The constant stream of data that surrounds us today undoubtedly has the capacity to transform the way that we do business. We have access to unprecedented amounts of information about our target accounts/companies, prospects, and our competitors, which has the power to drive businesses forward in ways that we could have scarcely dreamt about just a few years ago.
Having an abundance of raw data on its own, however, will never be of much value without relevance and effective analysis.That means having a laser focus on collecting data on specific areas of your business, your industry sector, and your prospects behavior; crucially, it also means deploying the right analytical tools to produce actionable insights from the information gathered. Only then can data begin to inform your lead generation strategy, enhance the quantity and quality of marketing touches entering your marketing funnel, and ultimately increase the number of closed sales to the benefit of your bottom line.
I believe there are three key types of data that marketing and sales teams should focus on:Company, personal, and behavioral. Let’s take a look at them in more detail and consider some of the top tools to get the best out of your data.
In the B2B space it’s vital to keep up to date with developments within your key target accounts. Tracking the latest news, financial data, and company contact data from client and target companies will go a long way toward maintaining relevancy with the prospect. There are a number of free and pro tools that you can use including:
- Google Alerts – A free and straightforward method to set up automatic notifications on any topic you choose. The service will deliver an email when new content is published that matches your search terms.
- LinkedIn–Keep up to date with prospect companies by connecting on LinkedIn or by monitoring the Mentioned in the News Feature in the news feed. Not a perfect tool, by LinkedIn’s own admission, their algorithms might not pick up every news item about your prospect, but still, it is another free way to view company news.
- InsideView–Premium targeted intelligence platform that promises accurate, actionable data from its proprietary MTV technology (Multi-sourced, Triangulated, Validated).
- Crunchbase – Premium platform for the discovery of trends and news about prospect companies.
We talk about selling to companies in the B2B world, but we need to remember we are actually selling to real people at those companies. We need to know what makes those people tick and uncover their personal interests so that we can build a true relationship.
That means finding out personal things like their favorite sports team, hobbies, interests, family make up i.e. are they single or married with kids etc.
While many companies have gone to great lengths to build our robust persona profiles, nothing replaces personal data when it comes to building a real relationship. The average person only spends a 3rd of our life at work with the other 2/3rds of their life happening outside of work. It only makes sense to know what our prospects are like outside of work. Don’t get me wrong, knowing a person’s job responsibility, challenges, pain points, who do they report to and how much purchase authority they have is a great start but without a personal relationship the chances you beat out the competition are much slimmer.
Having personal data on my prospects allows me to build a relationship that’s key to turning a prospect into a customer or client. Of course there’s no shortage of personal data out. Most people share their lives on social media, but it can be a hard job to filter out all the unwanted noise to find what you need. That’s why I’ve started to use a new solution called Nudge to help me stay up to date with content or news that my prospects find interesting.
Offering both free and premium options, Nudge surfaces relevant personal and company news and social updates from your contact or prospect lists. If a prospect is from Boston and I know they are a fan of the Patriots, nudge helps track news related to the Boston area and the patriots making it easy for me to share and take interest in my prospects interests. Integration with your own social networks, collaboration with other contacts to effect introductions, and the ability to demonstrate your own industry knowledge by sharing content, make this a powerful tool for marketing and sales professionals.
Online and Behavioral Data
The B2B sales cycle can be a long process with multiple touch-points and often with more than one stakeholder involved. Having a clear understanding of the online behavior of potential customers, whether by way of visits to your website or interaction with Internet ads, is essential. We need to gather data on online activity, behavior, and interaction in real-time and at scale; and that means using marketing automation tools.
I’m a big fan of marketing automation because it allows me to track and score a prospect’s buying behavior. There’s a wide choice of marketing automation tools to choose from. I used to work for Eloqua, I have used Act-on, Right On Interactive, Sharp Spring and I’m about to launch MakesBridge on the IMA website over the next couple of weeks. Marketing Automation helps me prioritize my day as a sales person buy focusing on my prospects showing the most buying behavior via their lead score. The idea is that prospects with the highest leads score are showing more buying behavior than prospects with lower lead scores.
How so? Well let’s say that your sales goal is to close 1 million in revenue over the next 12 month. That means with an average B2B close rate of 25 percent you need 4 million in pipeline to hit that goal (on average). You cannot manage 4 million dollars of opportunities using a telephone, email, and an excel spreadsheet.
Remember you need company data to be relevant, personal data to build relationships and behavioral data to be efficient and effective.
The combination of these three data feeds make it possible for sales people and marketing professionals alike to be relevant with target accounts, build true relationships with prospects, and prioritize their day by focusing on prospects showing the most buying behavior. Are there any other data sources that you consider vital to your marketing and sales strategies? Do you use automated tools to aid the marketing process? I would be interested to hear your thoughts.