Creating Actionable Market Intelligence
Part 4 in a series on 12-Point Prospect-Experience Transformation
By Dan McDade
You’ve now reached the fourth and final step in the “Market” portion of the 12-Point Prospect-Experience Transformation—Actionable Market Intelligence. (There are four Message steps and four Metrics steps to follow.)
Now that you have an Agreed Upon Lead Definition (AULD), have identified your Total Addressable Market (TAM) and have segmented the TAM so that you can prioritize market contact to go after the less expensive rather than more expensive list segments, you are ready to determine what data to collect when contacting the market.
While you are covering the market and generating leads—two essential marketing responsibilities—you want every market contact to result in Actionable Market Intelligence (AMI). Gathering intelligence is as much the purpose of each call as making deals.
· Do it to engage decision-makers and forge relationships that will come in handy as time goes by and things change with the individual or organization on the other end of the line.
· Do it to help determine when to place the next call or send the next email (i.e. determine your cadence—more on that in the Cadence Management post to come).
· And, do it help evolve your call flow so what you’re saying resonates well.
Every bit of data you gather helps you refine your touches over time. There should be no such thing as a wasted touch. You are either providing information and insight and/or gathering information. Each touch is an opportunity to collect data that makes the next touch more productive.
Here are some examples from my 25+ years as a prospect-experience consultant in my own, and other, firms.
Every time sales reps reach out, they have the opportunity to learn, first of all, basic data: information about the prospect’s vertical, size, geography, corporate structure, competitive landscape, technical environment, cultural environment, funding … and more. All this information needs to be captured. Tracking and reporting on outcomes (or dispositions) of every call can be incredibly enlightening. You need to know if the prospect is qualified and to what degree he/she is interested. You need to track the “why,” if there is no interest now or at all. This is the market intelligence that you can act on productively in the future.
One time my firm worked with a client whose sales person reached out to a prospect that was fully qualified based on vertical, the number of knowledge workers employed and other factors. The sales rep, however, was inclined to disqualify the prospect because the prospect was averse to outsourcing. Instead of disqualifying the prospect, we put this intelligence to work in several ways:
· We tracked trigger events such as a change in senior management because a new boss might not be averse to outsourcing.
· We watched for dramatic changes in staffing (up or down) as changes in staffing frequently create coverage issues relative to security and up time.
· Lastly, we simply waited for the management team to mature. In this case, the same team that was averse to outsourcing eventually signed a $100,000 per month contract, partially because outsourcing was more accepted industry-wide and partially because bottlenecks in IT were crippling productivity and otherwise holding the company back.
This same client had success tracking prospect information about vertical and size (in this example architectural firms with large staffs). One such firm suffered from a disgruntled employee who deleted $30,000,000 in work that was stored in this firm’s systems (they were able to get it back, but at considerable expense and bad PR). The story went viral within this industry. We used this story as an opportunity, on behalf of our client, to contact prospects in similar firms with a “fear of loss” message. This program was very successful.
For another client, my company carefully collected “environment” information on their prospects—such as current ERP and supporting infrastructure. There were as many as 20 solutions available to this market (discrete manufacturing) and many were close to “end of life.” We also tracked each competitor of our client and watched for software “sunset” announcements. As soon as we saw one of these announcements, we worked with our client on a perfect messaging and migration plan to help our clients’ prospects overcome anxiety around a replacement solution and, of course, guide those prospects toward buying our client’s solution.
One of my own prospects had a $2.5 billion IT maintenance business—but was losing $100 million in revenue per year to a large competitor that went into business with the sole purpose of taking revenue away from this prospect.
The problem was a classic one. Our soon-to-be client had lost connection with the end user of their solution and their sales reps were selling to a commodity acquisition buyer. The sales reps were also waiting until just before contract expiration to get in touch with their customers to get approval for another year. The more agile competitor under-cut them on price. This enabled the competitor’s purchasing contact to appear as though he or she was a tough negotiator, thus looking good and earning a bonus.
At this point we came on board. A critical part of our program was to track down the original contract owners and stay in touch with them. We let these contacts know what was going on. They were going to end up with less expensive but less valuable maintenance coverage that would ultimately cost them time and money. Our approach was win-win because the ultimate customers of our client ended up buying more education seats and admission to more conferences and other events which increased both revenue per client and client satisfaction.
Above are just some examples of why B2B sales and marketing teams need to capture actionable market intelligence as an integral part of their job. Every company is different, but every company has data that should be collected while speaking with their targeted prospects.
Unfortunately, not all companies sufficiently value actionable market intelligence. Why? Because they only look at cost per lead in the short-run and feel that taking the time to capture intelligence increases the cost-per-lead.
We maintain that capturing AMI actually reduces cost-per-lead over time. Rather than starting from scratch with each prospect contact, capturing information with each contact enables you to simply continue the conversation. The prospect will value both the insights you bring from prior conversations and your professional persistence.
Having a legitimate reason to call back, based on prior documented calls, you are able to move the prospect through the pipeline-and increase your chances of converting. Every company has the opportunity to do this if it collects and uses AMI. If done correctly, AMI will increase your revenue and enhance your client experience.
Are your prospects not interested? Have no budget? The wrong size? Not inclined to take your approach to solving their problems? Don’t discount anything you learn whenever you have the chance to talk to a prospective client. Take the time to gather as much information as you can—and act on it to drive revenue for your organization.
Let’s connect to discuss how actionable market intelligence can enhance your specific situation, reduce your cost per lead and fill your forecast.