Bad Sales Intelligence is Bad; Bad Metadata is Worse

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A lot of companies struggle with bad data. They don’t have enough of it, or if they do it’s out of date, not well-organized or both. As Trish Bertuzzi with The Bridge Group stated last week in an excellent blog post,

“Bad data is probably handicapping your team by at least 25%.”

“Your email campaigns are bouncing, your LeadGen & Sales Reps are spending time looking for the right guy and all this is adding up to a lot of non-selling time.”

But even if you’re actively managing the data, do you have the right metadata analysis to make it useful?

In simple terms, metadata is “data about data.” It’s the information that database admins, researchers, and content managers use to define and organize “stuff” into usable “chunks.” Metadata is about categorization, retrieval, and filtering, but even more importantly it’s about relevancy.

Metadata processes are often just as important as the “actual” data, because metadata largely determines the scope of applicability. A poll claiming that “86% of those surveyed are opposed to increased accountability in paying child support” (the data) doesn’t mean much if the 300 people surveyed are all deadbeat dads (the metadata).

As I mentioned last week, the story, or narrative we tell ourselves is often more important than our circumstances. Metadata analysis is about having the data to tell us the right stories. It’s about preventing group think, denial, and other delusions of evidential circumstance.

For example, your CRM might report that close rates on hotel and hospitality accounts are 17% higher than close rates on medical accounts—but is that really the whole story? If medical reps’ targets are typically VP- and C-level, but hotel reps are targeting direct local managers, does that change the story on the discrepancy in close rates? Maybe, maybe not, but acting on the “17% higher close rates” takes on an entirely different dynamic when the metadata context is taken into account.

The reason a lot of intelligent, successful people are shouting about the need to align marketing and sales isn’t because it’s the “Sales 2.0 buzzword dujour,” it’s because failing to “close the loop” kills the metadata contexts of marketing data, and hampers sales’ ability to act on it.

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