellers are the ones who work with the data teams the most, in both the pre- and post-sales processes. We have found that incorporating data into the full sales lifecycle is the key to maximizing results. Thanks to research, the average revenue per seller increased 51 percent year-over-year (so far), and it has resulted in 26 percent of new business account revenue so far in 2015.

Overcoming the challenge of communicating data insights has become the driving force of our sales approach. Our sales team is equipped with the tools to incorporate data and research into their pitch, and this has made them smarter about their clients and their consumers. The ability to communicate our data narrative through a carefully defined story has allowed us to unleash the power of combining sales and data analysis.

Nikki Wegner is Vice President, Regional Sales at Gamut (smart media from Cox).

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