Creating a Database for Account Penetration
How do most marketers create a database? Does the marketer go off and simply order a big pull of data or purchases a list and hopes that these yummy target accounts are represented? To load the sales funnel with these accounts is actually an easier task that simply hoping that you’ll get lucky when creating a database, and they’re in there. Start by creating databases exclusively with the target accounts. Unlike the pray and spray method, where specific words are purchased in the hopes that they will attract top prospects doing searches, start by asking the sales and marketing teams to submit a list of exactly, precisely the companies the team wants to penetrate. There is no excuse for marketing to companies that you don’t want. There are two parts to this challenge, though they should not be thought of as daunting. First, creating a database is a non-mystical, non-random exercise. It simply represents hard work and methodical research. It goes like this:
- Once the list of top prospect companies is drawn up, then the next step is to match those company names with the actual companies on larger databases. Matching is a skill that takes both good tools and careful, manual labor. The tools that, say, recognize a VP of Sales’ scribbling of the name, “ARM” has to figure out if the person meant “Arm and Hammer” the brand, the stock signature of American Airlines, Fidelity Investments (because he meant to write FMR), American Medical Response (an ambulance company) … or if the author simply misspelled the target account. It can often come down to a judgment call. Good technology can get you part of the way there, but name matching often involves a human element, a live person looking at a couple possible matches and choosing what they feel the person really meant. It requires having some knowledge of target marketing, and putting into the equation an understanding that, using the above example, American Airlines would likely process a lot of credit cards, elevating it to be a likely candidate. Once the list is matched, and the accounts associated with their correct spelling, address, URL, etc., then the next step is the populating of the account with key contacts.
- Building contacts (also known as “contact discovery”) is, again, a specialized discipline that actually isn’t very mysterious… it just takes hard work. The old fashioned way is often the best: call into the account and talk to real people and build names by title or by role. It isn’t very sexy, but it is the only way to ensure that the person you want has responsibility for the area you seek. You need skilled researchers who will call into the target account and get someone (or multiple people) to confirm the name, the spelling, the title, their role, their email, etc. This method can achieve >95% accuracy.
What can make this process easier?
Clearly, if you already have some names in that target account you can leverage them to get other, net new names. When your research teams do hunting for contacts they can invoke the names they already have, establishing credibility, and getting someone in the organization to yield new names.
Beware of sources that use “web scraping” another techniques for robo name building. They often get names that would be described as “good enough.” For many marketers “good enough” meets their budget constraints. In reality, good enough names can compromise the credibility of your marketing message. Imagine getting an email where your name is spelled wrong, you title is wrong, or the message doesn’t really resonate with what you’re responsible for. Or, quite simply, the email bounces, is never delivered, and the outbound effort is wasted on a bad email.
Creating a database, specifically for the purposes of lead generation (particularly in target accounts) is hard. Turning target accounts into top prospects is hard. Getting specific executives in target companies into your sales funnel is hard. Creating a database with the goal being high accuracy is easy… “easy” in the sense of not magical, not mystical. It is simply all about hard work, careful, slow, methodical research. But a super high accuracy database means that all the marketing programs that leverage those names will not fail based on bad data. They may fail all on their own (more on that in other blogs), but at least the data will not be able to be blamed as one of the usual suspects.