Earlier this week, Forrester Research, Inc. published its latest take on how data technologies are changing B2B marketing and sales in the report: “New Technologies Emerge To Help Unearth Buyer Insight From Mountains Of B2B Data” (July 13, 2015). What we know is that, for the moment, the technology has outpaced B2B marketers’ ability to leverage these tools. Those business decision-makers, who get to the starting line first and start making fully data-driven decisions, will be the ones who will take the spoils of predictive intelligence in business.

What Can Predictive Do For You?

According to Forrester, the true value of predictive marketing occurs when you apply a data-driven approach across the customer life cycle, from prospect all the way to long-term, rebooking client. Optimizing demand generation processes and prioritizing your sales pipeline are the first steps of truly taking advantage of data technologies and predictive.

The advanced implementation of predictive technology will allow marketing to “increase the precision and relevance of sales interactions.” By optimizing ad spends to align with account-based campaigns, marketing can help sales open conversations with individual buyers and influence committee buying plans.

Truly predictive tools can also identify in-market buyers whose intent data, gathered from a large data ecosystem of B2B buyer behavior activity, can signal a buyer who is on the brink of making a purchasing decision. This will allow businesses to “target more directly, increase close rates, and shorten sales cycles, which collectively lowers acquisition costs.”

Getting Ready For Predictive

Data-driven technologies will have the biggest business impact on B2B marketers who prepare their organizations and workflow processes for data analysis and predictive intelligence. So what do you need to get started?

  1. Understand your ideal accounts and leads! To do this, you’ll need to sit down with sales, customer success and product teams to understand how your customers use your product and what features define the business challenges you help solve.
  2. Ask your marketing team a question. Effective data use comes from a desire to understand customer behavior – “What content is the best predictor of a sale?” – and use data analytics to help answer the question.
  3. Work across teams to capture and present relevant industry data. Successful marketing and sales organizations will work with customer success and sales teams to capture customer data in a systematic and normalized way. They will then work with their technology management teams to visualize and make that data available across functions for data-driven decision-making.
  4. Use data to have better conversations. Predictive isn’t just about finding the right prospect, it’s about reaching the right prospect with insightful “account specific” recommendations and with “empathy for buyers’ challenges.” Data offers the promise of growing your business, but you have to use it first and foremost to help your customers.

Regardless of whether you’re just figuring out your marketing technology stack or optimizing sales and marketing processes to align with your CRM and marketing automation tools, it is never too early to think about data analytics and predictive intelligence. It’ll be here before you know it.

Have questions about how your company can get ready for predictive intelligence? Share them with us on Twitter.