May 26, 2020

Read Time 7 min

Q&A: How to Use Sales and Marketing Data to Create a Connected Customer Experience


Sales and Marketing teams use data strategies to power the sales funnel with great success. So, why do we stop using these same data-driven tactics once a prospect becomes a customer?

In our latest webinar, ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck showed us how Customer Success organizations can effectively use data to drive retention in these five key areas:

  • The Customer Journey – build connection and engagement points to move the customer forward in their lifecycle
  • Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) – understand who you are engaging on both a prospect and customer level
  • Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Strategies – navigate the customer account to identify your key points of contact
  • Buyer Intent Signals – identify organizational changes that can become actionable insights
  • Scoring – supplement your customer health score with firmographic and technographic data

If you missed the webinar, you can watch it on demand.


Q&A Recap

Henry Schuck, ZoominfoSpeaker: Henry Schuck, CEO, ZoomInfo
Moderator: You Mon Tsang, CEO, ChurnZero


Q: The webinar recommended using customer org charts to better understand the customer landscape. What do you advise for high-velocity teams where Customer Success Managers own a few hundred accounts and this tactic is not feasible?

A: In those situations, the key is to understand from an expansion perspective, who your buyer personas are outside of where you’ve landed. Let’s say I sell into Sales, but I have additional opportunities with a VP of Product Marketing and a manager of Accounts Receivable. If I pinpoint really specific buyer profiles there, then I can do something that’s broader based in my Outreach. I can run campaigns that don’t really rely on me looking through the org chart. I can say, give me the universe of Product Marketing VPs and managers of Accounts Receivable at my existing accounts, and then run campaigns against them in a coordinated, broader way.


Q: With data overload in mind, what customer profile information would you prioritize capturing?

A: Company size and industry/company type are essential. You can use either employee count or revenue as the key indicator for size. For most companies, using employee count is a much better metric because many private companies don’t disclose their revenue. But they’d be happy to tell you “We have 400 employees.” So, know the size and know the industry. Next, know who you’re engaged with across the organization. Are you engaged with the director level, the VP level, or the manager level? In accounts where you’re engaged with the VP level, do those renew and expand at a higher rate than those engaged with the director level or manager level? Maybe the answer is “no,” and so the VP doesn’t matter. If so, you don’t have to spend a bunch of resources yanking a VP into the process.

I also wouldn’t add any data that you don’t have an immediate tactical use for. We don’t need a ton of data inside of the system. We need the key pieces of data that drive emotion. Stay focused on asking “Am I adding this to drive emotion?”


Q: When making decisions based on data, how important is the recency of the data? For example, how valuable do you consider real-time data compared to 24-hour-old or week-old data?

A: Real-time data doesn’t have to be up-to-the-second information in this scenario. It could be 24 hours, 48 hours, or even a week behind the changes. It’s not going to materially deteriorate your engagement. You want to have a system to capture it whenever it’s going to be captured. If you want to run your play one week after the data comes in, that’s fine. Just know that you’re going to be one week after.


Q: What key ABM tactics would you share with Customer Success Managers?

A: At ZoomInfo, we have Customer Success Managers and what we call “Associate Customer Success Managers.” The Associate Customer Success Managers are essentially the equivalent of Sales Development Reps within the Account Management and Customer Success function. They run outbound plays at an existing customer to set appointments for the Account Manager to sell into. So, when we coordinate a campaign from an ABM perspective, we run a play with the Associate Customer Success Manager to call into the account, we run ad retargeting against the specific account on the ad networks, we create an email campaign—that is very personalized and has an offer—through our demand generation organization to specific buyers, and as customers log into the platform, we present them with the offer. We try to coordinate across the demand generation and account management universe to make sure the message comes from a variety of different places.


Q: People are always concerned about how dirty their data is, which makes them hesitant to invest in technology. For example, if a prospect says that their system is dirty and asks why they should add more data to it, what would you tell them?

A: Every single customer that I’ve ever interacted with has said the same thing: “The data in my CRM is not up to date. It’s not accurate. It’s unusual. It’s unique. We set it up in this weird way.” I would say at a high level, those are problems you need to solve.

We’re all in this every day trying to solve problems throughout our organization. This is one we need to start figuring out ways to solve. Is there a silver bullet to this problem? No, there is not. For us, we believe we provide the most accurate data set available. But it’s across 100 million people and 15 million companies, so you can find wrong data in our system. We’re striving to set a benchmark to be 95% accurate. You have to get comfortable that 5% of the time, it’s going to be 100% inaccurate. That is the price to play to be 95% accurate. But if you go searching for something that’s 100% accurate, you will never get anything done. It’s as simple as that.

If you want to do nothing, search for the solution that gets 100% with no fallout. If you want to start moving forward, which I think is incredibly important, then you need to get comfortable with a certain level of inaccuracy or mess in your CRM, and then start moving the ball forward.


Q: What are examples of customer health metrics that you use to build an overall score? How do you reduce subjective metrics like a Customer Success Manager’s “temperature check?”

A: [You Mon]: At ChurnZero, we think a great health score is a combination of subjective and objective measures. An example of an objective measure that you can’t argue with would be product usage. It’s either happening or it’s not. Also, looking at if key stakeholders are using the product. That’s an important metric to put into a health score. Another example would be conversations. Are customers responding to your emails? Are they showing up for your meetings? Are they taking your trainings? These are engagement metrics, not with your product, but with the rest of your company.

On the subjective side, I don’t think we remove CSM sentiment. For example, if a CSM reports that they had a great call with a customer who is happy and a great fit, then use that assessment, but don’t depend on it. It certainly should be part of the score.

You also want to incorporate your customers’ subjective views. NPS is probably the easiest way. Take your NPS survey results and add that to the score. It’s a nice combination of objective and subjective measures, and tools like ChurnZero can help you do all that.

[Henry]: A couple years ago, when an Account Executive closed a deal, we’d ask them in Salesforce to rank on a one-to-five scale: “How likely is this customer to be tremendously successful with Zoominfo?” That was fine, but what we really needed was a year’s worth of data to see how good our reps were at predicting the customer’s success. So, along the way we needed to see if the customers who we predicted to be really successful were consistently using the platform, frequently logging in, and integrating their CRM. At the end of the year, we saw that we were pretty darn good at knowing when a company was going to be really successful with our platform. And so, subjective is only subjective for a certain period of time once you layer in the objective metrics underneath to decide how accurate those subjective metrics are.

[You Mon]: The one thing I will add about health scores, and recently it has become a big deal, is you want to have a vibrant, quick health score. For instance, during this time, we asked our clients to create a COVID-19 health score as a best practice. So, the traditional health score I just described tends to be longer range. COVID-19 health scores prioritize industry type. For example, they look at it if a customer is in the hospitality or travel business and what’s happened within the last two weeks. Have people stopped using the product because they were laid off? You always have your long-term score of a year or more if that’s how you sell. But if something weird happens, you need a quick health score that is much narrower and time-focused on current circumstances.  

To learn more about how Customer Success teams can up their data game to create a more connected customer experience and drive better outcomes, watch the webinar on-demand.

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