Karim Iskandar, VP International at OneSource Information Services offers advice on how access to those essential nuggets of information and how integration into CRM processes can make a real impact on marketing and sales effectiveness.
There is a wealth of information available on companies and markets that B2B marketers can use to improve prospect targeting, give sales teams the edge they need to win, minimise marketing waste and even manage ongoing customer relations. But how much time and effort should be spent collecting this information and actually using it to ensure that it really does make marketing more effective.
Don’t drown in data
Business information on customers, prospects and even suppliers as well as on existing and new markets can be incredibly valuable.
But spending hours searching for information on every single customer and prospect and then making sense of the results is probably not the fastest route to finding the key facts that you need and could cost you a lot in wasted productivity. Worse, there is a high chance that you still don’t find the pieces of information that are both up-to-date and useful.
To avoid drowning in data and wasting productivity, business information services can provide instant access to detailed business and financial data and up-to-date news on millions of companies and thousands of industries around the world. The cleansing has already been done which means that you can specify exactly what data you think will be of most use.
Having customer data on the name of the manager responsible for a specific business function; the number of employees; and turnover, for example, can save waste in marketing campaigns and ensure that sales people spend their time and energy (and your budget) phoning and visiting only those companies that are most likely to fit your ‘ideal customer’ profile.
It also gives you a fast-track into the company - helping you get in front of the right person faster and showing that you’ve taken the time to research and understand the company and market. Intercall Europe, a provider of conferencing services to businesses, estimated that it has saved £489,000 on time spent generating leads since it started using the OneSource Business Browser service.
In addition, details on financial performance can ensure that you don’t target those companies who may end up being ‘high risk’. No company can afford to give money away.
Integrate with existing CRM’s
You can either download the information you need to a spreadsheet or integrate it instantly into your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system or database. Although many organisations struggle with data quality within their CRM system, following data management best practices can realise a 66% lift in bottom-line performance - according to Sirius Decisions research.
Linking key data stored in your CRM system to an external information source is a great way to keep it up to date. Another best practice process is to tag key company information with links to additional, external reports or analysis (such as news or expert reports on the company).
Because this additional detail is managed externally, even though it looks like it’s part of the ‘company record’, it will be kept up to date by the information provider removing the need for internal data quality checks.
Keeping up to date
You may also want to keep up to date with new developments that occur within your prospect or customer list. News about a company can provide an ideal reason to make a call or suggest your company’s services. It might even be one of the ways you segment your prospect list – for example, all companies that have just been involved in a merger or acquisition or all companies who have just moved offices.
One way of doing this is to deliver daily new alerts on the companies that each person is tracking/wants to monitor.
The sales team can benefit enormously from being given just enough information on a prospect at the right time in the sales cycle. Many sales calls are made to prospects who are unlikely or expensive, as a cost of sale, to convert to new business, or unlikely to be a profitable prospect.
Knowledge on the company, the market it operates in, its competitors and its business pains will help the sales team build a proposition that addresses the prospects area of need.
While speed and availability of the right information is of course important it also needs to be actionable. By that I mean that the information needs to be used as part of a well-defined marketing process. I have often been surprised at how little information is used (not necessarily unavailable) by marketers.
Simply having access to information is not enough. It needs to be integrated into the business workflow (whether that’s a CRM system or another database). The right information at the right time can improve the chances of the information being useful and making a real difference to marketing effectiveness.
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