The Keys to Optimizing Smart Business Relationships
Top-tier sales professionals understand that relationships drive success and that relationships are based on trust. When you engage with a customer at any stage of the sales process, your purpose first and foremost is building and maintaining trust with you, your company and your brand. I realized this a few years ago when I coined the phrase "Business Relationship Optimization." It coincidentally has the best acronym of all time, BRO. In fact, I wrote a whole chapter on this topic in my book with Wiley, "Digital Sense." And we all need to optimize our business relationships, right?
The problem with trust is that it’s fragile. One misstep or miscalculation can mean the difference between making a sale or hearing “I’m not interested.” That’s why you need a global commercial database that equips you with the most context-specific, relevant, and up-to-date customer information available. This way, you can reach the right person with the right message at the right time that shows why you’re offering the best solution to fit their needs.
Beyond Demographics and Industry Data
The last thing you want to do is come face-to-face with a customer without a specific understanding of how you can help them. Merely knowing who a decision-maker is and how to contact them isn’t enough to capture their attention so they understand the benefits of your offering. It may be that you have the perfect solution, but if they don’t understand why they should care, then they’ll never buy in.
This means you need a database that allows you to gain a more holistic understanding of the customer’s role and the challenges they face. Knowing the context of a customer’s unique situation allows you to ask the right questions and provide the right answers to help you move closer to a sale.
It’s true that you can easily find basic company information online with just a few clicks and keystrokes, but real insights that connect you to your most valuable customers and prospects can be difficult to discover. In addition, the fact that the marketplace is always changing means sales prospect data needs to be constantly updated, preferably in real-time.
Context Determines the Appropriate Account-Based Sales Approach
You’ll need to devote your sales efforts to where they’ll have the most impact. This means that a focused list of highly-targeted, highly-interested prospects is more valuable than a bigger one that consists of people you don’t know anything about.
To this end, when selecting a prospect database solution for your sales team, you should search for features that go beyond basic company and contact information. In my years in marketing, I’ve been pitched tons of databases. There are certainly many to choose from. My old go-to was Jigsaw.com back in the day. Today, with the acquisitions that Dun & Bradstreet has made with NetProspex and Avention, in my estimation, D&B is clearly the top global commercial database. Their tool (D&B Hoovers) will give you context about the issues your prospects face and how you can help them. These include:
- Concept-driven list-building – The ability to search for companies based on concepts will help you home in on businesses that can be hard to aggregate. For example, companies and industries such as drone delivery, corporate daycare, and driverless cars might not have their own SIC codes yet, but they already play a significant role in the marketplace and might be able to benefit from your products and services.
- Business-activity search – You can search for companies based on recent events and activities pertaining to growth, media, technology, and several other dynamic aspects of business development. Understanding what’s happening internally at a prospect’s office will give you a wealth of context that would otherwise be unattainable and help you know what questions to ask.
- Dynamic ideal profile matching and scoring – You can input information about your ideal client then match it with companies that fit those criteria. The degree of the match is then scored so you can prioritize where to dedicate your resources.
- Ongoing real-time monitoring and reporting – Business landscapes are always shifting and evolving, so you have to keep your eye on the ball so as not to be taken by surprise. This tool enables you to keep an eye on companies as they change so you always know where you stand and how you can help.
- Decision-making hierarchy maps – Sometimes you need to know where a prospect fits into an organization’s overall decision-making hierarchy. This tool tells you who the key players are that make purchasing decisions related to your products and services. This helps you see where they fit into the bigger picture to give you a better understanding of how to navigate the sales process with each account.
Relationships drive sales success in any organization, and all relationships are based on trust. You’ll be able to build trust more effectively by using these database features to give you context-specific information about your customers, which will help you optimize your business relationships, by always knowing how you can help your new BROs.
Travis Wright is a successful author, consultant, keynote speaker, entrepreneur, data & analytics geek, tech journalist, growth hacker, podcast host and mediocre stand-up comic. He is the former global digital and social strategist at Symantec for the Norton brand, he was a Russian linguist in the US Army, and is the cofounder and Chief Marketing Technology Officer at CCP.Digital, a Kansas City & SF-based digital ad & content agency.
Over the past 18 years, Wright has helped hundreds of B-to-B and B-to-C companies, from well-funded start-ups and SMBs to the Fortune 100. He is also a columnist at Inc. Magazine, podcast host of VentureBeat’s VB Engage, and author of his first book with Wiley & Sons, Digital Sense, which publishes in December 2016.