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Tactical Best Practices for B2B Sales-Company Attributes

Authored by Ric Ratkowski on March 23, 2020

This blog reviews the tactical best practices for collecting information about accounts [companies] where you have sales opportunities or are targeting for a sales opportunity.    

This blog is the fifth blog in the series “Best Practices for B2B Sales”.  The first blog organized the best practices along five key areas. The second blog divided up the first area, data access, into four key areas.  This blog focuses on the last area of data access and collection.

Company attributes describe characteristics about a company or major division of a company.  It can include information like:

  • Size attributes like: sales, number of employees, locations, square foot under management etc.
  • Industry attributes and sic codes
  • Company/ownership types
  • Number of employees in a given domain area (finance, engineering, etc.)
  • Products and services they deliver
  • Locations
  • Technology they use

Like the other data categories, the more data you can collect about an account the better.  Unlike the other data categories, company attributes are used more strategically than tactically.  Out of all four data categories discussed in these last three blogs, this has less impact on the current sales opportunities and more impact on long term strategic selling.  This is also the easiest and most defined information to collect.

Information About the Company/Account

The following table breaks down the problem/business need and best practice summaries related to collecting Account/Company Attribute information.  

Account/Company Attributes

Background

Company attributes describe the underlying characteristics of a company as it relates to the sales process.  These characteristics help sketch how it operates, typical obstacles to its success and pain points.  They help draw a picture of the background around the company to help craft a sales approach.

Problem/Business Need:

Sellers typically have an ideal customer profile that describes the type and characteristics of a company and the opportunity that fits their sales sweet spot.  Many times this is either a gut assumption or a general categorization.

The ideal customer profile is generally described with broad brush strokes.  The challenge is the broad definition does not recognize subsets of companies that may be easier or harder to sell or may require a different, more specialized sales approach.  By collecting and tracking additional company attributes companies can refine their ideal customer profile and better define and understand their market segments.  

When sales teams merge company attributes with opportunity and interaction attributes they begin to understand which sales reps sell better in which industries and which sales processes work best.  Without this information you treat all opportunity the same way, oblivious to industry and company level characteristics.

Requirements:

Capture as many attributes about a company that make sense and are applicable to your sales situation.  Plan on these attributes growing over time as more information about companies becomes available about each close-won and close-lost opportunity.

The need is to:

  • First, capture as much information as possible about the companies.
  • Second, analyze close-won and close-lost opportunities by company and opportunity attributes.
Baseline

Good

Better

Best

Sales reps update their SFA application for opportunity attributes 

CRM and SFA system integrates with sales software intelligence providers like ZoomInfo and allows the rep to  extract company information from within the SFA/CRM application.

 

The system provides a configurable interface that minimizes the effort to create new attributes and update existing attributes via toggles, pick lists and dropdown boxes. 

System provides Ideal Customer Profile analysis combining company, opportunity, opportunity interactions and sales rep attributes to understand ideal customer profile by different market segments and sales reps.

 

The Baseline is what currently happens in most companies.  The sales reps are expected to keep the CRM system up to date, while gaining nothing in return.  

At the Good level, the SFA or CRM systems are integrated with data providers like ZoomInfo too easily have company attribute information at everyone’s fingertips.  This fits in with the overall theme of best practices for data access which is to automate as much as possible.

At the Better level the system provides a configurable interface that minimizes the effort to create and update company attributes.  Not all company attributes are available automatically through tools like ZoomInfo. It also needs to be as easy as possible for the sales reps to edit and update  company attribute information because not all information is in tools like ZoomInfo.  This includes: a configurable mobile interface to collect the company information and work where the sales rep works. It also includes a choreographed interface that makes it as easy as possible for the sales rep to enter the information. This also includes applying “alerts requiring action” as discussed in the previous blog.

The Best level is less about data collection and more about data reporting.  We will dig more into this when we go over best practices for analytics.   This is flagged at the “best” level because we see a lot of companies “pre-TopOPPS” doing a good job of capturing the “good” level requirements through the automation provided by ZoomInfo, but they aren’t using the information.  Typically during our implementation meetings we bring up our ideal customer profile analysis and there are a lot of “ahhhhs” in the meeting.  There are customer comments like “we didn’t realize hospitality was our best industry”.

As an example, below is a non-graphical analysis of a company level attribute analysis combined with opportunity level ideal customer profile analysis.  This analysis is typically done on 20 - 30 attributes to figure out which are most significant.  Our customers then apply that information strategically to go after the right leads and win more deals.

Ideal Customer Profile Example 1

Ideal Customer Profile Example 2

Where Do We Go From Here

This blog finishes out the first area of our blog series on Best Practices for B2B Sales.  The next blog will start digging into tactical best practices supporting the sales process.

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