James Isilay, CEO at Cognism looks at how AI can help sales and marketing teams identify key areas for growth and business opportunities.
As companies increasingly adopt CRM technology and improve their data governance, they now have more customer and prospect data than ever before. They have reams of sales and marketing metrics. Yet in the post GDPR era, with plummeting data confidence, growing numbers now admit the sales funnel is broken. With a challenging economic climate and looming Brexit, it is not poor products or services that are compromising business success: it is companies’ inability to close new business, or even identify a new market opportunity.
Data starts to go out of date the minute it hits the CRM – and companies are wasting huge resources targeting the wrong people, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong message. Companies need a far better approach to identifying the core market; approaching the best contacts; and creating messages that resonate. And that model has to be underpinned by real-time insight that encompasses not only standard contact information but also the key events, from funding rounds to staff hiring, that indicate a prospect’s readiness to buy. With a constant feedback loop provided by Revenue AI (Applied Intelligence), companies can rapidly identify revenue opportunities, reach out to prospects and deliver business value. Revenue AI is taking away the pain of new business acquisition.
Broken Sales Funnel
Companies are still struggling to come to terms with the disruption to inbound and digital marketing and sales methodologies created by the introduction of GDPR. But in many ways the lack of confidence regarding the way data can be stored and used across different geographies is a long overdue wake-up call: companies have been compelled to admit the poor quality of data and the resultant inefficient and ineffective marketing outreach.
The issue is not simply the time wasted in marketing to out dated contacts; it is far more significant. Companies are wasting time marketing to businesses that are simply not in the market. Why contact prospects with no budget, or that have just made redundancies rather than a new business that has just received a funding round, won a significant deal or added staff? Effective outreach is not just about ensuring contact details are up to date: it is about leveraging detailed, up to date insight to rapidly identify new revenue streams.
Data Wake Up
Customer and prospect data can be both an incredibly valuable resource – and a liability, depending on its depth, relevance and, critically, timeliness. Whether companies have invested in CRM or are still reliant on spreadsheets to record customer and prospect data, there is now growing awareness that these static data resources are contributing to sales and marketing failure.
Data is always in motion – from job changes to acquisition – and as a result these data resources are continually degrading. Approximately a third of data degrades every year, and most sales teams are using data that is up to 60% out of date. New opportunities must be recognised; an existing customer moving to another company creates a new business opportunity and champions promoted within an organisation can mean the chance to upsell or expand. Damage to customer relationships – from churn in sales and customer service teams – can simply be offset wit good data governance. To gain the data confidence required to identify and close new business, and achieve revenue growth, a completely different approach to data sourcing is required.
Static CRM data is no longer good enough; organisations need access to fresh, accurate and GDPR compliant data. In addition to the two dimensions of company and people, adding the third dimension of events and fourth dimension of real-time data completely transforms the way in which a business can identify and reach its total addressable market.
Access to a deep and accurate customer data resource will immediately plug the gaps in the existing information and, therefore, enable companies to ensure that time is not wasted by reaching out to dated contacts. But that is just the start. The real bottom line opportunity comes from using Revenue AI to better understand the core market, from purchase triggers to decision making personas.
A deep understanding of a customer base enables a company to create a number of specific buying personas which can then be used on a wider data source to rapidly identify highly targeted new business opportunities that have previously not been on the radar. In addition to locating new prospects within existing geographies, this model also provides a fast track route to expansion into new areas – a key consideration in the post-Brexit world.
And with each new outreach campaign, the responses are fed back into the system, providing further insight and better understanding of personas and their reaction to specific messaging – it is Revenue AI’s positive feedback loop that ensures the sales and marketing activity retains momentum and continues to deliver value.
Every business needs to maximise its sales and marketing capacity to drive business growth. But without total confidence in data quality and depth of data resource, sales and marketing activity is by default inefficient and unfocused. With inadequate, untrusted data, how can an organisation use its existing network to accurately understand its customer base to identify its total addressable market or respond rapidly to an event driven opportunity? Current outreach activity not only wastes time with out of date contacts but, even worse, is patently failing to maximise revenue growth.
Not only can companies rapidly identify new revenue opportunities, but a deep and accurate customer data resource can transform the timeliness and accuracy of sales and marketing activity: companies are not only prioritising outreach activity, but each prospect interaction is more focused and relevant to each persona. From job changes to sales wins and recruitment drives, the events that have been identified as key to a business’ market can support well-timed, persona-driven contact at the optimum moment in the sales and buying cycle.
The change is fundamental: no more reliance upon the single star sales person – who then ups and leaves. No more focus on irrelevant or unachievable metrics. Instead, companies can take a far more scientific and structured approach that leverages trusted real-time insight to identify the total addressable market, define the relevant contacts and embark upon a far more effective outreach.
By James Isilay