Company Research

What is Sales Acceleration?

Sales Acceleration Defined

Sales acceleration refers to strategies that help businesses move prospects through the sales pipeline with greater efficiency. Effective sales acceleration software provides sales and marketing teams with timely data and insights designed to increase the velocity and relevance of customer conversions. A variety of software applications and technologies fall under the umbrella of sales acceleration, including sales leads databases, company research tools, email tracking technology, and predictive analytics.

Traditional sales prospecting has dramatically changed over the past decade, especially for B2B sellers. While closing sales deals was once predominately about who you know, advances in technology and the proliferation of data and analytics have flipped this long-standing belief on its head. Increasingly, the who is being replaced by the what. The sheer quantity of data that can be analyzed and processed in real time and immediately distributed in tools and applications is transforming the way sales and marketing is being managed. When compared to the old static methods of outbound calling and prospecting that simply don’t drive results the way they used to, this approach is much more modern. Many are now referring to it as sales acceleration.

TRADITIONAL PROSPECTING SALES ACCELERATION
Undefined market opportunity Resources aligned with opportunity
Scattershot calling and emails Ideal-customer profiling
Static prospect lists Real-time buying signals
Basic contact information Contextualized buyer profiles
Standalone tools Integrated platforms
Done in isolation Collaboration with marketing
Transaction-focused Relationship-focused

Sales acceleration delivers refined information from B2B data in much quicker fashion, connecting it with buying signals and providing it with relevant context. It’s the key to increasing the yield of sales and marketing activities, by surfacing information that’s up to date, connected, insightful, customized, accessible, and actionable.

Types of Sales Acceleration Solutions

Effective sales acceleration software provides sales and marketing teams with timely data and insights designed to increase the velocity and relevance of customer conversions. There are many ways technology can help accelerate sales, and they vary in their complexity. Here are several prominent types of sales acceleration applications available to marketing and business development teams today (along with how they’re used):

Sales Leads Databases
Aggregate and routinely validate business contact information to help sales and marketing teams reach out to the most qualified prospects. Data cleansing and enrichment helps save time by removing poor-quality prospects from consideration.

Company Research Tools
Compile detailed information on individual businesses, including public financial documents, business credit scores and ratings, corporate family trees, news, competitive insights, and legal judgements. Extensive records on businesses allow salespeople to go into client pitches armed with the latest information about a company and its competitors.

Real-Time Alerts
Automatically notify salespeople of management changes, acquisitions, or other notable business events – this is essential to reaching prospective customers at an opportune time.

Predictive Analytics & Audience Targeting
Advanced algorithms aggregate business and marketplace data to make informed predictions about potential clients or industries. Predictive analytics can help identify areas ripe for growth, saving marketers and salespeople the trouble of pursuing poor prospects.

Email Generation & Tracking
Send templated emails in response to certain trigger events, such as a request for pricing. Track open rates and site visits that originate from specific outreach efforts.

Integrated Quote-to-Cash Solution
Allows salespeople to quickly create accurate quotes based upon pre-defined pricing guidelines. Provides the opportunity to demonstrate cost savings early in the sales cycle, potentially removing sluggish competitors from consideration.

Data Visualization Software
Transforms raw data into intuitive graphics and charts to help marketing and sales teams understand facts and figures at a glance. Avoids data overload that can keep insights buried in the noise.

The Benefits of Sales Acceleration Solutions

Sales acceleration tools serve a very specific purpose in the marketing technology stack: to empower salespeople to close more deals in less time through easy access to useful business data.

Marketing technology, or martech, has become a fundamental component of many companies’ sales and marketing efforts. But without sales acceleration tech, even firms that have already adopted customer relationship management (CRM) tools and marketing automation platforms will remain at a disadvantage.

Sales acceleration solutions stock the sales pipeline with insights and up-to-date information regarding prospects and customers, high-quality leads, accurate audience targets, and timely marketplace information. Simply put, it gives sales professionals the data they need to hit their quotas and grow revenue faster.

Sales Acceleration Is Driving Growth

It’s a simple matter of arithmetic: Contacting more qualified prospects at a faster pace often leads to accelerated growth and revenue. Our own data shows that customers using the D&B Hoovers sales intelligence platform saw their close rate increase by over 60%.

Performance improvements of that size don’t go unnoticed. According to a recent report by Squiz, two-thirds of senior marketers in the US, Australia, and the UK made significant investments in marketing technology in 2016. There’s no reason to think that trend will slow down anytime soon.

Choosing the Best Sales Acceleration Solution

Many sales acceleration platforms are available to serve the growing marketplace demand. Beyond budget constraints, how can you determine which sales acceleration tool is right for your company?

  1. Identify Your Business Development Blind Spots

    A good first step is to understand where you’ve been limited in the past by a lack of useful data. Perhaps your sales team has felt unprepared for that first pitch meeting – subscribing to a business research tool could be a cost-effective way to improve that situation.

  2. Consider Compatibility With Your Existing Martech Tools

    If you’re already using CRM and marketing automation platforms, it’s critical that your sales acceleration software integrate with the features you already depend upon. For example, an enriched leads list is most useful when it can be imported into your CRM platform. You don’t want to assemble a kit of mismatched tools that will impede the outreach process.

  3. Check Reviews from Real Users

    As a marketer, you already know that word of mouth is a powerful sales tool. What are other professionals saying about the sales acceleration platforms you’re considering?

    Sales acceleration solutions can simplify the buyer’s journey and prime the business pipeline with better leads. Timely business information helps sales representatives approach the right decision-makers with relevant information when they’re ready to spend. A range of competitive and marketplace insights demonstrate your personal investment in a prospective client’s business. Sales acceleration has shown its value to many companies and is now a bona fide member of the marketing technology toolkit.

An Immediate Opportunity for B2B Sellers

There is a tremendous opportunity for organizations to move from traditional prospecting to sales acceleration. In “The Sales Secrets of High-Growth Companies,” McKinsey & Company says that “faster growing companies are more effective than slower-growing ones at using digital tools and capabilities to support the sales organization (43% vs. 30%)” because:

  1. They arm their sales teams with tools that deliver relevant and usable insight
  2. They invest in improving the flow of data between organizations and teams
  3. They recognize the potential of analytics to improve planning and secure opportunities most effectively

Sales acceleration does just that. It is about refining data and giving it context so that sellers can rapidly advance a prospect to a profitable relationship through the effective use of data and analytics. 

How to Use Sales Acceleration Tools in Three Steps

1) Optimize sales and marketing data. It’s vital to have data that is organized, structured, and integrated across the enterprise. In other words, the data must be mastered so the information driving your key business decisions is accurate and fresh. And there should be a lot of data. Think about all the first-party data that you generate, whether it be through your website or the support systems or your CRM platform. Plus, there’s third-party data you’ll want to use to enrich and complete your first-party data. This is the foundation for engaging your prospects with the right context. 

Unstructured data can also play a vital role. Think about industry news, PR, content, and social data. These are often some of the best signals that there’s an amazing opportunity to connect with a potential customer, especially when that data is coupled with your first- and third-party “real-time” data. Your integrated set of first- and third-party data, both structured and unstructured, is your biggest proprietary differentiator. This data and its actual usability create a real competitive advantage. 

2) Derive insights from this data. This is where analytics plays a vital role. Whether you have an internal or external analytics team, or some combination of both, this is the stage where you start to identify the meaning of the data and define the actions your team should be taking.

You can tie all of these unique data points together and use the resulting insights to set off a trigger for the sales person to call at the exact right moment with the exact right context to take the sale to the next level. 

3) Ensure your team is set up to effectively operationalize the data and intelligence. This is where user experience really matters. It’s all about improving the experience of the salesperson by seamlessly supplying the right data and insights within their daily workflows, such as their CRM, so they can easily act on the information. Ultimately, it’s about being much more prescriptive in highlighting opportunities and stressing what’s changed, which accounts should be prioritized, and most importantly, how to engage this audience. 

The Power Has Shifted From B2B Sellers to B2B Buyers

Today’s B2B buyers make purchase decisions in fundamentally different ways, and sales needs to adapt accordingly. B2B customers and prospects spend most of the sales cycle in digital, doing their own research before even thinking about speaking to anyone in sales. According to a report by CIO Insights, more than 70% of B2B buyers fully define their needs before engaging with a sales representative, and almost half identify specific solutions before reaching out. 

Even the best B2B prospects are delaying interaction with sales and are often unresponsive to traditional marketing tactics. This has forced B2B sellers to leverage relevant, timely, and holistic data to guide every step of their sales interactions. And that’s exactly what B2B buyers want. According to Dun & Bradstreet’s survey of B2B buyers, 67% agree sellers should use business data to drive more meaningful conversations.  

It’s this deeper level of understanding that will pave the way to long-term value – punctuated by purchases, problem-solving, brand advocacy, product collaborations, and more. But this transition only happens when sales and marketing can demonstrate a deep understanding of how their solutions impact the buyer’s business. 

While the desire to speed up the sales process has always been a priority, the way in which technology and data have come together to help accelerate business is the real game changer. 

Ready to accelerate sales for your business? Dun & Bradstreet is a leading provider of sales acceleration solutions, including D&B Hoovers, D&B DataVision, D&B Optimizer for Microsoft, D&B Optimizer for Salesforce, and D&B Marketing Data Optimizer.

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