4 Types of Data Everyone Needs for Effective Account Based Sales Development

The following is a guest post from Brandon Redlinger of Engagio, an Account Based Sales and Marketing platform that lets teams orchestrate human connections at scale.

Traditional demand generation is no longer enough. Inbound only gets you so far. In a world of more technology, more information and more complex deals, we need a new approach. It’s no surprise that marketing and sales professionals are becoming more account-centric, and thus, the rise of Account Based Sales Development.

We define Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) as, “A strategic go-to-market approach that orchestrates personalized marketing, sales and success efforts to drive engagement and conversion with named accounts.”

There’s a lot that goes into this definition, and a lot that goes into ABSD, which is why we wrote the Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Sales Development. Nonetheless, it all starts with the customer and selecting the right accounts, and that’s what I want to focus on here.

Choosing Your List for Account Based Everything

There are four specific types of data that play a critical role in the process of choosing your target account. For the most successful program, and to strike a harmonious balance in your ABSD strategy, take advantage of each of them.

The kind of data inputs will vary for your organization depending on many factors, but the process will likely include four types of information: firmographic, technographic, intent data, and engagement data.

1. Firmographic Information

Chances are, you already have a pretty good idea about the kinds of companies most likely to deliver the big deals. Ask yourself which company characteristics best predict a successful sales process.

The answer will likely take the form of:

  • Company size
  • Number of employees
  • Industry
  • Growth
  • Number of locations
  • Sales cycle
  • And more

You can find this information from a variety of sources, including annual reports, LinkedIn, and third party data vendors such as Dun & Bradstreet and Reachforce. This is an excellent starting point for your account selection process, but it’s only the beginning.

2. Technographic Information

Globally, companies spend $3.54 trillion dollars in IT (according to 2016 numbers from Gartner), making it a key imperative to focus on only those organizations most likely to demonstrate a fit with your product.

Datanyze, a leading data vendor, defines technographic data as information related to any business’s current technology environment. It includes data on both software and hardware technology stacks, and perhaps more importantly, provides insights on when changes may occur.

Consider what complementary technologies pair well with your solution, and in contrast, which technologies make an investment less likely. For example, knowing that a company uses Marketo, Salesforce, or SAP might just make them a more attractive candidate for your solution.

    “Technographics is quickly becoming the new firmographics. As buyers continue to raise their expectations on sellers, the need to understand every prospects’ current toolset is crucial to sales and marketing success.”
    -Sam Laber, Director of Marketing, Datanyze

Source this data from desk research looking at forums, job boards, social media, and other indications that an organization is utilizing certain technology. To bring efficiencies here, tap into the knowledge of competitive intelligence firms such as HG Data, or web scraping firms like Datanyze and BuiltWith.

3. Intent Data – Who’s in the Market Right Now?

One of the key elements of a Marketing Qualified Account is understanding intent. Intent data can uncover signs that a target account is in the market right now for solutions like yours

Firmographic and technographic data are both static descriptors that decrease the total size of your audience and thereby concentrate your efforts. But, intent data uses the behavior of contacts at these target accounts to indicate a more urgent qualification and fit.

(This is where Lead-to-Account Matching is critical.)

Seek signs that a target account is in the market right now for solutions like yours. This could include any behavioral data that indicates priority, including:

  • Topics people at this company are researching on 3rd party sites
  • Participation in forums
  • Content downloads
  • Ad clicks

This data is sourced from forums, job boards, and similar sources. In addition, intent vendors such as Bombora, MRP, and The Big Willow can deliver a layer of insight to maximize your findings.

    “All enterprise IT vendors sell hard to the same 5,000 companies.
 So intent becomes key: get to them when they’re actively thinking of your kind of solutions.”
-Henry Schuck, CEO, 

4. Engagement Data – How Active is a Target Account with Your Company?

While intent data can signify what buying activity an account is exhibiting elsewhere on the internet, engagement data seeks to identify how engaged your company is with this account right now.

When faced with a long list of potential target accounts, you’ve got to start somewhere, and your quickest path to traction with ABSD will be with those companies where existing activity indicates strong opportunity.

    By tracking how the right people at an account engage with your brand over time, marketers have a quantifiable way of showing development through a potentially long process.
    -Jon Miller, CEO and Cofounder, Engagio

Your current level of engagement will include:

  • Past sales into the company
  • Rep activity levels
  • Account engagement by persona
  • Current coverage of key decision-makers
  • Existing relationships and connections into the account
  • Executive entry points

This information is found from a variety of sources, including:

  • Your CRM data
  • Web analytics
  • Marketing automation reports
  • LinkedIn
  • Engagio
  • Sales rep activity
  • Executive input

This layer of information is not enough when considered alone. Instead, use intent data to prioritize from a longer list, rather than to supply your entire list.

All or Nothing

None of the four data types above are enough by themselves to formulate a sound account selection strategy. Just like the four elements, which work in tandem, these four data sources should be part of a holistic account selection strategy.

For more information on how to build your Account Based Everything strategy, download The Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Sales Development.

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