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Sept. 1, 2009: All Things Data


As we continue our series in speaking with organizations that provide external compiled marketing data and related services, I had the opportunity to speak with Randy Ilas, Vice President, Product Development & Marketing, for Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence ("HHMI"). Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence is a leading provider of database products and services to the technology and telecommunications industries in North America, Europe, and Latin America. I was interested in speaking with Randy because Harte-Hanks provides a level of in-depth and actionable data that we do not normally see from other external data providers. Further, as data integration/data management specialists, I also wanted to gain some insight on the power of integrating Harte-Hanks' data with internal resources.

Allthingsdata.com: What are some of the considerations when deciding on whether an organization should use internal resources for lead generation versus outsourcing?

Randy Ilas: In thinking about the complexity of an organization's sales cycle, what does an organization want that sales force to do? A sales force should be focused on moving individual interactions with their customers through the sales funnel. Tasks like lead discovery and qualification take away time from a sales representative's ability to work on closing deals. Therefore, it's typically best to separate these functions. Once you have made the decision to separate lead generation efforts from your sales force, then you need to decide whether this function should be done internally or should be outsourced. Unless you have an on-going effort, your organization won't have the expertise, training, and best practices regarding lead generation required to be successful. You will need to devote a substantial amount of time to developing and implementing the lead generation program. This will include script development, email development, training, and lead delivery. All of these components can be easily outsourced allowing your management to focus on closing the leads that have been delivered.

Allthingsdata.com: What are some of the considerations from choosing one external provider versus another?

Randy Ilas: Organizations should evaluate the outsourcing company's track record and approach. Additionally, the outsourcing company should understand the market that you are targeting. In addition to having general expertise in lead generation, the outsourcing company should be able to bring new insight to your market by understanding your target market.

Allthingsdata.com: How does HHMI differ from the typical outsourced lead generation firm?

Randy Ilas: Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence provides high quality lead generation services. We are focused exclusively on the technology sector giving our agents an unparalleled level of expertise at reaching your target market. Our agents won't be inquiring about credit services in the morning, for example, and transitioning to technology in the afternoon. We also have superior market intelligence. Best in class lead generation requires best in class data. Calling lists of organizations that have initiatives and/or express interest in advance can vastly improve program performance. For example, using our Ci Pipeline initiatives to fuel your prospecting calls can improve performance by as much as 50% over a typical segmented cold call program. We believe that our technology market specialization coupled with our superior data, makes Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence the best choice for lead generation services.

Allthingsdata.com: What is your process once you begin working with a client?

Randy Ilas: We can help a company by both fueling their process and helping them refine their process. On the marketing side, we can help with segmenting and targeting. We can round out your view on your customers and prospects. We can provide insights such as the size of a target's technology infrastructure, what a company is most likely to buy, and other details. We can then apply this data to expand the client's view. In addition, we can help identify non-targets. We can help identify who the client should not be spending money on. We find that most companies lack the ability to identify non-targets.

On the sales side, we can provide fuel by helping companies find new opportunities. We can identify companies that are planning on spending in the areas that our clients serve. We can provide our clients with a consistent set of information for their reps to follow-up. We can provide such things as the target company's contact information, their budget, and timeline. A seller needs to make choices on how they follow-up on opportunities. By standardizing lead information, the seller can prioritize opportunities. Further, since all of the sales reps are working off of the same quality of leads, a sales manager now has consistent information in order to evaluate its sales force and make adjustments to the sales process.

Allthingsdata.com: Besides the technology and telecommunication industries, who else uses your services?

Randy Ilas: We have several retail and staffing clients as well as government, legal and educational organizations that primarily use our products and services for research and market analysis. We also see potential for other industries such as retail, finance, and equipment leasing to use are our offerings for lead generation.

Allthingsdata.com: Besides lead generation, how else are companies using HHMI's services?

Randy Ilas: Whether you are launching a new product or just want to know where you stand in the market place, it is important to understand the market opportunity. Companies use our information for market assessments, market penetration, and market sizing. While analyst firms such as Gartner and Forrester can provide a broad understanding of a market, we can break the market down by segment. Based on our long history of collecting market intelligence, we have developed sophisticated models that allow us to predict which businesses are most likely to have a need for or intent to purchase a specific technology. This allows our clients to focus on the segment of the market that is most likely to benefit from their particular solution, thereby lowering costs and increasing their sales and marketing ROI.

Sales territory assessment is another use. What should the size of a sales territory be? If a sales territory is struggling, it may be that the market it too small. If a market is large, even if you are doing well, you may be underperforming if you do not have enough resource in that territory.

Lead scoring and routing is another use. A client may have leads from their website, tradeshows, and other sources. We can help the client decide whether the opportunity should go to sales, the channel, continue to be nurtured, and in some cases it may be better not to spend resources on follow-up.

Editor's Note: For a further discussion on Market Potential and Client profiling, please review HHMI's Ci Match and Append Service.

Allthingsdata.com: As data integration/data management specialists, I am going to ask a few questions on data integration. How can your clients benefit from matching HHMI data with the client's data?

Randy Ilas: Integrating our data with the client's data helps complete the client's view. After the integration, the seller knows the size of the opportunity and has the background to frame the engagement. The seller is prepped in order to begin the conversation with the client and does not have to spend as much time on gathering information. Further, we are able to not only provide the "C" level contacts, but also additional contacts that can help the rep find entry points into the opportunity.

Editor's Note: For additional discussion on integrating HHMI's data with a client's CRM/SFA data, please review their Ci Whole Market services.

Allthingsdata.com: In this age of multi-channel marketing, how important is data integration to managing campaigns?

Randy Ilas: Data integration is critical in order to properly fuel campaign efforts. It is important to match up the responses from the web, by phone, in-person, and other avenues back to the campaigns in order to know which campaigns are working. Further, it is equally important to be able to clearly state internally what is working so that you can gain approval to keep successful campaigns going. Further, things are also changing, so you need to be able to track how the campaign results are changing in order to make adjustments.

Data integration is equally important to help identify campaigns that need to be fixed. The more you can fine tune the campaign, the better. I see a lot of shot and blast campaigns that are just churning activity. However, the churn is not meaningful. Reps would rather have fewer, but better leads. Data integration enables you to properly track the results, good or bad, so the proper decisions and adjustments can be made.

Allthingsdata.com: In addition to integrating your data with the client's CRM/SFA data, do you see any benefit in also integrating the data with the client's other internal data sources?

Randy Ilas: Although we do not always see it that much, integrating our data with past credit, past campaigns, and other internal sources, along with the CRM/SFA integration, helps generate the most successful campaigns.

Allthingsdata.com: Any other final thoughts?

Randy Ilas: Despite the economy, we are still seeing lots of opportunity and lots of money available for purchases. Although it's harder, we are still finding millions of dollars in opportunities. Harte-Hanks can help organize the sales process and help you eliminate the inefficiency to help you be successful. And, we can do all this in a matter of days versus the several months or even years it would take to go it alone.

Return to: 2009 Feature Stories