(Published in the April Argyle CMO online publication targeting 4000 CMOs globally.)
70 percent or more of marketing business to business leads aren’t being followed up by sales. And the reason is trust. Establishing trust — the moment that you believe the salesperson understands your problem and the solution they are pitching makes sense — is normally associated with customer relationships. Instead, what I’m talking about are the leads marketing “sells” to sales.
According to a commissioned study by Dunn & Bradstreet, three quarters of sales reps and sales operations managers say that they need deep, accurate information to be more successful in their job. However, most salespeople assess marketing qualified leads with cynicism. The lead data, everything needed to understand the company and decision maker, is perceived to be incomplete, out-of-date or inaccurate — often rightly so.
When the quality of the lead data is questioned, marketing efforts are undermined and CRM and sales force automation systems go underutilized. One part of the problem is that there often are several data sources, such as legacy CRM systems, procured third-party profiles, and digital behavior gleaned by tracking responses to digital marketing programs. Each of these sources provides differing customer information, but no single source delivers a complete, insightful profile.
Enter Big Data and the thickening bond between CIOs and CMOs. CIOs are tasked with integrating Big Data, in its different structured and unstructured forms, and churning out actionable information. CMOs can then apply data analytics to paint a true 360-degree picture of a prospect to feed into enterprise CRM systems, with knowledge bases continuously updated using technologies developed to manage Big Data.
It can be done, and in fact recently has been done by Level 3 Communications. SVP of Marketing Maggie Chan Jones and her team drove an initiative in which more than 90 million records from multiple sources were combined. And by partnering with Mark Martinet (CIO of Level 3) on the project roadmap, the solution ensures that same dataset will flow across multiple systems and platforms. Consequently, everyone sees the market and customers through the same lens. Sales has the key segment attributes and in-depth customer insight they need to reach out with the right information at the right time, and marketing can execute more carefully, with on-target messaging that creates better return on their investments into automated tools and content.
What can’t be lost sight of is how customers and prospects benefit. In light of the changing nature of sales cycles, it’s more important than ever for sales to know what makes sense to offer and when, so that everyone’s time is put to best use.
Success instills trust — between sales and marketing, and between your company and your customers. Big Data can help make it happen, you just need to turn the data into information.
Jon Russo is a three time B2B Chief Marketing Officer in global companies ranging from former divisions of General Electric to successful Silicon Valley start-ups. He currently runs B2B Fusion Group, a vendor neutral business helping business-to-business sales and marketing leaders accelerate revenue growth by connecting marketing investment to new revenue opportunities. His clients include Level 3, SAP and IEEE, among others. He can be found on Twitter @b2bcmo.