Empower Sales with Customer AnalyticsLet’s first start this topic with a definition of Customer Analytics as told by Wikipedia (stay with me as this definition is a little mind numbing…).

Wikipedia defines Customer Analytics as “a process by which data from customer behavior is used to help make key business decisions via market segmentation and predictive analytics.  This information is used by business for direct marketing, site selection and customer relationship management.  Marketing provides services in order to satisfy customers.  With that in mind, the productive system is considered from its beginning at the production level, to the end of the cycle at the customer.  Customer analytics plays a very important role in the prediction of customer behavior today.”

Whew – that is quite a definition and quite frankly a little intimidating!

Let’s break that down and apply it to the everyday life of your sales managers.  What types of customer data points can your sales team use to assist them in the sales process?  How will customer data help your teams redefine their sales processes or better yet, how will the use of data help your teams increase their sales performance?

These are probably questions that have been asked a time or two within your organizations and the following will outline sources of customer analytics that can help your teams achieve those goals.

Today’s marketers are generating a tremendous amount of data points through the use of Marketing Technology, specifically the use of Marketing Automation Technology.

While the volume of data being collected about the customer is grand, transferring relevant and actionable data from the marketing team to the sales team is a critical component of the process.

This transfer of customer data is typically done by integrating a Marketing Automation solution like Act-On, ClickDimensions, HubSpot, Pardot, etc., with a CRM system like Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce.  The merging of these two technologies creates an integrated environment that is perfectly poised to allow your sales teams to leverage customer analytics.

Example of an Act-On Activity Feed within a Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM Environment.  Each of the tabs offers a granular view of the customer analytics collected.

Act-On Marketing Automation

With an integrated environment, what type of data can your sales teams leverage?  Let’s take a look at five specific customer analytic resources.

1. Website Analytics

If you are a sales person, the mentioned of Website Analytics may immediately have you categorizing this as a “Marketing” data point.  While it is an important data point for Marketing, it can be a powerful source of customer analytics for the sales team as well.  According to Forrester Research, 74% of B2B buyers are conducting at least half if not more of their research online before talking with a salesperson.  With all of this research going on, would you like to be, as they say, “A fly on the wall”?  Well you can….

With an integrated system, the sales team can view within the CRM environment all of the web activity that a lead and/or contact has engaged in with your company as well as the search terms used to find your company’s website.  Having visibility to this activity will give your sales team’s insights into the customer’s preferences as well as potentially what stage of the buying cycle the customer is at.  If a customer is visiting your “pricing” or “where to buy page”, you may rank this lead higher than one who just visited one page on your website and it happened to be your “about us” page.   Also, when you do have that first interaction with the customer you now have more context in which to direct your conversation.

2. Social Analytics

Did you know that 75% of B2B buyers are now using social media to research vendors? (Source:  IDC)  Similar to the website analytics, wouldn’t it be beneficial for your sales teams to be able to view the types of social posts that their prospects are engaging with online?  This data point can be passed from a Marketing Automation tool directly into CRM.  The ability to view the type of information your prospect is consuming helps to provide an informed, relevant conversation with your company’s prospects.

Let’s consider a business scenario to further define the use case for this data.  You work for the Frantic Financial Services organization.  The organization is focused on supporting the investment needs of mid-sized businesses.  You met your prospect, Larry, at a conference and connected on LinkedIn after the event.  Your marketing department has been posting thought leadership content on your companies LinkedIn page.  You have noticed in your CRM system that Larry’s has been very active in engaging with these posts and has a specific interest in the posts related to 401K management.  You decide to drop Larry a LinkedIn message to share another piece of content that you think he might find helpful.

3. Email Analytics

Email analytics offers you the ability to see what email campaigns have been sent to your leads and/or contacts.  With an integrated system, this goes beyond the global view of email performance and brings it down to the contact level.  Using this type of analytics will give your sales team’s visibility into what emails the contact opened, what links they clicked on and how many emails they have engaged with.  Looking at these insights will again give you a frame work of determine where the customer is at in the buyer’s journey and were to focus the sales efforts and conversations going forward.

4. Content Analytics

We are in the age of content, with a focus on informing, educating and supporting our customer during their buying journey.  It’s about being there with the right content at the right time when the customer has the need or the problem to solve.  It’s about creating thought leadership in the industry in which you serve and pulling customers in as they build trust from the content you share and in turn trust you with their purchase.  And it’s working, according to Forrester research, 82% of buyers viewed at least five pieces of content form the winning vendor.

White papers, e-Books, blogs, videos and webinars are great examples of content.  Having visibility into what content is most relevant to your individual leads and contacts will once again give you insights into the problems, challenges and goals your customers are facing.  Use this information to your advantage when talking with your customers.

5. Lead Management Analytics

The goal of marketing activities in most cases is to generate leads for the business.  Leads can be generated with several strategies but a common use of digital lead acquisition is the use of landing pages and web forms to convert a website visitor into a lead for your business.  This lead may be generated because your prospect would like to download a piece of content that you have developed like a eBook, or maybe the landing page has a form submission for a contest or promotion you are running or another example may be a quote request form on your website.

Those are just a few examples. The goal of these conversion opportunities is to generate a lead for your business.  Many businesses are then deploying a targeted lead nurturing strategy to further qualify the lead before passing it along to the sale team.  This is a very effective strategy as your marketing teams are passing along qualified leads to your sales team rather than all leads.  Once that lead is passed on to sales, what data can the sales manager see that might help in the sales process?

With an integrated environment, the sales manager can see what forms have been submitted and the actual fields that were captured.  In addition, they can see landing pages and surveys that have been viewed and submitted.  Maybe you have a quote request form on your website that specifically asks about their purchase timeline.  Having visibility to this question will most certainly help you in understanding where the customer is at in the purchasing cycle and when and how often you may want to engage with them.  Your team could even choose to deploy a lead alert strategy based upon the system of answers submitted on the form.  This would trigger a notification to the sales team and hopefully then a touchpoint out to the customer before your competition does!

As you can see, there are ample opportunities and strategies to take advantage of the customer analytics being gathered by your marketing teams.  Leveraging technology that can pass the data to the sales team and then educating your teams on the value and use of the data will be core to reaching your defined sales goals.

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