Too often marketers pass raw leads directly to sales. When salespeople call on these prospects, they’re not ready to buy. But potential buyers don’t say, “We’re not ready,” they just say, “We aren’t interested right now.” The sales rep then thinks the lead is bad, when in fact the buyer is just surprised he got a call and is not yet ready to talk. This is further complicated with the fact that the prospect doing research on a product or service is just one person in the buying process; there are other influencers that may be more important.
This scenario is one cause of the often strained relationship between sales and marketing. But recently, in light of new research from CSO Insights, some industry experts are pointing to Big Data as the bridge to join these two important business functions.
According to findings from the CSO Insight study, 42 percent of sales reps feel that they don’t have the right information before making a call; 45 percent report needing help figuring out which accounts to prioritize; and across the board, sales reps are spending 20 percent of their time doing their own research on prospects to try to figure it all out. What their marketing counterparts know is that data overload is a very real and serious problem. If sales reps aren’t focusing on the metrics that matter for lead generation, they are simply wasting time and potentially losing sales opportunities in the process.
Marketers, who face their own challenges getting the right information on prospects, often go overboard. A lot of marketers rely so heavily on the discovery phase for data insights that they bombard leads with extensive forms and qualifying questions, and end up losing most of their prospects before they even get past discovery.
In truth, data can come from all levels of a well-rounded lead generation and nurturing strategy, and both marketing and sales teams could improve their efforts. This includes sharing customer insights.
So, how do we resolve the competing tactics when marketing and sales are working toward the same goal of increased business?
Here are five Big Data insights for actions marketers can take that can free up sales for what they do best: selling:
1. Nurture using behavioral intent data: This provides key insights to do the heavy lifting before marketing further qualifies or sales calls the leads. B2C marketing has long tracked what products and brands resonate with customers; B2B must collect data on what companies buy, how they pay, and how long it takes them to purchase. Use public records and news to get a full picture of prospects’ potential for conversion.
2. Use lead mapping tactics: Help sales teams predict lead behavior and better anticipate the tough questions. Track all digital interactions: opens, clicks, links, page visits, time spent on site, and downloads.
3. Learn the buyer’s sphere of influence: In B2B circles, the person doing the research is only one of the stakeholders in the purchase. A prospective customer must convince the rest of her team that your products or services fill her company’s needs, as well as convince the rest of the company, or at least the purchasing manager, to complete the transaction. Find out who these people are so sales can reach the decision makers earlier.
4. Consider customers’ discovery phase: Traditional approaches allowed for two weeks before marketing followed up on leads with an email. This timeframe has condensed; it’s now critical to reach prospects during the first few days of their research process because intent data is perishable.
5. Understand the complexities in the buyer’s journey: Work with their timeline to deliver company data and research early; more advanced demos and features later, and pricing information closer to the potential conversion to a sale. Insights from data can help your company stay in consideration with multi-touch, multi-platform targeted ads and relevant messages, white papers, etc. that keep prospects engaged until they’re ready to become customers.
Start with a large pool of prospects, and then nurture them with relevant, multi-platform content. Use the data to stay fresh and present in their buying cycle. Find the influencers and move them along the funnel so sales can contact them when they’re most likely ready for a sales call. Each marketing contact will help refine and nurture leads until salespeople can contact those hot prospects and close the sale.
Eric Matlick is CEO of Madison Logic.