WSJ on “The Data-Driven Rebirth of a Salesman”

Last week, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Shira Ovide of the Wall Street Journal wrote a great article on predictive sales technologies. Their comparison of Willy Loman from “Death of a Salesman” to modern data-driven salespeople really brings home how much has changed for reps in the world of big data. If you don’t have time to peruse the full story, here are some key excerpts:


“Silicon Valley startups are automating sales departments for a shot at the more than $23 billion companies spend each year on sales software. Some of these startups mine sales staff emails, calendars, social-media feeds as well as news articles and customer databases for patterns that help them predict the likelihood of a sale or the behavior of potential buyers.…The combination of predictive smarts and automation promises to push sales into a new era of data-driven efficiency, just as it has fields as diverse as advertising and professional sports.

“Sales offers possibly the biggest opportunity today in adding [artificial] intelligence in the enterprise,” said Mike Dauber, a partner with venture-capital firm Amplify Partners who has invested in the new generation of sales tools.

This emerging technology addresses a growing desperation among sales professionals, particularly those targeting businesses rather than consumers. Buyers increasingly bypass the sales middleman to research and buy directly online. This shift will cost many U.S. sales workers their jobs in the next five years, Forrester Research Inc. estimated. To stay viable, sales departments are looking for a digital leg up from companies such as Infer Inc.,, Hoopla Software Inc., ClearSlide Inc., Leadspace, 6Sense Insights Inc. and SalesPredict Inc…”

If you have a subscription to the Journal, you can log in and read the complete article here.

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