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 clients, 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 industry sector. 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 so that we can build a relationship and design an effective communication strategy. That means finding some key personal data to build a buyer persona: What are their responsibilities; what are their challenges and pain points; who do they report to and how much purchase authority do they have; where do they go for industry news?
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. 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.
How so? Well lets say that your sales lead calculator says you need to close 1 million in revenue, which means you need 4 million in pipeline to hit that goal (on average). You cannot manage 4 million dollars of opportunities using excel spreadsheets. You need lead scoring and real-time sales or visitor alerts to help monitor your prospect’s behavior. In short you need to deploy a marketing automation tool to help prioritize your day by identifying prospects showing the most buying behavior. That way the data can be put to work effectively at scale to help to meet your target.
The combination of these three data feeds make it possible for sales people and marketing professionals alike to be relevant with prospects, build true relationships, and have the ability to prioritize their day. 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.
A version of this post was first published on Integrated Marketing Association blog.
Shawn’s expertise in digital marketing technologies began when he became aware of performance measurability issues of direct mail and began working on systems to combat those issues. He leveraged and honed his expertise, working for a series of leading marketing technology providers including Exacttarget (now Salesforce.com); Web Side Story (acquired by Omniture, now Adobe); Magnify360; and Eloqua (now Oracle).
Shawn is recognized as a top marketing influencer, experienced marketing automation and conversion optimization specialist, provides advanced email marketing and database management expertise, and has a proven track record of helping brands develop demand generation and lead generation programs that deliver results.