According to CSO Insights, 42% of sales reps feel they do not have the right information before making a sales call, while nearly half of companies report that their sales reps need help figuring out which accounts to prioritize.

Research by Salesforce has shown that 92% of all customer interactions happen over the phone, with 85% customers reporting being dissatisfied with their phone experience.

As the co-founder of B2B SaaS company, I’m constantly reviewing our processes and the lead data our marketing team is generating; making sure that we are passing over as much new lead insight as possible to our sales team.

The result has been a diagram inspired by Dr Maslow and his famous ‘Hierarchy of Needs’.

The sales lead data hierarchy

Contact details

This is the most fundamental element of a customer profile – it constitutes a name and email address or telephone number.

These are the most basic requirements for customer management. Without it, no other data is useful.

Firmographic data

Currently a B2B obsession, firmographic data refers to information such as a job title, name of company the lead works for and the sector or industry.

Other derivative information might also include the revenue band of the company, the size of the company, where it is based and so on.

Product holding data

The volume and variety of this data completely depends on the type of business. For travel & leisure providers it might include every hotel room you have stayed in, and flight you have bought.

For a telecommunications provider it might include your data plan, usage, and handset.

Anyone looking at this will know not just the lead’s contact details and the profile of the company they work for but also what this customer has previously bought.

Interaction data

This data helps you understand how engaged this person is with your organisation’s marketing and product.

This can be captured and updated into your CRM system by marketing automation tools such as HubSpot, Pardot and Marketo.

Interaction data is most commonly held in the form of a ‘lead score’ – a cumulative figure based on the number of engagements with a company’s website or email program.

If you’ve had lots of engagements, you’ll have a higher score. To that effect, it is quite a blunt measure but is also helpful way of prioritising the hottest leads.

Beyond contact, firmographic and interaction details, there lies a new opportunity for better lead insight – interest data.

Interest data

As an individual engages with your organisation across different touchpoints and channels they leave a trail – a digital footprint or digital body language – from which you can learn their current and emerging interests and likely purchase intent.

Interest data isn’t comprised of information the customer has explicitly told you, it’s inferred based on their behaviour.

For B2B organisations, maturing up the pyramid to interaction data is a reasonably well understood process.

The mix of technology and tactics needed to do so is well-known, even if they have not been adopted by an enterprise.

When it comes to capturing lead interests (which should be considered a byword for ‘needs’ or ‘pain-points’), however, this a comparatively new frontier.

I believe that using content analytics to analyse lead content consumption is the key to finding out their current and emerging interests in a way that is useful for sales.

How Kraft is able to capture interest data with content

Whilst admittedly a B2C example, a great case study of an organisation using content to capture audience interests is Kraft Foods Group.

As I learnt at Content Marketing World last year, the team at Kraft tracks more than 22,000 different attributes of its audience based on their behaviour and engagement with web content.

This is done by adding descriptive metadata and using that to build profiles of the 100m web visitors.

Mining content consumption data gives Kraft the real-time insight to deliver content that matches audience needs and wants, thus making sure that more (if not, all) of its content is used and has greater coverage across the various audiences.

The result was that Julie Fleischer (Head of Content, Data and Media at Kraft Foods Group) was able to prove that the company’s content marketing yields four times better ROI than its traditional advertising.

Imagine what business value marketers could yield in B2B could do if we were able to use content analytics to learn our prospects and customers interests, and pass that onto sales for more empowered conversations.

It’s all very well that our lead generation processes are able to capture contact details and engagement scores, but we need to be cognisant of the fact that these don’t necessarily lead to more successful sales engagements.

When armed with the right lead data, a sales team can be unstoppable: As marketers, let’s work to get to the top of the lead data hierarchy.