Is there a customer data goldmine under your nose?

woman-on-laptopEvery marketing professional wants to make more of their time and their budget. Under this pressure, many chase new prospects or invest in new platforms to meet tougher targets – but are they overlooking “gold” right underneath their nose?
Every week I hear people say B2B sales is getting harder. And maybe it is – globalisation has increased competition, customers are better informed than ever and evolving digital technology adds another layer of complexity to just about everything. But a critical factor to successful sales is the same as it has always been – quality data. And while it can be tempting to buy a new list of companies or contacts, host an event or implement the latest and greatest sales and marketing platform, sometimes these are shiny distractions from the main game. It’s time to focus on what’s important.
Are you making the most of your information?
I love a new piece of technology as much as the next guy. Just think about how many times we’ve updated our mobile phones over the past few years – when there was really nothing wrong with the ones we already had. And sometimes buying new kit and data is a smart approach if you are shifting your business into a new geography or a new sector where you need to gain traction.
But investing in software, marketing technology or even event databases should not be your first priority. If your aim is to increase revenue ask yourself this – am I making the most of my existing customer and prospect information to maximise selling opportunities? I urge clients to take a step-by-step approach to answering this question: Understand your market: Take stock of your existing customer data. What insights can be taken away? Does it reflect your desired market focus?
Set a routine to review 
Today’s data is becoming old and irrelevant at a faster rate than ever before. According to research by Sirius Decisions, up to 25% of the average business database is inaccurate. Unless data is reviewed to ensure accuracy, it will hinder your ability to retain and upsell to customers and risks your professional reputation. Refreshing information isn’t an onerous task if done regularly but if left too long, it’s a costly and painful problem to fix. Put rigorous data maintenance processes in place to ensure that your customer information is always up to date and ready to help you identify opportunities.
Choose your vendors wisely
Note my use of the plural – I don’t believe than any one data platform can offer the full range of sources and solutions that you’ll need to take a full view of your customer base. When choosing vendors consider whether their breadth and depth is aligned to your view of the market; that they are localised to support your processes; they understand social media and how your business currently leverages it; their ability to tap into structured and unstructured data sources; and whether they align to your current technology investment (CRM, marketing automation, visualisation). Above all, make sure they view the relationship as a partnership as opposed to a transaction.
Better use of data is the key to successful account-based marketing
Making the most of your data in this way will put you in the best position to take an account-based marketing (ABM) approach to your clients and so drive more sales over the customer lifecycle.
ABM is not a new concept but the proliferation of digitally-driven data has brought it to the fore. ABM sees sales and marketing professionals take a more strategic approach to a defined set of accounts and makes better use of data to manage and support clients throughout the sales lifecycle. Taking an ABM approach requires building a holistic view of your target, focusing on understanding the needs and priorities of an entire company or team, as well as the industry in which they operate. It takes time and attention, so naturally your effort should be focused on the most strategic, high-potential opportunities. But don’t stop there, once you’ve mastered this approach, think about how you can adapt and scale it across your companies’ wider target audience.
Importantly, ABM ensures a closer alignment between sales objectives and customer needs to deliver better execution and revenue outcomes. This is why any objective to improve sales and upselling opportunities must start with the data. Using information to get a broader view of the impacts and influences on your client and their organisation will help you identify more sales opportunities without unnecessary investments or distractions. Focus on what you have – unlock the value of your data and you may find you are sitting on a goldmine.

Joe Lim is a director of Avention OneSource Solutions

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