Stitching Together The B2B Account Journey: Mapping Leads To Key Accounts

  • Written by Anudit Vikram, Dun & Bradstreet
  • Published in Demanding Views

Vikram A HighResIn the B2B world, there is a very real struggle with trying to match individuals (leads) to accounts. With buyers using multiple devices, privacy laws restricting what data can be collected and multiple people involved in the B2B buying decision, it can be nearly impossible for a B2B company to accurately track buyers. And what makes it even more complicated in the B2B context is the fact that you need to be able to roll up the engagement you have with different people to the company you are targeting, so that you can get a true view of how that company is engaging with your business.

If you cannot accurately track and map individual interactions to account activity, your sales and marketing teams are going to be wasting a lot of time and energy tripping over one another in customer communications. And if you do not map accurately (and thus attribute proportionally), your ABM programs — which most B2B companies swear by — are doomed to fail.

While it is difficult enough in the B2C world, using cookies and the standard cross device management/identification principles fare even worse in the B2B context because of the length of the B2B buying process. A typical cookie expires well before a normal B2B buying process is completed. So how does a B2B business identify an individual, connect that individual’s actions to the business for which they work (the account, and then continue to track and connect activity across a myriad of devices and platforms over the course of months, or even years?

In our omnichannel, cross-platform world today, proper measurement and effective attribution cannot be carried out without having an identity resolution system/process. There are four simple things any B2B company can do today to better track and map leads to accounts.

  1. Match the buyer to the company with a persistent, consistent business identifier that travels with them across devices and platforms. Being able to manage identity at the business level allows marketers to then build company hierarchies. That means you can better understand commercial, as well as legal relationships. This type of identifier can level up to the account level so that any history (like cookies for instance) stay at the account level and remain with the account for the entire buying cycle.
  2. Connect online and offline actions of the individual. The world is becoming increasingly digital. Bringing offline data online is very important, especially in the B2B space where a majority of transactions still occur offline, and a lot of the relationships are built and managed in an offline manner (through events and face-to-face meetings). While it is critical to bring the offline information online, as customers are online, at the same time, you must be careful about managing identities in data onboarding to maintain accuracy.
  3. Standardize the data. Today, what’s important is fully understanding the business and ensuring that the customer looks the same when sitting in your marketing system versus another system. If they are not tracked the same way, you may not be able to tie them together. For example, if the marketing CRM uses “D&B” and the ledger system uses “Dun & Bradstreet,” you lose the ability to fully understand the data you have about a customer. The data you are collecting on leads and accounts has to be structured in a way that it is standardized across systems and teams.
  4. Feed the data into systems and workflows sales and marketing teams use every day. If your leads and accounts aren’t visible in everyday workflows, they are as good as useless. You can’t expect teams to be looking in several different systems to find the information they need. Make it easy for them to see information on the entire account (including all decision makers in that account) by feeding information across the organization and into appropriate systems.

In this digital age, you can’t be successful in a B2B environment without accurately tracking and mapping leads to accounts. If your business is not currently working to take the four steps I mention above, then you likely aren’t accurately capturing leads in the context of your key accounts. And in a B2B sale, what good is a lead without the account?

Anudit Vikram is the SVP of Audience Solutions at Dun & Bradstreet, and is responsible for leveraging the company’s vast commercial and contact data assets to solve sales and marketing challenges in the physical and the digital world. Prior to Dun & Bradstreet, he led digital technologies from the inception of ad exchanges and programmatic buying with Right Media/Yahoo!