How to Prevent Your B2B Data From Fooling You
It’s been almost two months since I joined the content marketing team here at Dun & Bradstreet. In that short period of time, I’d like to believe I’ve made some hefty contributions like crafting some lively content for this very blog. (Yes, that is a shameless plug.)
Nevertheless, while it was certainly exciting to embark on a new career path, I was nervous about leaving the ad tech industry where I spent more than a decade leading corporate marketing efforts, most recently at a native advertising company. But so far it’s been a smooth transition and there’s been no looking back. Except for that fact that I continue to get calls from vendors who think I still work in corporate marketing at my previous company.
And this is not just a random occurrence, either. Half a dozen vendors have contacted me over the past few weeks assuming I am still the head of marketing with my prior employer. Some sales reps have even gone so far as to ask for the business contact information of the employee who replaced me. Would that entitle me to some of the commission if they close the deal? It amazes me that people can’t take the time to do some basic research about their customers before they engage them. One of the misguided calls I received was actually a pitch for a CRM solution, which (of course) emphasized the paramount importance of targeting and understanding your customer. If these marketers and sales reps don’t know who the right decision maker is, why should I even think about using their solutions?
To be fair, it has only been a couple of months since I made the switch; I’m simply using this scenario to paint a picture of how frustrating this may be for marketers like myself who are inundated with sales calls everyday. And it’s certainly not a new phenomenon. It has happened throughout my career. If not by phone, it was via my inbox, receiving emails with the wrong name or title. If you are going to send a templated email communication, please don’t call me Mork. (I may be guilty of using that moniker on some form in the past decade.) Nevertheless, it is your responsibility to know your customer. Admit it, you’ve invested time and resources to prepare for a sales call, only to find you had reached the wrong business contact. It’s frustrating for both parties, isn’t it? But there are some steps you can take to ensure this doesn’t happen down the road.
Long-term success in business has always been about more than just whom you know and what you do. It is dependent on what you do with your customers, prospects, suppliers and partners to help them succeed. For example, if these vendors leverage fresh, accurate data, they may find I’m actually a potential fit for other solutions they offer. Relationships are the longest-standing, most proprietary differentiator for any company, but you need updated data and insights to inform the right conversation.
As far as potential customers dropping out of the sales funnel goes, I am not alone. Thousands of people quit, retire or change jobs every year. In fact, according to a recent study by the Institute of Leadership and Management, 37% of workers and managers plan to leave their current jobs.
As people move from one company to another, their email addresses and phone numbers change, meaning the accuracy of your records degrades, opening the door to some really awkward sales calls.
Say you have enlisted the help of a third-party vendor to help clean and update your data. That’s all well and good, but as I've learned in my new job, no database is perfect. Even a meticulously maintained database will contain some inaccurate or outdated information. To ensure your brand has the best possible chance at building a meaningful business relationship, it doesn't hurt for your sales reps to do a quick verification before interacting one-on-one with a prospect higher up in the organization.
While you should be concerned about information that's wrong in your database, you should also think about what's missing. Is there anything else added data can tell you about your customer or prospect? Incomplete data presents its own set of challenges throughout the funnel--namely, low conversions and missed sales opportunities.
Complete business records give you more options for segmenting and delivering targeted messaging, resulting in a higher probability for success. For example, enhancing a record with firmographics (this data can include everything from a company’s geography and employee size to the organization’s annual revenue and total assets) allows for more robust lead scoring, as well as proper routing to sales. What's more, having detailed industry information for a company allows vertical-specific messaging for outbound marketing as well as the dynamic delivery of relevant content on your website. In addition, enriching company data with individual contact information will help you narrow down your audience to focus in on the decision markers with whom you should be engaging. These insights can help you understand where to spend time and money prospecting and upselling.
Ultimately, bad data results in bad decision-making, poor customer service and a damaged reputation. But, most importantly, a lack of high quality, accurate data is going to cost you time and money. However, if you proactively clean, enrich and maintain your database, you’ll have more confidence that you're reaching the right people to drive qualified leads and ROI. Here are few steps worth repeating so you can get your customer relationships on the right track.
- Clean – consolidate duplicate records, standardize formatting, remove outdated/wrong information to get a consolidated, up-to-date view of your customers and prospects and prevent erroneous communications
- Enrich – add key/missing elements such as industry, company size and contacts, as well as layer in intent data to deepen account relationships
- Analyze – a clean database allows you to identify your best customers and look for more like them while being able to identify revenue growth opportunities
Understanding what issues exist with your data is the first step to getting ahead of them. You’re invited to analyze your data with a free Data HealthScan from Dun & Bradstreet NetProspex.