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July 2011
Putting a Face to It
By Barbara Fagan

     You’ve done your homework. You’ve compiled a list of target companies for your product or service. You know they would be interested if only you could get to the right person, the key contact, the decision maker.

     You may have the name of someone at the company, but you don’t know if they are the right person or even in the right department…or if they left the company six weeks ago.

     This is where even the most carefully planned sales and marketing efforts stall.

     What you need is the “face” of the business—a name, or better yet, several names of true key contacts.

     And that’s exactly what Business Wise provides.


Lead Generation Key

     Business Wise, a business to business (B2B) sales and marketing database company, produces verified prospecting information and business intelligence. They understand, above all, that identifying that right person in the right company unlocks the door to an opportunity for new business.

     Business Wise subscribers here in the Queen City gain secure Web access to an extensive database covering the Charlotte Metro area which includes over 49,000 firms and 98,000 key contacts. In addition to business, functional and personal titles, the BWise System presents company-specific demographic data, and links to news articles and the website LinkedIn. A search function allows subscribers to look up a prospect by what they know (even if it’s only an address or a first name) to uncover what they need to know to begin to build a relationship.

     Currently, non-profits and businesses in industries as diverse as telecommunications, health care, software, hospitality and higher education use Business Wise to gain access to the right people in their target markets.

     Founders Debra Kline and her late husband began the business in Atlanta in 1980 as a B2B data provider with a strong local market focus. Their success in the Atlanta region led them to expand to Charlotte in 2001 and more recently to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

     The Charlotte office, located in the SouthPark area, focuses on the Charlotte Metro market and maintains strong relationships with the Chamber of Commerce as well as Charlotte networking groups and business publications.

     Before becoming regional manager for Charlotte, Lee Martin had been a subscriber to the database in a former position. When he topped $35,000 in additional commissions using Business Wise, he naturally became a fan and wondered why everyone wasn’t using this tool.

     Meeting Kline in person when she made a presentation at his company proved momentous. Martin was so impressed with the Business Wise founder that he called her that afternoon and told her that he wanted to come to work with her. He’s been with Business Wise for the last six and a half years, first in Atlanta and now in Charlotte.

     He works alongside director of client services, Vicky Ray. Ray is responsible for client training, support and technical issues. Client Jenny Savage of Record Storage Systems, who works with Ray, says the company’s responsiveness and customer service are what keeps her loyal, in addition to providing the best lead generation data, tools, and ideas for new business development.


Laser Local Focus

     For a database company, the quality of the data is of paramount importance. Many sales professionals can attest that quality and timely information isn’t always a given from data providers.

     Personnel come and go, especially in today’s economic climate. National data providers cover a broad geography with Charlotte only one of many areas included. Exceptional data quality is a product of constant research and frequent database updating, difficult to do when concentrating on the entire county.

     The laser local focus of Business Wise insures up-to-date accuracy coming from personal telephone-verified information. Local research associates constantly monitor changes in business information and revise the database accordingly.

     Tony Crumbley of the Charlotte Chamber was interested in what the company could provide, but decided to put it to a test before he agreed to sign on. He knew of a Chamber associate that had a change in job title just two days earlier. He watched as the Business Wise database was accessed and, much to his surprise, the title change was indeed correctly reflected in the Chamber’s database profile. The company earned his trust.

     “They’ve impressed me from Day One,” Crumbley says of Business Wise. They listen to us and give us exactly what we need.”

     According to Kline, data quality falls under one of the core internal values she uses to guide the company: quality of data and quality of employees. Another core value is integrity, and that also applies to both data and employees. To maintain research quality, companies fall into 14 different research cycles ranging from every six to 11 months, Kline explains. Based upon size, type of business or market factors, certain businesses experience more change than others. Business Wise research reflects the reality of business market by market.

     Researchers uncover “red flags” from information in periodicals, online sites and the client-directed “research-on-demand” button embedded in their system. Users click when they can’t find a listing or if they discover a piece of inaccurate data. Business Wise researches the issue, updates the database and contacts the client with the new information. This personal research is completed within 24 hours of the request and is free to subscribers.

     “Our database is refreshed nightly,” Kline boasts.

     Quality data is a theme echoed by Business Wise clients. “I’ve always found their data to be accurate,” says Fay Gibson of Hampton Inn & Suites, who works with heads of businesses, international clients and celebrities. She uses Business Wise to prequalify her leads to ensure she’s targeting the correct people.


Trustworthy Tools

     A leaner sales department is the new reality for most companies in today’s economy; doing more with fewer staff is the important. No one can afford to follow unproductive leads. Fortunately, for Business Wise, even with current belt-tightening, top line revenue generation spurs renewed loyalty from existing customers and new clients who recognize the impact of quality sales tools.

     Martin explains that one of the most productive lead generating practices he’s found is analyzing your existing client base, determining the demographic and psychographic commonalities of your most profitable clients, and using Business Wise to find other companies like them in your market. Each Business Wise record contains demographic data on companies and their key personnel.

     Martin also remarks about drip marketing, the practice of keeping in touch with your prospects constantly and consistently, similar to agricultural irrigation in which crops are watered continuously using small amounts of water over a long period of time. Business Wise’s Drip Marketing mechanism allows clients to link the power of their comprehensive database with ongoing direct marketing campaigns.

     “I find it surprising that more people don’t take advantage of drip marketing,” says Kline. “Most firms with email programs limit their reach to clients and ‘friends’ because they have no trustworthy access to email addresses of targeted prospects they have yet to meet. Repetition is the key to building name recognition and trust with future clients.”

     Business Wise offers an Email Marketing package that allows clients to send up to 12 personalized marketing messages to a target market within a 12-month period. The timing is determined by each company. Messages can be sent at regular intervals or timed to coordinate with special events.

     The best messages give a “one-to-one” feel and to avoid capture in spam filters. To use them most effectively, messages contain links to different landing pages on a client’s website. Any “click-thru” generated directly from the message hyperlink will be tracked with the recipient’s name and phone number included.

     Drip marketing is a perfect tool to develop “green bananas” (a term Business Wise borrowed to refer to companies not yet ready or ripe enough to make a buying decision). The constant contact keeps the client’s company top-of-mind for these potential buyers.


Beyond the Facts

     Drip marketing isn’t the only value-added service Business Wise offers. They also realize that a tool is only as good as the client’s ability to use it. To optimize the effectiveness of their products for their clients, Business Wise provides extensive training and support.

     “Just as different companies perform sales and marketing differently, learning is individual too.” Ray explains. She is in charge of Help Desk and technical support, a webinar facilitator and internal sales support. New Business Wise customers are encouraged to watch an overview webinar and can follow up with classroom instruction and video tutorials on specific topics.

     “Support and training is ongoing and can be customized to a client’s current needs,” explains Ray. She is also quick to point out that each Business Wise client may schedule “Best Practices” session as needed or at least twice yearly where a Business Wise employee visits the client on-site to see what’s working and what could be improved.

     These reviews allow Business Wise associates to act in a consulting role and share their knowledge and creativity with customers. “We’re lifelong learners,” Martin adds. “We want to share what we are constantly learning about new business development opportunities and market analysis. We want to partner with our clients for mutual success.”

     “Salespeople can’t just act as walking brochures anymore. Gone are the days of sales calls where you simply leave behind information about your product. Companies can get that information online now. The new sales professional needs to be creative, to provide solutions and ultimately save time or generate revenue for clients. To succeed you must be willing to get involved in a client’s business and the needs of their customers’ customers” continues Martin.

     The role of salespeople isn’t the only thing that’s changed over the years. Kline remembers when hardbound directories published yearly were their main product. “Hot” technology included computer-generated 3x5 cards or lists on green-bar paper. Neither offered much flexibility or continuous updating, but was the best available at the time.

     Both Kline and Martin both emphasize that accurate information is what’s needed now and the quicker, the better. And Business Wise does just that. In addition to access online, subscribers may use their smart phones or tablets for in-the-field access.

     Martin pushes a few buttons on his phone and pulls up a business profile from their database. A couple more buttons and he displays a listing of all the companies located in the office building down the street. Martin explains that a salesperson could literally stand in the lobby of an office building and check business profiles to see if any of the companies in the building fit in their company’s target market.

     Kline expects continued change in the sales and marketing profession. For Business Wise, she foresees additional value added-services and expansion into other markets. One thing will remain a constant, though, and that is their mission. She says with conviction, “Business Wise will continue to break through barriers to reach and identify the key contacts marketing and sales professionals need to gain new clients.”

Barbara Fagan is a Greater Charlotte Biz freelance writer.
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