Tips for B2B Companies: How to Use Customer Data More Effectively
Data remains a hot topic among consumers and companies alike. While the former have become keenly aware of their privacy being violated ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the latter certainly didn’t remain unaffected by data mismanagement.
When it comes to B2B companies, there wasn’t only the issue of adjusting to lead nurturing after the introduction of GDPR, but many are still struggling to find the best way to leverage customer data. In fact, a study published in May 2018 shows from a poll of 500 B2B professionals that only 52% relied on data to make marketing decisions. An alarmingly large percentage of B2B companies is still relying on gut instinct instead of customer data when making business decisions.
This approach is obviously untenable, as the shifting B2B marketplace reveals a more customer-centric landscape. As in B2C customer relationships, the B2B customer is also empowered by the awareness that they can easily take their business elsewhere if a company isn’t able to meet – or even exceed – their needs. To help you make better use of customer data and maximise its potential as a B2B enterprise, we’ve rounded up these 4 crucial tips.
Use a CRM system to offer a personalised customer experience
Companies from the B2C sector have long been using data to provide their customers with personalised shopping experiences, while the B2B sector barely scratched the surface. However, as the B2B market grows increasingly competitive, more and more companies are admitting the value of data-driven personalisation to generate leads, boost sales, and encourage repeat business. With the widespread usage of CRM solutions, the customer experience within the B2B sector is being redefined.
Using customer data acquired through any given channel (from email to phone conversations), companies are now able to provide a more personalised buyer’s journey through every stage of the cycle. That’s why CRM is far more than contact management. Using a CRM system will help you create a successful customer experience strategy, where you can time your offers ideally and tailor them to suit the particular needs of each client. This includes personalising your marketing content, streamlining the lead management process, and using all available customer information (such as interactions and buying history) to provide a frictionless customer experience.
Look for the data that is meaningful to your customer
As B2B companies engage their clients in long sales cycles, it’s in their best interest to establish themselves as knowledgeable about each client’s industry. The idea here is to demonstrate to your client that your organisation possesses the working knowledge of their industry and that you can leverage that knowledge to provide insightful solutions.
That means that the more concrete, useful, and actionable insights you’re able to provide, the better you’re making use of industry data to address common problems that your clients may be encountering.
Don’t limit yourself to insights on their competitors or a perspective on the industry as a whole. Relevant, useful data could be information on current industry trends, customer behaviour, and geographic distribution patterns.
For example, you may choose to take an approach where you present industry data about how long it takes to complete business compliance tasks, and then append your own data for a specific customer. Some B2B organisations apply this combined form of data to showcase the benefits of using their products/services and provide their prospects with a compelling reason to do business with them.
Transmute data into insight
You’ll find plenty of resources, both formal and informal, stressing the importance of collecting various kinds of data. But what has been getting far less attention is the topic of how this data should be transformed into insights which can directly inform business decisions.
Likewise, many B2B companies will invest millions of dollars into data-gathering systems, and not nearly enough on making that data presentable. This approach makes it difficult for sales and marketing teams to utilise the data to its maximum potential and act on it in a meaningful way.
There’s evidence of this issue in the poll we’ve previously mentioned. Out of 500 surveyed professionals, only 43% confirmed that their companies’ data sources and insights are “well integrated, understood, consistent, validated, and shared across the organisation.”
To put it simply, data is fairly useless if it’s indigestible to everyone other than data scientists. Raw data needs to be crystallised into the information that will drive customer actions.
Now, bigger companies have been getting around this problem by employing AI solutions. Advanced analytical engines, which have the ability to correlate data with established customer behaviour patterns, are being used to extract meaningful information from raw data and thus help create more informed sales processes.
For a smaller B2B enterprise, a well-integrated CRM system will help manage customer data and use the records to establish effective, streamlined sales processes.
Use automation to improve data accessibility
One of the biggest challenges for organisations in regards to data acquisition is time – getting the necessary data in front of decision-makers and salespeople promptly. If the process isn’t automated, a lot of time is wasted before the right people have their eyes on the specific data which will help them propose valuable insights and determine the right approach to each client. This makes for a lot of missed opportunities.
With software such as sales force automation, you’ll be able to automatically record all the stages in a sales process. Along with its obvious significance to the CRM system, where it provides salespeople with important customer information at their fingertips, automation also eliminates the need for manual data entry – the biggest productivity killer.
Marketing and selling are becoming increasingly data-driven, and this trend is changing business operations profoundly. The number of B2B enterprises that rely on data to drive their strategies is bound to grow, but there’s still another challenge to be faced: figuring out how to use data effectively. In order to do this, B2B companies need to understand their customers and their context well enough to be able to generate actionable insights.