Following the success of the SiriusDecisions (Virtual) Summit 2020, I had the chance to catch up with my very good friend Kerry Cunningham, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Now that SiriusDecisions and Forrester have joined forces, it was a great time to sit down and discuss the state of data today, the importance of data confidence, and how marketing teams can achieve results with these tactical, data-driven disciplines.
The market is demanding more and more. Under that weight, business professionals desperately require accurate advanced insights in order to make strong decisions. Accurate account data and correct contact info, combined with the ability to match data to the right account in their system, is still a major challenge for many B2B organizations.
The Importance of Data Confidence
More Advanced Segmentation
It’s important to feel confident about the data you use to fuel your team’s efforts. Empowering your sales and marketing teams to feel confident, is what enables them to do “cool” sales and marketing tactics.
If you want an SDR to be super personalized in outreach, or advanced segmentation like sending precisely the right message to the right people at the right time, you need to have a solid data foundation and feel confident in what you’re building those workflows with.
Better Opportunity Management
Incomplete data, such as an empty field in CRM, causes major problems too, when it comes to segmenting and lead routing. Or even worse and far more often, the system can’t match that new lead to the right account record, in which case it just sits in limbo never to be followed up with — lead purgatory anyone?
You may be producing great inbound leads but, because of missing data, they can’t be routed properly and thus never receive the all-important follow-up or lead nurturing.
Avoid The Wedge Between GTM & Revenue
Lack of confidence in data quality is driving a wedge between go-to-market (GTM) strategies and revenue teams. Everybody wants to do the cool stuff. Everyone attends events like Sirius Decisions to learn new ways to market to buying groups. But they can’t do that effectively if they’re not feeling confident about the data they have.
Insights Paint The Picture
You’ll hear many people talking about business insights. Insights are so critical for GTM professionals because they help fuel the engine for account prioritization, personalization, and segmentation. Insights help your team understand the nuances of certain businesses and markets.
For example, NAICS Industry Classification Codes can only tell you so much about a business. It’s a high level overview, for example high level “financial services” vs. detailed “commercial lending”, or “technology” vs. “a CRM business” or “agriculture” vs. “soybean farmers”. When you get to a deeper level of detail about the business, you can really understand the different messages you’d want to send to each segment.
Unfortunately, so many data sets coming from traditional vendors are far too limited and don’t enable GTM teams to engage and sell to target accounts effectively.
Business data should provide the right accounts, the business insights, and the indicators of when it’s the right time to engage, such as intent data.
Collection Methods Really Matter
The way data is collected really matters. Traditional vendors’ data continues to show that data is really outdated, contact people no longer work at those companies, or phone numbers no longer work. Collection methodology is one of the primary drivers for inaccurate and incomplete data.
Traditional data vendors still utilize call centers and surveys to collect data. Especially during times of great economic change, if you’re using manual methods to collect data, the time it takes to get that information is really long.
Business data is changing all the time. That’s why sales professionals use LinkedIn, to understand who still works at that company or any company updates, as well as Google search and news to find out the latest information about their target accounts. They’re not relying on what’s inside CRM. Instead, they’re spending a lot of time outside of CRM to gather the information they need.
Data collection should work the same way – constantly updating data about businesses and delivering those changes immediately. If you could collect data in the same way a sales professional would, not just in the news section, but also Google Business searches like if a company is open or closed. This is precisely the way EverString does this using machine learning, which is why customers continue to see success.
Seven Must-Dos for Marketing & Sales
Kerry does a great job of underlining the need for an increased amount of trust between sales and marketing. That starts with having confidence in your data. At Forrester, they use the Seven Must-Dos Diagram to help understand how revenue engines must evolve to gain buying group awareness.
1. Define Target Market
Teams must do this accurately by understanding the account data behind your market. If the sales team doesn’t trust that marketing is targeting the right accounts, it’s not going to trust the product marketing produces.
2. Create Awareness & Detect Active Buying Groups
If you can focus more energy on the set of accounts that already appears to be active, you’ll be more effective. Many brands are seeing dramatically better results because they’re directing their investment on the right set of accounts, and then focusing on the subset of that group that is signaling they’re in the market for our product or service.
3. Attract & Engage Buying Group Members
We want to bring those looking to buy, towards our website or otherwise engage with us. Focusing your attention and your marketing spend on the highest propensity accounts is key.
4. Associate & Prioritize Buying Groups
There may be multiple leads coming to you from the same target account, but without advanced data systems, your sales team may treat them as individual leads. With confidence in your data, you can match leads to your account records, enabling your team to see a more coordinated research effort, signaling a stronger intent to purchase.
5. Qualify Early-Stage Opportunities
Teams should focus on opportunities, not leads. Opportunities mean you’re not just contacting anyone that filled a form, but you’re engaging in a conversation with an influencer or decision-maker that wants a solution like yours.
6. Validate Needs & Accelerate Opportunities to Pipeline
As your sales team engages more closely through the cycle, marketing can still support. Consider the entire ecosystem of the organization and which personas you haven’t engaged yet. Data confidence helps here big time.
7. Align Solutions & Accelerate Deals to Close
When you ensure your teams are all rowing in the same direction, you can jump on opportunities when they arise and speed up the time it takes to progress and win deals.
Warm Fresh Prospects Drives SDR Efficacy
Marketing’s job is to produce as many priority stage opportunities for the sales team to be busy and productive all the time. Of course, this is an ideal world and one we don’t live in. But still marketing can measure to that, looking at the level of engagement in the opportunities they’re producing.
Teams should be placing bigger bets on a smaller number of companies, based on a set of signals and because you have a clear picture of your ideal customer profile. You cannot achieve this without a high level of confidence in your data.
How To Be Confidently Data-Driven
An aspiration most organizations aim for, truly being data-driven requires 3 core steps:
- Insight Requirement: Define the actionable insights that will be needed.
- Data Management: Look at the data, measure its quality, and determine accessibility.
- Team Enablement: Consider cultural transformation necessary to accept shifting prior opinions if data proves something new.
Consider Cultural Shifts
In thinking about how you want to use data, you need to establish a baseline of understanding. Culturally, one reason some leaders don’t have confidence in data, is they don’t understand where it comes from or how it’s turned into insights.
There should be a base level of understanding about analyzing data, such as if your data indicates a correlation between two things, the ability to decipher what that means (and doesn’t mean). That is where a data governance council can come in very useful. More on that below.
Marketing Data Confidence Meter
Forrester employs a Marketing Data Confidence Meter for their clients, measuring how data-driven they really are.
The system measures where the organization is across the same 3 main areas:
- Insight requirements, including team alignment and understanding,
- What is the data management strategy and governance and how well is it in place,
- And lastly, measure how well the team is enabled from a cultural perspective.
Designing Your Extended Marketing Data Strategy
When you’re getting started, data governance council conversations involve several stakeholders from different divisions in the organization. Any new changes that are being considered would get run through this council first.
From there, each discipline should have a data steward, which would be someone that’s going to be responsible for understanding how data works within that part of the organization, and all the nuances of impacts in how their department collaborates and shares data with other departments.
Next up, it’s time to audit the data and decide how to unify the data. Decisions around what needs to be available where and to whom, as well as what data we might need to acquire third-party business data, either on a one-time or an ongoing basis.
Measurement involves not only cleanliness and quality of data, but also how the data is improving the overall workflow of the organization. For example, how much time is being saved in data cleansing activities, demand generation campaign performance, and finance functions should become more efficient.
Proof Is In The Pudding
Customers approaching their data strategy with EverString data at the heart of it all, aren’t just gaining confidence and doing better work, they’re doing award-winning work!
- TTEC (SiriusDecisions ABM Award Winner) saw a 317% increase in sales accepted leads. TTEC’s GTM performance has grown substantially year-over-year since using EverString, including 592% increase in marketing-sourced leads and a 48% to 67% increase in conversion rate.
- Oracle (SiriusDecisions ROI Award Winner) increased their pipeline by 32% with no additional programmatic spend. Without spending more on programs, and instead of spending the right money in the right areas at the right time, they were able to dramatically increase their performance.
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