In the current sales and marketing world, the landscape is always changing thanks to a huge influx of data at the fingertips of the B2B professionals. The data should be informing a company on the best-fit prospects. Data should be turning leads into happy customers. Data should be the best friend of a sales and marketing professional.
As a B2B sales or marketing professional, you have a straightforward, simple goal; to help your company grow. And if you take a sneak peek out of your window during the early summer, you’ll see the buds opening, new leaves unfurling, and shoots stretching towards the sun. It’s tempting to think that all growth comes with ease.
Meanwhile, to grow a business, you need to work hard and have the right processes in place to drive increased revenue. And to do so effectively, you’ll need to shorten your sales cycle and reduce customer acquisition costs. Today’s sales representatives are spending too much of their time on research tasks that they could have been using to sell more. Usually, their working hours are spent sourcing hard-to-find data instead of using their carefully-honed skills to connect with prospects or build meaningful relationships with current and future customers.
The plethora of data that is available today has both opportunities as well as risks. And if you are acting on the bad data, your overall marketing efficiency—and your company’s ROI on its marketing spend will be negatively impacted. So, find the right data and then identify the strongest influencers earlier in the buying cycle, and you’ll soon reap the reward of increased sales.
Yet, despite the plethora of data available at our fingertips, many sales and marketing professional are still having a hard time putting their data to good use.
Data does away with cold calls
Historically, the sales representatives have relied strongly on cold calling without any real data on which specific buyer to contact or when to contact them or how to contact them. Cold calling, if not backed by relevant data, can be a fruitless activity. Based on The State of Sales Acceleration Report, the buyers receive as much as 32 calls per week and are no rush to answer them.
When the customer does pick the call, the problem is that the data in front of the sales representative is incomplete. And this is proving to be highly irritating to the buyer; they rank the failure of the seller to do basic research- 29% and being contacted at the wrong time- 29%, as their biggest frustrations.
The research also found that a sales representative on average spends more than two hours (128 minutes) trying to look into an individual prospect before contacting them. This is clearly far too much time on just one potential customer. Almost a quarter- 24% of the sales representatives admitted that they did not have enough time to research, with another 35% admitting to pressures on providing value above and beyond what is ordinarily found online.
So, how is that the B2B sales and marketing teams can save time and abandon the cold calling approach? The answer lies in having good and relevant data in the right place and at the right time.
Accelerating the path from prospect to paying customer
Having good and relevant data along with the insights enables the marketing teams to only pass the best fit leads to the sales team and enables sales teams to more quickly convert those leads into paying customers. To fully understanding this “sales acceleration” phenomenon, there are many things that marketing and sales teams need to do:
Organize the data
There’s nothing worse than mismanaged, incomplete or bad data. After all, bad data even in good systems is still bad data. And without the right data, the marketing and sales teams will never get the intelligence and insights that they need to grow the business. Employing a master data strategy so business decisions can be made in real-time and accurately is highly recommended. Mastering the data simply means the data is structured, organized, and integrated across the enterprise so that the decisions can be made holistically across the organization. A master data strategy also brings structure by supplementing first-party data with third-party data to build a solid foundation of prospect and customer data.
Analyze the data
By analyzing, gathering and acting on the insights from customer’s activity across all channels, the sales and marketing teams can gain a clearer picture of each customer, including their preferences, requirements, and behaviors while making a purchase. These insights help the marketing and sales teams to create customized strategies and campaigns to develop more relevant and personalized pitches that can easily result in increased engagement, driving greater loyalty and more customer lifetime value.
Operationalize the data
It’s critical to provide the right insights and data into a sales representative daily routine like their CRM, so they have the most recent data on the buyer anywhere and anytime, making their outreach more relevant, personalized, and effective. This also enables the trigger when things change at a customer that could indicate a high propensity to purchase at any moment. All of this should speed the path to a paying customer.
Data will guide the B2B journey
When armed with all the right data, the right analytics to make sense of it and the capability to operationalize that data, the marketing or sales professional is capable to remove a lot of the guesswork and be more empowered to make a quicker sale.
Data should enable a sales representative to build a rapport with a potential customer. BY knowing more about the right prospect to call at the right time, B2B sales and marketing professionals are enabled to better target prospects and spend more time on building that valuable business relationship.
The B2B buyers’ journey is long and winding, but with the proper use of insights and data can shorten this path and at the same time enable the marketing and sales teams to more closely align to close the deals much faster.
Here are five things your company can do to leverage data in order to speed the sales cycle;
Prioritize finding the right data and ensuring its quality
In order to identify the most fertile soil in which to sow seeds of your marketing and sales efforts, you need to prioritize at the account level. As accurately and thoroughly as possible, you want to capable to identify your ideal customer profile (ICP) and define your total addressable market (TAM). The deeper and better you understand who exactly you are trying to target, the more readily you can find them.
And doing so requires sourcing the right data at scale. So, look for sources that combine contributions from artificial intelligence (AI) and humans to validate that data. On the other hand, relying on AI alone will result in too many false positives, while human data validation cannot be done at scale. No matter what, this shouldn’t be a task for your sales representatives.
Use clean data to save time and reduce frustration
Far too many marketing and sales teams struggle with bad data. In fact, 56% of respondents in D&B’s Sales Acceleration Report listed “ensuring that they’re working with relevant and complete data” as their biggest challenge. And the true hidden costs of bad data can add up quickly.
Are your marketers managing email marketing campaigns with high bounce rates due to misspelled (typo) addresses? Or wasting money sending out direct email that turns out to be undeliverable? How much time do your sales representatives spend trying to reach prospects with incorrect or missing phone numbers? Each of these activities consumes both money and time and can introduce significant delays into the sales cycle.
Today’s buyers are more elusive than ever before
Having access to so much data at their fingertips, your buyers are far more likely to conduct their preliminary research online before having any contact with the sales team. Around 70% of this research will be complete before they reach out for that first conversation. And, by that point, they’ve probably connected with your competitors too.
You can have the first-mover’s advantage with relevant and quality data. Finding these prospects before the competition does will let you get your foot in the door first. But finding them can be tricky, though. The AI-driven solutions are too constrained by factors like job titles to be able to be both creative and through in their searches.
Understand the need to scale more quickly
In today’s highly competitive business climate what sets the winners apart is their ability to scale very rapidly. From a marketing and sales perspective, this means having the ability to reach out to thousands of businesses in a short time period. And the more personalized and relevant your outreach can be, the better.
Look for trigger events
Did someone at a company recently visited your website? Is a company looking to expand its team? Have they posted several job openings online? When you have a team with the capability to look for these kinds of data points and find it efficiently and at scale, you have a way to operationalize data sourcing. With that in hand, you’ve set a solid foundation for rapid growth.
Get personal. Very personal
The inbox of today’s B2B buyers is too crowded. And nothing cuts that clutter like highly personalized, relevant communication. But this personalization needs to be very accurate, and should be able to address the right pain points. Your competitors are basing their communications on limited data sets. And if your data has more data sets and is better, your personalization will be too.
So, by finding the right good-quality data, and developing processes for sourcing it at scale, you’ll provide your marketing and sales teams the right tools to cultivate profitability and growth for many seasons to come.