Why I moved from a sales and marketing consultancy to a data provider

Following a 20-year career in sales and marketing consulting, I just joined Orb Intelligence as their head of business development. One of the main drivers for my decision was a conversation I had with a former client a couple of years ago.

At the time, my former consultancy firm had just gone through an exercise to improve how we positioned ourselves in the market so that we could gain stronger traction with our growing high-tech industry practice. After a full day of our leadership team brainstorming and refining the messaging around our core value proposition and key differentiators, we decided to validate the output with select clients and prospects to get their direct feedback. I had a good relationship with a former client who had worked in consulting prior to his current leadership role in B2B sales operations, and who I knew had worked with a lot of different professional service and software firms, and decided he would be a good candidate to test the messaging.

We met for lunch and I took him through how we were going to be positioning ourselves, highlighting our strong sales and marketing analytics heritage and our team’s deep understanding of his industry. His instantaneous response was that every consulting firm was saying the same thing. When I dug deeper into his initial reaction, he explained that having a bunch of smart people capable of making analytics-based recommendations was no longer a differentiator, and in fact his company had experienced people internally capable of analyzing their data (albeit maybe without the capacity to be deployed quickly). Increasingly the key question he asked when evaluating a new service provider was, “What unique data will they bring that will enable us to make decisions that we wouldn’t have been able to make before?”

This was a bit of a nirvana moment and brought home to me the importance companies place on data and the critical role that it plays in how companies go to market. Executives are recognizing that data and analytics does drive growth (see the recent study by Forbes Insights, E&Y and IBM) and as a result enterprises are building out the analytics capabilities they need to drive decisions that their organizations need to make. As enterprises adopt more and more analytics into their processes, increasingly being able to get unique data is going to be the differentiator that drives results for enterprises, and consultancies alike.

I firmly believe that as B2B companies start to move towards placing more reliance on analytics and start to introduce more data-driven (and ultimately self-driven, AI-powered) sales and marketing processes to fuel growth, having a high-quality source of firmographic data will become a differentiator.