Guest Column | May 1, 2018

4 Steps To Succeeding In The Insights Economy

By Bonnie Crater, Full Circle Insights

Field Service Planning

Today’s software vendors say they have a “data-driven strategy,” meaning they understand how large a role data plays in understanding customers and driving market share gains. But most aren’t aware data is the basic component driving a profound shift in the market, a change that may require the perspective of years to fully appreciate: the emergence of the Insights Economy.

When a big change is happening, it’s usually easier to see the trees than the forest. That was true at the dawn of the Industrial Age, and it’s true today as the Insights Economy unfolds. Exciting developments such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are “trees” in this scenario: important in their own right but also a part of something much larger that is hidden in plain sight.

AI tools are game changers, but as sophisticated as they are, it’s important to keep in mind they are computer programs. If the data an AI tool takes in is wrong or incomplete, the insights it produces won’t be of much use in customer outreach or product development. That’s why marketers must ensure the way they collect, standardize, and update data produces clean, actionable information.

It’s also incredibly important for marketing and sales teams to collaborate closely to produce insights. That means they need a single source of data truth that resonates with sales and marketing, such as Salesforce, which functions as the de facto revenue reporting system at many companies. With high-quality data that is credible across business units, software companies can take these steps:

  1. Planning: In this step, marketing and sales work together to identify revenue goals using historical data to determine the average deal size, lead volume, and velocity required to succeed. Accessing quality data from past campaigns, they can identify conversation rates and accurately predict how many leads to generate, optimal sales cycle lengths, and other factors needed to reach their goals.
  1. Achieving: Creating a feedback loop is the goal in this step. Marketers analyze campaign performance data to ensure they’re on track to achieve the objectives outlined during the planning stage. For example, a “you may also like” product recommendation campaign can be analyzed to see if it’s generating returns at the targeted rate. If not, marketing can tweak the approach.
  1. Optimizing: During this step, marketers adjust processes to continuously improve campaign performance. As data flows in, they study it to identify bottlenecks such as snags in the handoff from marketing to sales. Then they address any issues uncovered to ensure the campaign proceeds more smoothly, measuring results to quantify progress along the way.
  1. Evaluating: In this step, marketers determine which campaigns generated the greatest returns overall. Messaging, channels, and other factors are evaluated so that future campaigns can be planned according to proven results. Data generates insights in this phase, delivering the most valuable work product in the Insights Economy.

The fact software companies are talking about “data-driven strategies” recognizes the value of insights. Data isn’t valuable in a vacuum — it’s valuable because it is the raw material from which insights are derived. That’s why more marketing departments are consolidating data on a single platform and collaborating closely with sales — they recognize the need for a single source of data truth.

A common solution stack that includes the company’s CRM system enables closer collaboration, and marketing and sales teams that work together to plan, achieve, optimize, and evaluate campaigns can steadily improve the quality of their data and increase the efficiency of their processes over time. When both teams are on the same data platform, they trust each other more and achieve better results.

As technologies like AI become an integral part of sales and marketing strategies, there will be a tendency to focus on the technology rather than the power that drives it: data. Software companies that understand the link between data quality and performance gains can use these four steps to ensure that they’re constantly growing and refining data. That’s what it takes to succeed in the Insights Economy.

About The Author

Prior to joining Full Circle Insights, Bonnie Crater was a five-time vice president of marketing and executive at many software companies in Silicon Valley. Bonnie held vice president and senior vice president roles at Genesys, Netscape, Network Computer Inc.,, Stratify, Realization, and VoiceObjects (now Voxeo). A ten-year veteran of Oracle Corporation and its various subsidiaries, Bonnie was vice president, Compaq Products Division and vice president, Workgroup Products Division. In 2013, Bonnie was named one of the “100 Most Influential Women” by the Silicon Valley Business Journal, in 2015 the Sales Lead Management Association named her one of the “20 Women to Watch” and in 2016 Diversity Journal honored her as one of the “Women Worth Watching.” Bonnie holds a B.A. in biology from Princeton University.