Successful sales and marketing professionals need data to drive more business. They are always on the lookout for the best companies to target and in search of the right people to reach out to.

They try hard to know who’s who, who is an influencer, who is a decision maker, who left the company and who just joined or got promoted. They want to know the latest and greatest about new prospects so they launch awesome campaigns and come with a timely proposal that would resonate. Sales and marketing pros want to relate to their prospects on a personal level, they want to break the ice.

Wine, Chocolate and Data

So they turn to a myriad of resources to get data and then use it in context to drive their business. Their success hinges on data – its readiness, its taste and freshness. Very much like wine and chocolate.

But how are wine and chocolate consumed? How are they processed and delivered?

Would you eat raw cacao beans? Of course not. There is a refinement process that takes place which turns the bitter cacao bean into rich, smooth and delicious chocolate.

The value chain of data is not different from that of chocolate or wine.

Raw data must be carefully selected, efficiently processed, and delivered in a timely fashion so that sales and marketing pros can efficiently consume it.

To further this analogy, once they have data, they shouldn’t leave it unused for too long. After too much time has passed wine turns to vinegar, chocolate goes bad, and data becomes useless.

Here is a simple rule which I call The Rule of 12 which you may want to remember: 30% of your data will be invalid within 12 months.

The impact is huge:

  • Dialers are being used with the wrong phone numbers.
  • Email automation tools are sending messages to nowhere.
  • Leads are being routed to the wrong AEs.
  • Markets are undervalued and left unrecognized.
  • Managerial reports are skewed by bad data.
  • Opportunities are left on the table.
  • Conversion rates are in decline.

The solution for most marketing and sales pros is to procure more data. But here is the paradox: with more data, conversion rate will drop even further. Why? Because quality is generally deteriorated with volumes.

Instead, B2B marketers and sales people need to build more nimble, smarter funnels woven with quality, while making sure the data their CRM stores has not passed its shelf life.

Easier said than done since most software vendors in the market specialize in individual aspects of data such as sourcing or predicting but very few look at the entire data value chain, a much harder problem to solve.

Vendors of this kind should be able to continuously source data, synthesize and process it, and deliver it in context to marketing and sales automation systems such as Salesforce and Marketo. As data decays and this dirty data permeates your systems, those vendors will know how to shield your data now and going forward.

The principle is simple: At the end of the day you should strive for less, with a higher bar set for quality. A glass of Italian or French wine is better than a box of Franzia, a single Godiva truffle is more delicious than an extra large chocolate bar available at the counter of your local convenience store. Similarly, the right information for the right person at the right company is worth more than a thousand questionable records that are incomplete, stale and duplicated.

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