Knowing which businesses and individuals to target to keep your deal pipeline full of the right prospects is challenging for sales teams at the best of times, but especially so in today’s unpredictable economic climate.
With businesses still facing disruptive Covid restrictions and many continuing to prioritize cashflow to remain operational, sales teams need to be focussing their efforts where they are most likely to deliver results. That means defining and prioritising audiences to be able to target them with compelling, personalised messaging.
Here’s how firmographics can help.
As neatly summarized by Wikipedia, “what demographics are to people, firmographics are to organizations.” Firmographic data or firmographics are essentially a set of characteristics, behaviours and metrics used to segment companies and organizations into distinct, defined groups. They are particularly useful for B2B sales teams who want to quickly identify and engage with qualified leads who are most likely and predisposed to benefit from an individual product or service.
A focussed approach
Getting the right firmographic data that’s relevant to your business should start with considering what you want to know. At the outset, companies typically find themselves asking a number of key basic questions around business fundamentals, such as when was the company founded, how many employees does it have, what does the organisation’s structure look like and what is its annual revenue?
Crucially, businesses will want to know from any target what growth phase they’re currently occupying. Some organizations go a step further in their data gathering, looking at a range of metrics such as technology provision, customer makeup and whether the target leases or owns their key business infrastructure.
As any sales professional who has ever researched a potential target will know, there can be a wealth of data in the public domain about individual companies and organizations.
The good news is that firmographic data is relatively narrow in scope, making the task of grouping companies into categories far from onerous. Different organizations will of course categorize targets via different variables, but typically there are a number of key fields to consider. These include size of organization, industry focus, location of HQ and other offices, key performance indicators such as total annual sales and revenues, ownership and management structure and whether the company is growing, consolidating or downsizing.
When it comes to sourcing the actual data, businesses typically employ one of three approaches. Most commonly, they conduct online research via freely available public domain resources such as company websites, registers, annual reports, tax declarations, media coverage and the like.
Another option is to target organizations directly with specific requests for detail. While this typically may lead to the most accurate information it can certainly be one of the more challenging routes, given how many operations are rightly sensitive about sharing their data – particularly following a ‘cold call’ approach.
Finally, where key data is proving particularly difficult to source, companies can also purchase firmographic information from a specialist data provider. Of course, organizations source their data in different ways and there can often be reluctance to engage a paid for service, even when information is particularly scant. Whichever combination of routes they choose however, companies should be aiming to source the most accurate, timely and actionable data possible.
Employing firmographics within your business is as much about efficiency and productivity as it is bottom line sales. Just as those using sales enablement technology, such as sales-i, have access to key customer metrics, having segmented customer information can save time. With easy access to data that classifies prospective clients by size, location, revenue and other important metrics, sales teams don't need to waste time wading through unwieldy data before making decisions and prioritizing targets.
By understanding the real size and scope of potential B2B buyers, businesses can also significantly improve sales targeting – after all, while both smaller family-oriented businesses and their larger counterparts may both be targets for your business, the messaging you deliver to each should be adapted and tailored accordingly. What’s more, leveraging key firmographic data about where companies and their employees are located can help businesses improve customer service offerings, making them directly tailored to their specific needs.
Prospect targeting in the Covid context
The pandemic has forced a great many businesses to evolve to survive and continue thriving in uncertain conditions, whether it’s through increased technology adoption, pivoting to address new market segments or diversification into new products and services. Sales teams need to take these changes firmly into account in their sales prospecting to ensure they are continuing to target the right customers with the right messaging.
As with many continuous improvement processes, perfecting prospect targeting won’t happen overnight. But by continually categorizing new sales prospects and recategorizing older customers who may be evolving, sales teams can put themselves at the best advantage to sell more efficiently, strategically and profitably for the longer term.