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On this episode of The Social Business Engine podcast, Bernie chats with Diana Eadington Reed, Director of the North America Small & Medium Business (SMB) marketing team for Oracle Cloud. Her team helps high-growth small and medium-sized companies leverage their infrastructure to innovate faster, get to market first, meet customer expectations, and keep costs in line with revenue.

Diana has a front-row seat to the changes that propensity to buy data is enabling in the marketing world. Her lessons-learned, which she shares on this episode, are valuable for any marketing professional to learn from for themselves.

Not all traffic sources are created equal. Therefore not all marketing-qualified leads are created equal.

Every business is eager for its marketing department to do its job well – by supplying what we call “marketing qualified leads” (MQL). Diana says that several years ago the sales world would typically look at the volume of MQLs that marketing provided to the sales department as a primary metric of how the marketing department was doing. But that’s all changed.

Diana says her team has come to realize that not all leads are created equal and therefore not all marketing qualified leads are created equal. Some leads are likely coming to you via your website. Those are people who are expressing a greater interest in your solutions and are therefore of greater value as prospects for the sales team. But you may also receive leads through a download of one of your whitepapers from a third party website (for example). Those are qualified leads, to be sure, but are not as ready to buy as the previous example.

In this conversation, Diana explains how her team is transitioning from the typical MQL model to a more account-based model based on people’s propensity to buy. It’s a fascinating pivot and a very helpful conversation. 

Is your marketing team differentiating between core leads and non-core leads? If not, you could be missing some of the most valuable leads.

The new approach Diana and the marketing team at Oracle’s Cloud Infrastructure Solutions are taking is learning that there’s a big difference between what they call a “core lead” and a “non-core lead.” She says their focus now is to try to increase the volume of core leads because they’ve been proven to be bigger contributors to their business success. It’s not that they abandon the non-core leads – they still need to keep the sales funnel full – but they have discovered that there are only a limited number of prospects in their market at any given time who truly ready for a sales conversation.

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Diana says it’s helpful to think of the approach they are taking along the lines of the 80/20 rule. In a best-case scenario, they believe they can drive 20% of their leads through “core” activity and 80% of their leads through the more broad-scale sources. This is just one example of the insights marketing receives by looking at the propensity to buy data now available to marketers. 

How the Oracle team uses intent to buy data to target and retarget their ideal customers.

The advances in data-based technology over the past few years has opened all kinds of doors for marketers that simply didn’t exist even 5 years ago. Marketing professionals can now access intent-based data – also known as predictive data – that enables them to identify certain keyword-based behaviors of people online. Through that data, they can look at the digital behavior of their target market and match themselves with the behaviors that parallel the solutions they are offering.

It goes even further, companies can now use their customer profile, or even company lists that they want to get to know and engage with to identify whether there are people within those lists who are showing digital activity, based on their keyword search behavior, that matches their solution. From that, the marketing department can serve more relevant campaigns to them or do digital retargeting to try to reach those individuals.

Salespeople are not interested in MQLs. They want to establish an account. Marketing can now work hand in hand with sales by harnessing propensity to buy data.

Diana Eadington Reed says that if you talk to any salesperson, they are not interested in selling a product to an MQL (marketing qualified lead). They’re interested to own an account. So, if they want to win 10 new accounts in the coming half or the fiscal year, they’re going to be looking at it from an account perspective, not at the MQL perspective. That means if marketing pivots to an account-based strategy (as she’s suggesting through the use of propensity to buy data), it requires marketing to align itself with sales in order to understand who’s on that target account list for the year or the upcoming quarter – and who are the most important accounts that sales wants to open the door to. That’s how marketing can work hand-in-hand with sales to build engagement and open that door for a conversation with the sales organization.

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As you can see, simply by the nature of this propensity to buy model, marketing is better aligned with sales, which drives a more effective and streamlined process. Near the end of this conversation, Diana gives a real-life example of a vendor who helped the Oracle team put together a successful campaign that proves the power of these intent to buy strategies. Listen to what Diana has to share. It is the future of marketing and sales – and the alignment that has to happen to be truly successful.

Episode Sponsor: Frost & Sullivan STAR

Featured on This Episode

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:31] Who is Diana Eadington Reed?
  • [2:53] Diana’s role at Oracle: to drive demand for Oracle’s cloud-based solutions
  • [4:19] The success Diana has been experiencing with traditional inbound marketing
  • [9:21] How the Oracle marketing team came to consider “propensity to buy” data
  • [14:37] Adapting this new propensity to buy data model to a high volume environment
  • [17:10] The technologies that enable this intent to buy approach
  • [19:43] How these new technologies help align sales and marketing on a human level
  • [22:04] A campaign example that has been a huge success
  • [24:45] Diana’s thoughts about the future of this new account-based strategy
  • [34:25] Bernie’s biggest takeaway from this episode: propensity to buy data is a powerful way to discover leads that are truly ready for a sales conversation – and the biggest winner is the customer

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