As we continue our quest to uncover more expert insights into how quality marketing data impacts the effectiveness and success of marketing and sales campaigns across businesses we had the good fortune of discussing some of these issues with demand creation and sales 2.0 thought leader Michael Damphousse, President of Green Leads in this interview. The prospect of doing an interview with Mike was exciting as a regular reader of his blog and sure enough, it yielded some great lessons and tips. Here’s what Mike had to say:

Tell us about what Green Leads does and have you been seeing any significant changes in how customers are driving their marketing and demand generation programs over the past few months given the current economic climate?

Mike: It’s interesting, when we were at the recent Sales 2.0 conference in San Francisco, IDC said “Companies that significantly reduce their sales and marketing investment in 2009 will be gone by 2010”.   Green Leads specializes in C/VP level appointment setting programs for b2b companies and our programs are significant investments, but it seems that a majority of the industry agrees with this statement and are increasing their investment in demand gen. In fact, if it’s any indicator, Q1 was a record quarter for us – our revenue equaled that of all 2008.   If there is a downturn in marketing spending, we haven’t seen it.  If anything, I sense that marketers are being smarter about their spending and they are focusing on growing the top of the funnel and possibly cutting back on less tactical programs for the time being.

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How important is data quality from a B2B marketing strategy perspective and what can marketers do better to really tap into the full potential of their databases?

Mike: Contact data is one of the most valuable assets any marketing group owns. Some names have thousands of dollars invested in them.  Some are just new contacts they may have just purchased.  In either case, if the data is inaccurate, the value of that contact is reduced.  We spend a great deal of time validating and researching our lists.  Updating the quality of phone numbers, emails, de-duping, and lots of data standardization.  Every improvement increases the value of that asset.

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What are the common challenges you have seen lead generation and b2b marketers have with building or managing high quality lead databases?

Mike: That’s two ends of the spectrum.  When building lists, most companies make errors by selecting far too many and far too broad a list.  There is nothing that can grind an outbound marketing effort to a halt more than large, irrelevant lists.  I would rather have one name that is exactly my target than a hundred names that might be my target.

Long term, the same mistake can be multiplied by data not being kept relevant and clean.  If an email bounces once, it will bounce a thousand times.  If a prospect has the wrong title, they will always have the wrong title.  Clean out the forest so you can see the trees.

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What are your strategies at Green Leads to feed your team with rich data (role-based contacts, profiled target accounts) and how has that affected their productivity?

Mike: Our business lives off of our lists.  We have reps in 7 states, and in 3 countries in Europe.  All day long each one of them is touching a couple hundred contacts.  If they are dialing the wrong prospects, or if the data is inaccurate, then we are wasting valuable time and not maximizing our client’s investment.  By building extremely targeted lists and paying extra attention to data quality standards, we reduce this waste as much as we can.  As I said above, give me that one, perfect name.

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What would you advise readers who are looking to build a high quality lead list / database? Is it worth the additional cost in terms or time or money to focus on acquiring higher quality contacts and more qualified leads versus purchasing or renting pre-built lead lists or database subscriptions?

Mike: Just do the math.  Is a marketing piece costing you money if it goes to the wrong individual or to contacts that are unreachable due to bad data?  Is a sales rep wasting precious time dialing and prospecting with bad data.  Basically, you get what you pay for, and you can either pay for a good list up front, or invest in the bad list and clean it up yourself.  In the long run it typically pays to start with the good list.

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What are the biggest challenges you have seen with managing CRM and marketing databases among companies you have worked with? Are companies doing enough to update and maintain their data at a level where its being leveraged to its fullest?

Mike: Simple answer.  No.  I see some of the biggest companies we work with throw lists around like scraps of food.  There are no practices for data quality or standards or maintaining an asset.  It’s amazing.  We have clients that send us a list over and over.  They keep telling us they are sending a new list, but it’s got the same garbage names.

We typically just tell them to send us the URLs of the companies they want to target and the exact titles and roles they want to target, then we do the rest. We know our data is good, so we would rather rely in it.

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About Michael Damphousse

3404148Mike is the consummate sales and marketing executive, leading both the growth of Green Leads and the techniques and practices behind Green Leads’ demand creation success. Mike brings over 20 years of senior management experience from a series of high technology and marketing firms. During the past 5 years Mike has developed a new brand of demand creation that leverages both technology and the human asset. After sharing these ideas with other leading demand creation companies, Mike decided to form Green Leads, where he can complement these practices with a higher sense of accountability to the company, its people, its clients and its community.

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