We recently caught up with Sam Zales, president of ZoomInfo, who just marked his first anniversary with the company. Zales spent a good part of the past year traveling the field, huddling with customers and locating the pain points.
“The No. 1 thing customers are dealing with is a lack of cleanliness in prospect and customer data,” he said. “CRM (customer relationship management), marketing automation, sales files, customer databases – they all need to be consistently updated.”
With apologies to Brian Wilson, wouldn’t it be nice if customers could periodically polish their own data and immediately ping them to sellers upon updating. Not in this lifetime.
Zales said the onus remains on the marketing side to make sure the data are well scrubbed. “Marketing departments are trying to help the sales force fill the sales funnel, and lead gen starts with data supporting every effort in the sales pipeline,” Zales said. “Marketers need to flood [sales execs] with as much relevant information on prospects and customers as they can to make sales executives more efficient. If the data are not clean, they’re going to be even less efficient.”
So if marketers provide their sales execs with fresh, intelligent data can both sides break out the acoustic guitars and start singing Kumbaya? The inherent strain between sales and marketing probably forbids that, but improved data certainly won’t hurt the relationship between sales and marketing execs.
Another way to improve data, Zales said, is better segmenting. “The marketing team extracts customer data to determine the most profitable targets for lead generation,” Zales said. “Are they pulling the broadest, deepest and most fresh information from the customer and prospect database about who is going to be in the most profitable swamps?” He added that determining which prospects have the highest likelihood average order size and speed to purchase are critical questions marketers need to ask as they extract from the data.
In a tough economy, with budgets tighter than ever, having clean data provides a leg up on the competition. “It’s hard to reach the best decision maker even in good times,” Zales said. “If you don’t start with the right decision maker you’re wasting time at the front end of the funnel. But if sales execs are talking to the right people in the right segments they can carry it to the end zone.”