Think You Know Your Prospects? 3 Steps to Closing Business With the Right Decision-Maker

February 22, 2018 Jennifer Wyne

2018 is poised to be a particularly busy year for people looking to start new jobs. With the unemployment rate at a 17-year low, and companies planning to accelerate hiring plans, opportunities for career growth and advancement will be bountiful. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most American workers will switch jobs 10 to 15 times between the ages of 18 and 48, so there has never been a better time to make a career change. While that’s great news for most, the rapid turnover may actually disrupt the goals of sales and marketing professionals.

The road to closing business in the B2B realm can be a long, complex journey. B2B sellers can spend months, even years, cultivating relationships with potential buyers in hopes of turning them into customers. But when a potential buyer leaves a company for greener pastures, the seller is often the last to know.

Admit it, you’ve invested time and resources to prepare for a sales call, only to find you’ve reached the wrong person. You’re left asking, where did my contact go? Who’s the right decision-maker now? And what are the chances your former advocate brought the new guy up to speed about your products or services before she left – probably not her highest priority. The last thing any seller wants to do is start from square one researching who the right contact is and walking them through the initial sales pitch from scratch.

Nevertheless, it is your responsibility to know any changes that have taken place at a particular account. But how can you do that efficiently when you’re relying on crummy data?

As people move from one company to another, their email addresses and phone numbers change, meaning the accuracy of business records degrades, opening the door to some really awkward sales conversations. Sellers need clean, integrated, structured, real-time data and insights to inform the right conversations.

Complete business records give you more options for segmenting and delivering targeted messaging, resulting in a higher probability for success. For example, enhancing a record with firmographics (which can include everything from a company’s geography and employee size to the organization’s annual revenue and total assets) allows for more robust lead scoring, as well as proper routing to sales. What’s more, having detailed industry information for a company allows vertical-specific messaging for outbound marketing and dynamic delivery of relevant content on your website. In addition, enriching company data with individual contact information will help you narrow down your audience to focus in on the decision-makers with whom you should be engaging. Are they new to the company? Were they promoted? These insights can help you understand where to spend time prospecting and upselling – not to mention how to frame the conversation – instead of wasting resources on blind alleys and manually updating your CRM.

With the right data, you should no longer be in the dark when your favorite prospect hits the road. And you should even be able to identify any new opportunities with their new employer. You may just have a new lead you didn’t know about. Add that to your pipeline!

While you should certainly be concerned about bad information in your database, you should also think about what’s missing. Is there anything else that enriched data can tell you about your customer or prospect? Incomplete data presents its own set of challenges throughout the funnel – namely low conversions and missed sales opportunities. It also causes duplicates, wrong categories, missing hierarchies, and incorrect location information.

Bad data results in bad decision-making, poor customer service, and a damaged reputation. But most importantly, the lack of high-quality and accurate data is going to cost you time and money. On the other hand, if you proactively clean, enrich, maintain, and master your sales database, you’ll have more confidence that you’re reaching the right people to drive qualified leads and ROI. Here are a few steps every sales and marketing organization should start employing to ensure the sellers have the most valuable conversations:

Clean – consolidate duplicate records, standardize formatting, remove outdated/wrong information to get a consolidated, up-to-date view of your customers and prospects and prevent erroneous communications
Enrich – add key/missing elements (such as industry, company size, and contacts) and layer in intent data to deepen account relationships
Analyze – a clean database allows you to identify your best customers and look for more like them while being able to identify revenue-growth opportunities
Doing all this is often easier said than done, and it’s not something that happens overnight. But by leveraging the right tools and technology, these steps can help keep you in the loop with the latest goings-on at your accounts.

Here’s an example. Using our own sales intelligence platform, our sales team recently saw a triggered alert announcing a new EVP of Sales and a new EVP/CMO at one of our accounts that we prioritized as a having a high probability of buying one of our solutions. Immediately, our salesperson sent an email welcoming them and introducing himself to the new contacts, proposing a meeting to talk through their go-to-market strategy, priorities, and anticipated challenges based on the data we had.

The CMO’s assistant responded, suggesting a day and time, and is bringing the EVP of Sales into the meeting. By focusing on the relationship, the individuals, and their real-time needs, the sales rep put himself in a position to have the right conversation at the right time with the decision-makers who will form the core buying group at the prospect company.

Sales is so much more than who you know. It’s what you know that will help you close business.

This week’s post is by guest author, Michael Goldberg, Global Director of Content Marketing for Dun & Bradstreet, a data and analytics company that grows the most valuable relationships in business. By uncovering truth and meaning from data, D&B connects customers with prospects, suppliers, clients, and partners that matter most since 1841.

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