This article is based on a presentation given at Oracle's Red Marketing Lounge event. Would you rather watch the original presentation? It's over here !
Data plays an increasingly important role in the decisions made every day in companies of all types. This data has been adopted and integrated into almost all business expertise in one form or another.
Except for one: trade.
While technology and data have become prominent in the formulation of new corporate strategies over the past decade, the business process - even within the most digitalized companies - has largely been forgotten.
The vast majority of communication techniques between a salesperson and a prospect are the same today as they were 10 years ago. Exchanges are done by email and (if we are lucky!) in meetings, and do not offer any exploitable data. Data has been very little integrated in the sales cycle.
On the one hand, this is understandable! The B2B sales cycle is mostly a direct relationship cycle between interlocutors. It is generally based on a rather low volume of interactions, and high price. As a result, it is often said that data is not very useful in such a model, and we ignore the potential it can offer to boost its sales cycle and its results.
While marketing is constantly benefiting from new tools, commerce has been largely forgotten in the digital transformation of B2B industries.
We see that the majority of leads that marketing teams give to sales teams are almost always unqualified. Without additional data on the prospect, on what insights can the sales person structure his first contact with them?
Today, the main issue for a large majority of companies is not the acquisition of new leads, but the conversion of existing leads.
How, then, can marketing better (and easily) qualify the leads it generates, and how can commerce discover new insights to structure their sales strategy?
Our answer is what we call the "Silent Data" or "Silent Data."
What is Silent Data?
Silent data is the data that the CRM will not pick up.
This is the data that allows us to better understand how the prospect, but also the salesperson who presents, interacts with the elements and content available to him, and how his actions fit into the sales cycle more globally.
There are two main categories of silent data:
Behavioral data provides visibility into all the ways prospects interact with the sales cycle outside of appointments. This includes an understanding of which documents they are viewing - but also which documents they are not . It includes information about how much time they spend on each topic and each different subject, the specific points they dig into when reading your offers and proposals, etc.
Usage data within the sales team
This data tracks which levers are most used within the sales team, and how much time each saves. This provides an understanding of which salespeople are presenting which content, and then the impact on the final conversion rate that this can have; not to mention tracking the open rate of their documents when sending to a prospect - which are the most viewed, etc.
These types of data allow you to generate new insights into your sales process. Many teams have been using traditional metrics for a long time (conversion rate to next step, closing rate, etc.). This silent data does not replace them, but rather accompanies and enhances them.
The added value of this silent data is therefore clear: it allows you to increase your understanding of your current data, then generate new insights with new information, to better understand your business cycle.
But in concrete terms, what does this mean? What does it look like?
Silent data applied
To better understand the use of silent data within its sales journey, let's look at an example:
This graph shows the open rate and number of shares done per document for a wide range of marketing/commercial content that a Sweet Show client has sent during a semester.
On the graph, we identify 3 main clusters.
- Documents with the highest open rate: these offers (in yellow) are the most engaging among the content sent. They contain essential and high value-added information. They should be shared with more targeted prospects. These are generally the growth driver offers. Sweet Show allows you to detect future trends.
- Complementary documents: these contents (in green) have a relatively high open rate, relative to their number of shares. These documents are less precisely targeted, and can therefore be used with a larger number of prospects, who have a marked interest in the offers and information contained in these contents. These are often offers that follow market trends.
- Generic documents: these offers (in blue) have been shared most often, but have the lowest open rate. This is often the case with offers that are not very targeted, such as a company's 'corporate' presentation - the "Who Are We? These presentations are usually paired with higher value documents in mailings. They provide background information and context to the more specific offers they accompany.
The following chart presents similar information, but segmented more clearly by offerings and categories.
It presents concrete information on the presentations that attract the most attention by the sales team and by the customer at the end of the appointment.
This data, from the actions of your own sales team as well as those of your customers, helps boost the weak signals that are so common in the B2B sales cycle. It allows you to test, analyze, and then redirect your sales strategy by better understanding the performance of your various sales and marketing assets - allowing you to make more informed and timely decisions.
The dual role of data
As we have seen, data plays an essential role not only in understanding the actions of its prospects or customers, but also in understanding the actions taken and the techniques implemented by its own sales team.
Data (and silent data, to be precise) therefore feeds the processes internally, as well as the external cycle:
Within the company and the team, data helps to drive process optimization . By knowing which elements generate the best results, one is better able to invest in the areas, segments, offers, that will bring maximum ROI.
By gaining full visibility into which offers are presented, when, to whom, for how long, with a focus on which topics, etc., one can develop new, in-depth insights into the individual actions, documents and appointments that generate directly attributable revenue.
Numbers give management and marketing access to tangible data on which topics prospects are most interested in. They also provide visibility into which content is generating lower-than-average results. This allows for quicker, more informed decisions:
- Do we restructure the offer?
- Shall we retarget it?
- Shall we remove it?
Conversely, when you quickly see offers that are outperforming in their market, you can make faster decisions to expand the offer into new markets, new segments, etc.
Externally, data enables more informed decisions to be made for each customer. By developing insights more quickly on the offers that are particularly relevant to a given customer, the sales person is better equipped to decide and optimize the actions he/she takes in the next steps of the cycle.
The salesperson is thus able to create tangible value for his or her customer by gaining visibility into when they open the content sent to them, on which topics they spent more time, etc.
This helps the salesperson to better understand the prospect's underlying needs and pain points, and then allows them to re-launch the relationship at the right time, with documents, key figures, case studies, etc. that will be most relevant to the prospect at that moment.
When faced with 20 different prospects, with 20 different needs, that you have to follow up and follow up on, the ability to know who is the most engaged with the content that is sent to them allows you to better prioritize your follow-ups.
It is these insights formed by new visibility into the hidden stages of the sales cycle that give voice to this previously silent data.
Companies are used to tracking post hoc numbers from the sales cycle: revenue, conversion rates, etc., but by digging down to the basics of the buyer experience, and analyzing the sales appointment itself, we can now analyze and extract conclusions from steps that were once merely analogous.
How to set it up?
With this vision in mind, it is now time to create actionable processes to implement a solution that meets these needs.
Gone are the 80-page PDF catalogs, from which we pick a few specific pages to present to the customer. To best hear this silent data of commerce and marketing, we must follow a key framework:
1 bread point = 1 PowerPoint
This consists of applying the "Atomic content" approach, segmenting each offer, each case study, each technical guide, etc. into a unique presentation, to give the flexibility to create a more memorable experience for the customer through a fully customizable offer. This method allows for carefully targeted, relevant presentations on only those topics that are important to the customer, without requiring additional effort by sales or marketing in the production of extremely time-consuming presentation or personalization content.
Indeed, for most teams, the volume of prospects to be contacted is too high to systematically create customized presentations for each one. This is precisely how effective this "atomic" content framework / 1 bread point = 1 PowerPoint is. No need to create a new presentation for each prospect. Simply select the individual sales and marketing offers that will be most relevant to the prospect, create a logical sequence of them in preparation for the meeting, and hide everything else.
At Sweet Show, we help companies accelerate their sales cycle and boost their sales results. With our Sales Enablement platform , we offer a better way for marketing and sales teams to collaborate by leveraging this new silent data.
- content with our "Atomic Content" approach within a custom-made space,
- a post appointment experience optimized to hear and value this silent data,
- a model to turn this data into actionable next-steps...
Sweet Show helps sales teams do what they do best: sell!
With Sweet Show, sales teams are better able to offer customized paths, and then follow up with relevant content to meet the needs of their different prospects.