Heads Up: Account and Contact Data Might Be More Important Than You Think
All revenue organizations buy third-party data, which is critical to strategy, planning, and everyday execution. The importance of data to day-to-day operations continues to grow, especially its role in creating marketing campaigns and outbound prospecting. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are also driving the demand for data, but the data landscape is changing.
The accumulation of incorrect, incomplete, and outdated data has grown to staggering proportions within mature software tools such as CRM and marketing automation. Accurate, up-to-date data becomes increasingly important as companies look to make more informed decisions; to develop more scalable, repeatable processes; and to apply predictive machine learning and AI approaches to determine next best actions or account fit scores.
Organizations need more consistent, quality data—as well as appropriate market coverage—in order to get the most value out of those go-to-market activities. The third-party data providers no longer just sell data to add, append, or enrich a company’s master database of records. Many offer platforms that make that data actionable. This is what drives the decision-making functions and the execution driven by data across the tech stack.
Third-party data categories and the tech stack
Data is used by every go-to-market team to provide information on target accounts from demographic details for segmenting accounts to titles and contact information for reaching specific prospects at the right time. Data solutions vendors provide contact records for prospecting; append and enrich existing records with information about company details, installed technology, and organizational structure; and provide intent signals about account interest and activities. Revenue organizations are moving from an ad hoc way of incorporating external data sources into their workflow to a more structured, extendable approach.
Effectively implementing data into the tech stack makes it possible to target the right contacts and accounts with the most relevant information at the right time. Data vendors primarily support marketing, sales, and sales development, but additional benefits are seen by customer success and account management.
The figure below represents the major third-party data categories—intent data, account data, and contact data—and how they interact with the rest of the tech stack. Data flows directly into the CRM and other applications to update records. There are a variety of ways to enact recommendations based on the data-enriched records; these include artificial intelligence, automated rules, and even manual review. These decisions ultimately drive the execution enabled by other technology solutions (e.g., email, advertising, direct mail).
There is a feedback loop that reports the execution results of the programs and campaigns back to the records in the CRM or other initiating application. Because the contact or account record exists in multiple applications—often with its own proprietary data set—the effect of siloed information is magnified as records are updated with different activity in different applications.
Acting on the data
The most successful use of third-party data is prioritizing contacts and accounts, as indicated by 56% of our high-growth data set (see figure below). This helps all functions across the go-to-market organization because it gives marketers, SDRs, and sales reps the chance to contact the leads and prospects who are more likely to respond to outreach across all stages of the funnel. Running data-driven programs contribute to the success of nearly half of those surveyed. And 39% of marketers and sales pros said that the biggest contribution of third-party data was delivering contact and company insights to sales and sales development. All three of these factors improve results by focusing on the right prospects with the right programs and making the right insights available to have relevant and resonant conversations with them.
The overwhelming biggest challenge with data is cleaning and appending existing data, as selected by 60% of respondents (see figure below). A sizable portion of contacts regularly go out-of-date as people change roles and companies, and it is difficult for organizations to keep up with the changes. As noted above, it is acting on the data that makes teams successful. However, inaccurate data is not actionable. The severity of this problem affects marketing, sales, and sales development because all of them rely on accurate and up-to-date contact information for campaigns and direct outreach. Sourcing contacts at scale is a similar issue, as it also relates to prospecting to an expanded target list. Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed have trouble adding contacts to their system in an efficient manner. And both of these are problems without scale because 32% cited manual sourcing or cleaning data as one of their biggest challenges. Go-to-market teams must communicate with leads and prospects to begin the sales process. It is critical to have the correct contact information because otherwise, the process is stopped before it even gets started.