How data is transforming the role of the sales and marketing professional

By using relevant and accurate data, B2B professionals can close sales deals much more quickly. The ability to understand everything about the buyer’s needs and challenges helps with effective targeting, and this insight can be used to effectively connect with prospects at the right time and in the right way. But it wasn’t always this way.

Time is of the essence

The challenge for many sales and marketing professionals today, though, is how long they are actually spending researching and finding the right target market. And it’s far too long. Dun & Bradstreet’s research found that the average salesperson spends over two hours (128 minutes) looking into each prospect before contacting them. This doesn’t leave a lot of time to reach out to new prospects and sell. This could be why nearly a quarter (24%) of sales professionals say they don’t have enough time to research potential customers and 35% admitted they are under more pressure to provide value in a digitally-led business world beyond what buyers can ordinarily find online.

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In this vein, sales professionals are moving towards a more focused tactic, using master data as a foundation for a ‘sales acceleration’ strategy. With such a noisy B2B environment, engaging today’s buyers has become much more of a challenge, which has ultimately forced relevant, timely and holistic data to guide interactions and touches.

By focusing go-to-market activities on those accounts with the highest propensity to do business with you, sales and marketing success will directly be impacted through more accurate segmentation and targeting, stronger engagement and conversion metrics, more effective campaigns, stronger pipeline generation, and, ultimately, shorter sales cycles.

Using data to accelerate your sales

‘Sales acceleration’ really just means speeding the path from prospect to profitable customer using data and insights and deploying the latter intelligently, in real-time, across systems and teams. There are three important steps to consider here:

1. Data – it’s vital to have data that is organised, 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 a company generates, whether it’s through a website or through the support systems or CRM platform. Plus, there’s third-party data to enrich and complete your first-party data. This is the foundation for engaging prospects with the right context. Making sure your data is clean and structured can create a real competitive advantage. The next step is to tie together all customer activities with a unique identifier so that you can capture every interaction a customer has with your company. That information allows you to build a robust and unique customer experience, which today’s buyer has come to expect.

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2. Driving insights – once your data is structured and clean, you’re able to drive insights pulled from this vast ocean of data; this is where analytics is vital. A company is able to tie all these unique data points together and use the insights to set off a trigger for the salesperson to call at that exact right moment with the exact right context to take the sale to the next level.

Hence the ‘death’ of the cold call! Cloud-based technologies have made this type of instant analysis a reality for many organisations; the cloud keeps your data structured in real-time and is a much more modern take on accelerating sales compared to the older, static methods of prospecting.

3. Operationalise – this is where user experience really comes into play; this final part is helping the salesperson by seamlessly supplying the right data and insights into their daily work routine (such as their CRM), so they can easily act on that information through use of things like trigger alerts. It’s important to deliver the information when and where people want to access it so that it easily becomes a part of the daily flow of activity and, more importantly, so everyone is working from the same dataset.

Ultimately, it’s about being much more prescriptive in highlighting opportunities and stressing what’s changed, the accounts that should be prioritised, and most importantly, how to engage this audience.

Getting rid of guesswork and building relationships

Combining all of the above steps will eliminate a lot of the guesswork that has been so prevalent in sales teams for so long. Data – when structured and used correctly – will guide your approach and inform your team to make a sale in the fastest way possible. And empowering sales and marketing teams with data will allow B2B professionals to build up a rapport with a potential customer too.

>See also: UK firms shun graduates for big data jobs

It’s no longer about closing one particular deal, but making, building and growing the most valuable business relationships.

As B2B professionals are under increasing pressure to close a deal in a crowded market, insights through data will help turn that lead into recognised customer revenue faster.


Sourced by Rishi Dave, CMO at Dun & Bradstreet

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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