Leveraging Data for More Informed Decision Making in Difficult Times

Make More Informed Decisions and Build Pipeline

As sales and marketing teams face new challenges brought about by COVID-19, the need for data-driven decision making is more important than ever to adjust strategies in response to the global pandemic.

Meetings on the Decline

Spending is slowing down across most industries. Our own customers have reported a sharp decrease in the number of first meetings they are able to secure. In fact, in a recent D&B Hoovers customer webinar, 58.2% of respondents to a survey[i] indicated the number of first sales meetings has decreased since the start of 2020. This is not surprising. On a good day it can be difficult to get a prospect to return your call. It takes time, persistence, and a clear path to value to get a buyer’s attention. So how do you succeed in challenging times? For many, it’s not easy. You need perseverance and patience. You also need data.

Quality company data can support your quest by providing insights into your prospects’ situation, spending patterns, and decision makers. Being armed with this information can help maximize your productivity – and chances of success – by focusing on the opportunities that best align with your use cases. You’ll spend more time working with quality leads and less time chasing after leads that are unlikely to close.

In this article, we will discuss ways you can leverage data to help build your pipeline.

The Value of Data

Data provides facts about a business. For example, data can clarify a company’s financial situation or reveal activities that align with the solutions you sell. With these facts in hand, you can make more informed decisions rather than relying on instinct alone, for example, whether a particular business can be considered a qualified lead, and how it might rank against other qualified leads. We’re not saying you shouldn’t apply your experience, too, but don’t be afraid to trust your data! Let data support your hypothesis, or even better, help you discover new opportunities that you may overlook.

In our 7th Annual B2B Sales and Marketing Data Report, 93% of respondents reported that quality data is important to their sales or marketing effectiveness. Data is the great equalizer! Regardless of size, location, or industry, organizations using quality data in smart, innovative ways will see positive results.

B2B data and insights can help sales professionals:

  • Target more strategically
  • Understand risk
  • Prioritize the strongest opportunities
  • Identify decision makers and buying centers
  • Get in the door before your competition
  • Connect the challenges your prospect is facing to the problems your solutions can solve

Target More Strategically

Once upon a time, lead lists worked like this: You placed your order with the lead-gen vendor and you would receive a huge list of companies that met basic firmographic criteria, for example, VP’s of engineering at manufacturing companies within 1,000 miles of Chicago with an annual revenue of more than $500 million. You’d dole out the records to your sales team for follow-up and call it a day.

Wow – have we come a long way! We had no true insights into what was really happening at those companies. Our outreach was bland, one-size-fits all. This was classic “spray and pray” marketing – tell everyone about our solution; pray someone would listen and make contact.

Today’s buyers (and marketers) are more sophisticated. Buying cycles are also more complicated, and budgets are shrinking. To secure a meeting, you need to articulate value. It is much easier to do that when you understand the buyer’s needs and challenges. Data can provide this insight.

One way to segment a list of prospects is to add criteria that identifies activities or conditions that align with your ideal customer profiles or exposes a need for your products or services. A sales intelligence solution such as D&B Hoovers can help identify opportunities based on business characteristics and behaviors that a target account is engaged in. For example, a sales team can make more informed decisions to target, or not to target, an account based on hardware or software usage (are they using a solution that works well with what your company sells?), growth, signs of merger and acquisition, bankruptcy activity, legal issues, contract wins, and more. By adding specificity to your search, you can target with precision to identify opportunities that are more likely to close.

Understanding Risk: Show Me the Money!

An important component to evaluating whether to do business with a company is an understanding of their financial situation. Do they have cash flow? Are they paying their bills on time? Credit scores provide some insight, but there are other tools that provide even deeper insights into spending and payment behaviors. This can help you better evaluate the level of risk associated with doing business with a new company and even an existing customer that you’ve been doing business with for many years.

Spend ranking tools like the Spend Capacity scores in D&B Hoovers can help salespeople quickly understand if an organization is spending money. In this example, each company is ranked from 0-99 based on how spending compares to other companies.

Prioritize the Strongest Opportunities

Data can provide insight into who may be actively researching products and solutions like those your company offers – even if these prospects aren’t visiting your website. These insights can help you target in-market buyers who are showing active interest in solutions like yours. More advanced analytical tools can also be used to score accounts based on intent, so you can prioritize your prospects.

Identify Decision Makers and Buying Centers

Part of any sales process is identifying the decision makers. It’s easy for deals to stall when decision makers and the person who will ultimately sign off on the deal are brought into the conversation too late. One way you can find decision makers is to identify the buying centers within an organization, but this can be difficult to determine. Another approach is to focus on where the C-level executives are located.

Tools such as Decision HQ in D&B Hoovers uses a combination of data and analytics that can identify the buying centers in an organization.

Tools such as Decision HQ in D&B Hoovers uses a combination of data and analytics that can identify the buying centers in an organization.


Get in the Door First – Know What’s Happening

The old saying still rings true: Timing is everything! Sales success is often tied to timing. It’s important to get the proverbial foot in the door as early as possible -- before your competition. One way you can do this is by monitoring your accounts for breaking news that can signal a cross-sell/upsell opportunity or a new sale.

Company websites and social media accounts are good sources for company news. You can also set up Google Alerts for key accounts. But when you’re hunting for new opportunities, the volume of data is overwhelming. Where do you start?

Monitoring tools, such as the real-time trigger alerts, can alert a savvy sales team to breaking events such as an executive change, merge, acquisition, or layoff. These events  could warrant sales to reach out with an offer or solution.

Monitoring tools, such as the real-time trigger alerts, can alert a savvy sales team to breaking events such as an executive change, merge, acquisition, or layoff. These events could warrant sales to reach out with an offer or solution.


Connect the Challenges Your Prospect is Facing to the Problems Your Solutions Can Solve

Knowing a company means knowing their industry, too. Data provides insight into what is happening at a company as well as the events that are impacting the industry or region. Company websites can provide insight into the leadership team, news, and what the company does, but to see the big picture you need to rely on industry publications, news articles, analyst reports, and competitor websites. But as valuable as this information is, the research is time consuming. Aren’t you supposed to be spending more time selling?

Fortunately, there are tools that busy sales teams can leverage to strategize how their solutions can help solve a business’ challenges. For example, in-depth company profiles, available in D&B Hoovers, can provide extensive information about a business and their industry in an easy to understand format, so that a proactive sales team can quickly identify details that can help gain the buyer’s attention.

Callout: See D&B Hoovers in action

Dun & Bradstreet recently hosted a webinar for D&B Hoovers customers to demonstrate how First Research Industry Profiles and advanced analytic options such as Decision HQ and Spend Capacity can help support sales efforts during difficult times. See a short demo of these tools in action here.

Stay Safe and Keep Selling

In any economic climate, activating B2B data can provide valuable insight and guidance for sales teams. Knowledge of business behaviors, spend capacity, buyer intent, and decision makers can help to eliminate distractions and prioritize the leads that have the best opportunity to close.

Request your free trial of D&B Hoovers today and test-drive some of the features discussed in this article. See how data can help you work smarter and more efficiently.


[i] Survey of D&B Hoovers Webinar attendees on April 9, 2020. 115 of the 340 attendees, representing a range of industry and size, responded to the survey.