By Brian Hansford, Marketing Technology Practice Lead for Heinz Marketing

Predictive intelligence and analytics hold tremendous opportunities for B2B organizations; giving Marketers more powerful tools to help focus their efforts around filling the revenue funnel. It’s critical that Marketing and Sales are fully aligned when deploying a predictive solution, especially when that solution incorporates time-sensitive data. Success starts with the advanced groundwork and agreement on definitions, process, testing, analytics, and optimization.

A predictive initiative requires Sales to do their part in order to succeed. Here are my recommendations for ensuring Sales is on board with your predictive program.

  1. Incorporate Predictive Programs into the Overall Demand Generation Strategy: Predictive solutions are a powerful tool to help organizations build their revenue pipeline. Incorporate predictive capabilities into the overall demand generation strategy including market identification, audience segmentation, strategy, messaging, tactics, sales enablement and analytics. Integrate all of the Marketing Automation, CRM, and  external predictive data to ensure a global view of all programs and performance.
  2. Include Sales in Process Design, Definitions, and Model Testing: Hopefully you already have agreed on definitions for inquiries, leads, and opportunities as they flow through the lead management process.  A predictive initiative will falter if Marketing runs programs without clear or agreed upon definitions for qualified leads. Predictive leads will likely require unique qualification criteria based on scoring and data attributes, and treatment will be different. Ensure that Sales understands the “why” behind scores and provide them with campaign briefs, messaging suggestions, and follow-up content for leads sourced from predictive models.
  3.  Executive Mandate: A VP executive is needed to support a predictive initiative. This executive should have authority, or at a minimum, influence with Sales. Sales support is difficult, if not impossible without an executive, especially with a new program.
  4. Service Level Agreement: One of the biggest stumbling blocks to predictive success is getting Sales to actually “trust” the leads. This is where the upfront groundwork from including Sales in defining the stages and data attributes pays off.  When predictive intelligence programs are rolled out, Sales should incorporate the leads into their follow up and engagement process and execute that process. Timing is key here as predictive intelligence can pinpoint the right time to deliver the right message. The benefits of a service level agreement ensures Marketing Qualified Leads and Predictive Qualified Leads are seamlessly taken from Marketing and engaged as agreed. Additionally, Sales must track the engagement results in order to help with tracking ROI performance and data model optimization.
  5. Data Capture, Reporting, & Visibility: Data turns into information and accurate information leads to better decisions. Without accurately captured data, there is no way a predictive program will be accurately measured. Marketing and Sales should report on the same data sets to show Opportunity Contribution, Sales Won, and Pipeline Velocity. Sales MUST record the disposition of all leads in the CRM system and that information must flow to and from the Marketing Automation Platform. Data capture and analysis eliminates emotional and subjective arguments about lead quality, follow up and results. Predictive leads should have a lead rating, similar to lead scores for all other marketing leads. All of the information that Sales captures can help identify what works and what doesn’t, and most importantly, reveal results.
  6. Continual Optimization: When data is properly captured, tested, and analyzed, the predictive models are easier to improve and modify based on the target customer audience. Customer behaviors change. Predictive intelligence can help determine when and where these behaviors change to reveal prospects in market to buy right now.
  7. Promote success early and often: Early results should emerge within 6 to 8 weeks with opportunity contribution. Promote every single successful predictive lead that turns into an opportunity.  Take special time to review the first closed sales to help with continual improvement and analysis. Tap into the natural competitive behavior among sales reps and develop a contest for closing the first leads from a predictive program.

Sales must do their part with a predictive program. But as with any marketing program, the degree of success depends on the quality of the preparation and execution with Sales. What are your thoughts on these suggestions?