NEW YORK: The top priority for B2B sales and marketing teams over the coming year is to increase their use of data and analytics to better meet business needs, according to a new survey of 500 business executives in Europe and North America.

The study, which was conducted in March 2018 by Forrester Consulting on behalf of analytics firm Dun & Bradstreet, effectively confirmed that marketers understand the value of data.

Yet they face difficulties within their organisations when it comes to putting data to good effect because four in five (82%) say managing data across the business is a challenge, while a similar proportion (81%) find handling the volume and velocity of data to be challenging.

As a result, this makes it difficult for most businesses to pull actionable insights from the data to build scalable customer engagement strategies, the report found.

The study recommended that businesses improve the way they share data and insights across the organisation, and avoid “silos of data” that only lead to poor communication with customers.

Underlining this finding, the report revealed that only half (53%) of those surveyed have adapted data-driven success factors, such as establishing systems of insight or leveraging data to improve campaign performance.

Why this matters is because those organisations that have developed mature data activation capabilities are more likely to report increased customer retention and loyalty (77%), faster sales cycles (73%) and higher ROI on marketing spend (73%).

“Expectations are changing in the B2B buying process and sales and marketing teams need to adapt,” said Derek Slayton, general manager of the sales and marketing line of business at Dun & Bradstreet.

“B2B customers are looking to have more consumer-like experiences and take more control of their buying processes. To meet those demands, sales and marketing organisations must ensure they engage consistently with informed, relevant content that guides and informs buyers where, when and how they want it,” he added.

“Accessing, analysing and activating data across their efforts is the key to delivering a seamless customer experience that drives growth.”

Sourced from Dun & Bradstreet, Forrester Consulting; additional content by WARC staff