May 14

The Lament of Sales Development Reps: Data Everywhere, but Who’s Ready to Buy?

Inside Sales


PeopleAs the MECLABS Research Partnership analyst team, my colleagues and I speak with professionals who attend our events (like the next month’s MarketingSherpa Email Summit in Las Vegas), purchase our publications, and want more information about how MECLABS can help grow their business. So every day, we hear about the challenges they’re facing.

Optimizing your database

One issue that surfaces all too often is optimizing databases: When you have a database of thousands upon thousands of names, how do you help your team easily and effectively prioritize who to contact? Nearly every company I talk to does some lead scoring but rarely do those lead scores align with their database in a way that allows their sales teams to determine – at a glance – which prospects are the right fit at the right time.

This hit way too close to home. Here at MECLABS, my team was struggling with the same issue. We add hundreds of interested potential partner inquiries to our database every few weeks, sometimes even thousands, through events, publications, and general inquiries.

We have an ace IT team that has set up platforms to identify who fits our Ideal Partner Profile quickly, and we’d contact them as soon after they express interest in our Research Partnership program. We are very well aware of the importance of timeliness for marketers who are struggling to optimize their sales and marketing funnels. And we’d follow up based on the next action that was associated with their file.

Thursday-morning-testFocus on your ideal customer profile

But it took Brooke Bower, our data-analysis whiz, to help our team look at our database from a new perspective, which would help us get the highest return on our time by focusing on the most promising potential partners as opposed to merely the most urgent.

What we realized was missing was a comprehensive at-a-glance snapshot that basically shows us the key factors that define a successful research-partnership engagement:

  • If the individual making the inquiry is a decision-maker or an influencer
  • How many events the individual and his team have attended and publications they’ve purchased compiled in an easily sortable list
  • Their organization’s firmographic details – such as revenue, marketing budget, sales cycle, and size

Grading opportunities

We enlisted the IT department to add fields to our existing platform to bring together these details into a single “opportunity grade” that would be applied to each potential partner’s account. (The concept of an “opportunity grade” was recommended to us by Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO of MECLABS.) The higher the grade, the better fit for a long-term, strategic research partnership.

What’s your opportunity grade?

Within just a few days, through the teamwork of IT, marketing and sales, we have sorted our database to reveal to us that “opportunity grade” for each partner. It wasn’t rocket science, just taking the time to ask the hard questions (thanks Brooke), and look at what we do from a fresh perspective to give IT the parameters they needed to bring it all together. This is a project that will never be completed, of course. We’re going to continually work with Brooke to analyze what qualities make up our most qualified research partners and make sure our database can easily and accurately help us identify them.

Great results happen when people and departments with different skill sets take time to put their minds together. In this case, it was Brooke’s data-savvy combined with my hands-on experience talking to potential Research Partners about their challenges.

I’d really like to hear about your experiences in building a database that helps you engage more efficiently and effectively. I welcome you to share them in the comments.

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About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. You have hit the nail on the head with virtually every CRM on the market -great for managers who want to access data for after the fact marketing metrics and sales ratios but not so great for gaining real time insight into any single opportunity without endless drilling on an ad hoc basis.

    Since CRMs never really grew to be the sales tools we had all hoped them to be I found myself running into the same problems throughout my sales management career. Out of frustration and quite frankly need I put together a team and we have developed an application that does exactly as you describe. Not only does it score prospects but identifies who among the many need to be contacted next whether it is to close a sale, salvage an opportunity or transition them from a sales contact into a less intensive marketing contact with say a drip campaign.

    I had great success personally with the application as an excel sheet, expanded its capabilities 10 fold with Access and am now developing it into a commercial .net application.

    It allows every sales person and every manager to honestly answer that most dreaded of questions “what’s going on with so and so”. You can show the interested party meaningful data relative to all other opportunities in an instant.

    We project it to be market ready by mid year.

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