NetProspex B2B Directory Hub will Revolutionize B2B sales
For B2B marketers, the business conversation has moved from paper and phone to electronic communication via email and social channels in a single decade.. There are plenty of nay-sayers [KM1] regarding social media’s future and place in the business world, but my Tweetdeck provides daily conversation on important business topics, products, our company and our competitors and it’s growing weekly as more business people get on board. Add sales and marketing automation into the communication mix, and well, everything changes. I think it’s fair to say that B2B marketing will undergo a significant technological revolution in the next five years based on these tools and new ones that will inevitably follow. From where NetProspex sits, here’s what we can make of this changing landscape.
Technology brings us back to the roots of business information
Conversation on the docks and counting houses of the 18th century used to move markets. Newspapers and the telegraph allowed wider dissemination to millions of citizens in towns and countries and across empires. Opinion and analysis arrived to help people make sense when they didn’t posses the context or direct experience of the far off happenings. With opinion of course comes bias. With bias, an inherent potential for mistakes in business decision-making. Too much distance from market information causeslower reliability as evidenced recently in the debacle in the securitization markets[KM2] . Electronic conversation returns us to a mode of more authentic sharing of information and ultimately better decision-making which is critical to all sorts of business decisions.
Business conversations are scalable for the first time in history of mankind
Here’s the big news: thanks to email and social media, conversation is scalable for the first time and that impacts our social lives as well as our business lives. This is a huge transformation with the power to transcend traditional decision-making in business. There is no lack of information on the internet. What’s scarce is attention, but conversations have the advantage of allowing users to seek authenticity quickly and concisely. It’s easier and more credible in a conversation to figure out if someone knows what they are talking about. Read a person or organization’s blog, reach out andask them a couple of questions on Twitter . You have your answer in the content and cadence of their words. Faced with a critical decision, would you rather rely on a piece of published information, or speak directly to a thought leader? Most would say “both”, so move over information and make some space for conversation.
We are entering a conversation economy
This addition of conversation and authentic dialogue begins with connection. To engage with other business people, a directory is pivotal to finding who you want to listen to or talk to. Not being able to find the right person within a company or industry is a friction that no longer needs to exist with the internet.
A business directory as a living thing
Visibility on who works for what company, in what position, and their accurate contact details is a simple concept that has been waiting to burst out of its box for over a decade and go beyond fragmented vertical business directories and the byzantine marketing list industry. The list industry is still unbelievably offline and extremely fragmented. Gathering basic directory information on every business decision-maker out there has become achievable by crowd-sourcing (users generating data) with tools like NetProspex’s contact exchange, allowing users to pool their business contacts. NetProspex aims to provide the connection across business executives across the global business community.
In effect, we see our mission to propel the old information economy into the new mixed information/conversation economy. It’s an online contact revolution. To achieve this, we recognize that information changes daily and is as fluid and shifting as the community of business people it represents. (In other words – people change jobs!) Contact information deteriorates at about 25% per year on average due to staff turnover. People are constantly moving, so gathering a massive business contact directory is only one part of the puzzle – keeping it clean is another. To maintain accuracy, NetProspex relies on proprietary technology to scrub the data and maintain a constant temperature of quality that is required for business interactions and systems like sales and marketing automation.
Authentic electronic business conversations are evolving
B2B marketers have realized that to break through the clutter and truly engage their audience, electronic conversation can be regularly used to deliver relevant information on webinars, podcasts and other learning materials so that when the buyer is ready they can make informed decisions. Social media makes this a two way conversation. Now we can listen and interact with buyers who are talking about these solutions, and thought leaders who are propelling the trends.
Sales and marketing automation does the business
Sales prospect information has never been more leveragable when used in combination with sales and marketing automation. Automation changes the game, as it provides maximum efficiency, and because it makes quality an imperative. Deploying sales and marketing automation is equivalent to putting an engine into your revenue generation, and like any engine, it needs clean fuel. Otherwise, campaign deliverability and friction due to bad data causes the engine to misfire, and your efficiency to grind to a halt.
Open sesame CRM
Salesforce.com has opened up the CRM marketplace with an open platform model based on cloud computing, which has harnessed a bloom of innovation in sales and marketing automation. Salesforce.com has created an ecosystem of innovation. As a result, they are the darling of Wall Street, flourishing despite the recession. The other CRM players are following suite with open access API’s which provide a vector into the desktop of millions of B2B sales and marketing professionals. Large-scale pooling of contacts for corporations is now possible. We are not talking about pooling customer data, but pooling prospect data, and that’s the key to a truly connected business economy, and why corporations would do something so counter-intuitive as sharing information. By collaborating, corporations will benefit by creating much greater access into their markets.
What does a true electronic marketplace for business contacts look like?
When I think about the future of our business, I look to the financial electronic markets which are furthest down the evolutionary path and where I started my career. Sure, trading and buying contacts electronically is a booming marketplace. But there’s so much more to share, such as real-time deliverability and accuracy information automatically detected, verified and distributed across the network.. Given the obligation of every business person to understand how the fast moving world of services and technologies can be leveraged to maximize profit and the uplift that frictionless communication will provide to the economy, a directory of business contacts is a small barrier. There may be plenty of companies who don’t want to participate, but our bet is that businesses will only be left behind if they are not part of such a business contact network. Ultimately, our goal is to take the friction out of the conversation between B2B buyers and sellers by lifting the veil on who works where, and how they can be contacted. We believe an electronic auto-clean directory in the heart of sales and marketing automation, available
to every CRM user, is a very significant transcending opportunity, and the future of B2B marketing.
About the author
Gary Halliwell has an intrinsic interest in information and how new technologies provide greater opportunity to deliver value to customers. Gary is a business information guy who has built successful companies across several technology transitions over the past fifteen years. Gary began his career providing electronic information to the financial markets and today runs NetProspex, a social media site for business people that allows sales and marketing people in B2B industries to share business contacts and find the most productive targets for conversations with the right business decision-makers.