Do you know what your next customer looks like?

Databases ‌• May 22, 2013

If you knew which companies were most likely to buy your products and services, would you continue to market to everyone, or just those that would buy from you?  I know, it seems like a ridiculously rhetorical question, but you’d be surprised.

To give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, let me walk you through how we typically address this challenge with our clients:

With each new client, the critical first step in our on-boarding process is defining the client’s unique total addressable market (TAM):

  • First, our clients describe in great detail who their ideal customers are and we create specific attributes to do some simple market sizing and sampling of what accounts should be in an ideal marketing database that supports the TAM. Ultimately, we map these descriptions and attributes  into a usable database.
  • Next, we facilitate a discussion around who are the right contacts within these right accounts–think of it as describing the “typical buyer’s journey” and identifying the key players who normally play one of the following roles in the buying process: economic decision makers, line of business executives, process owners, technical decision makers, technical evaluators, and end-users.
  • With all this information in hand, we move into what’s usually the most challenging part for marketers: comparing and analyzing their current (and active) marketing database against their newly enlightened TAM/contact definitions. Rarely do we find substantial overlap. In most cases, the account coverage struggles to reach 30% and the contact database is usually very sparse among the accounts that do fit the TAM definition. It’s frustrating when you stop and think about all the marketing/communication investment that is going into a database only to likely be wasted on talking to the wrong people at the wrong companies. If that wasn’t bad enough, the realization also sets in of just how a misaligned database is contributing to animosity between sales and marketing as “leads” generated out of the existing database are likely not what sales wants to pursue.

Having the right targets in your marketing database has always been a challenge, but the shift to inbound marketing and the use of marketing automation tools over the past few years has exacerbated the issue. When a stranger finds you and opts-in on their own volition, they are often added to the marketing database without much vetting. This process often gets repeated thousands of times per month.  In our business, we have come to euphemistically call these folks the “unwashed masses.”

Now consider that, on average, it can take anywhere from nine to 22 attempted dials to connect with B2B buyers in today’s marketplace. It doesn’t take a marketing genius to see why these “leads” might not be well received by your sales team. But even for those firms who employ some type of tele-qualification/inside sales team, vetting all of these “automatically qualified leads”, or AQLs as Sirius Decisions calls them, is a huge waste of resources if you’re just qualifying from a database that’s largely inaccurate.

To help our clients around this, we use a specialized raw lead triage process that is linked to our client’s TAM definition. Using a collection of automated routing and handling steps along with manual intervention for exceptions, we attribute raw leads into those that meet TAM and those that do not. Those that do not meet TAM get routed into one of two workflows, general lead nurturing or disqualified leads so that time isn’t expended on the wrong people.

If you would like to learn more about this approach, please call us and we’d be happy to give you a demo and walk you through our process and platform.

Sam McCue
Inbound Marketing guru, avid fisherman, and all-around backcountry enthusiast.

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