Today’s post is by Henry Schuck, co-founder and CEO of DiscoverOrg, a leading global sales and marketing intelligence tool used to accelerate growth at more than 2,000 of the world’s fastest growing companies. DiscoverOrg’s solutions provide a constant stream of accurate and actionable company, contact, and buying intelligence that can be used to find, connect with, and sell to target buyers more effectively.
Companies hungry for growth are increasingly turning to sales data providers with the hope that access to large data sets will significantly improve the volume and quality of sales opportunities.
On the surface, using third-party sales intelligence data seems like a great way to feed the sales pipeline, but, if you fail to evaluate providers for a variety of key attributes, you could end up wasting a lot of money on bad data – and wasting your sales team’s time chasing bad leads.
Unfortunately, these wasteful practices have become the reality for all too many sales teams. Bad data – which I define as any data that is unverified, incomplete, embellished, mislabeled, or outdated – is the root cause of sales reps spending a majority of their time researching instead of selling.
In fact, Gartner says sales teams spend as much as 55 percent of their time on non-sales activities due largely to the requirement to manage sales data.
Many times the sentiment going into purchasing access to a sales data tool is “Whatever we get will be better than the nothing we have right now.” Sales data providers can either alleviate or actually exacerbate this wastefulness depending on the quality of the leads they deliver. But how can you increase your odds before placing a bet on one of the many providers in the market?
First, you have to recognize that, just as not all leads are created equal, not all data sets are created equal – and, ultimately, not all sales data providers are created equal. There’s a surprisingly wide variety of approaches providers take to build and manage data for customers.
Many rely heavily on online searches and automated Web scraping; some use collaborative crowdsourcing techniques; and others employ researchers to validate data.
The tools they offer vary also, including a range of options for searching according to different criteria and how well they integrate with other platforms and technologies in your sales and marketing stack.
With all of the above considerations and more, suddenly the decision on whether to subscribe to sales intelligence data – and which provider to use – is not so simple. Once the decision is made to engage a sales data provider, however, the following 10 attributes are what sales leaders should evaluate.
1. Timeliness, Accuracy, and Cleansing
- Company information changes constantly. Every 30 minutes, 120 business addresses change, 75 phone numbers change, and 20 CEOs leave their jobs. It’s paramount that your data provider continually updates information, intelligently consolidates disparate records, and takes steps to filter bad data.
2. Verified Emails and Phone Numbers
- Contact data is most usable when it’s verified by humans and normalized – that means the information is formatted consistently and conforms to data standards and that you can completely trust what’s going into your system.
3. Org Charts
- An average of six people are involved in a B2B buying decision. With up-to-date and comprehensive org charts on target accounts, sales reps are armed with the names, positions, and areas of responsibility of the company’s leadership structure before they make contact. They can also identify key decision makers and influencers with pinpoint accuracy.
4. Breadth and Depth
- Providers should cover a broad range of businesses, from SMB to enterprise, and provide detailed data across a variety of company and contact attributes. Depth of information means more accounts can be accurately assessed, prioritized, and effectively targeted.
5. Geographical Coverage
- A data provider with identities from around the world can open up profitable global markets for your business. If you’re trying to understand which market it makes sense to move into next, having that data at your fingertips is incredibly powerful.
6. Real-Time Intent Alerts
- Notifications on impending purchases help time sales efforts for success. Additionally, awareness of internal IT initiatives and budgets helps your sales team pitch the right solution to fit the prospect’s specific needs.
7. Predictive Intelligence
- Sophisticated lead scoring analytics and derived data capabilities can take data to the next level, inferring potential outcomes and measuring data points across numerous categories. The ability to filter, segment, and manipulate data for analysis can also yield significant insight for sales strategy.
8. Deep Integrations
- Ensuring the provider’s data syncs with existing CRM, sales prospecting, and marketing automation software makes it easy to leverage information for the highest possible return on investment and maximizes the likelihood that your team will use the data every single day. Data should auto-refresh in your systems – as data decays, your provider should be updating that data and the updated data should reach your systems in a automated way.
- Finding the sweet spot between value, cost, and budget is no easy task, but knowing which areas of competency to measure in a provider can help with the equation.
10. Customer Service
- Look for a data provider with excellent customer reviews, dedicated customer success representatives, robust training programs, and a reputation for being a trusted business partner. These are good indicators of the level of support you can expect.
Using this set of criteria can help you invest in the right sales data provider that can not only deliver the insight necessary to generate better leads and anticipate market needs, but save time and money doing so. With great data at your fingertips, your sales teams can be primed to do what they do best: close more deals than you ever thought possible.