How to grow B2B sales using firmographics for marketing intelligence

Sales marketing tangoFirmographics data can be an invaluable resource for B2B marketers. Two popular commercial sources for such information areAcxiom and Dun & Bradstreet. Use these data to build marketing intelligence and guide sales on their acquisition and up-sell efforts. Here’s an overview of the strategy and the tactics.

Why do B2B marketers need marketing intelligence?

Issue 1: For most businesses revenues are concentrated on a small number of accounts.

  • Revenue concentration exposes the business to risk from the loss of a critical relationship
  • Revenue concentration cramps growth.

Issue 2: For most businesses product clutter makes it difficult for salespersons to develop a needs based conversation with their customers.

  • Salespersons go on fishing expeditions selling by product features (as opposed to the needs of their targeted audience).
  • Product development and marketing needs to align with the needs of their audience.

What is firmographics?

Firmographics are data at a business level aggregated by market research firms from public sources, supplemented by in-house research and resold to businesses as data products. Basic attributes collected at a business level can include

  • Primary location of business
  • Number of employees at the location
  • Number of employees overall
  • (Up to) 8 digits on the SIC (Standard Industry Classification) system
  • Business classification as per NAICS (North American Industry Classification System)
  • Annual revenues
  • Years in business
  • Credit worthiness
Different data vendors can supplement the above data with proprietary research content extension such as
  • Average business spend on technology per year
  • Average business spend on marketing per year
  • Average business spend on HR operations per year
  • etc.

How to use firmographics?

The screenshot from Polytab shows how firmographics are used to segment the business universe.

B2B segmentation share of wallet assessment


The above output illustrates three fundamental tactics in marketing intelligence

  1. Market segmentation: The simplest categorization would be on recency, frequency, monetary value of current customer relationships. One typical segment is “core market” which is stable, stagnant and delivers the bulk of the revenues. Another common segment is “SMB growth” which has low average revenues but has high growth potential. Each such segment is also profiled against firmographics data to identify latent characteristics (including needs). These characteristics are then used to map the prospect universe (i.e. non-customers).
  2. Opportunity estimation: This is a predictive modeling initiative that uses market research information to estimate the size of the realizable opportunity. This helps the marketer understand the share of wallet currently held by the company.
  3. KPI tracking: Track key performance indicators over time. One practical way to align sales effort to returns is to monitor how sales spend or telesales effort maps against revenue growth over time. Imbalances, if observed, can be corrected through re-allocation of sales effort.

Next steps

Want to know more? Get the process blueprint on marketing intelligence automation through the link below.

FREE PROCESS BLUEPRINTMarketing Intelligence Automation

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