Written By: Russ Artzt

#ArtztOnData: Data Exchange for Sales and Marketing Data

How art imitates sales and marketing data management

Data management has long been critical for sales and marketing success. Even before computers, data quality was of paramount importance. To take a fun example, the plot of David Mamet’s classic play and 1992 film, Glengarry Glen Ross, revolved around a pair of real estate salesmen who broke into the company owner’s office to steal the “good leads.” Armed with this information, they could “Always Be Closing” and avoid the wrath and scorn of Alec Baldwin, the sales manager.

If only those two had had access to a data exchange, they could have enriched the “bad leads” they’d gotten from the owner. They could have had coffee, which was reserved only for closers. If the “bad leads” simply contained prospects’ names and phone numbers, a data exchange could have provided all sorts of extra information about their demographics, financial condition and purchasing intent. Maybe those bad leads wouldn’t be so bad after all.

Sales and marketing are all about targeting, which is a function of data quality. In sales, the more information that’s available about the prospect, the more effectively the salesperson can approach him or her—tailoring the pitch and delivering a message that will move the prospect along the path toward a purchase. With data, the salesperson can determine if a prospect has the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Alternatively, accurate, complete prospect data can quickly reveal to the salesperson that the prospect is not the ICP. He or she should not bother reaching out.

Marketing has an intense reliance on data quality. It costs money to reach people with a marketing campaign. The more aligned the campaign is with its audience, the more revenue-generating impact it will have. Spending money to deliver the wrong marketing message is a colossal waste of money and time. There’s even the potential to damage the brand in the process. If prospects feel that a company doesn’t understand them, that opens the door to competitors who do.

How a Data Exchange Works

While the need for high quality data in sales and marketing is well-understood, the ability to actualize the idea has proven stubbornly difficult over the years. Indeed, the business of buying data from brokers has always been a deficient process. Finding the right data and broker was a time-consuming chore. The data itself, often purchased at a high price, often turned out to contain duplicates, inaccuracies and missing fields.

The data exchange addresses these problems by facilitating the sale or transfer of data between two parties, the data supplier and the data consumer. The data supplier is usually more than just the traditional list broker. It could be an organization that has decided to sell or share its data. The data exchange enables the secure, seamless buying, selling or sharing of data using FTP servers, APIs and cloud sharing mechanisms. Data exchanges gives sales and marketing data buyers the chance to preview the data and deal with quality issues in advance of making the purchase.

Data exchanges also allow sales and marketing data managers to discover relevant, available data sets. They may then do the hard work of integrating the data into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. A data orchestration platform, interacting with the data exchange, can streamline and automate many of the steps involved in the process.

The Example of Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is one of many possible examples of how a data exchange can have a positive impact on sales and marketing processes. It’s a good use case, too, because ABM is data intensive. With ABM, the sales team wants to understand exactly who is who at a target account. They need to understand relationships between people in the organization, who is the right person to speak with about a particular product, and so forth.

ABM solutions are only as good as the data they contain, however. If a company’s existing database has basic information about contacts at the target account, that will not be enough for ABM to deliver results. For example, if a salesperson only knows a person’s name, title, email and phone, that will not help them understand their role in the organization. Working with a data exchange, the sales group can purchase data that adds a rich detail to the contact records. A data exchange might sell information that provides personal bios for each contact, social information, personal geographic locations, demographics and more.

With enriched lead data, the ABM process can determine the optimal approach to the target account. The challenge in this, however, relates to the technical execution of the data enrichment process. It’s not enough just to buy a data list off the exchange. Without the right data orchestration tools, it will be a huge hassle to integrate the new data into the existing prospect database. This is partly a matter of normalization. If the old and new data sets are formatted identically, and “joined” with correlated fields, then the integration process can go smoothly.


Data exchanges can make everyone a closer, eligible for coffee and a set of steak knives (second prize in the sales contest!) delivered by Alec Baldwin. They give sales and marketing teams the ability to work with the kind of accurate, de-duplicated and enriched data they need to target their outreach effectively. With the right data orchestration solution on hand, using a data exchange becomes a streamlined, intuitive experience.