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Compelling Event Signals

I.
Introduction

Table of Contents

It’s no secret that a lot of sales professionals are having a difficult time meeting their quota.

Over the last 10 years, the percentage of sellers that have met their sales targets has diminished from 6 out of 10 to 5 out of 10—and it’s probably lower now due to the pandemic.

It’s not for lack of trying. Despite the slower economy, it’s still business as usual for sales professionals. They’re still going about their usual selling routines—chasing leads, meeting with prospects, and sending proposals.

They’re just not doing so efficiently.

Sales managers expect their team to spend at least 50 percent of their working hours selling actively. But on average, salespeople only spend 23 percent of their total workweek filling the top of their sales funnel, prospecting and researching leads. Most of their time is spent attending meetings and doing administrative work—writing emails, fixing data, scheduling calls. Not prospecting enough results in a lack of leads, which translates into a weak sales pipeline and missed opportunities to sell.

We can’t emphasize this enough: Focused, standardized prospecting is the key to growing your sales pipeline. The best revenue teams know how to prioritize leads that have a higher likelihood of responding positively to their outreach efforts, increasing their opportunities to successfully close deals.

And they do this by using Compelling Event Signals.

II.
What Are Compelling Event Signals?

Compelling Event Signals refer to particular events and insights that distinguish the most promising target accounts from the rest of your total addressable market (TAM).

They help your revenue team identify areas of opportunity and risk within your account lists, so your sellers can focus on nurturing the accounts in their pipeline that have a higher probability of producing positive results.

Aside from creating pipeline, compelling event signals also help sellers keep track of what’s going on within their existing customer accounts. Beyond simple intelligence, the insights delivered by Signals will allow you to keep track of what’s happening within your accounts so you’re always ready for opportunities to upsell or cross-sell, as well as any risk of customer churn. And by using compelling event signals to monitor and protect your relationships at scale, your revenue is kept secure.

So what’s the difference between Compelling Event Signals and the other types of sales data that you’re surely familiar with by now?

III.
Compelling Event Signals and the Other Types of Sales Intelligence

Sales Data

Sales data helps sellers better understand their customers and prospects. There are different types of sales data:

Firmographic Data

Product Data

Technographic Data

Behavioral Data

Intelligence/ Contextual Data

Urgency Data

Prioritization Data

Competitive Intelligence

Sales data provides sellers with a lot of important information. It gives you a look into who your customers are, how they do things, and what makes them tick.

However, they don’t tell you WHEN you should reach out to them, which is what Compelling Event Signals addresses.

This is especially crucial since in sales, timing is half the battle. You may have the right customer at your fingertips, but if your timing isn’t right, you’ll still fail to win the deal.

Neither can you rely on sales data to see if a customer is interested in a product. This is where buying intent data comes in.

Buying Intent Data

Buying Intent refers to the likelihood of a prospect purchasing a product now or in the near future.

This data indicates a customer’s interest in your product—if they are still consuming information about your product, if they are ready to buy, or if they are not interested at all. This information allows you to efficiently plan your lead engagement and nurturing efforts, prioritizing the most promising leads to get the best results.

In face-to-face interactions, it’s usually easy to tell when a customer is one step closer to (or further from) purchasing. There are observable signals that signify interest—certain body movements, facial expressions, vocal tone changes. These can be easily detected by seasoned sellers.

Unfortunately, the pandemic drastically reduced the chances of face-to-face sales meetings, forcing the acceleration of digital selling. This can pose a problem for traditional sellers, as it’s not as easy to see buying signals online.

But there are certain online actions that your team should capitalize on at the earliest notice. These include:

  • Reading the articles, blogs, and publications on your website

  • Viewing your videos

  • Downloading your eBooks, reports, and other content

  • Clicking CTA links on your emails and website

  • Signing up for a free trial or a product demo

  • Attending webinars and online conferences

  • Engaging with your social media content

  • Reaching out to your Customer Service Team

  • Engaging with your competitor’s content

These actions indicate customer awareness and interest in your product, giving you an opening to push them closer to a purchasing decision. Your revenue team should have a strategy in place so you can quickly get the ball rolling when you observe a lead doing one of these actions.

However, while Buying Intent Data tells you if a customer is interested, you have to remember that interest doesn’t equate to an intent to purchase. After all, the customer might just want to expand their knowledge about your industry.

If you want a higher probability of filling your sales pipeline with qualified leads, you’ll need more detailed information about the people within the account—not just surface-level sales data, but time-sensitive events that have a higher chance of uncovering areas of opportunity and risk in your TAM.

The best sellers use sales data, buying intent data, and compelling event signals in their prospecting to drastically improve their sales pipeline. With all three types of data at your fingertips, you’ll get the best results and win more deals.

IV.
Types of Compelling Event Signals

Time and Maturity Signals

People joining and leaving accounts are the leading indicators of where priorities may lie.

How so?

Remember, people bring processes and perspectives with them. Thus, it’s important to target key stakeholders who join or leave your accounts, as they will inevitably begin, end, or pause projects, bringing new processes and perspectives with them along the way. Their actions will reflect what a company’s priorities are.

You need to locate them as soon as possible since, according to our research, sales professionals are four times more likely to meet with key stakeholders during the first two quarters. Finding, engaging, and educating the right people during this critical time frame will make a big difference.

The fastest and easiest door openers, outside of obviously buying intent, has been Time Signals. The appointed leader Signal is critical, and it’s critical that you’re engaging that executive before your competition.”

Jamie Shanks, Pipeline Signals CEO

Change in a department’s headcount—either expansion or retraction—is also an indicator of an organization’s priorities. If an organization has doubled the headcount of its HR team, you can infer that they might also be looking for products and solutions that can bolster their people management efforts.

These events are called Time and Maturity Signals. Knowing and monitoring these signals allows your team to develop sales plays in advance. By using specialized searches on LinkedIn, you’ll be able to gauge and track the human movements in your accounts.

Stakeholders Joining Accounts

According to a Gartner study, a B2B purchasing decision involves 6 to 10 decision-makers, each with their own beliefs about your product or service. These groups of people are called buying committees. Your team should identify who these people are and aim to connect with and influence them.

However, the unfortunate reality is that most sales professionals only know an average of 3 people per account. This isn’t a good thing.

Consider that the average person only stays in a job for two to four years. This means that people are leaving or joining your accounts faster than you may realize—and your connections could be among them.

As a modern seller, you shouldn’t rely on just a few relationships to secure an account. The more connections you have within an account’s buying committee, the better.

But as unbelievable as it may sound, many salespeople simply aren’t looking deep enough into their accounts to find the right people. When we ask salespeople about their primary ways to find stakeholders or contacts in accounts, they tell us that they use the phone and email to call people in accounts and determine who the key stakeholders are. A lot of salespeople use contact database tools, while some browse superficially on Linkedin by just typing out the keywords they need.

These approaches are inefficient. Your team should not be spending a lot of time and effort just to get poor results, especially since it’s easy to set up the Stakeholder Search on LinkedIn to track influential people joining your target, named, or customer accounts. Being aware of these changes will make your team better prepared to have relevant business conversations with different people in your accounts.

Stakeholders Leaving Accounts

Equally important is the need to know and track stakeholders who leave your target accounts. That’s because priorities can change when people leave, introducing the risk of customer churn.

The best way to manage that risk is to keep track of stakeholders leaving your accounts so you can develop and execute a plan with confidence. Here are some questions that should be addressed when a key stakeholder leaves your target, named, or customer account:

  1. Who will replace this person?

  2. What priorities will they bring?

  3. What competitive intelligence that may shape an account’s varied priorities can I glean from these people?

Knowing if a stakeholder has left your account can make a difference in risk mitigation and churn prevention. Spend time setting up this Signal correctly.

Departmental Growth or Reduction

One of the best ways to find opportunities and minimize risk is by checking if the departments within your customer accounts are in growth or reduction mode. Depending on your solution, you may benefit from a certain department’s growth, reduction, or both. This makes Departmental Growth or Reduction a particularly crucial Compelling Event for customer-facing headcount roles, such as sales and customer success.

Once again, keep in mind that people are constantly entering, moving around in, or leaving your target, named, or customer accounts. This movement is a leading indicator or Signal of where an organization’s priorities will lie.

Your team can stay ahead of the curve by using Linkedin Sales Navigator to regularly audit the movement in their accounts. Setting up this Signal helps you spot opportunities and mitigate risk, making it an important tool in building pipeline.

Job Postings

The Job Posting search will reveal which companies are hiring and are requiring help in acquiring talent. These are Signals of company growth, showing where hiring priorities are and giving your team a good indication of where they should spend their time.

Here are some examples of how Job Postings can create opportunities or risks within your accounts:

Opportunities

  • A company hiring for a specific IT role that will create advancements in the people, processes and technology in the account

  • A company specifically seeking candidates that have experience with a competitor’s product, or similar products

  • Early alerts saying that, 60-90 days from now, a certain executive will be in place to start making decisions.

Risks

  • Hiring for a specific IT role that creates expectations to lead or manage competing products

  • Specifically seeking candidates that have job experience with competitors

Your team can use LinkedIn to get this data. Combining this Signal with the “Stakeholders Joining Accounts” search we’ve discussed earlier is a smart way to:

  1. Find insights on growth, and

  2. Begin conversations with the right people who may be involved.

You should set up search alerts for this Signal even if there isn’t an urgent need for it.,Aadding insights early will provide you with an opportunity to educate and highlight your expertise. While this Signal may not help you immediately, it will contribute to future pipeline growth by giving you advanced notice to prepare for growth conversations.

Relationship Signals

Given the weight and importance of relationships in business, there’s no question that your network can provide you with an asymmetrical competitive advantage.

How so?

Take an account from your territory or list and place its company logo in the center of a sheet of paper. Draw a circle around the logo, and then ask yourself this fundamental question: “Who cares about them and their success story with you?”

The goal is to share this story with those who would be interested the most—the relationships you have already nurtured.

As an example, there are people with very fluid careers right now inside your company’s customer base. So while you may say ‘I know my customers,’ what you might miss is that employees change their job every 24 to 48 months on average—the rate could easily be higher.

So while you may “know your customer”, what you might not realize is that the decision-makers, champions, influencers, and power users of your solution are moving in and out of companies on a weekly basis. You may also be at risk, as there could be people who are more aligned with your competitors moving into your target or customer accounts.

Understand that relationships can transform your market. Your relationships can pose great opportunities for you if you know how to map them correctly and leverage this data. You must monitor this information for Signals as a way to create opportunities and reduce churn.

School Alumni

One of the strongest Signals that sellers can leverage today is their school or academic background. These could be universities, colleges, technical colleges, military colleges, private colleges, or more. The principle here is that people are drawn to people whose backgrounds are similar to them, and those who have gone to the same university or college are more likely to fulfill this criteria.

By customizing LinkedIn filters to achieve this particular Signal search, your team can see a specific list of people with whom they share an academic connection. This way, they can reverse-engineer your school’s alumni for any city or company in the world, and then do keyword searches for people who have specific functions within those companies. Having the same alma mater also gives you an interesting opening that you can capitalize on in your outreach efforts.

So while your school days might be over, you shouldn’t discount the opportunities that your fellow alumni can open for you. They may be able to help you or introduce you to key stakeholders in your accounts, so don’t hesitate to network with them.

Past Advocates: Cross-Reference Search

Advocates are people who are, statistically, more likely to throw their support behind you in comparison to random people that you may not know. These people have a higher chance of engaging with you because of at least one of these reasons:

  • They have direct experience with your solution.

  • They were involved indirectly in your solution’s purchase decision.

  • They are familiar with you or your company’s name.

Now, both the Past Advocates Signal and the Cross Reference Search Signal focus on the people who were employed at accounts that are happy customers of your company’s. These people have since left and have gone into other accounts.

So what’s the difference between these two Signals?

In the Past Advocates Signal, you are searching for people who have left happy customer accounts and have gone into any other new account. This is actionable intelligence that can be used to create opportunities for conversation, making it particularly useful for teams that sell into open territories.

In the Cross-Reference Search Signal, you are looking for people who have left happy customer accounts and have since joined named accounts, which can either be target named accounts or actual customer named accounts.

Both the Past Advocates Signal and the Cross-Reference Search can open many doors for you. Relationships and commonalities like these can make people respond warmly towards your outreach efforts. When your team is able to prove your company’s value to your company’s advocates, their chances of activating conversations within new accounts can drastically increase.

Customer Top 10 Recruitment

People migrating into your specific accounts is a strong Signal that should not be ignored—especially if they’re leaving your or your company’s happy customer accounts.

Some companies stage massive hiring campaigns, and they have a good idea about which companies they’d like to recruit from. The Customer Top 10 Recruitment Signal will allow your team to see the top companies that people from your target, named, or customer accounts are moving to. This creates opportunities to initiate relevant sales conversations—but that’s not the only benefit that this Signal brings.

The Customer Top 10 Recruitment Signal also allows you to better visualize the flow of people from account to account, helping you determine which relationships to follow, prioritize, and leverage. While this Signal may not impact your team’s immediate strategy, it will help you understand and take advantage of the migration patterns of people.

Referrals

According to a study conducted by the Sales Benchmark Index, 84 percent of B2B decision-makers get appointments using referrals, compared to just 1 to 3 percent for cold calling.

This makes referrals an excellent Relationship Signal that you should track for stakeholders and key accounts that are named, target or customer-based. It’s an especially critical Signal for sales leadership as it can complement introductions from your social networks into your target accounts.

Your team needs to think about how their known contacts can introduce them to other people. Using these warm introductions can give you leverage and accelerate your conversations, taking advantage of a concept known as Social Proximity.

The logic behind social proximity is quite simple. Each one of your existing relationships in a customer account can probably introduce you to others within their company. Your task is to first find the individuals you’d like to be introduced to, and then to use your existing contacts to determine if introductions can be made.

There are two situations where the Referral Search can prove useful to you:

  1. In a customer account where you have no established relationships. See if you know a person that knows someone in this account, perhaps as a company colleague, as a partner, or as a customer.

  2. To see if someone you know within a customer account can introduce you to a person you’d like to meet, ideally a stakeholder who’s part of the company’s buying committee.

When reaching out to people who might be able to refer you, don’t hesitate to reach out with a personalized message and request a connection. Provide context, such as “I’m working with your company.” As long as you’re polite and professional, you shouldn’t meet a lot of resistance when connecting to people.

Competitive Signals

In business, you always need to know what your competitors are up to—not only the business moves they make, but also what their employees are doing. This allows your sellers to identify areas of risk, which can cause customer churn.

When you know what you should avoid, you can make more informed decisions about the accounts you should prioritize, the sales actions you should devote more time on, and the resources you might require to increase your chances of closing a deal.

This is where Competitive Signals come in.

Competitive Signals do exactly as their name suggests: They help track the presence of competitors and their influence on your target, named, or customer accounts. This Signal will help you make more informed decisions about:

  • Which people and accounts you should spend time and effort on

  • Where you might encounter risks and what you should avoid

  • Where you might need additional resources and help from your team

For a better idea of how Competitive Signals work, consider the following scenarios:

  • A stakeholder migrating from your top competitor into your target account

  • A target account with former executives, influencers, and champions who are biased towards your competitor’s products and services because they’ve used them before

How will you assess the risk of your team spending time on a target account that poses these risks? Is churn a possibility? If so, what are the signals indicating that this account is an immediate danger to your portfolio?

These are some of the questions that you need to ask as you activate these Signals and make decisions accordingly.

Past Employees of Competitors

This Signal will show you the people who used to work at your competitors and are now directly employed within your target, named, or customer accounts. Now, why should you track these people?

Remember, when an employee from a competitor company joins one of your target or named accounts, they may also bring existing biases toward certain products, services, or solutions. In fact, they may even be hired to introduce their unique perspective into their role.

Thus, it’s crucial to be aware of former competitor employees who are now working in your target, named, or customer accounts, especially in the roles and titles that you work with.

This Signal will help your team understand which accounts might be at risk and should probably be avoided or reprioritized. These people may be high-risk targets with a low probability of activation, or they simply may just be biased towards their old employer and would not be very receptive to your outreach efforts.

Encountering this Signal doesn’t mean that you have to disengage immediately from an account. It only alerts you of the risks so your team can act quickly and position themselves as needed.

Experience With Competitive Solutions

Aside from former employees, you should also be on the lookout for people in your target, named, or customer accounts who have used or are knowledgeable about your competitors’ products or solutions. These people could be high-risk targets with a low probability of activation, or they simply could just be biased towards their existing skill set, knowledge, or certifications. In any case, they could block the purchase of your company’s product simply because of their familiarity with your competitor’s solution, effectively hindering your progress.

You can find this information by going deep into someone’s experience set and checking for competitive keywords. You’ll get a look at their personal and professional priorities, helping you evaluate your outreach strategy and the account’s growth or risk potential.

Again, we don’t recommend disengaging immediately from an account with this Signal. This is just one way to check if your target account is at risk of churn. By knowing this information in advance, you can adjust your messaging accordingly.

V.
Establishing a Global Command Center for Your Signals

Imagine this situation: Two different sellers, Seller A who’s based in Spain and Seller B who’s based in Canada, each with LinkedIn Sales Navigator accounts. They only see their total addressable market (TAM) as instructed, and they’re not really concerned about what’s going on with the company globally.

So Seller A sees on LinkedIn that one of your happy customer advocates has left Spain and has moved to Canada to join a new company as a COO. Do you think Seller A will tell Seller B about this development so the latter can prepare accordingly?

Maybe. Maybe not.

It’s difficult to keep track of all the intelligence throughout your entire consumer base, especially for multinational enterprises. However, missing a Signal can mean a missed opportunity to sell, or a missed opportunity to avoid risk.

Just think: Every time a company merges with another company, is acquired by another entity, or decides to rebrand and pivot towards a totally different direction, many sales opportunities are lost. Or the opposite happens—risks that could’ve been mitigated early on are not avoided, triggering churn.

The same applies to signals that are dependent on relationships built with existing accounts. Someone could’ve been promoted, joined a new account, or left an account. With these changes, the bridges you built with that same person can open up new opportunities in their new company, position, or role.

Too often, opportunities for network expansion, pipeline growth, and profit pass by undetected by revenue teams. This happens because of many reasons, one of which is the lack of a centralized place to check and monitor when such signals take place.

To make the most of Compelling Event Signals and other sales information, every company needs to have a global command center that monitors the data, signals, and behavior of your target accounts, customer accounts, and other relevant accounts in your industry.

By having a central hub that analyzes the data and signals of millions of firms and makes it accessible to all your sellers, it will be easier to detect when a company, whether or not it is in your addressable market, is ready to purchase your product or has expressed interest in it. This minimizes the chances of missing sales opportunities and protects against risk of churn.

It’s crucial to gather, analyze, and interpret data and signals at scale because missing a single opportunity or risk could spell the difference between a seller meeting their quota or a market meeting its objectives. Setting up a global command center to centralize all your information should keep all your sellers in the loop.

And this is where Pipeline Signals can help.

VI.
Our Sales Intelligence Service: Pipeline Signals

Being aware of Compelling Event Signals allows your team to efficiently fill your sales pipeline with high-quality prospects, taking you one step closer to hitting your quota. Identifying these Signals puts the ball in your team’s court by giving you the opportunity to influence your most promising leads.

The best revenue teams in the world use Signals to boost their success, allowing them to gain a massive advantage over their competitors. But most revenue teams aren’t trained to spot Signals, so they just keep doing what they’ve done through the years—make cold calls and send out emails with unpredictable levels of success.

It’s time to stop chasing leads that lead to nowhere.

By using Sales for Life’s science-backed, proven way to get insights about your existing, prospective, and white space accounts, you’ll minimize the risk of missing an opportunity or risk again within your global account base or your TAM. More sales opportunities equates to more chances of winning deals, getting you on track to surpassing your quota.

We’d love to help your team achieve these results. Book a meeting with us to start using Signals to your advantage.

 

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