Whether you’re running a small sales team or heading up a massive company, data-driven business decisions make all the difference. By looking at verified and analyzed data rather than simply relying on a gut feeling, you can make the best choices for your organization.

Amber Anderson, co-founder and head of strategy at Tote + Pears, says that data-driven decisions can be a key differentiator in a crowded market and can end up paying dividends when you take the right approach. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Anderson’s advice for making data-driven decisions that help you focus on opportunities that matter.

Make data a priority. For the most effective approach, Anderson says it’s important to prioritize data-driven decision making from the top down. Your team must clearly define what you’re trying to achieve and then find data that supports and aligns with the goals you identify. Your company culture should reflect a data-driven strategy through research-based features and services, customer surveys and detailed analysis that produces justifiable insights. When you incorporate these elements, you ensure that your team is working from a place of focus and value, which produces constructive results.

Gather the data. While you might be on board with making data-driven decisions, you first need the data. This data can come from a variety of places depending on the size of your organization. Look to systems, reports, surveys, research, dashboards and your customers or team. Turn to these resources to learn more about your market so you have the right information at the right time. Anderson says that although it is tempting to collect all the data on relevant topics, it’s more effective to keep specific questions in mind. This ends up saving you time, money and resources.

Identify and address biases. Remember that data is just one part of the equation. Your team must also understand how to implement it. Anderson notes that implicit and explicit biases can sometimes prevent your team members from making the right data-driven decisions, which hinders business growth. To address biases before they interfere, try embedding diversity and inclusion initiatives in your organization. By taking measures to ensure your company values diverse perspectives, you can help reduce the chances of biases getting in the way of business.

Discuss your findings frequently. Anderson encourages leaders to put a system or process in place to collect and manage data. Set aside time to review new opportunities and insights as a team. In these meetings, talk through the data and how it can potentially help move the business forward.

Hire a consultant. Anderson says it’s helpful to bring in an expert to facilitate a meeting and train your staff. If you want to learn how to see things differently, call on a consultant who specializes in your field or market to perform a SWOT analysis or a brand audit.

Gut instinct is no longer enough if you want to remain competitive and position your company for success. Use the tips above to put data at the heart of your decision making.

Source: Amber Anderson is the co-founder and head of strategy at Tote + Pears, a female-focused, full-service agency. She works with tech companies, marketers and employers to help widen the lens that women are seen through and better understand the complexity and diverse needs of women.