What is Technographic Data?

December 11, 2023

The emergence of AI in recent years and the ongoing acceleration of digital technology has had a fundamental impact on business. Companies across the spectrum are developing and embracing new tools and technologies to improve their processes and products. According to studies by Statista, 75% of companies are likely to adopt large scale data analytics, cloud computing, e-commerce, and AI by 2027.  

These changes have an impact on the needs and habits of any organization, and that will influence how and why they spend money on their infrastructure and systems. Recognizing and understanding those technological needs—and the ways they’re shifting—is pivotal for reaching them with an effective sales and marketing strategy. That’s where Technographic Data comes in.

Technographic Data: A Primer

The term Technographic (also known as Technographic Segmentation) is a relatively new one and is a portmanteau of ‘tech’ from technology and ‘graphic’ from graphia—the Greek term for writing or information about something. So Technographics is literally the collected data about technology in a particular context. In this case, that context is potential customers. The concept and technique of technographics was first introduced in 1985 by Dr. Edward Forrest in a study of VCR users.

In practical terms, technographic data provides a form of market segmentation derived from the technological capabilities and resources of prospective customers. Technographic data describes the way an organization uses technological solutions, their adoption of new digital tools, and the challenges they may be facing in that space. It gives an in-depth understanding of businesses’ technology stack and paints a picture of what their needs may be or plans for potential technological investments.  

Technographic data includes core information such as what systems and platforms organizations currently employ, the tools and applications they use to access them, and the hardware infrastructures they run it all on. It can also provide insight into how these digital solutions are being implemented and utilized, and where there may be gaps or opportunities.

Where technographic data fits

Technographic data is its own category of information, and the next step in the development of market analysis. It is a distinct market segmentation. Traditional demographic data focuses on information about people, considering the human shape of an organization. It is concerned with the size of the staff, the potential points of contact, and how those human resource details may be changing over time.  

Firmographics are another common approach to market analysis, which takes a higher-level view of an organization, looking into the scale of the business, the industries it serves, and data about its geographic spread and financial scope.  

While these kinds of data points are vital for understanding a prospective customer, they don’t tell the whole story, which is where technographic data comes in to complete the picture and support effective B2B sales strategies.

Better market analysis through better data

Having a clear understanding of a current or prospective customer’s technology stack makes it easier to align your product offering with their digital needs. By communicating your solution in terms of how it integrates with, complements, or supersedes their existing systems and tools, you can create a more tailored and fruitful conversation earlier in their buying journey.  

According to Forbes, 70% of companies are on their way to improving their digital services and solutions or are building strategies in that direction. Effective technographic data can help your B2B sales team align their pitches with these digital transformation needs, capturing the customer’s interest from that first call.

Technographic data can also highlight where competitors’ products might be in use, allowing targeted messaging that can increase market share. Knowing the capabilities and shortcomings of an organization’s technology stack opens up opportunities to cross-sell, upsell, and expand offerings—as well as providing a basis for solid renewals and ongoing customer relationships.

Effective data makes for effective sales calls

The insights gained from data can propel sales and increase the quality of qualified leads that make it through your pipeline. Using technographic data allows your team to identify companies looking for solutions similar to yours and can highlight where there may be gaps in their current digital capabilities that your products can fill. It also allows you to recognize where a business may be ready to swap out an existing product or service for yours.  

By examining the hardware and software systems that a potential customer currently employs, you can better segment your accounts to pinpoint the most effective places to apply your efforts. Having a clear understanding of their technology stack allows more targeted pitches and presentations, leading to better informed conversations and the more efficient use of your sales resources. Good technographic data can also help you eliminate leads that won’t be a good fit and would only distract you from real potential sales.  

Categorize leads with technographic data

The accuracy that technographic data provides can create more granular customer segments, allowing your sales teams to narrow their efforts down based on identifiable current needs and the potential ongoing priorities of your leads. Applying your resources based on technology-related factors makes the best use of your team’s time and efforts, with carefully targeted and prioritized messaging.  

This could be as simple as identifying where a prospect’s existing tool set would interface effortlessly with your solutions. This creates an opportunity for conversations about how easily your product or service could be implemented, and the enhanced functionality that you can offer. Similarly, if you recognize a competitor’s technology within their current systems, it opens a door to educating them on how your solution stacks up, and where you can offer greater value. This could be as simple as an at-a-glance comparison chart or a full pitch that pinpoints your competitive advantage.  

Target pitches with pinpoint accuracy

IT buyers and business executives are frequently bombarded with sales pitches for new technologies and services, or old ones that have been repackaged. They are all but inoculated to the cold call sales presentation and will rarely be influenced by a generic approach. Technographic data eliminates this concern by ensuring that your sales team can speak to very real and present technology challenges that their organization is facing.  

Account-based marketing is focused on personalized, relevant messaging that speaks to a specific prospect’s context. Understanding a lead’s technographic profile ensures you are addressing the real problems and opportunities in their current digital landscape. Tailoring the presentation of your solution accordingly means your products or services fit their needs, whether they have identified the shape of those challenges accurately yet or not. By positioning your offering according to the technographic data, you can help them recognize where those gaps or limitations are, and how you can help overcome them. Approaching buyers with information that both clarifies and meets their needs will always be welcome.  

Clarify your sales priorities

Even qualified leads aren’t always of the same potential value. It can be hard to distinguish the priority of a prospect—but technographic data can accelerate the identification of those leads that are more likely to become customers for your solutions, and those which might be more reluctant or a harder sales prospect.

This includes understanding what your competitors are selling, and to whom. Technographic data can identify where competing solutions and brands are present within your target markets and help create a clearer picture of their ideal customer profiles (ICPs). Recognizing a competitor’s strategy allows you to refine your own, giving you the upper hand in reaching key accounts or introducing your solution to specific industries, markets, or client bases.  

Accelerate the buying cycle

Watching the news, reviewing press releases, and researching for announcements about acquisitions, technological adoptions, and product launches always offers great springboards for sales conversations. Those buying signals can be much more fruitful when they are informed by relevant technographic data. Arming your sales team with information about an organization’s technology stack ensures they can effectively join the dots between the latest news and the lead’s actual needs.  

By opening the conversation with a clear perspective of the current tech capabilities and challenges, you shorten the chase, ensuring your sales team can focus on selling, rather than hunting for the right people to sell to. Using technographic data can also identify opportunities in new markets, providing new leads that are already open to discovering your products and services.  

Collecting technographic data

There are typically three avenues for discovering technographic data that will help direct your sales efforts. They vary in both effort and effectiveness, and the approach you take can depend on how ready your team is to embrace technographic market segmentation, and the resources you’re willing to allocate to it.  

Traditional surveys

Historically, surveys by phone and email have provided the most direct method for collecting technographic data. One advantage of this approach is that the information is often collected at the source, from staff at target companies. Unfortunately, cold-call surveys have very poor response rates, and many organizations aren’t inclined to share specific data about their systems and tools this way. Surveying prospects this way isn’t scalable, nor particularly reliable and may only provide generalized data that doesn’t justify the effort involved.

Data scraping

With recent advances in AI and robotic automation, data scraping has become much more prevalent as a data collection tool. It utilizes website code to identify key information about visitors and examines the guests tech capabilities even as they’re exploring yours.  

In general, data scraping provides more accurate data than traditional surveys, and avoids the cost of cold-calling numerous companies. However, it has a high technical requirement to implement well, and even with the advent of new tools, only certain types of software leave enough traces to examine meaningfully. Security features on the visitor’s systems, and the websites themselves, can limit the data available to be collected, making this an uncertain avenue for amassing technographic profiles.  

Technographic databases

A simple route to reliable technographic data is through purchasing a database or service from a reputable data collection company. By partnering with B2B data providers, these businesses have access to significant pools of accurate information covering the install bases and use of a wide array of tools through thousands of companies. As the space has matured in recent years, several third-party vendors have come onto the scene offering effective and expansive data sets.  

One of the benefits of buying collated technographic data like this is knowing that the services offered already comply with the various regional and international regulations and legislations. This means the data on offer will likely be anonymized to remove personalized content, but it will still represent a meaningful market snapshot with comprehensive coverage of usable technographic information.  

Finding the right provider for technographic data

As more sales and marketing teams recognize the value of technographic data, more vendors are emerging to offer collections of information. It’s important to understand what to look for when selecting a third-party data supplier to ensure that the information being provided is up to date and accurate for your needs.  

The accuracy of the data is key to how effectively you can use it. It should represent current use to inform active sales activities. However, historic data is also valuable for giving insight into trends and business decisions that can lead to better conversion rates.  

Closing deals can sometimes come down to probabilities and numerical balances. A data set needs to be large enough to draw meaningful conclusions from, but also granular enough that it can be filtered to narrow the content down to market segments and target industries or business types.  

Finally, the data needs to be usable in your current systems and processes. If your sales or marketing tools do not easily integrate with the data being provided, it may cost you more than it returns to make use of the information. Ensure that introducing the data does not disrupt your existing sales cycles and systems in a way that slows the progress from lead to sale.  

Technographic data provides another insight into your markets and creates another lever for your sales team to help prospective customers move along the sales pipeline. By understanding your organization’s technology stack, you can help them recognize both the challenges they face and the solutions you can offer, identifying the most viable prospects and accelerating the sales conversation.

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