The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

Account Intel: How You Can Know When Your Prospects are Ready to Buy w/ Alex Greer


Account intelligence is usually a term associated with marketing, not sales. Marketing collects details on a prospective buyer— what new projects they have, company growth, new teams, etc., and sales never sees the information. Doesn’t that sound like valuable intel for sales to have?

We think so, too.

So does Alex Greer, CEO of al HQ. He founded the company in 2018 to give sellers the ability to see when buyers are looking to purchase solutions within the sellers’ industries. He knows that’s the sort of information he would have loved to have in his 10-year sales career: Alex managed regional sales all the way to global sales teams at Cloudera, Medallia, and Lucifer Lighting.

Alex is dedicated to helping sales professionals know when their buyers are researching and ready to purchase, and he shared some of his best tips on our Sales Engagement podcast.

We caught it all right here.

Welcome to the sales engagement podcast. This podcast is brought to you by outreach dot ioh, the leading sales engagement platform helping companies, sellers and customer success engaged with buyers and customers in the modern sales era. Check out sales engagementcom for new episodes resources in the book on sales engagement coming soon. Now let's get into today's episode. Welcome everybody to another episode of these sales engagement podcast. We have a fantastic show today we have Alex Greer, founder and CEO a signal HQ. We're going to talk a lot about account intelligence. That's a data set that may traditionally live in the marketing stack, but sales should really be taking advantage of it. will go into all the facets of that, but before we get need to be to the podcast. I'm going to toss them on over to Alex, who is going to introduce himself, tell us a little bit about his background and more about signal HQ. Welcome Alex, thanks for being on the show. Thanks so much for having it. To Joe, it's great to be here. Hey, so tell us about yourself. How did you end up starting signal HQ? Where you're coming from and what is the ultimate goal of your own company? Yeah, so signal age Q is a what I'm calling a sales intelligence platform that really empower sales reps to have information about the accounts that they're responsible for selling to and make smarter and more focused decisions of which company they reach out to to generate new sales opportunities. A reason I started this company is I previously worked at cloud era in Medallia. Started as a nest are at cloud era working strategic accounts and was promoted into an enablement role, teaching our global inside sales team how to be as effective and efficient as possible with generating new meetings and pipeline opportunities. And over the course of those two companies, got really good systematically identifying which companies actually had a compelling reason to talk to us about the solutions we are providing, rather than blanketing the entire market with emails and calls and just hoping for the best. We got really good at detecting if a company had a particular initiative going on or was definitely showing interest in our solution, and I was really really passionate about building a product that helped more sales professionals and more organizations work smarter and not harder and be efficient with their sales motions. And so when you say sales intelligence, account intelligence, what type of data are you talking about? Well, there's all sorts of different types of data points and signals, so to speak, that you can listen or across the entire be to be buyer journey. You know, we're all familiar with inbound leads that come in through form fills and st rations and events and things like that, but there's plenty of things that happen further up stream before somebody voluntarily submits their contact information, that you can keep your eyes and ears out for that are really valuable. So typically, what I like to look at and categorize as the journey as well. There it's a finance event like new round of funding or a great earnings report, followed by a project initiative that gets announced, followed by a team that gets assembled. If you know, job posts go out and folks are promoted into roles or switch departments or people are brought on board, and then the research phase begins where people are reading content, thought Leadership Barnicles, webinars, visiting bender websites and things like that before they finally actually engage the vendor gate, engage the solution provider. And so those are the types of events, compelling events to say, and that are...

...really important to pay attention to, and there's ways to systematically collect them through different tools, some of them paid, some of them free, that, you know, can help inform your decisions and make you appear a lot more informed when you do reach out to that potentialfier. I think that's an important distinction. Right, you're talking about the sales team using these signals in their outreach. Traditionally, this type of datas lived in marketing to help the qualification. Why is this information so important now to, let's say, a sales development rep yeah, the I'd say the big thing that has happened is the movement of account based selling in addition to account based marketing, and the movement from sales people being more account managers and just generally having relationships with any everyone, to being really focused on prospecting and finding that new business and being a more aggressive around that. You know, marketing has traditionally had a quite a large budget in order to find ways to grow new opportunities for the business and turn leads over to sales. But I really want and believe that the the salespeople should be empowered with enough information that they can go and find new business than cells without necessarily relying on marketing. Turn qualified leads over to them. And let's equip ourselves with the information that we can just just go and reach out to the right persons and ourselves. And I have to assume that when an str is empowered with this type of information, the collaboration between an account executive and str becomes a lot closer a lot more meaningful. Yeah, yeah, definitely. I've seen a witness firsthand the transition of our str team at cloud era, which was already well respected and doing a lot of great work, to becoming just an incredibly invaluable resource to our account executive team, because they were so tapped into the tools and processes and methodology that we had to really snip out those opportunities that they were coming to our account executives with all sorts of information about their accounts that they weren't even aware of. So I really love to share with the SDRs in particular, SDRs bedrs, think of yourself as the chief marketing officer of your territory. You really have quite a lot of ability, with the modern tool stack to grow the awareness of your company within the market and generate a lot of interesting opportunities if you go about it the right way. Talk to me a little bit about how this information can help with account prioritization. So as these SDRs are prospecting in these accounts right to have to to stack rank them appropriately and really pass off the best ones there ease ae's. So how does this information fit into that? Yeah, yeah, so here's The paradigm that I usually see with most sales organizations. Is the account executive or even the SDR themselves, they'll have what they called their a, B and C accounts. The a's are typically a mix of companies with that are really like household main type logos that would just be really exciting to promote as a customer success story, or companies that are known to have a particular need for that type of solution, and then bees and c's, or kind of a mix of lower priority accounts, and then and then the account executive in the sales development rep will prioritize their efforts based on that problem. With that approach is that your c account might be incredibly in... for your solution. They might have announced a new project or made a new key hire that would make them much likelier to be in a position to buy or start an opportunity cycle. But you're not paying attention to them because you relegated them to the seats. So where account intelligence comes into play is you use that to inform your emotions and focus week to week on the accounts that have the strongest propensity to buy. It doesn't mean that you ignore the a accounts completely. It just becomes that much more interesting if something compelling does come up there. But you don't use that to dictate every single motion that you do. You let the market help and inform you which companies are going to be in a position to be interested in your solution. Totally makes sense and I think it makes a lot of sense in a very like high level strategy. Like I think we all can agree that knowing more about your prospects makes you a more efficient seller water and I mean that's great and it could be a little daunting, though. It just seems kind of like, okay, yeah, I get that. How do I do this today? What are some quick wins, easy things that our listeners can take away today that will make them better sellers while leveraging this type of information. Yeah, this is one of my favorite topics that I love to share with especially with new team members. But anybody can use this. There's a couple of tools that I like to use that are a hundred percent free. One of them is Google alerts. Another is I used to use indeed for this, but now I use Google for jobs, for job post alerts. Both of those you could basically set up a search parameter that says, let me give a specific example. Let's let's set them selling data science solution right day to science professional services or particular software product, let's say, with a Google alert. What that means is you know how you know when you run a Google search, you type in a few keywords and you get back results. Well, if you go to googlecom slash alerts and you type in the same type of search, you can set up a daily or weekly digest to be alerted when any new content POPs up on the Internet that matches that alert. So I might say in my search show me anything that matches data science will or machine learning or artificial intelligence and if I'm assigned a specific account, then I'll say and company X, Y Z, and then I've got a completely free tool set up to let me know anytime there's anything new going on with that account that matches those particular swords and will include in the show notes later some specific examples that you guys can use and plug right in. Job Posts, on the other hand, are one of my favorite tools that ares also a hundred percent free. It's one of the few things that companies do where they're very, very transparent about what they're up to. Think about any job post that you've seen. They'll usually describe a few things. They'll talk about what department the role is a part of. They'll oftentimes talk about is a project or initiative that's involved. They'll talk about the skills that are required, they'll talk about the technologies that are required or preferred, and so you can imagine if you're selling a technology solution that relies in a particular set of skills or is complementary or competing with certain technologies, you've got this wealth of information all off of a Job Post that tells you exactly what the companies up to. So you could set up an alert. You go to Googlecom jobs and they've done a great job of agg getting posts from all sorts of sites, including indeed and Linkedin all across the Internet. And you could say again, let's say I'm...

...using data science solutions as an example. Give me all jobs in my territory that match tool A, B ANDC skills like python or are or things like that, or machine learning, and then you'll start getting and then what I would do is also I look for titles that had things like head of or director or vice president. That way I knew something big was happening at that account. Those are a couple of things that you can use that are entirely free, that really act as account intelligence that you can use to spur a new conversation. The job one I didn't know about with Google and there are vendors out there that sell that information. They have built crawlers to go through indeed and another job posting sites and aggregate that information, and you're telling me there's a free version of that out there that we can use. That's fantastic. I think that's something people can take away right away and start doing, especially, you know, you selling them fell in the sales teams for something and you see that they're hiring an FDR manager. You know, you know they're building out a team. Oh, absolutely, yeah, that's exactly right. You know, it's a trick is the disseminating this information across your organization at scale. It's one thing to have one user set this up themselves, and that's totally free, but to have it orchestrated across a team or dozens of people, that's where more enterprise grade tools that can aggregate that and then align it to the right account and serve that to the right people at the right time. That's a whole other challenge. Yeah, at the good distinction. Yeah, I don't want to take money out of these company pockets. Yeah, you're right. Sometimes when your need to feel a little more so sophisticated, you need a dedicated provider to do that. Yeah, but those google a lyrics, Google jobs. Google's an amazing company who provide these tools. You can totally use that for for sales intelligence and it's super effective and you mentioned a while back Linkedin, and I think you told me previously, that there is a Easter egg within sales navigator that most people don't know about. What is that my number one favorite thing that about linked in sales navigator that unfortunately, like ninety nine point nine percent of their users don't know about is when you go into their lead builder or there your lead search and you get results, you'll see at the top it'll say a thousands little results. Five hundred people change jobs in the last ninety days, two hundred fifty people shared something new. But, depending on you know how broad or how narrow your results are, there's also a couple of other things that are listed behind a little Arrow to the right and you you hit on that button and in cases where an individual is following your company, it'll say like five leads are following your company, and we use this too great effect at both cloud era and Medalia whenever we were looking for people to talk to its specific accounts or that match a particular title. What an easy icebreaker. Hey, I noticed that you follow my company on Linkedin and I'm responsible for growing the relationship with your company. I'd love to connect with you and learn more about you. We would see this with with count executives that have been responsible for working with an account for a couple of years that you know we do the search and we'd see people that we weren't even aware of before and other parts of the organization. It's just it's really amazing tool that I wish that they would make the very, very first thing, the very first tab at the top. If there's a lead that matches your search, that is following your company, that's the very first thing you should see. But just know that it's tucked...

...into a little arrow on the right and maybe in the show notes I can include a little screenshot or jiff that shows you exactly how to find that. Super powerful yeah, I mean linkedin baseline is super powerful and then the add on this functionality. It's becoming a must have for any any sale development organizations. That's definitely a good tip. Yeah, speaking of must have, this job of sales development and finding new opportunities and in general has become so sophisticated technologically and so internet and database base at if you don't know bullying search operators for search, you should really start learning about them asap, because just writing a couple of keywords or a couple of names of titles doesn't really do you justice in terms of finding the exact right people. There's all sorts of combinations and using capital or capital and quotation marks parentheses. That will really help you narrow your search. I actually prefer, whenever I'm doing a search on one of those tools, to not have a gigantic set of results. I want to have five ultra focused results that I know these are the exact right people or the exact right companies I want to go after, and that's really possible by using more advanced search operators. So it's really worthwhile to learn about and I'll make sure to include a couple of links of good resources where you can learn about that stuff. Yeah, I mean that's, like you said, I must have you have to know how to leverage these databases and really to segment and focusing on exactly who you want to talk to, and I think that's that's something that may feel a little uncomfortable when you say I only want five results, right, because then you're like, okay, well, what happens if I blow through those five results? Well, you shouldn't. You should really pay attention and do thoughtful outreach to these people, because they are exactly who you want to be talking to. There's definitely a lot of discussion around the volume based approach versus the personalized approach the volume based approach. The more people different types of titles or companies, the more generic your message becomes and therefore what ends up happening is your conversion rate of people that are responsive becomes much, much lower than if you're more targeted and personalized and do your homework. But the flip side of that is if you do the personalized route, your conversion rate in theory will generally be much higher, but it's much more time intensive, so the volume decreases dramatically. So it's good to have a healthy balance of those if you're finding new business, to mix the volume in with the personalized. Yeah, that's that's good advice. I want to talk quickly about intent data. It's something that we at out each of have been focusing on a lot lately, but it has mostly been living in the marketing side. Can you tell us what intended it is and maybe demistify it a little bit for the sale people out there that probably heard the word but don't really know how it would apply to that? Yeah, intend data is a really exciting, relatively very new form of account and diligence that's available on the market and it's one of the primary reasons why I decided to build a business that activates and intend data makes it really easy to interpret an act on or a sales professional. What intend data is? The the easiest way I can describe it as through quick analogies. So if folks are familiar with how to take out ads on facebook or Google, you know that there's ability to select like an audience builder that contains information like the person's demographics, their age, their gender, but also things like well their purchase history is or what their favorite band is and other types of interests, and they use that to...

...focus their advertisement campaigns. That's known as beat. To see intent data, it gives you a sense that folks that fit this particular audience have an intent to buy in this particular demographic. Now there's intend data available for be to be situation, so be to be. Intend data the really exciting opportunity here that has generally been living with marketing and I'm really excited to bring it to sales. What that is? There's a couple of different kinds of intend data, but it fundamentally has to do with detecting if traffic to a site is coming from a particular business and detecting what the content of that site is and saying, okay, we know that people from this business are researching content related to this topic, and you can measure that a number of different ways. You can just provide a raw tally, or there's companies out there that put more advanced machine learning algorithms and they'll say, okay, well, we're detecting that Bank of America is showing above average research interest on a particular topic, so that you only detect the spikes and activity. And there's a few different intend data providers and not of them necessarily compete with each other. They might compete a little bit for Wallet Chair, but in terms of where they're pulling intent from, it all has to do with you really need to bet. Are these intendative vendors putting their tags or tracking information on sites that are relevant to my company in my solution? If so, that's super valuable because that tells me the company is in a research phase and I can intercept them while they're still making their decision criteria rather than waiting for them to maybe engage us and come through as a leak. So that's a really exciting opportunity. Yeah, it's much more upstream than sales usually thinks. Right there, they're getting that those signals much earlier on in a prospects evaluation process so that they, like you said, intercept them. That's that's very powerful. Yeah, you know, one of the sales leaders I used to work for set through one of our meetings at it really literally keep some up at night wondering if there is a company that is making a decision about their platform that they're going to use. That was in our space and they're not talking to us, and that's something that a lot of people should be afraid of. Not to inject fear into the audience, but just be not be afraid of but be really conscious of the fact that this generation of be to be buyers is doing a ton of their own research online before ever engaging a sales person, in the very same way that they're doing all their research online to buy something on Amazon, let's say, for their own personal use. And so it becomes more imperative than ever to have access to tools that let you know at least like hey, people from this company are starting to actively research and use that to inform your more cold email call outbound decisions so you can get ahold of them before they get too far on the path and having forbid, you're not included in that, you know, final vendor selection process. So it's it's a really powerful new data source and becoming increasingly important as people do more and more of their be tob purchase decisions online without ever talking to somebody. I think that's a good takeaway for this entire podcast, right, is to try and get yourself into that conversation earlier rather than later because, as you said, headn't forbid. They're evaluating a solution like your Urst, but you're not in the conversation. That's right, Alex. if people wanted to get ahold of you learn more about your company, how can they do that? Yes,... the best way to find me and get a hold of me is on Linkedin, a linkedincom in Alexander P greer. You can also find me on twitter at the Alex greer our website is a signal hqcom and there you can learn more about O. we're activating account intelligence and Beta be intent data for sales, making it easy to use and easier to find new I fine opportunities. Fantastic, Alex. I envision a lot of people reaching out to you to learn more about the company, because intent data is extremely powerful. So I personally recommend everyone go out and use some of those quick wins at Alex laid out earlier in the podcast, and then go and check out his company. So, Alex, Dank you so much for being on the show when I thank all the listeners for tuning in once again to the sales engagement podcast and we will see you next time. This was another episode of the sales engagement podcast. Join US at sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and the book on sales engagement coming soon. To get the most out of your sales engagement strategy, make sure to check out outreach die Oh, the leading sales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

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