Best Practices for Building a Data-Driven Sales & Marketing Strategy

See How Prospecting Data Lays the Foundation for Sales Strategy

“It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.” - David Allan Coe, Architect

The knee-jerk reaction of creative, high-energy types - like most sales and marketing pros - might often be to cringe at the effort and perceived constraints involved in constructing a data-driven strategy.

But in reality, successful sales and marketing teams are finding opportunity in order. They see that structure, inspired by the right business data, creates the freedom to do what sky-scraping sales aces and brilliant creative minds unify around: the need to accelerate business.

With a focus on improving their use of customer data and analytics, successful Business-to-Business (B2B) organizations are leveraging tools and resources that truly impact revenue. They are using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms and marketing automation systems to share intelligence across the enterprise - and put it to work to build valuable customer relationships.

Building a solid foundation to start from begins with the construction of a durable data strategy.

Building a solid foundation to start from begins with the construction of a durable data strategy. That’s why we’ve rolled out the identifiers for a solid data quality and integration blueprint. This blueprint will help you build a data strategy that will improve productivity and drive growth.


1. Unify Prospect & Customer Data

Create a single, integrated view of your customers and prospects.

Marketing and sales together own the customer experience at B2B organizations, yet most teams see, and use, the customer and prospect databases very differently. Unless you have established a clear plan for collaboration, that differing information usage and interpretation can negatively impact how the customer experience plays out.

You want one blueprint, not two or three or four – with the knowledge gained by all team members throughout the relationship readily accessible across the organization. It should span more than just sales and marketing to every part of your organization that has contact with a customer and can capture – and use – valuable data.

Working across silos and cross-functionally, you want to make sure your CRM creates:

  • A single view – It brings together all of your data, so you can see each customer and access data from every perspective.
  • A complete view – It taps into global sources beyond your own transactional data sets, so you gain a fuller, more comprehensive picture of your customers and prospects.
  • An actionable view – It ties data directly to the business challenges facing your company, so you can improve decision-making and gain real business value from your data.
  • A flexible view – It organizes and structures data so that every business unit across your enterprise is working from the same set of insights and then customizing processes according to roles.

2. Ensure Firmographic Data on Leads is Correct

Assure your data is trustworthy.

Just as you only want one blueprint, you also want to make sure its lines are crisp, precise, and match the vision of the architect.

The quality of your results depends on the quality of your sales leads database. Are your salespeople acting on the right data? Is the data accurate and complete? Does it reflect the most up-to-date information about your customers and prospects?

Too often the answer is no. The number one reason for missed opportunities is bad data.

Let’s pause to examine why. Take a minute to look around your office or scan the names in your inbox. Have the people at your company and the companies you work with changed? Get this: on average, every 30 minutes 120 business addresses change, 75 phone numbers change, 20 CEOs leave their jobs and 30 new businesses are formed (Source: Dun & Bradstreet; The Sales and Marketing Institute). Undoubtedly, you can see how quickly your world of peers and contacts evolves.

Keeping all of those changes up-to-date in your database, can be a challenge, but it’s one worth undertaking. Keeping pace with the competition isn’t necessarily success. You want to get and stay ahead. It isn’t enough to simply collect data. You must also establish a data strategy that brings together all of your data and keeps it updated in a systematic way to ensure data quality.

It’s not as difficult as you think. The single shared view we talked about earlier is an important part of data quality process.

3. Customer Insights & Lead Enrichment is Essential

Develop enhanced profiles that open new opportunities.

If you’ve bought a house that needs updating or expansion as it ages, you know that a building’s original blueprints often need to be expanded. You have to approach your data strategy just as opportunistically – adding value by enriching it with additional details to show new paths to growth or previously hidden up-sell and cross-sell targets.

Enriching your data with third-party data provides additional insights that bolsters the view of potential business relationships across multiple entities across the globe. The added insight will empower you to make smarter business decisions with more accuracy and proficiency to grow at scale. A good first step is selecting the right data providers whose database has good coverage for your target audience. And before you can evaluate data providers, you must first have a deep understanding of your customers and ideal prospects. Once you have that understanding you can look for new opportunities using your enriched data.

To get a crystal clear picture of the opportunities amongst customers and across markets, it’s important to connect the dots between companies with corporate linkage.

To get a crystal clear picture of the opportunities amongst customers and across markets, it’s important to connect the dots between companies with corporate linkage. Using corporate linkage – an understanding of how an account fits into an overall corporate hierarchy or family tree – provides better insight into which accounts are really your best opportunities. It reveals the entire corporate family hierarchy to expose significant new white space opportunities where existing relationships can be mined to expand relationships and increase sales. Once you define these data elements, you can look at ways to enrich the commercial information.


Nobody would argue with the fact that the modern, digital economy requires vastly more connections, and that these connections – driven by everything from social media to the Internet of Things – create a torrent of data. This dynamic also creates complexity.

But the data that’s living in your CRM aren’t a series of isolated interactions defined by numbers. They are an interconnected web of engagements that evolves over time. By following the blueprint for data quality and integration, your organization can create a trusted, complete view of the data and insights required to manage what is often a complex sales and marketing environment. We believe that by finding truth and meaning in data, and delivering a single, trusted source of that information across all departments, will open up opportunities that will lead to a sustainable competitive advantage.