The Call Before the Call: How Intent Signal Monitoring Paves the Way for Sales Conversations
Ever find yourself pining for “the good old days” of B2B marketing, when target contacts actually answered their phones and were willing to listen to your cold sales pitch? Okay, so maybe the old days weren’t all good, but they certainly were simpler. Today B2B marketers are up against caller ID, email spam filters, popup blockers, and a host of other innovations designed to keep prospects as far away from a sales conversation possible. So how do you get through? By building rapport with your targets before your sales reps even pick up the phone.
Before today’s prospects will even be willing to take your call, three things need to happen. They need to know you — who you are and how you add value. They need to like you — to feel a sense of rapport even though you haven’t yet spoken personally. And they need to trust you — to feel confident that you have their best interests at heart.
Fortunately, B2B marketers now have a high-performance tool that can help build rapport on all three levels. By leveraging intent monitoring, you can:
With those building blocks in place, your sales reps stand a far greater chance of getting your targets on the phone — and making the sale.
1. Discover the Right Accounts to Target
Even the most effective sales conversation will fall flat if it’s directed at the wrong account or the wrong person. Traditional methods of building your target list — advertising, networking, event marketing, and cold calling, just to name a few — yield only a small percentage of qualified prospects, leaving you and your sales team to figure out which ones are worth the time and effort of a follow-up.
Intent monitoring lets you “listen” for online activity related to your products or services, find out where it’s coming from, and reach out to those accounts. It takes the guesswork out of prospecting by delivering data related to actual online searches, resource downloads, webinar registrations, and other intent signals. You can start building a list of organizations who are not only dealing with a problem you can help solve, but who are also looking to do something about it.
2. Get a Closer Look at Their Needs
Even when traditional B2B marketing methods yielded quality leads, you still had to fill the gap between what they need and what you offer. At this stage, many marketers still spend considerable time, effort, and money on surveys, focus groups, and other means of understanding how targets see their challenges and how they evaluate the solutions available to them.
Once your intent signal platform helps you identify target accounts, you can monitor them to learn more details about their needs. You may have identified an account that indicates a need for your product, but before you can begin building rapport, you need more specifics. You’ll want to know, for example, what the prospect’s top priorities are: Price? Scalability? Brand reputation? By monitoring their online activity, you can gain those additional insights that allow you to…
3. Build a Bridge Through Content
Intent monitoring arms you with a wealth of information about your target accounts and the contacts involved in the buying process. Now you can use that information to create content that solves their problems before you even pick up the phone.
Analyze the results from your intent monitoring platform to identify opportunities for creating laser-targeted, personalized content. You may, for example, discover that some prospects have had negative experiences with other approaches, or you may find that they use certain words and phrases in their online searches on the subject. All this information lets you create content that speaks precisely to your prospects’ wants, needs, and challenges, in a way that resonates with them.
By feeding your intent monitoring results into your marketing automation platform, you can design and execute custom content campaigns for groups of target that reflect certain characteristics. Your marketing team can create customized articles, emails, and downloadable resources, and other assets focused on specific aspects of your solution and deliver them to the right targets at the right time. Speaking of timing…
4. Be There When They’re Ready to Buy
Even if you were lucky enough to discover accounts that had a need for your product or service using traditional sales and marketing methods, you were at the mercy of their decision-making timeline. Budgetary cycles, existing contracts, and a host of other variables can factor into the timing of a prospect’s buying decision, and sales reps often find themselves in a seemingly endless follow-up loop, hoping to make contact at the exact moment when the prospect is ready to buy.
Here again, intent monitoring removes much of the guesswork, by alerting you to spikes in activity that indicate a buying decision could be forthcoming. Instead of inventing a litany of excuses to “just check in” with prospects over and over again, your sales reps can time their follow-up communications strategically, improving their chances of initiating those sales conversations at precisely the right moment.
The next time you’re tempted to wax nostalgic for the “good old days” of B2B marketing, think again. Yes, the B2B marketer’s job is far more complex than it was just a few years ago, but we now have solutions such as intent monitoring that let us be more focused in our efforts than ever before. We can put the building blocks of rapport in place, so that when your sales reps do pick up the phone, they can be far more confident in their chances of success.