Whatever industry you are in, if you are a business selling a product or service to another business, you will need B2B data.
There are many use cases involving B2B data but this guide will help you define what it is, how to manage it, and how to convert it to sales.
What is B2B data?
B2B data (or Business-to-Business data) is any form of information regarding other businesses. B2B data generally consists of a list or database of individual contacts with an array of data points that can be used for various sales and marketing activities.
Such activities can include creating your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), demand generation, lead generation, outbound sales, analytics, and more.
Identifying what B2B data is important for you
Knowing your ICP is a crucial step as this will form the basis of your sales cycle. Even if you have a sales and marketing team backed by a game-changing product or service, targeting the wrong ICP will result in zero sales.
How do you create your own ICP? Firstly, decide what types of companies could benefit from using your product or service. Secondly, who in those companies do you want to engage with remembering they should be the decision-maker or a highly influential individual (not necessarily just the end-user). The basic parameters to consider are the following:
- Industry – what industry/industries are you targeting (e.g. Manufacturing, Healthcare, Technology)
- Size – how many employees should the company have (e.g. 11-50, 200-500, 1,000+)
- Location – where is the company physically located (e.g. North America, London, African Anglophone countries)
- Job title – which job title(s) your prospect should have (e.g. CEO, Head of Sales, Director)
- Department – which department(s) they should work in (e.g. Accounting, General Management, Marketing)
- Tenure – how long or short should they have held the position (e.g. >3 months, 1+ years, 10+ years)
All these points are known as data points and are associated with a contact or account. Once your ICP has been created, you will need the following information before you reach out to them:
- Full name
- Email address
- Phone number
- Social media
You may refine this even more by including other factors such as their previous interactions with your company (social media, website visits, ebook download, etc.), recent news about the company (recent round of funding), technologies they use (if they use a competitor’s product), or create custom tags to further filter the data. All these data points describe the different types of B2B data which can help you create the optimal sales and marketing strategy for your business.
What types of B2B data are there
There is a range of different types of B2B data for sales and marketing teams to use. Depending on your product or service and your selling process, these different data types can be used to effectively target and engage with your potential buyers. They are the following:
Account data is the information on the companies or accounts you intend to target. It helps give you more insight into each account to help find who to target and how to target them better by either personalizing your message or refining your proposal.
Some examples can include company name, recent funding, website traffic, if a new CEO has been appointed, or a piece of content that was published recently.
All this data can help give you the best picture of who needs what you offer and which accounts to prioritise.
Contact data gives you the information about the people at the company or account you want to connect with. The data will include data points such as contact name, job title, and email address.
These contacts should be your ideal buyers and are who your sales and marketing teams will target. Depending on the data you hold for each contact, different communication channels can be used to deliver your message to them. For example, having just an email address gives sales reps the ability to contact only via email. However, obtaining a phone number and even social media accounts opens up the opportunity for multi-channel outreach which will increase the chances of connecting with your contacts.
Engagement data shows the interactions between your prospect and your company. This can show if they previously downloaded something from you, liked your post on social media, or the amount of time spent browsing your website.
It can also be used to retarget those contacts who could have opened an email or clicked on your ad but did not act further on it. This data is good when combined with Intent data as it first shows how the prospect is interacting with your company to then see how likely they are to become a buyer.
Intent data is behavioral data based on insights captured through web usage. It identifies the user’s purchase intent to see if and when they are looking to purchase.
The data will tell you about the products or services they are researching about. Using internet trackers, intent data can be collected from those who visit your website or similar websites such as a competitor’s or comparison websites.
Depending on factors such as email opens, content downloads, and website visits will show what they are interested in and reveal buying signals. This enables B2B sellers to prioritize accounts that are actively researching for a solution over other accounts that don’t show intent.
Firmographic data is the different characteristics used to segment companies into groups. These can include information such as industry, company size, and revenue. For example, a segment can be created to target companies in the Manufacturing industry, 50-200 employee count, and $100,000+ p/m revenue.
It can be used by sales and marketing teams to focus on specific companies allowing them to tailor their offering to best suit the company’s needs.
Demographic data is the information that allows you to specify who the person is that you are targeting. It is descriptive data that you can use to label and segment your data into areas such as age, gender or location.
These characteristics can be based on their persona or geography and can help you change your offering or spot trends in how different people are responding to your campaigns.
Chronographic data involves the element of time to events or any changes that have occurred that may present sales or marketing opportunities.
Such examples could include a newly appointed Head, recent funding secured, or in the process of hiring new employees.
This type of data could be considered time-sensitive and opens a window of opportunity to present an offer just when they need it.
Technographic data refers to the different technologies (or technology stack) your target companies are using. These can include hardware, software, digital tools, platforms, etc.
With the number of technologies available rapidly increasing and being adopted by companies, understanding what technologies they are using can enable you to personalize your proposal in a way that is meaningful for them.
This is especially useful for technology providers since technographic data help identify which companies are best to target. Knowing key insights such as if they recently purchased a new CRM, are using a competitor’s product or service, or if they are using an outdated automation tool can help deliver the right message to the right account.
What are the sources of B2B data?
After going through all the many different types of B2B data, you might be thinking about where are the best places to get it all. As you will see, some of this data is readily available but others are not so easy to find, but the following sources will help you get the data you need:
Your prospects are quite likely to have a social media presence where they may be on a variety of platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube. Although Twitter and YouTube have their place, a very popular platform is LinkedIn where users include information about themselves in order to create their profiles.
This information on its own can be very valuable and enough to reach out to them over the platform. However, if they are actively posting content and engaging with other users, this can help you dive deeper into their interests for you to personalize your message even more.
Using search functions along with filters, you can create a list of contacts that would fit your ICP. To open up other communication channels outside the social media platform, you will need extra information or you can also use web plugins, which FHG offers, where you can export the data and get the relevant missing information you desire.
Your website can be a great source for B2B data. Through publishing content such as blogs, guides, and whitepapers, your website can attract visitors who show a clear interest in the topics that are being discussed. There are many metrics that can be tracked on your websites such as traffic volume, traffic source, website conversions, and much more. Records of each visitor can be created from either website tracking tools or gated content where they must provide basic contact information to download the material.
Moreover, company websites in your target market can be a great source of B2B data. Most typically have the latest news releases and a history of their journey so far. Some also have a ‘Meet the Team’ section which can include a brief bio including their name, job title and may provide a way to contact them.
There are also website platforms that can offer further insights into companies including funding and investment information about private and public companies (e.g. Crunchbase), and reviews from customers and employees (e.g. G2 or Glassdoor).
If you want to save time and cut to the chase, you can purchase the data you need from various places. You can acquire data from a freelancer who can scrape data from the web, purchase from a pre-existing database, or use an on-demand data generator.
The main differences between these are in price and quality. Depending on how your strategy to generate leads will determine which source would be best for you.
But typically you can work with your data provider to get the data points you need and ensure they fit your ICP.
How should you go about getting your data?
To execute a great campaign and have the best chances of closing sales, good quality B2B data is crucial and is the foundation for any successful sales process. Arguably, the best way to get B2B data is to purchase it from a reputable vendor. This way you do not have to spend so much of your time sourcing it and worrying about missing data points that are needed to reliably deliver your message.
Furthermore, there are vendors that specialize in sourcing prospects that fit your ICP as well as the ability to offer you lower acquisition costs through bulk purchases. There are 2 main sources of B2B data as described below:
On-demand B2B data provider
An on-demand B2B data provider will work with you to create your ICP in great detail. You can be assured that whatever data you need for your business is what you will get.
After criteria has been created and approved upon, the provider will then generate these contacts as and when it is requested by you. This means that there is no reselling of existing data and the accuracy of the data points are almost in real-time. Also, you can take advantage of discount costs due to bulk purchase of credits which can be used in exchange for contacts only when you need them as this reduces data decay (the rate data degrades over time).
Before the data is finally purchased, you can approve or reject contacts by viewing certain data points such as job title or department to ensure that you pay for exactly what you want. The approved contacts will be delivered to you and the rejected contacts will be removed.
As FHG is an on-demand data provider, customers can benefit from data accuracy above 95% and up to 25 data points per contact. The data is researched using GDPR adherent methods and integrates directly with your favorite CRM.
A B2B database vendor has a large list of contacts already generated where you can filter according to your criteria and purchase the contacts you need.
A quality database vendor will ensure to update its data as often as it can. Whoever your target market is and whatever campaign is being executed, there is a vast number of contacts already generated for you to instantly procure and market to straight away.
Similar to on-demand generation, you are able to acquire the amount of data you need when you need it to reduce data decay but still take advantage of bulk purchases.
How to judge the quality of your vendors
Deciding on a data vendor can be a tricky task, especially when the foundation of your selling process is laid upon the quality of your B2B data. There are many ways to research this but here are the main ways to validate the quality of a vendor:
Reviews and customer testimonials
Most vendor websites will have a customer testimonial section that talks about their experience with that vendor. Some things to look out for would be key metrics that demonstrate how they are performing such as open rates, deliverability, reply rates, opportunities generated, etc. Also, some may compare how they used to go about getting data and the difference it has made to their business.
Furthermore, 3rd party review websites are a great way to see reviews placed by past and current customers. A detailed explanation can be found which may include their relationship with the vendor, consistency of quality data, pros and cons, and more.
Free data offering
Before committing to anything, most vendors will offer a small number of contacts without charge for you to test and ensure you are happy with the quality. You would be required to provide your criteria so when you get the data you can see what data points are provided as well as the accuracy of the email address or other contact information.
Talk to a sales rep
Finally, if you have any remaining questions you can simply book a discovery call with a sales rep and ask any questions you may have. Since your data needs may change over time, building a relationship with the vendor will help you see if they’re a good fit for you. Seeing if they have worked with similar companies before or demonstrate understanding of your business requirements can help you build confidence in their ability to deliver quality data when you need it.
What B2B data is used for
Essentially, your goal is to convert your contacts into leads and finally into sales (this is also known as your sales funnel). Your B2B data can come from a plethora of sources but most likely from one or as a combination of in-house, inbound, or paid. Depending on the source, they can be categorized into one of the following:
- Cold leads (they have never engaged with your company)
- Warm leads (they have heard about your company and have shown some interest to know more)
- Hot leads (they have heard about your company, have shown some interest, and want to buy from you)
The following shows the many ways you can use data to bring awareness to your business and ultimately convert those people into sales.
Whether you want your company to be more known or trying to stand out in a crowded market, demand generation is a data-driven marketing strategy for you to raise more awareness and interest in what you are offering.
This is done by using your B2B data to provide valuable information where the goal isn’t so much about driving for the sale but more about building trust, authority, and brand positioning in the space you are operating in. It is crucial to understand who your target audience is and to show yourself as a solution to the pain points they are potentially experiencing.
Over time and throughout the buyer’s journey, you want them to be continuously consuming your content. This can be done through many ways such as creating blogs, guides, running email campaigns, utilizing social media, SEO, etc. All of this sparks engagement while educating and encouraging your target audience to engage further with you, which is where we get to lead generation.
Now you have people interested in what you offer from your demand generation strategy, it’s now time to turn them into leads. Whereas demand generation focuses more on building trust and raising awareness, lead generation is the strategy to get them to take an actionable step generally involving them to provide their contact details.
This is where marketing and sales teams work together, where marketing teams will capture these leads for sales teams to follow them up. By utilizing your B2B data, the optimal lead generation campaign can be put in place with a meaningful call to action.
There are numerous lead generation methods such as email marketing, cold calling, gated content, landing pages, etc. Having quality data will ensure your method of lead generation is targeting relevant people and personalized to increase your chances of turning prospects into leads.
When you have a flow of leads coming in, to ensure that no potential opportunities are forgotten or not effectively followed up, lead routing is a process that ensures leads are routed to the appropriate salespeople.
These leads can be categorized in many ways to optimize the highest chances of them becoming sales. Your B2B data will determine how you route your leads as it will depend on factors such as the source of the lead, readiness to purchase, location, etc.
All these data points will tell what the next steps should be for the sales rep. These data points can be quantified using a lead scoring process to see if they need further nurturing or are ready to buy from you.
Diving deeper into the categories of leads in the above section, lead scoring is a methodology that can be used by sales and marketing teams to determine the sales readiness of each lead. The lead scoring process involves identifying which B2B data points make a sales-ready lead and then assigning values to each data point to give you a final score for each lead.
Since so many leads can come through your business, it is important to not let any opportunities pass you by. Lead scoring can help you identify which leads should be prioritized and have teams to focus more on them to increase the chances of converting them to sales.
Every business is different so knowing which data points to focus on will mean discovering who your ideal buyer looks like. You can use commonalities between your current customers by finding out what steps they took before buying or what factors played a big role in their decision to purchase from you. Another place to discover who your ideal buyers are is from the observations found from your sales teams such as preferred communication methods or certain value propositions offered.
Typically, it will consist of a mix of the different data types covered earlier but to fully understand which data points are important for your business, you should take advantage of your data analytics.
B2B data analytics can be a game-changer when it comes to measuring and optimizing sales and marketing strategies. There are many points along the customer journey whether it is visiting your website or engaging with the sales rep, each of these steps must be carefully analyzed in order to see what’s working or what isn’t.
Website analytics for example can provide many valuable insights like where the source of your traffic comes from, the information captured from website visitors, and tracking website traffic and activities. Also, marketing campaigns need to be carefully monitored to see their effectiveness by tracking open rates, reply rates, click-through rates, and much more.
All these metrics can be used to analyze trends or patterns in your data that can then be used to optimize your sales and marketing strategies to improve campaign performance and increase conversions overall.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
After you have completed the lead scoring process you can now see which leads rank the highest. Backing this up with your data analytics, you could use this information to implement account-based marketing.
What is account-based marketing? ABM is a strategy where sales and marketing teams focus their attention on 1 or a handful of high-value accounts. By identifying those accounts that offer the greatest opportunity of closing a sale, you are able to strategically target each key stakeholder in a personalized way.
By combining sales and marketing teams together to work on an ABM strategy, their goals become aligned which can greatly increase the chances of success. Targeted campaigns across relevant channels can be created to deliver high-value proposals tailored for each decision-maker. This combined effort can help increase the number of interactions with prospects, accelerate the sales cycle, and improve the likelihood of closing deals.
Getting the most out of your B2B data
Whether the contact or account has never interacted with you before (cold lead) or they previously have (warm lead e.g. downloaded an ebook from you), you will need to reach out to them to discover the likeliness of them buying from you. This is your initial touchpoint (and hopefully one of many).
A touchpoint is a method of outreach from you to your prospect which can be conducted across a number of channels but usually one or a sequence of calling, emailing, and social selling (e.g. LinkedIn). This is where the importance of your data quality comes in.
Low-quality data can include things such as fewer data points, out-of-date information, or mis-spellings of names, all of which can immediately disqualify you as a potential business partner. Furthermore, if your B2B data lacks certain contact information, this can limit your outreach channels and negatively impact your rate of engagement, thus affecting the sales pipeline.
The quality of your data is particularly important if the price of your product or service is high. Higher pricing deals tend to result in longer sales cycles and involve multiple decision-makers. Understanding as much as you can about the contacts and accounts will better prepare your angle when presenting the solution you are offering to them.
Your first impression can make or break any potential deals from forming so ensuring you are armed with accurate and up-to-date information will increase your chances of having a positive interaction. Demonstrating you know who they are and that you understand their potential pain points will be influenced by the quality of the data you have on them.
Once a relationship has been established, your data on the prospect will increase to be used for future interactions and to progress them further along the sales funnel. This will most likely be managed in a B2B CRM to help track engagement with your prospects as you endeavor to convert your leads into sales. To ensure your data is secure, a B2B CRM can act as a security measure and for it to also be accessible on the cloud.
Where to keep your B2B data securely
Wherever you get your B2B data from, you must have a centralized location where you can store it securely and have easy access to it. Having it stored on spreadsheets or anything like that will likely cause you headaches but your sensitive information is also at risk from cyber-attacks.
The best place to store your data securely and in a GDPR-compliant way is to use a B2B CRM. Along with tracking your deals and ensuring you are following up effectively, a B2B CRM (more specifically cloud-based) will ensure the latest data security measures are in place.
Furthermore, along with the many other features available, you can be confident in knowing your data will not get lost or become unused which will increase your sales over time.
How to maintain high B2B data quality
B2B data can change quite quickly and if you’re relying on many data points to have a detailed overview of the prospect, you should be aware that contacts can change company, role, email address, and even their name.
It’s good practice to have a dedicated person or team with a process of making sure you have all the data points you need as well as checking if it’s all accurate. This will ensure you are confident in delivering the right message and proposal to the right person, especially if using a CRM or marketing automation tools to connect with customers and prospects.
The following are a few ways to maintain high-quality B2B data:
B2B data validation
The process of validating your data is to check the accuracy of your data. This process can be completed using tools, services, or by your data provider (if you purchased from one). If this process isn’t completed you may be at risk of calling wrong numbers and getting high email bounce rates.
As previously mentioned, B2B data can be gotten in-house, inbound, or paid for. Since B2B data is never static and always ever-changing, you want to guarantee the data is as fresh (as recently generated) as possible when received. The source of this data will tell if that data pre-existed (e.g. purchased from a database or contacts list) or was generated on-demand (e.g. prospect left contact details on your website or acquired from an on-demand generation provider).
Similar to when purchasing a car, a new vehicle from a reputable dealership can guarantee the next few years to be problem-free, but, although pre-owned vehicles are cheaper, problems can occur much quicker and are oftentimes left up to you to solve.
Cleansing your B2B data
Data cleansing is ensuring good data hygiene so the quality of your B2B data remains high, where the process generally involves deduplicating records or deleting them entirely.
Having wrong information or contacts that are not relevant will both skew the analysis for any marketing campaigns you run and can negatively impact your brand image by appearing to be spam.
When data is acquired they should be put to use straight away or else they fall victim to decay. After some time of acquiring data you should be building up quite a large list of contacts which can be prone to data being out of date. Cleansing your data ensures that you have a more accurate view of your database and any marketing material created can be tailored to better suit the needs of your contacts and accounts.
B2B data enrichment
Enriching your data means, to fill any gaps in your B2B database. This could be any data point such as an email address, company name or phone number.
Depending on the source of the data, some pieces of information can be corrupted or omitted entirely. To have a complete view of your data or not to waste money if the data was procured, the data enrichment process can replace wrong or missing data points with the correct information.
This process can be done in a variety of ways but typically if the data still needs enriching after being sourced then some data providers could provide such services.
All these processes, if done regularly, can ensure you have clean and validated data for your sales and marketing teams to use confidently. If using a data provider, ensure they are GDPR compliant and that you are GDPR compliant when storing the data securely.
As the world of B2B marketing becomes increasingly competitive, delivering the right message to the right people will ensure you keep your sales pipeline filled and sales revenue up.
If you are looking for a way to source high-quality data and to free your team from manual tasks, we invite you to reach out to us so you can learn how FHG could be the solution you need when sourcing B2B data.