Bernice Grossman has a message for business-to-business marketers starting to explore the mobile and social media channels: Slow down, and review some fundamental data opportunities which are largely being overlooked.
A key difference between B-to-B and consumer marketing is B-to-B's greater reliance on sales forces. Grossman, principal consultant and founder of data consultancy DMRS Group, notes that as marketing has taken control of online operations, it has also increasingly taken control of directing leads to salespeople.
Rather than just handing off leads at pre-set intervals, she says, marketing can work with sales to increase the effectiveness of lead distribution through scoring.
"Lead scoring means better sales people might be given slightly different leads," Grossman says. "Let's say you've ranked your leads: Your lesser salespeople might not be able to handle those [with lower scores], but your best might be able to convert them."
Marketers doing this should be transparent about their activities, Grossman cautions. Salespeople and an organization can negotiate different compensation for those more challenging leads.
"The process of feeding leads as needed to salespeople can be customized based on the salesperson's comfort," Grossman adds. Some salespeople want, for instance, 100 leads they can whip through, making initial contact with all of them quickly. Others do better taking 20 leads at a time and focusing on them.
Adjusting the lead-feeding system to individual salespeople's rhythms means fewer leads will sit around becoming stale and losing their vitality.
Hand in hand with marketing automation systems reviews is a look at the data that feed into them. "Mobile and social may be sexy, but how are your lists?" Grossman asks. "Your lists are where your money is."
When it comes to data quality and availability, B-to-B marketers have been more talk than action, Grossman says. "It has always been easier to complain than to have a deeper data strategy," she notes.
"Audit your data sources," says Grossman. "Invest time and dollars and determine exactly what the key data points that will better prep your sales staff are. Consider construction companies. Is data on building plans, and the length of time prior to starting to build a prospect buys, or contracts to buy, material useful? You betcha. Is this available information? Possibly, with a bit of legwork and the willingness to spend more to get it. But think of the ROI differential when salespeople are given the basics versus when they have rich information!"
So where does one obtain this information? Start with a list broker, Grossman advises. Investigate what information is collected by trade publications and associations. A review of relevant subscription qualifications cards and membership forms can offer some insight into what they gather. And there are always partnership deals that can be struck with organizations, under which they add your essential questions to their surveys.
Finally, Grossman notes that behavior and attitudinal information is coming onto the market. "What if you knew that a prospect doesn't speak to people via the telephone in the morning, but instead prefers e-mail?" Grossman asks.
Grossman leaves B-to-B data wranglers with a question. "What single piece of data that you do not have do you want, and what do you have to do to get it?"