A Guide to Data Driven Business Development

A Guide to Data Driven Business Development

A data driven approach to business development can be highly successful for professional services firms that may have previously relied on face-to-face interactions. Here's how

By Scott Wallingford

Professional services organisations need to completely rethink their marketing and business development plans during the pandemic. As a sector where relationships underpin and fuel new business and growth, it's more important than ever to adapt processes.

To drive growth, firms must adopt a more targeted approach to client engagement, which requires data and analytics. However, a recent survey shows only 40% of firms with a CRM are using that data to create targeted strategies and only 9% of firms are using analytics to track business opportunities over their lifecycle. This means that while they are collecting data, they aren’t necessarily using it to inform their relationship building and business development strategies. 

Fortunately, tools and technologies such as CRM systems, AI and cloud computing can help with client engagement and business development during this period of remote working and dispersed teams.

Build trust and confidence in data

Data accuracy and integrity are key. It's therefore vital to standardize and centralize data governance processes based on your business' internal policies as well as in compliance with data protection regulations

A good place to start is by undertaking a CRM data audit to understand what data is held, the business reason for holding it, completeness of contact record, existence of duplicate records, usage of standardisation rules (i.e. contact record format), and so on. 

Once you have clean data, make data quality management and governance part of your routine.  It's also vital to centralize management of the database so that the information held is always accurate. This will allow you to embed standard processes and practices in the CRM to ensure that the integrity of the data is always maintained. For example, some CRM systems allow passive data capture – i.e. they can scrape the information from email signatures and automatically update the record in the centralised CRM database. Similarly, you can embed data change management processes to ensure that all amends to records are carefully vetted by the data administrator before being saved in the CRM system.

Bring data to life

With data usage becoming the norm in your business, a data driven approach to business development, execution of growth strategies and achievement of organisational objectives becomes a natural next step. For instance, if you can analyse data to determine the strength of relationship with contacts, you can determine how to improve those relationships, or find opportunities to secure more business with specific clients. 

Likewise, if you have visibility of the firm’s new business pipeline, you can take the necessary measures to progress those opportunities. As your data grows and improves, you will find that you can discover patterns in your business, better manage your business pipeline and even leverage the information for more strategic decisions such as entering a new market or industry or launching a new product or service. Based on the relationship scores derived from the data, you can determine the quality of client service your firm is delivering – and more importantly, identify gaps in the service.

Support a dispersed workforce

As this pandemic has forced staff to work remotely, firms must ensure they have the right technology in place to support a virtual business model without comprising the security their valuable data requires. Most organisations deploy on-premises technologies, which are designed to be independent systems and are most suited for a traditional work environment. 

Today, technologies exist that allow businesses wide access to data whilst maintaining security. These solutions reduce the burden on IT teams to maintain, update, and monitor critical business technology, but also allow firms to maintain full control over where data is stored in keeping with all the necessary regulations. For example, a hybrid cloud approach can help firms build and inform their adapted marketing and business development strategies by supporting real-time, secure access to essential data like client information, engagement activity history, and more. 

About the Author

Scott Wallingford is Vice President and Business Unit Head for LexisNexis Software Solutions, including LexisNexis InterAction, a market leading client relationship platform. He has a strong background in corporate and management consulting, with experience across Europe, the US and Asia. He has significant experience in software-as-a-service and technology-enabled service businesses.