How to Use Data to Power Your B2B Sales Strategy

Author: 
Jeff Kalter

When it comes to building a winning B2B sales strategy, forget about business as usual. Whether you’re managing inside or field sales, gut instinct needs to take a back seat to data-driven insights.

In today’s crowded and highly competitive sales environment, your reps need all the insight they can get if they’re going to close sales, meet quota and grow the business. They need data. Lots of data. And they require the tools that allow them to leverage that data in ways that differentiate your business from the rest of the pack.

Sadly, less than half of reps are using data to help them determine a buyer’s propensity to buy. However, among the reps relying on data, a whopping 85% say it makes them more effective.

To help you power up your reps’ efficiency, boost the bottom line and deliver a customer experience that lasts long after the initial sale, here are a few ideas for leveraging data as part of your B2B sales strategy.

Start Small

If you’re just starting out, don’t try to tackle the world. Start small and prove success. Dig into your existing customer database and start looking at your best customers, the ones that have brought the most revenues and have stayed with you the longest. What do they have in common? Maybe they all found you in a similar way – social media, a trade show or sales outreach, for example. Are there any commonalities in their firmographics, such as size, industry or geographic location? By answering these questions, you’re on your way to developing an Ideal Customer Profile.

Information like this will tell you a lot about how to streamline your sales and marketing efforts as well as which companies have the greatest likelihood to buy. 

If your team starts to use data to build a pipeline and close sales, it will go a long way to getting upper management’s support for data initiatives.

Keep Data Clean and Current

As you begin to rely on data, you’ll discover that it’s important to keep your data clean and current. You need good data management practices that help ensure that contact information is accurate.

If your reps can’t trust the data they’re using, they won’t use it and will revert to their old ways. In addition to systematic data management, make sure that your reps use your CRM system and keep their account data and contact information current and complete.

Employ Technology Wisely

Marketing technology guru Scott Brinker has been tracking and documenting the growth of the marketing technology landscape for almost a decade. In the 2019 edition of his Supergraphic, he documented more than 7,000 companies offering data management, marketing automation, customer experience tools, social media monitoring and more.

That number is almost unfathomable considering there were fewer than 150 companies in this space just nine years ago. The number of tools is growing because they are useful and in demand. So, as you develop a data-driven B2B sales strategy, you need to add tools, technologies, platforms, dashboards, analytics and more data sources.

But remember, the ultimate key to your success will be the ability of sales, marketing, support and management to use the systems. You need an integrated technology stack that does what your teams need it to do with the least amount of fuss.

Make smart buying decisions, strive for a solid integration, involve end users in the process and provide adequate training. Remember that not everyone will see the long-term vision or the short-term benefit, so make sure you set strict rules around the use of the systems.

Use Your Data

So how can data power up your B2B sales strategy? Perhaps the easier question is what can’t data help you do better? Not much. The more machine intelligence is brought to data, the more precise and automated the 21st century sales process becomes.

Here are just a few ways for you to use data in sales and marketing:

Lead Scoring: Once you determine the key data points that help you decide if a lead is most likely to become a prospect and, ultimately, a customer, use analytics to score leads. Doing so can make your presales process more precise by helping to prioritize lead handling. 

Social Selling: Track and analyze customer and prospects’ social media habits – where they spend the most time, the kind of content they like, share and download and more. This will help guide your marketing efforts and where you should place content and advertising.

Pricing: Negotiating a deal shouldn’t be based on a gut feeling… not when you can use hard data to study pricing behavior across industries and company size. Buying teams are using pricing tools to determine what they should pay.  Likewise, you should use pricing tools for what you should charge.

Customer Experience: In addition to identifying your buyers with the highest propensity to buy, you want the right message, the right support material and content to intersect with a prospect throughout the customer journey. And you want the appropriate rep interacting and building rapport with the prospect. When you can anticipate buyers’ and customer needs even before they do, you can deliver the greatest value added service before, during and after the sale.

Remember the movie “Moneyball” and how Major League Baseball used analytics to revolutionize the game? With data and analytics you can do the same and revolutionize your B2B sales strategy. Start small, use clean and current data, employ technology, prove the viability of your strategy and grow from there.

Jeff Kalter is CEO of 3D2B, a global provider of sales and marketing services, including lead generation.