The differentiation of data has transformed the sales process. We have technographic data to peer into the technical infrastructure our prospects use. We have behavioral and intent data to show us how our prospects interact with our brand and when they’re most likely to convert. We even have penetration data to see how conversation about our content travels through a company.
Knowing how various types of data allow you to pinpoint opportunities to connect with customers who actually need your solution, rather than bombarding unfit leads, is key to any successful sales approach.
Here we’ll dive into how executing against certain combinations of data points at different stages of the sales funnel will help your sales team streamline their sales process and create a unique and exciting experience for your prospects.
The awareness phase
Using proper data in the awareness phase can save you a lot of time down the line. This phase is your opportunity to introduce yourself to the people you know need your product (and to make a memorable impression on them).
Before you get in front of these people, you first need to know who you’re looking for, which you can achieve by creating a detailed representation of your ideal customer. Ask yourself: Do I have the data I need to identify my ideal customer profile and disqualify every account that isn’t a match?
When you have a solid understanding of your ideal customer’s desires, pain points, technology and behaviors, your team is better equipped to focus their efforts on best-fit opportunities. Your lists will be smarter and your team will be able to produce original, tailored content that resonates with your audience and makes them feel special.
The most critical data types to incorporate into your awareness phase marketing strategies include:
- Firmographic data: How much do you really know about the companies you’re targeting? Firmographic data helps you understand the ins and outs of your prospect’s organization, including employees, revenue, location and more.
- Technographic data: What technology do your prospects use to operate? Technographic data allows you to see the “wires” of the company, but only on a binary (yes or no) basis.
- Behavioral data: What content have your prospects viewed, both on and off your site, related to your brand? How many people within an account have viewed content? This type of data helps you understand your existing relationships on a deeper level.
- Contextual/intelligence data: Goes deeper than technographic data to look at how a company is using specific technologies, how much they’re spending on the cloud and where their markets are growing so you can have hyper-relevant conversations.
- Prioritization data: Prioritization is helpful if you’re taking an account-based approach and want to tier your prospects or accounts.
Once you review and analyze this data and know who you’re really going after, you can craft the right kind of content and messages to attract them and address their problem.
The awareness phase in sales is best achieved through a combination of inbound and outbound selling methods like content marketing, cold email, pillar content with nurture campaigns and social selling. Collaborate with your marketing team to make sure you’re getting in front of your ideal customer in various ways to sufficiently capture their attention.
The interest phase
Once you’ve connected with a prospect, your goal is to drive their continued interest in your product. Your efforts in the interest phase should be focused on recognizing which channels prospects are converting on and discerning which conversions are leading to a purchase. For example, if someone responded to a cold email, they’re likely more interested than someone who simply downloaded an ebook.
That conversion is the pivotal moment when the reins will be handed over to the sales team. This handoff will be much cleaner if Marketing and Sales communicate about the data that qualified the lead in the first place. Understanding the data will also help the sales team choose an appropriate course of action.
You can discover your prospect’s level of interest by using these types of data:
- Behavioral data: What actions have they taken on your site? Did they download a piece of gated content? Have they participated in any behavior that would lead you to believe they would like to be contacted directly or would you just be annoying them?
- Urgency data: This type of data is all about jumping on leads who want to talk to you right now. Did a prospect call you? Did they hit the “request demo” button? Did they communicate with chatbots for detailed information? All of these scenarios are examples of urgency data and should be addressed ASAP.
- Prioritization data: After you’ve handled the urgent leads, prioritize the rest of your leads by level of interest. Similar to the implementation of prioritization data in the awareness phase, this data is meant to help you understand which leads deserve more of your dedicated time up front.
After prioritizing your leads by interest, you can turn your focus toward increasing their interest through strategic campaigns, playbooks and content.
Your success up to this point could have you feeling trigger-happy with your content. But blasting your leads with campaigns and content can actually deter them from moving forward with you – especially if the content is irrelevant. The top reason business buyers have limited engagement with B2B vendors is because marketers are sending them large quantities of irrelevant content (34%).
So how do you deepen their interest without annoying your prospect or coming off clueless? Use data to deliver smarter content. Take advantage of different types of data to execute smarter playbooks, campaigns and content to keep your brand and solution top of mind.
- Intent data: While commonly referred to as a little black box, intent data can supplement your existing data to clarify a prospect’s position in the buying process so you can send them the right content at the right time.
- Social media data: Pay attention to your prospect’s social engagement behaviors. Has your prospect followed you or the company on social media platforms? Have they engaged with your content? More importantly, what content are they (both the company and the individual you’re talking to) engaging with on social, and how can you tailor your content to match their interests?
- Behavioral data: Behavioral data is a huge help when adjusting your prospect’s experience through the buying journey. Did they sign up for your marketing newsletter? Do they keep visiting your website? Have they stopped opening your emails? Did they spend a few minutes or a few seconds looking at that one-pager?
Data can help you add value to your prospect’s journey in the interest phase by personalizing their experience. Your teams can work with Marketing to create personalized sales flows within your tools to send prospects on unique journeys based on certain characteristics.
The decision phase
You’ve completed the demo. You’re involving more team members. You’ve invited your boss into the conversation. Here we go: they want a proposal.
The decision phase is your chance to build trust and confirm that you can actually solve your prospect’s problem. Every step of the decision stage of the sales funnel can be optimized with data. Increase that close-to-win ratio at the finish line using these data types:
- Penetration data: Penetration data helps you understand how deep your content reaches through your prospect’s organization. How many team members have clicked on that one-pager you sent? How many watched the demo video? How many times has your email been forwarded?
- Competitive intelligence: When you’ve reached the decision phase, chances are that your prospect is shopping around and close to purchasing. Having clear insights into your competitor’s technology, operations and strategy can help you proactively differentiate yourself and highlight your unique value proposition. That way, if a prospect says, “but ACME has feature ABC,” you’ll already have a rebuttal prepared.
- Spend intelligence data: Do you know how much they’re spending on similar products? This type of data can help you focus on getting the best deal for your company as the negotiations enter the final stages.
The action phase
When you reach the action phase, you’re eagerly awaiting your prospect’s signature. You’ve sent dozens of documents. You’ve crafted a sparkling purchase order and you’re 100% focused on providing value through the process.
There’s just one problem: you haven’t heard back from your customer in a week. Data can remedy this issue once again. Use different data types to craft that ultra-valuable last follow-up email that ensures you retain the deal through the finish line.
- Behavioral data: Pay attention to how your docs travel around an organization by using a behavioral data platform that provides this information.
- Product data: Knowing your product inside and out is critical in these last stages, especially if you’re selling to an enterprise company. Your customer will ask technical questions and look for holes in your solution as they complete these final steps before purchase. Product data will help you match their technical questions with practical, in-depth answers.
- Customer data: It’s not uncommon for a new member of leadership to enter the conversation at the last minute and start asking questions. Customer data will support your product and their decision to go with you.
This phase is about using data proactively as your prospect asks those final questions to ensure you close the deal.
Your product will dictate the different types of sales data you need
Your company’s data needs will depend largely on your product and ideal client profile. If you’re just getting started with incorporating different types of data into your sales funnel, focus on the data that will provide the most value for your organization.
Discuss various types of data with both your sales and marketing teams to see which data types are currently adding value to your sales process. Look for holes in their resources for analysis and decision-making, then create a plan to amp up your team’s current data resources with these different types of data.