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How to Use Data to ‘Sell Personally’ to B2B Customers

By January 7, 2016 2 Comments

How to Use Data to Sell Personally to B2B Customers

Leads and The Data Driven Approach: Sell Personally

If you were ever stereotyped as a troublemaker or a nerd in high school, you know what is it to be classified, to be put in a box. Chances are you didn’t like it, and that wasn’t fully who you were.

But, you may have played the part of the troublemaker or the nerd anyhow. We tend to conform to labels unless someone gives us a chance to break out.

And that’s what a quality marketing and sales operation does: gives the lead a chance to become more than just a lead, and gives the prospect a chance to become more than just a prospect. Craig Wortmann’s impact questions are an example of what I’m talking about.

Impact questions give a prospect the chance to think and to involve their opinion in the sales process. By doing so, these questions recognize the individual’s status as an individual, with important opinions and feelings.

But when it comes to generating leads, how do you give someone a chance to become more than just a lead? It’s like walking up to a person you’ve seen in the hall at school, someone you want to be friends with, and trying to start a conversation. If you simply know them as a troublemaker and treat them as such, you’re not going anywhere.

Let’s Get To Know Our Leads  

For the sake of this exercise, I’d like to talk business-to-business sales. According to Forbes author John Rampton, a 2015 Harris Poll shows 95% of executives want personalized sales interactions. So if we’re doing B2B sales at the executive level, we need to look at who this person is.

Lead scoring

One way we can get to know our executive is through lead scoring. This system relies on numbers to narrow down leads—to qualify leads based on what the numbers tell us about them.

According to Intelliconnection author Sandra Donovan, lead scoring looks like this:

  • Metrics, both explicit and implicit, tell the story of where the lead stands in relation to target audience and level of engagement with a product or service
  • Explicit metrics: demographics, firmographics, budget and authority to purchase, need for product or service, time-frame for purchase
  • Implicit metrics: website activity, email engagement, and social media activity
  • Scoring takes metrics information and assigns the lead a numerical value, based on how close or far way they are from being likely to make a purchase
  • Evaluation and iteration accounts for the individual’s dynamic relationship with the product, service, or brand; this part of the process tracks the lead’s ongoing proximity to prospect status

The elephant in the room

Lead scoring uses data to create an in-depth picture of a person, in relation to a product or service. But are we treading on people’s privacy when we collect data on them and use it to target sales? If 95% of execs want a “personalized sales interaction,” how far should we go in personalizing?

In terms of data breaches, if I’m an executive and my company is one of the 55% who don’t have a security strategy in place, I would be concerned if lead scoring goes toward collecting and analyzing my companies’ internal information. But lead scoring looks at data that is readily available—it’s not intrusive.

I’d like to go back to the analogy of making a friend in high school. If you’ve simply observed this person likes basketball, and has gone to every basketball game this season and has hung out with other fanatics during halftime, you’re not invading privacy. You are making observations about how the person spends their time in relation to an interest. That’s what we’re doing with lead scoring.

Let’s Get To Know Our Executive

This is where things get interesting. For the sake of the exercise, I’d like to talk travel.

For explicit metrics, there’s survey information from Travel Leader’s Group. Survey respondents predicted business travel would go up by more than 7% in 2015. If I’m in the hotel industry, I can look at this information to pinpoint what type of product or service my leads—in this case executives—will value because of the increase in travel.

Executives don’t just travel domestically, they travel globally. And 78% of global business travelers are looking for ease of access to Wi-Fi, both on the plane and in the hotel. But according to the Travel Leader’s Group survey, 17.7% of business travelers encounter a hotel fee for internet. The executive may be more inclined to stay at a luxury hotel, but a Hipmunk study found that luxury hotels are the most likely to charge for internet. Travel costs are the fifth biggest concern for businesses.

Just looking at this on a surface level, I can assume an executive would prioritize my hotel if I offer free high speed Wi-Fi. Or, they may be interested in a loyalty program that offers free internet. This is one of the things that could attract an executive to give me their company’s travel business. Earning loyalty points is the fourth biggest concern for businesses.

A study by Marketforce found 40% of people found their hotel through an online search. So I would increase my email outreach and social media marketing, in addition to optimizing my website user experience and SEO. If I offer free Wi-Fi, I would market accordingly.

Marketforce also found that the Marriott and Hilton were rated best overall. And, according to the Hipmunk study cited above, both Marriott and Hilton have loyalty programs that offer free internet.

The Sales Picture

The metrics I gathered above are available to anyone. Just looking at these type of stats, if I’m a smaller hotel chain, I can drill down and look at other stats related to the business traveler hotel experience. Then, I can get closer and closer to my target customer—the enterprise business executive who wants to save money on smaller travel expenses—such as internet—because the size of their business requires a ton of travel.

I can use implicit metrics to see how close they are to needing accommodations. From there, I can tailor my service, and my sales-presence at trade shows, accordingly. I can use sales acceleration software to determine best times to make sales appointments. Finally, I can make appointments with HR executives and offer them a loyalty package for all their business accommodation needs, a loyalty package that blows Marriott and Hilton away.

These are just some of the ways I could use the information about the travel industry. The point is, I’ve worked to get closer to understanding my leads. Once my leads become prospects, my personalization is valuable to them. I’m that much closer to understanding what they need, and I’m that much closer to converting.

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Daniel Matthews

Daniel Matthews is a freelance writer from Boise, ID who writes for Social Media Today, Switch and Shift, Triple Pundit, and Jeff Bullas, among others. He specializes in company culture, marketing, and tech, with a sprinkle of anything super-interesting in the world right now. Please find him on Twitter.


Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Judy Caroll says:

    Sales and data are just related to one another. Well I find your article as an informative one. A lot of readers will surely get something from it. For me, we need to know how to use our data because it is very essential in selling. I am looking forward to read a lot more of your blogs 🙂

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