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What is sales data?

Sales data is any information that is machine-readable and of benefit to sales teams. It helps with decision making, understanding your customers better and improving future performance within your organisation. It is imperative that sales leaders know how to interpret the data they collect and use its insights to improve their strategy. Your B2B sales data must be of high quality in order to gain accurate and timely insights.

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Sales data 101 | Why is sales data important? | Where is sales data collected from? | What are the different types of sales data? | How can data transform your sales team? | How to choose your sales data provider | Cognism’s B2B data eBook | The world’s best B2B sales data

Sales data 101

Cognism's Video Marketer, Emily Liu, has filmed this tutorial explaining everything you need to know about B2B sales data. Press ▶️ to watch!

Why is sales data important?

In B2B sales, data is essential to effective decision-making. Sales decisions are made in direct response to market changes and customer preferences. Data underpins those changes and preferences.

Data helps sales leaders make better decisions by:

1 - Identifying ideal customers 

Your ideal customer is the company or individual most likely to want to buy your products or services. They’re also the most likely to remain loyal and recommend you to others.

Sales leaders need data to determine who this target is and score their leads. This data must include, as a minimum, the names of individuals, the names of their companies, job titles, email addresses, and direct dial phone numbers.

2 - Enabling effective prospecting

In order to reach and engage with your ideal customers through cold calling, outbound email and social selling, your SDRs need data.

Your SDRs will need first and last names of prospects, their job titles, company names, a business telephone number, a business email address, website and social media profiles.

Without this information, the process of B2B lead generation is almost impossible. 

3 - Optimising the sales process

Every sales leader wants to improve the way their team works. To do this, you need to gain insights. It’s incredibly important that your B2B sales team tracks and measures data, preferably on a weekly basis, in order to fine-tune your process and win long-term customers.

Consistent data tracking can help you pinpoint the bottlenecks in your pipeline. For instance, if a rep’s meeting booked rate falls from one week to the next, you can immediately implement a sales training program to get them back up to speed.

Sales data is invaluable for optimizing lead generation strategies and processes, such as shortening the sales cycle, aligning sales and marketing goals and monitoring team KPIs.

Where is sales data collected from? 

A data-driven sales team is capable of producing astonishing results for your company. But they are only as good as the data they use. Where does quality sales data come from?

Public sources

Public sources refer to any data freely available and in the public domain.

They include social media profiles, websites and online articles such as blogs or press releases. Another public source is consented-in data; that is, any data that is freely supplied by prospects or customers (e.g.: from online form fills or survey results). 

Private sources 

Private sources of B2B sales data are secured from public view and must be accessed via a subscription or a form of payment/permission. 

They include DaaS (data as a service) providers, paywalled websites and financial/market intelligence platforms.

What are the different types of sales data? 

There are five types of data in B2B sales.

1 - Demographic data 

The most basic type of sales data. This is information about groups of people according to personal or geographic attributes. It includes names, email addresses, telephone numbers, locations, employment histories and skills. 

This type of sales data is the basis for B2B prospecting. It can be used to strategically adapt offers to specific target groups.

2 - Firmographic data

Essentially the ‘demographics of organisations’, this information allows companies to be segmented into defined groups for your SDRs to target. Firmographic data allows you to group companies by unique identifiers.

This type of sales data includes the company name, location, the industry this company operates in, the number of employees and revenue information such as ARR.

3 - Technographic data

This refers to the types of tech and software that your prospects, whether as individuals or as companies, make use of day-to-day.

This type of sales data is extremely useful for business development teams. It allows them to better understand their prospects’ pain points and position the products they’re selling as the solution.

4 - Chronographic data 

Also known as sales triggers, chronographic data refers to events and changes that occur as time progresses. These changes can lead to an opening to engage with a new prospect or revisiting a prospect that went cold.

Chronographic sales data includes the following: company location moves, a prospect leaving or joining a job, company acquisition, company funding, company IPO, whether the company is hiring or not, and event appearances.

5 - Intent data

Intent data is behavioural data on a company level. It’s based on the online behaviour of web users, tracking their content consumption and the products they’re interested in. Intent data is incredibly valuable in making more efficient and informed sales decisions. 

There are two types of intent data

  • First-party intent data which is the sales data a business collects about their users from their own platforms and website.
  • Third-party intent data which is sales data collected across a number of websites, focusing on a specific category. This gives you more of a complete view of your prospect’s activities across the web.

First-party and third-party intent data are best used together to avoid overlooking ideal prospects.

Cadence for sales leaders.

How can data transform your sales team? 

If your team isn’t data-driven, you simply won’t keep up with the competition or see results. 

Sales data informs all of your decisions. It can transform your team by: 

1 - Identifying new opportunities

Quality sales data will help your SDRs with prospecting for new customers. Additionally, it allows your SDRs to identify which prospects are ready for an upsell or a cross-sell pitch, and which prospects are ready to nurture.

This data comes from: 

  • Reviewing prospects’ purchase history and budget - this gives you information on your prospects’ current solution and their capacity to make a purchase.
  • Analysing customer behaviour and building a persona - study the patterns that emerge among your top-performing customers; then use those insights to develop a persona for your ideal sales-ready customer.
  • Customer activity data such as automated email campaigns - monitor opens, clicks, and your clickthrough rate. 

2 - Avoiding pursuing bad-fit customers

Selling to bad-fit customers has a significant impact on B2B sales. You’ll see higher churn, increased support costs, lowered employee morale, drag on growth and off-target feedback influencing product decisions. 

Sales data helps you avoid this by allowing you to analyse the following: 

  • Customer’s technical fit - do they need additional tech to get value from your product?
  • Functional fit - what do they require from you in order to be successful - can you provide this?
  • Resource fit - do they have the necessary resources to invest in your product?
  • Competence fit - do they have the correct expertise to use your product?
  • Cultural fit - do their company goals align with yours?  

3 - Providing sales forecasts

Sales forecasting empowers you to identify potential issues or risks and then implement appropriate corrective actions to mitigate them.

High-quality data will make your forecasting stronger. The sales data you want to use here is income-age geographical distribution, industry news and press releases, macro-economic factors and sector indexes.

4 - Tracking performance against key objectives

Sales metrics are data points that represent the performance of your team, your organisation, or individual employees. 

Tracking the right sales metrics and measuring these against your key objectives will allow you and your team to evaluate how they are performing. Then you can introduce new processes to boost performance.

Some sales metrics you should be tracking include lead velocity, lead cost per conversion, call outcome, SQO pipeline, and sales velocity. 

5 - Supporting ongoing decision-making

Sales data must be consistent and continually updated to support decision-making. Up-to-date data predicts future trends, drives the creation of new business opportunities, optimises operational effort and ultimately leads to the generation of new business revenue.

Most importantly, implementing a data-driven sales approach should develop, influence, and empower your sales team.

How to choose your sales data provider

There's no secret to this - it's all about the questions you ask! Find out more by watching this tutorial by Emily Liu, Cognism's Senior Video Marketer.

Check out the list of the best lead generation companies.

Cognism’s B2B sales process handbook 

In this guide we provide a framework for salespeople to get started and improvise. This offers four key benefits: quicker onboarding; more efficient growth, a better established structure, and easier forecasting.

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The world’s best B2B sales data

Cognism’s data will give you access to direct dial numbers and verified email addresses, updated in real-time. Improve your lead quality and reach your ideal customers faster.

Get more of the data your sales team needs. Book your demo today 👇

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