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Privacy is a topic that will undoubtedly continue to be top of mind. Demand for it will continue to grow, and the internet of tomorrow is almost certainly going to be a more private place. There’s a sentiment that this may be bad for marketers, but for B2B revenue teams, this future doesn’t have to be worrisome. We have access to the ultimate gold mine: First-party customer data.
What is first-party data?
First-party customer data is data collected by a company directly from a customer. It might be information derived from how a customer acted on the website, or it could have been acquired when the customer filled out a survey or responded to an email. It could also be already publicly available information, which includes basic details like geographic location, names and titles, and anything else that might be on the customer’s own website, social media or available through a simple Google search.
B2B revenue teams, and sales teams in particular, should be leveraging this data to better understand their customers to help solve problems, accelerate deal cycles and ultimately help sellers close business.
Redefining the B2B sales experience with first-party data
B2B sales can feel extremely impersonal. Far too often, I’ve seen a sales motion where sellers rely heavily on “batch and blast” sales outreach that’s completely devoid of personalization or customization. I know when I open my inbox and see one of these notes that has key information wrong, I get frustrated that we’ve seemingly lost the human touch when it comes to the preparation and delivery of a best-in-class, personalized sales experience.
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Good sellers know that building a good relationship with a customer is critical. They also know that the best way to close a deal is to partner with a customer to solve problems and pain points. What’s the best way to do this? Good old-fashioned research.
KYK is critical
It starts with outbound outreach. Understanding the buyer, the company and their product/market fit are easily achievable through a Google search or LinkedIn scroll. The best sellers take information gleaned from this research and infuse it into outbound communication.
When a buyer gets hooked (as evidenced by your due diligence), they should infuse that information into a premium demo where a solution engineer joins to solve a real problem facing the buyer’s business.
First-party data is a cheat code for sellers to thoroughly research and get to know their customers. The most successful sellers dig beyond basic information available, like the geographies a company covers, what products or services they offer and how many employees they have. It requires a little extra time and effort, but it’s well worth it when sellers uncover and analyze information about how a prospective buyer behaves online.
Not sure where to begin this type of research? You already have a ton of it right at your fingertips.
Finding reliable and useful first-party customer data
A lot of the basic information about companies (HQ location, markets they sell in, size of the company) can be easily found in the customer database of most companies — generally a CRM system.
This is some of the most crucial and fundamental data about customers that can be leveraged in sales conversations, and it’s right there, already collected. But you’d be surprised how many salespeople don’t take advantage of it! Don’t fall into that camp.
A lot of pertinent info on your customer is probably on the internet as a matter of public record. Public companies must file detailed financial reports quarterly. Their CEOs will often also pen a letter on what is going on with the company, its current positioning, challenges and focuses. And don’t forget to look for other filings and investor calls!
If it’s a private company, there’s still plenty of information to be gleaned through publications that have written about the company or through some quick Google searches. All of this is great information for your sales team.
Both the business page and your contact’s page on LinkedIn are great windows into your customer’s mind. What are their accounts posting about?
Remember that it’s largely marketing teams handling the social media posting for businesses, so when a topic is talked about on their LinkedIn pages, you know it’s top of mind for them, and important to how the company wants to be perceived. That strategic information can bolster any pitch.
Conversation AI and other technologies
A lot of sales technology is capturing vital information that is worth reviewing. For example, AI technology can record a series of Zoom conversations with customers and analyze how they are going, and where the sentiment of your customer is leaning — toward your company or a competitor.
Not only can you use this kind of technology to get a better understanding of your customer, but you can also use it to analyze your sales team’s effectiveness. Seeing what successful sales reps do and how it differs from reps who have less success can strengthen your whole approach.
For example, in my own experience, I’ve seen that the best-performing sales reps talk less than 50% of the time when on with a customer, while the worst-performing sales reps speak around 80% of the time. Using this information to make your broader sales team more effective is just as useful as the data gathered on customers.
Potential customers who come to your website leave a lot of footprints. If you know what to look for, you can tell where they are in the buying decision process. Think of it like a digital car lot. In the real world, the moment someone walks on the lot, the salesperson watches from the office to see what cars they check out, how long they spend on certain models, and other telling behaviors.
Through observing these patterns, a good salesperson will have a strong understanding of where to start the conversation and where they should lead it.
If a customer spends a lot of time on your site, heads to multiple pages, and reads specific pieces of content, they provide an incredible amount of useful data. If they come back multiple times — or even better, if another individual from their company visits the site, that’s a sign that your salespeople should come out of the office, so to speak, and engage them more directly.
Ads on search engines that lead to your site are another useful tool, as they identify the specific phrases and search terms that led a particular person to your site. If you provide many different products, knowing which one a customer is interested in before they even tell you will speed the sales process along.
Customer service databases
Finally, a shockingly low number of sales teams utilize another resource sitting in their company, ready to be made useful: Customer service information.
It’s easier to sell current customers additional products than to bring new customers into the fold. Sales efforts to expand these accounts should make ample use of the data compiled during their time as a customer. What products are they using? Are they having issues? When was the last time they put in a ticket — is there one open right now? What’s their customer satisfaction score?
Knowing the answers to these questions before pushing for an expanded account is vital. This type of data is the foundation of the relationship you’re trying to build upon. And you want to be aware of the customer’s historical and recent experiences with the products they already have.
It’s going to be an uphill battle to sell a new product to a customer who is currently frustrated with the old one, and it might damage the long-term prospects with that customer if you try to do so at the wrong time.
Knowledge is power
Many of your competitors are likely not using this info, so you have a real opportunity to jump ahead of them when you’re fighting for the same business.
First-party customer data will help you map your team’s sales approach to what the customer needs, making your offering appear more valuable. Even in a more private, online future, these means of getting to know your customers are going to make the difference between closing a sale and a months-long approach that results in no revenue.
Sales conversations used to happen in the boardroom, and now they’re almost entirely online — tapping into the technology we have at hand, as a result, can be a game-changer.
Sean Whiteley is founder of Qualified.
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