January 22, 2019

Technology CAN Help You Sell: How Behavioral Data Changes the Game

By Josh Garland

Conventional wisdom says the most productive way to uncover and pursue demand – and land a B2B enterprise deal – is to focus on senior titles. That’s why, even though senior people are hard to reach, salespeople often deprioritize prospects with lower-level targets. But doing so prevents you from seeing demand as it develops and getting in on the ground floor. This puts your company at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

The best way to overcome this? Focus on account buying teams rather than individuals – and build real-time, behavioral data into your sales motion. You’ll get the granular purchase-intent insights you need to prioritize and penetrate accounts and win more business.

Account-based Selling Is Imperative
Many sales organizations are built around lead-centric, individually-focused models – but this has several drawbacks.

First, a lead is valuable only if you can connect with that person via phone, email, social media, or the like. As we know, that’s not a given. It’s also especially difficult with senior prospects.

Plus, in the B2B enterprise world it’s rare for single individuals to make buying decisions on their own. In fact, more than six people are typically involved in B2B solution purchases. If you don’t have meaningful touchpoints with multiple people in your prospect’s buying group, your likelihood of success will be low. And any deals you do win will take longer to close.

Prioritize Accounts
Account-based models are key, but they’re no guarantee. They can result in missed opportunities and wasted efforts if you focus on accounts that aren’t in market for your type of solution. Real-time, observed data about prospects’ research behaviors can tell you which accounts are giving off the most active intent signals at any point in time and, therefore, which to prioritize.

You can see when prospects are entering the buying cycle – and the volume, velocity, and content of their research. You’ll know how many (and who in the buying group) are conducting this research, which people are most active, which solutions and vendors they’re focusing on, and what they’re reading and when.

Focus on the Most Active Researchers
The most effective way to penetrate an account is to focus on its most active researchers. These are typically mid-level people who are decision makers for specific projects or have been tasked by their bosses to explore potential solutions.

At many enterprise selling organizations, inside sales reps (ISRs) reach out to these targets. In addition to using behavioral data to pinpoint who these people are, they leverage it to provide context for meaningful interactions. Because the data already indicates what problems the prospects may have, ISRs can skip these types of inquiries. Instead they can go straight to discussing how their solution solves the prospect’s pressing problem and helps achieve outcomes they’re likely to look for, such as revenue growth and cost reduction.

Now that they’ve broken into the account and confirmed the prospect is in market for their type of solution, ISRs can ask who the other key stakeholders in the buying group are, including senior people who haven’t been actively researching the topic.

They then reach out to the additional buying group members and pass appropriate contacts along with the behavioral data insights to field sales, who use them to penetrate higher levels and convert the account.

Change Your KPIs
Inside sales team KPIs are usually based on call volume. This is a problem because it forces ISRs to abandon targets they haven’t reached. When you’re going after known active buyers, that’s like shooting yourself in the foot.

KPIs need to change so ISRs can spend more effort pursuing accounts that will yield the highest return. By lowering KPI call volume you can free ISRs to do the digging they need to be successful. The more time they spend conversing with active buyers, the more likely they are to gather details on the account’s circumstances, stakeholders, and solution requirements.

The result? It will likely take far fewer calls to schedule a meeting for field sales.

Instead of volume, focus KPIs on quality and results. Measure ISRs on their ability to uncover senior-level decision makers, the number of additional buying group contacts they acquire, how many conversations they have with each of those prospects, how many meetings they set up, and how many occur.

Arm Sales with a Blueprint for Leveraging Behavioral Data
Granular behavioral data is very powerful, but it needs to be used in the right way. And knowing how to use it isn’t always intuitive. Make sure sales isn’t playing “big brother.”

For instance, don’t tell a prospect that you know she and her colleagues Joe, Sue, and Bob have read six articles about your technology in the past week on your company’s Website and specific press outlets. Even though people understand online behavior is tracked, it can be off-putting when used so directly.

Instead, put purchase-intent data to work behind the scenes. Have your sales enablement team use it as fodder for creating the right questions to ask and messages to convey. Use it to tailor everything from the emails ISRs send and how they open calls to how ISRs and field salespeople guide conversations, arrange meeting agendas, and follow up with prospects.

Purchase-intent data based on real-time, observed behaviors can transform sales. The benefits you’ll gain – including in-market account penetration, accelerated sales cycles, and greater close rates – make building it into your sales motion a no-brainer. Just remember to adjust your KPIs and arm your sales teams, and you’ll be racking up wins in no time.

Josh Garland is vice president of product marketing for TechTarget.