Anyone who has ever sat on a sales team might liken it to a cruel game of red rover. In case you've blocked this childhood pastime out of your memory (and we wouldn't blame you!), it's the one where you have to run really fast and bust through a human chain. While you kind of strategized about who you thought was the weakest link, it was shocking that sometimes the littlest guy in class was the most resilient and the biggest guy turned out to have weak wrists. Who knew?

As a salesperson, you try to bust through human chains every day. You thought that one potential customer was a shoo-in and now he's fallen off the face of the planet. Then there was that other one you humored with a phone call and, miraculously, he converted 24 hours later.

Sales can feel like a big game with no rhyme or reason. But the more data you are given, the more you can accurately predict the outcome of your efforts. As the New Year approaches and we look for fresh ways of managing our teams more efficiently, consider predictive marketing.

Mintigo is the intelligent data brain for lead generation, marketing automation, and CRM,, and has partnered with industry A-listers like Oracle Marketing Clouds's Eloqua system, Salesforce, and LinkedIn. "We as CMOs have to embrace data," says president and CMO John Bara. "It is the most vital tool we have to use in customer conversion and conversation." Here are John's top tips for scoring your customer leads and predicting your best bets:

Develop a Customer DNA

This isn't just a fancy way of saying "know your target demographic." Your target demographic might be "women between the ages of 20 and 30 who care about animals." But what is the customer DNA of each individual woman? What type of animal is her favorite? What websites does she look at? What charities is she involved with? What are her professional interests?

By developing an in-depth analysis of each lead, you'll be able to spot similarities and target very niche marketing segments for a higher conversion.

Rate Your Customers and Follow Up With the Best Ones

According to Forbes, 71 percent of leads are wasted by not following up. Some companies receive thousands (or even millions) of leads every year--so how do you swiftly and efficiently follow up with all of them?

First of all, a good percentage of them are not your target customer--so you don't want to spend a lot of time on those. By using lead scoring, your sales team can make sure to follow up first with those most likely to buy--maximizing the conversion of good leads into customers.

Cross-Market Your Products

Don't take the easy way out and market every product to everyone. As noted by, if you give people too many options, they usually become overwhelmed and don't choose at all.

By creating a database of your customer DNA, understanding their business, and keeping track of the products they already have, you can target the individual in the best way to know they will convert.

Marketing and sales is less like red rover and more like chess. It's important to remember that it's not a raging free for all--converting customers is about using logic and strategy. You can only strategize when you have data. Now go play!