Analyzing external data value for B2B sales customer acquisition: Examining experiences and reflections from a media analytics company’s customer acquisition team members

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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The amount of data generated by users, consumers, enterprises, devices, applications, and services is growing exponentially – so quickly, that the data found in the digital realm is several tens of times more than the number of observable stars in the entire universe. Indeed, data has become the backbone of the world’s economy and drastically altered the landscape of business. Some even call it the new oil. However, like oil, data has no value as such. Instead, the real meaning comes from usage of data and the knowledge retrieved from it. Accordingly, observing and analyzing the insights extracted from the vast mass of ‘Big Data’ can be a huge strategic asset and bring major business value for companies across industries. This study explores the changing business-to-business (B2B) sales environment and how it can utilize the exponentially increasing, external, and open data generated in society. The aim of this research is to analyze and shed light on the value of external data analytics to B2B sales customer acquisition. Customer acquisition consists of different sales activities like prospecting, lead qualification, customer profiling, analyzing customer needs, creating customer value proposition, value-based sales, and closing sales deals. Utilizing external data analytics for these sales activities have been barely studied. This research target is to fill this gap. The study is grounded on practice and conducted as a case study that examines the experiences of the media analytics company Meltwater’s customer acquisition team. The study investigates how the case company’s sales team learns to create customer value by using external data analytics services through the entire customer acquisition process. The study combines relevant theories on B2B sales customer acquisition and business data analytics. The theoretical framework is used in real life by Meltwater’s customer acquisition team when selling media analytics services to business customers. The findings reveal that the smart utilization of external and open data can have a major impact on B2B sales customer acquisition. External data analytics provides benefits for the lead generation and to validate high quality prospects from the sales leads. It can automatically find from data events or signals triggering salesperson to contact a prospect. Through analyzing large amount of available data customer acquisition team can better understand customer business situation and needs as well as to create appropriate value proposition and offering to the customer. By using many data sources analytics can help salesperson to be well prepared for customer engagements and to plan sales approach. With data automation salesperson can save time and efforts in multiple manual tasks such as in finding most relevant information about potential customer and its key decision makers. This enables salesperson to focus on more important and productive things like building customer relationship and creating customer value proposition. Further studies can be made on exploring how big data affects purchasing decisions when comparing different competitive services. It can be also studied how qualified sales leads obtained from external data analytics turn to deals - how it affects to deal sizes, sales cycles, and win rates. Fundamentally, the study shows that external data analytics can help the salesperson to be in the right place, at the right time, and with the right solution for new customer acquisition. Big data is and will be more and more integral part of business-to-business sales environment.
Thesis advisor
Asikainen, Sanna-Katriina
customer acquisition, prospecting, lead qualification, big data analytics, external data sales triggers, data analytics in value based B2B sales, sales efficiency
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