How Big Data’s Weird Correlations Can Save Sales Recruitment

The Wall Street Journal published a very interesting piece recently uncovering some of big data’s big, weird findings.

For example, David Elkington, the chief executive of Inc., combined lunar data with his own data to find that deals closed during a new moon are, on average, 43% bigger than when the moon is full.

How does this impact your sales hiring? When asked the value of his insights, Eglinton unknowingly described the inherent problem with sales recruiting today, “People think they are totally self-controlling, unique animals, and in reality we are affected by micro and macro trends.” In the same way is exploring data for sales productivity, sales hiring tools are utilizing big data to assess micro and macro impacts on the recruitment process.

Three reasons these types of insights can save sales recruiting:

  1. Gut feel isn’t working – Until recently, management has resorted to using their “gut feel” when hiring, with little data to back their decisions. Although there’s a lot we don’t yet know about big data, one thing is for sure, sales recruiting is troubled without it. Successful hiring rates are hovering around chance and a failed hire is coming with a $114,957.00 price tag.
  2. You can now test anything – With the advent of people analyticssales recruiting tools today offer the ability to test many factors for correlation, very quickly. To that end, combining public and private data for hypothesis testing has never been so affordable. Many hiring tools today offer tiered pricing, evening the playing field for mom-and-pop pizzerias and Fortune 500 companies alike. In a very competitive marketplace for top sales talent, big data insights can equal big cost savings for early adopters.
  3. Big data answers questions – Anthony Goldbloom, chief executive of Kaggle Inc. explains, “The more hypotheses you can come up with—hypothesis after hypothesis after hypothesis—the more ways you have of finding things that other people don’t find.” Want to know the recipe for a top performer is at your company? Maybe it’s GPA, maybe it’s their tendency to provide constructive criticism, maybe it’s their number of twitter followers. You can test for that.

A word of caution from one big data enthusiast to another – as always, correlation should not be mistaken for causation. While there are many intriguing correlations out there, for example, 72 percent of people who dislike licorice understand HTML, that doesn’t mean Codecademy is pushing down Twizzler sales. Data insights are only as valuable as the context in which they are evaluated against defined goals.

In the case of sales recruitment these goals include the ability to reduce ramp up time, lower turnover and increase sales productivity. Nicely put by ZestFinance Chief Executive Douglas Merrill, “Machine learning isn’t replacing people.”

It’s helping them.


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Kayla Kozan

Kayla Kozan

Director of Marketing at Ideal
Kayla spent the last few years studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship on 3 different continents. Now covering the latest in predictive analytics, workplace diversity and big data. She has a keen interest in tech and discovering underrated brunch spots.
Kayla Kozan