Driving Digital Growth: Strategies for B2B Sales and Marketing Success

At the virtual RevTech Summit, keynote speaker Henry Schuck, CEO of ZoomInfo, and Dave Elkington, Founder of InsideSales, discussed the value of good data in your CRM, how to navigate the current challenging software selling environment, the importance of prioritizing generative AI, and how to execute it effectively. 


Changing Landscape: Sales, marketing, and RevOps professionals have witnessed a major change in the industry within the last 24 months. Things are changing at an alarming rate. From 2021 into 2022 there was a strong focus on growth at any cost, but the priorities have changed with the shift in the economy to focus on efficiency and profitability. “I'm fairly certain that for most of our careers, the last year and then probably this year too, are going to be the hardest software selling environments that we’ve operated in,” said Henry Schuck CEO of ZoomInfo. 


Cutting Costs: Companies in the industry are focusing on cutting costs due to the lack of money in the current environment. “No one is buying anything anymore because there is no money in the current environment,” noted David Elkington, Founder of InsideSales. When valuations came down companies and investors realized growth is not the only priority, shifting how people run their businesses cutting costs anywhere they can. When interest rates were zero people were investing and spending consistently, with the interest rates increasing in the last 24 months it became extremely difficult to keep customers and acquire prospective customers.  


Productivity Focused: The transition from a growth-centric to a profit-centric mindset has changed the way many professionals approach their jobs daily, dealing with more scrutiny and tighter budgets. It is essential for sellers and marketers to demonstrate their value with ROI metrics and concrete data. Buyers are now demanding evidence of efficiency and profitability, creating an importance around developing a return on investment (ROI) story that resonates with buyers.  


ROI Story: Buyers are demanding that you show up with an ROI story from a revenue perspective and a cost reduction perspective. The last five years, sales representatives didn’t know how to map out an ROI story because customers were renewing with a different level of scrutiny than they are today. “Cost savings, cost cutting, and return on investment is universally the new requirement,” said Elkington. This new landscape places more emphasis on retaining existing customers and companies must pivot towards customer-centric strategies that prioritize retention and satisfaction.  


Opportunities with AI: Generative AI provides many opportunities including triangulating data points and summarizing large blocks of text according to Henry. Instead of having to go to multiple different places to gather data, using generative AI we can go in and find what data is related to you and apply it using AI. Linking these data points to understand the story of your data and to find the companies and people you should be reaching out to in prioritized order. A key initiative for most businesses is generative AI and how to use it for go-to-market and support.  


AI as an Initiative: The key initiative across most companies is generative AI, you go to your CRM for the data to feed your AI, and because most people haven’t prioritized the data in their CRM it is likely bad. It’s important to question how you let data into your CRM and to apply limitations. If you are trying to drive efficiency, AI is the answer, but to get the AI right you must feed it with good data. 


Data to Feed your AI: You cannot rely on the data in your CRM to drive the AI efficiencies that you are looking for, if your data is wrong or you don’t know the ICP (ideal customer profile) your AI will be off. “You could have an amazing selling process and be selling to the wrong people or have the right people and be selling the wrong process,” said Elkington. The data in your CRM is foundational data and should be seen as infrastructure for everything else that you do, forecasting, territory, and AI. The same way that cloud is infrastructure for our systems, the data in your CRM is infrastructure for how we go-to-market. 


Different Types of Data: A company's foundational data is generally static data that does not consistently change including contact information, company information, industry, size, location, technology stack, and more. Above foundational data is signal data, which tells you how to prioritize all the companies and contacts in your ICP. The most common definition of intent data is data that tells you what a company is researching on the public web, when their research moves, if someone visits your website, if a company is hiring, are all examples of signal and intent data. You craft your ICP with your foundational data and you find those companies using your signal data. Typically, a very limited number of companies are in the market for your products and services, if they are, you want to make sure you are in front of them by tracking their intent data. 


Signal and Intent Data: There is an incredible amount of digital signal and intent data that tells you what a company is doing and what they are thinking. The problem is that there is so much digital communication it can be difficult to understand, generative AI can help you store all this data, but it can also help you to interpret it. It is important for you to engage with these signal data points and pieces to drive efficiency and productivity. Shuck recommended that you go to your best seller and ask them what is working for them, institutionalize the processes and put it into systems to use it at scale.  


The Rise of RevOps: According to LinkedIn the fastest growing title in the world last year is Head of RevOps. This tells us that data is becoming the most important part of how a company goes to market. The RevOps professionals organize data between your sales system, marketing system, third party data, your ABM platform, and they centralize it, pushing it out in an orchestrated system. This role is going to be more and more important when it comes to how a modern company acquires new customers, grows existing customers, and runs efficiently.  


In Person Relationship Building: Flexible work from home is good but the minute your competition is out there shaking hands with your customers and prospects you are at a disadvantage. There are things that you might be more productive working on once or twice a week from home, but besides that we should be in office, collaborating with each other, learning from each other, and meeting our customers. People buy through relationships, friendships, and trust. In a digital world it is increasingly more valuable to invest in personal relationships in sales and marketing. Face-to-face interactions foster trust and rapport with prospects and clients. 



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