analyzing the right customer data can help reveal market trends and bolster sales efforts

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The conventional sales funnel exceeded its usefulness a long time ago, roughly when the Internet gave us the ability to gather our own information about vendors, products and services. Without the necessity of contacting a salesperson, individuals and businesses could eliminate the middleman in the information exchange, waiting to expose their interests much closer to decision time.

The result was sales cycle compression and more emphasis on getting a good deal. Another result was more focus on price, which most sales institutions regard as anathema, because a sales effort is all about proving higher value and commanding a better-than-commodity price.

Naturally, this turn of events has driven software vendors to discover or invent ways to gather intelligence about markets and customers even before they tip their hands. The popular lingo sometimes used to describe this is trying to gather information “above the funnel.” This means capturing data and turning it into information that marketers can use to drive interest, even if they can’t turn a marketing qualified lead, or MQL, over to sales in the moment.

In the process, we’ve witnessed the growing importance of the marketing funnel, something that’s analogous to, but at the same time different from, the sales funnel.

The Great Leveler

There’s an almost Heisenbergian quality to this. You might recall that the quantum physicist Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle states that the mere act of measuring something on the atomic level is enough to alter its behavior.

By extension, you could worry that tracking customers’ anonymous early clicks could be enough to put them on different journeys, but that would be misplaced. People…