Data has become a critical tool for marketing and sales, but the challenges to cherry-pick the most valuable info remains an ongoing challenge. New research from data analysis firm Dun & Bradstreet shows that teams on both sides continue to struggle to reach the right audiences, convert leads and prove ROI.
The firm’s first annual State of Sales Acceleration report separately surveyed over 300 B2B sales and marketing professionals and 300 B2B technology buyers to discover where internal and external disconnects lie. The research also unveils how teams are incorporating data-driven tactics and new technologies into their daily workflows.
An overwhelming majority (92 percent) of sales and marketers say they recognize the importance of having the right data to understand each prospect’s needs—but they aren’t seeing the results they had hoped. As a result, teams have been dealing with long sales cycles and disconnected sales processes. An average marketing campaign analyzed in the survey had a win rate of just 17 percent.
“As sales and marketing teams converge, it’s critical for them to have accurate and aligned data about their target audiences to help convert any lead into a paying customer more quickly,” said Rishi Dave, chief marketing officer at Dun & Bradstreet, in a news release. “B2B buying is a longer process that is likely to begin before a salesperson is even involved. Sales acceleration principles will help sales and marketing teams surface actionable insights and connected buying signals, which help convert prospects into customers and increase ROI.”
Marketers face their own frustrations while working alongside sales teams, saying their three biggest challenges involve understanding who their exact target audience is, ensuring they have complete and relevant data and measuring the success of their campaigns. Marketing teams have begun addressing these issues by utilizing new tactics that require robust data and a deep level of insights.
For instance, 58 percent are currently using account-based marketing with another 27 percent planning to start using it in the next six months. Programmatic advertising is also popular with 41 percent of respondents reporting already using it and another 33 percent planning to implement it in the next six months. Additionally, while only 26 percent are currently using artificial intelligence, 22 percent are planning to adopt it within six months.
B2B technology buyers’ pain
Despite the proliferation of tools and analytics designed to target B2B buyers, only half (51 percent) of buyers said they have seen an improvement in sales and marketing communications over the last few years. Nearly half (48 percent) of surveyed buyers still believe the communications they receive are not at all relevant to their role, indicating a need for sellers to connect offline and online customer data, offer more relevant communications and accelerate the buying journey.
According to the salespeople surveyed, the average salesperson spends over two hours (128 minutes) looking into each prospect before contacting them, leaving little time to actually reach out to new prospects and sell. Consequently, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of salespeople said they don’t have enough time to research potential customers.
“If sales teams have more detailed buyer information at their disposal, they can spend more time on revenue-focused activities,” added Dave. “By using data-driven sales acceleration tools that incorporate real-time, accurate data with buying signals, marketing and sales teams will have access to more relevant information that’s connected, insightful and actionable.”
This study was conducted by Censuswide, an independent research consultancy, throughout June 2017. The quantitative study polled two groups: 312 B2B buyers across North America and the United Kingdom and 300 B2B sales and marketing professionals across the same regions.