Getting more value from your data

Businesses now operate in a world in which information is more readily and publicly available than ever before.  Thanks to the development of the Internet, information on market trends, legislation, customers, suppliers, competitors, distributors, product development and almost every other conceivable topic is available at the click of a mouse.  Search engines, online libraries, company websites and other sources provide information in an increasingly plentiful, easy to find, and easy to digest way.

Despite this trend, it is often the most valuable information which cannot be found online, namely potential sales leads. In other words, while general information is often available freely in every sense of the word, information that is sufficiently specific, validated and well presented to be of real use to sales teams often requires a specialist provider.

“The purpose of obtaining a leads database is to increase sales and profitability,” explains Louise Robinson, Managing Director of Database 360. “Data gathering and field resources are the foundation of any good outsourced lead generation company. However, gathering the data is not enough. Without rigorous analysis and insightful reporting, the data remains simply… data, it never becomes useful information that can be actioned. The ultimate test of the data is whether it provides the right information in order to let the sales team easily convert leads into sales.”

She adds that it is critical that the sales teams have access to the right decision-makers. This can be a challenge, with many databases relying on old, outdated, and often incorrect information. However, with the right service provider, this becomes a non-issue. “By using a company that can do all of the groundwork for you, you free yourself up to focus on what really matters: making sales to willing partners,” Robison explains.

However, it is just as important for businesses to understand that the data they are purchasing is not a guaranteed sale: sales teams still have to work their magic. By ensuring that the leads provided are accurate and qualified, a good service provider can secure guaranteed interest in your products or services, but the interest still has to be converted into an actual sale.

“The systematic gathering, analysis and presenting of marketplace intelligence and leads has taken place in Western markets for around four decades. Currently, however, it is in the developing markets that demand for is increasing.  Countries in Africa, for example, are seeing repeated double-digit growth rates year-on-year, and much of this growth, is driven by Western clients both inside and outside their home countries,” says Robinson. “In these cases, companies should bear in mind that there are cultural differences when it comes to obtaining data in different countries, as well as in the method of conducting business. However, a service provider with well-educated employees and a multilingual capability should be capable of obtaining data across different markets.  Indeed, this skill is increasingly essential as the requirement for multi-country data increases.”

She adds that any service provide should have experience of closely related industries, as well as of the target countries of interest.  Sensitivity to different data collection and interpretation requirements in the countries of interest can have a strong impact on the validity and usefulness of the information.

“As the marketplace has become increasingly global, gathering data has become increasingly difficult. While the market has grown, the sources that provide critical business information have exploded exponentially. It’s no longer possible to collect intelligence with old tools and technologies. Instead, essential data must now be culled from thousands of potential leads and quickly aggregated, filtered and delivered to the right people if it is going to have any value at all,” Robinson concludes.