Data in the Lead Management Equation

A few weeks ago we began the discussion about lead management, what it is and what it is not (See “Much More to It” – October 15th). This is the second post in the series about defining lead management. In this post, we’ll look at the data process that’s needed for successful lead management. 

It should be no secret that the success of any marketing campaign starts with good data.  However many marketers are still struggling with keeping their data up to date.  Two questions that come up over and over again are “Where should I keep my data?” and “What data should I keep?”

Where To Keep The Data – Separating Marketing And Sales Data

Many companies hold to a common practice, using a single database to house customer and prospect data.  Typically, they use the corporate CRM system to do so, allowing both marketing and sales access to the data.  This approach is a poor way for organizations to manage their marketing and sales information.  I allows “too many cooks in the database kitchen”, creating an environment of chaos. 

The everyday reality is that sales and marketing each collect and sort information that that the other doesn’t need.   Yet many companies continue to operate by combining all data, which only increases the chances that it will become contaminated with inaccuracies. 

Instead of keeping all marketing and sales data in one place, best in class companies have moved to creating separate yet integrated marketing and sales databases.  Marketing maintains their data in a marketing automation application, and sales keeps theirs in the CRM system.  Keeping data separate but integrated allows each group to manage their information in a more focused way.  Integrating them allows both groups to share just the data that’s necessary for the other to be effective.  For example, marketing doesn’t need to know about every contact made by sales to a customer, and sales shouldn’t be interested in all the contact names from a purchased list.  Yet, when a prospect from a purchased list becomes a lead that sales needs to follow up on, integration can allow marketing to alert sales, and pass on the appropriate information.

Business rules should be put in place for both marketing and sales so that the integrity of the data can be maintained.  For example, rules should be developed to determine…

  • Who will be able to change  and append data
  • The frequency at which the data will be updated and appended by a third party (data hygiene)
  • What fields will be synchronized between the marketing database and sales database

Whatever rules and agreements you develop, it will be vital to your lead management success to have them documented and adhered to by both sales and marketing.

What Data To Keep – Data Profiles

In order to develop communications targeted to your prospects, it’s imperative to have as much data on them as possible. The B2B buyer continues to change and become more complex.  Marketers must understand that communication can no longer be conducted in mass.  Conversations must be in a 1-1 context to effectively build and develop the relationship with the B2B buyer.  The first step in accomplishing this is to begin the data profiling process with the goal of creating an ideal customer/prospect profile.

So, how is this done?  The first step is to make sure that marketing and sales come together to participate in developing the profile.  Then, together, determine exactly what criteria and information will make up the profile.  Find the answer to questions such as, “How do I know if a prospect is good, medium or bad?”  Next, compare your criteria to your current data, looking for similarities and consistent attributes such as revenue range, common verticals, buying patterns, etc.  Build those into your profile.   Also, remember that the profiling process is a continual practice, not a “one and done” endeavor.  As you continue to communicate with your prospects and customers, collect more and more information.   As your profile is built, you’ll be able to use it as your “filter” for targeting prospects, and for marketing to and cross selling your customer base.

Data is the key.  Good data is the key to success; bad data is the key to failure.  Taking these and other steps toward solid data will help you achieve success.