Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: John Walsh, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Sven Olav Lund, Simon Hill

Related Topics: @DXWorldExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

@DXWorldExpo: Article

How Context Will Solve the Big Data Problem for Sales & Marketing

Some innovative solutions are already helping B2B companies sell more by making prospect data actionable in the proper context

Slide Deck from Howard Brown's Cloud Expo® Presentation: Context to Solve the Big Data Problem for Sales & Marketing

It's a simple fact that the better sales reps understand their prospects' intentions, preferences and pain points during calls, the more business they'll close. Each day, as your prospects interact with websites and social media platforms, their behavioral data profile is expanding. It's now possible to gain unprecedented insight into prospects' content preferences, product needs and budget. We hear a lot about how valuable Big Data is to sales and marketing teams. But data itself is only valuable when it's part of a bigger story, made visible in the right context.

What Is Contextual Data?
Historically, business data was analyzed periodically (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) in order to help businesses make better revenue projections and long-term decisions. While decision data enables executives and corporate leaders to make periodic strategic and tactical adjustments, it can't influence workflow in real time. Contextual data, on the other hand, is data that is delivered to the right person at the right time. This data is actionable and can be leveraged by employees in various roles to impact decisions in real time.

An easy-to-understand example of contextual data is Facebook Birthdays. Facebook asks users for their birthday when they sign up and stores that information in a database. Those birthdays are weaved into a story when, on a user's birthday, all of their friends get a notification. By presenting birthday data contextually, Facebook helps remind us of our friends' birthdays and even offers options of gifts to purchase for them.

Why Context Matters
In an enterprise setting, there are huge opportunities to help reps crush quota by delivering contextual data during the engagement phase of the sales cycle. As a prospect interacts with your company by viewing web pages, filling out forms or calling in, you amass an increasingly sophisticated profile of that prospect. This is data that sales reps should be able to access in real time. The first time a prospect calls, a rep can view a lead's marketing referral source to predict what they are interested in purchasing. Screen pops can trigger talking points that can help reps close deals. Through progressive profiling, there's no limit to the amount of data that can be made actionable. For example, reps can view a prospect's job title, company revenue, purchase history, CRM profile, content downloads, social media streams and more before even picking up the phone.

Presenting prospect data contextually can radically accelerate revenue. However, according to a CSO Insights study, nearly half of sales reps feel that they don't have the data they need when talking to prospects. The result is that the majority of sales teams don't meet quota. Often, the data reps need to close deals exists, but businesses have no way to leverage this data to influence workflow in real time. Marketers are great at capturing all sorts of information about their prospects in Google Analytics, CRM systems, business intelligence software and marketing automation platforms. The right data can help reps to predict prospects' intentions, deliver better messages and close more deals. But far too often, data that could be igniting sales remains siloed in various systems of record. That's why businesses need to invest in solutions that provide reps with this data at key moments.

Contextual Data in Action
Some innovative solutions are already helping B2B companies sell more by making prospect data actionable in the proper context. Demandbase is a great example of a company that presents contextual account data about prospects on landing pages in order to optimize conversions. Companies can use Demandbase to automatically tailor-fit content to specific accounts. Imagine the impact of visiting a landing page and not only viewing content specific to your pain points but also featuring your company's name.

The best marketing automation solutions also provide sales reps with real-time views of prospect activities. Marketo, for example, provides a lead view for sales reps that helps them prioritize leads based on quality and urgency. This reduces the time that reps spend deciding which leads to dial and enables them to spend more time on the phone closing business.

My own company, RingDNA, was built on the premise that the more you know about your prospects, the more business you can close. In addition to automatically routing campaign-specific calls to the right sales rep or group of reps, we deliver contextual data that helps reps have more successful sales conversations. One way we do this is by providing reps with a lead's marketing referral source. For example, if a prospect clicked on a paid search ad from Google or Bing, a rep could instantly see which keyword they were searching for. Seeing which keyword caused a prospect to call enables your reps to presuppose which product they are interested in buying. Once a call begins, RingDNA triggers a screen pop with sales talking points directly related to the channel, campaign or keyword a prospect saw before calling. This helps reps stay on message and overcome common sales objections.

In addition, RingDNA delivers a prospect's social media feeds during inbound and outbound calls. According to a Nielsen study, 46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase. Customers use social media channels like Twitter and Facebook to vent about frustrations when they are unhappy with a brand, recommend products to colleagues and communicate when they have a need for a solution. Viewing a lead's social media feeds in the context of calls can help reps have more successful sales conversations. For example, suppose a prospect posted on Twitter asking for advice about one of your competitor's products. Your rep could then deliver a pitch focused on ways your product exceeds that specific competitor's solution. But even a simple tweet about the score from last night's Patriots game could be leveraged by a great rep to bolster engagement.

Finally, RingDNA enables sales reps to access collaborative team data from Chatter at the moment of a phone call. This is vital when multiple sales agents are working on closing the same deal, a common scenario in many B2B sales environments. This prevents reps from delivering information to prospects - such as price quotes - that contradicts what has already been stated by another rep.

RingDNA and other trail-blazing solutions that provide reps with rich contextual data are helping to usher in a new era of enterprise sales. From here on out, customer experiences need to be data-driven. Remember that customers almost always call when they are either conducting product research or when they intend to buy. Either way, when your customers call you it's a critical branding opportunity. Your reps' pitches can determine whether your customers have a good or bad experience.

When your prospects call, they don't mind hearing a sales pitch. They just want to hear a pitch that speaks to their individual needs. With the right data, your business can personalize every interaction. This will not only result in your customers walking away with better experiences, it will also empower your sales reps to close more revenue than ever.

More Stories By Howard Brown

Howard Brown is Founder & CEO of RingDNA, a company that is empowering businesses to reimagine telephony by providing powerful web and mobile apps that connect the business phone to CRM, social media, ad sources and other rich sources of enterprise contact data. Howard is a widely recognized platform technology expert whose company DemandResults helped enterprise companies revolutionize their marketing & sales efforts. Prior to creating RingDNA and DemandResults, Brown founded 4Therapy.com, a powerful network of hundreds of healthcare information and referral sites, which he sold to CRC Health (a Bain Capital Company) in 2004. He also founded Senior Transitions, which was acquired by RealPage in 2013.

Brown’s work as a visionary in the B2B sector was recognized in the book Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, and he was recently featured on the popular Entrepreneur on Fire podcast. He is a frequent speaker at conferences such as Dreamforce and LeadsCon. Howard’s RingDNA prototype won the 2011 Dreamforce Hackathon, and his RingDNA pitch at Austin’s 2012 StartupCamp won first prize.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, addressed this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of the ...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"We're focused on how to get some of the attributes that you would expect from an Amazon, Azure, Google, and doing that on-prem. We believe today that you can actually get those types of things done with certain architectures available in the market today," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.