How to turn your email data into a Gold Mine

As a VP of Sales, you probably have dozens and dozens of sales reps reporting to you. Each of these sales reps interacts with customers and prospects on a daily basis, most likely via e-mail. Now if you take a moment to combine these customers, you’re looking at anywhere from 10s of thousands to 100s of thousands of contacts. You know firsthand that these customers are incredibly important, but they’re also valuable assets in the most literal sense of the word. Since your reps probably don’t take the time to enter these contacts into the CRM database, you’re essentially throwing money out the window. Within this massive corpus of email messages is a compilation of your company’s prospect and customer contact info – a hidden treasure.

Popularity of Corporate E-mail Communications

Whether you prefer to communicate with your clients using Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes, e-mails represent one of the largest repositories of unstructured data in the enterprise. In 2014 alone, there were 991 million corporate e-mail accountsRadicati Group Inc., a technology market research firm, estimated that corporate accounts were responsible for sending an average of 114.3 billion e-mails on a daily basis. By 2016, they project that number to be 143.8 billion – that’s roughly a 25% increase! With these numbers, it’s no wonder that corporations make up most of the e-mail traffic in the world.

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Transforming Data Into Business Intelligence

But these piles of e-mails are far more than just impressive numbers – they can become Business Intelligence (BI). That’s exactly where Data Mining comes in. But since we’re focusing on e-mails, we’ll refer to it as E-Mail Mining, which is an application of Text Mining. With E-Mail Mining, we can begin processing this accumulated, unstructured data and make sense of it as structured information. In other words, we’re transforming this seemingly useless and mundane unstructured data into something meaningful that in the end will benefit your company. The result is Business Intelligence.

Observe The Shelf Life of Data

Steve Adler, the Chief Information Strategist at IBM, was wise to point out that while data may have intrinsic or potential value, it’s essentially useless if it sits idle. His human labor analogy best illustrates this point: “A human being at rest generates no economic labor value for which a wage may be provided…Data at rest, in a database or in a document, has no productive value.”

Since data has a shelf life, you’ll want to act quickly while the information is viable. Archiving every e-mail doesn’t guarantee an increase in your potential for value. On the contrary, the abundance of e-mails will create an exponentially growing database. Only through transforming this cluttered data into structured information will you have a purpose for keeping e-mails. In the end you can profit from the information because you’ll retrieve exactly what you need, when you want it. This could be mentions of events, locations, meetings, proposals, RFP responses, people’s names, email addresses, currencies, or percentages.

Leverage Existing Email Communications

The key to making your sales organization more productive and efficient is already in your hands. The hardest part is out of the way… you’ve established long-term relationships with customers and documented all of it in volumes of email communications. Now it’s time to make use of those e-mails and uncover the precious information.