Big data and predictive analytics are becoming increasingly useful for today’s revenue drivers across all areas of business. Specifically within the B2B world, this type of data is just beginning to break through the surface. Until recently, traditional sales and marketing methods focused on historical trends rather than predictive insights. What many industry professionals are beginning to find is that businesses, much like consumers, can be defined by their behaviors. By taking a look at the predictive analytics that a business’s behaviors create, marketing, sales and revenue executives are able to make educated decisions on which new companies to market to and which current customers may be in a position to purchase more. They can also determine whether prospective companies are or are not good candidates to pursue at this time, allowing for more organized effective time management.
Predictive analytics provide a knowledge-based edge for decision makers, widening the view as to the direction that any given company is headed next. These analytics serve as clues that can be used by sales and marketing professionals to maximize campaign effectiveness. According to Radius’ 2016 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Study, “marketers that applied predictive analytics to demand generation met their objectives 55% of the time, compared to 30% for those not using them.” The practice is becoming increasingly popular for driving revenue growth, providing new and useful insights which translate into sales.
Identifying the Right Customers
Some businesses, for example Cortera, are able to take predictive analytics and generate unique sales and marketing opportunities for other companies. Cortera supplies this information to its customers based on ‘lookalike’ companies that have many of the same characteristics. Businesses can take that information and put it into practice, marketing a specific type of product or service in relevance to the real-time behaviors of a prospect. Predictive analytics also empower sales and marketing professionals to identify companies with a high propensity to buy. For example, an increase in shipping spend over the past year or six months signals that a business is shipping more product. If they’re shipping more product, they need to purchase more materials to make more products. In addition, a business expanding to new branches or plants is another key growth indicator. This may also lead to an increase in hiring new employees. Here you can see how all of these behaviors are linked together. As predictive analytics show that a business’s demand is increasing, or that the size of the company is expanding, sales and marketing experts can identify upward trends and growth opportunities before making an initial sales call. They are then able to make knowledgeable decisions as to where they should focus their efforts, improving ROI and getting closer to meeting their objectives.
Personalizing the Message
In addition to targeting specific roles within an organization, marketing and sales professionals can now use predictive analytics to identify new areas of business based on the interest or usability of their particular product or service. For example, Cortera is a leading provider of B2B credit and trade information. While the majority of our customer base is occupied by credit managers and controllers, we have also found that finance departments, revenue officers, sales managers and marketing officers can all utilize our data and information in different ways, simultaneously contributing to the overall growth of their businesses. Given that our data holds value far beyond extending credit limits, there’s no reason not to extend our customer base through increased marketing and sales efforts to match. This realization has allowed us to customize marketing campaigns and tailor them to meet the specific needs of each department. In the past, most marketing and sales campaigns have been geared toward a specific “type” of person, also referred to as a persona. What predictive analytics have taught us is that those personas don’t always turn out to be what we thought, and additionally, they aren’t always the best or only person within an organization to target. By increasing our target base and personalizing the message within each department, sales and marketers can breakthrough to new departments of profitable businesses.
Acknowledging When a Lead is Dead
We all dread receiving that unwanted sales call, and usually the sales representative dreads making the call just as much. If a prospect has previously determined that they cannot make use of whatever it is you’re selling, then it simply becomes a waste of everyone’s time to continue following up or trying to negotiate a deal. Just as predictive analytics can be used to make a sale, they can also signal when a lead is dead and it becomes time to move on. In identifying where a prospect is within the buyer’s journey, sales professionals can make a determination of best practices. Do they need a little extra ‘umph’, like perhaps an industry reference? Or maybe they just need some time to allow their accounting department to look over the numbers. Predictive analytics make you aware of what they’ve done in the past, what they’re doing now, and what they’re likely to do next. Let’s use the recent demise of a well-known company for example. Cortera’s data had shown a decrease in shipping and operations spend for the entire year preceding that company’s close of business. Sales and marketing professionals had access to this predictive information and were able to determine that the company was no longer a lead worth pursuing.
Re-Evaluating Current Relationships
Marketing and sales professionals can also use predictive analytics to re-evaluate current business relationships. If one of your customers is showing signs of demise, it may be time to cut the cord and allocate a replacement for that revenue. For example, a business who is suddenly paying their key suppliers late may be headed towards close of business or a bankruptcy. These predictive analytics give you the opportunity to re-consider extending a company’s credit limit, or counting on them to make a major purchase next month. If you’re a sales rep and a large sum of your commission check comes from that particular company, you could use this information to act in time to find a replacement. On the contrary, just like prospects, customers showing signs of growth are well-qualified candidates for an up-sell. In fact, customers are usually far more profitable than non-customers because it’s easier to build on an established relationship than to create a brand new one. Using predictive analytics within your customer base will empower you as a knowledgeable sales or marketing expert.
Putting it All Together
Predictive analytics have the power to enhance sales and marketing strategy across the board. They are a powerful tool that can fuel the growth of any business. The key is knowing how, when and where to use them most effectively. While best practices will vary from company to company, the one thing that remains the same is that real-time behavior combined with historical habits will predict a business’s next move.