Episode #009 - Creating A New Category - Intent Based Sales
Transcription of Episode
Chris Battis: On this episode of Intent Topics, we're going to talk about how we created a new category called Intent-Based Sales.
I'm Chris Battis, and this is Logan Kelly, and today we'll be telling the origin story of how we created Intent-Based Sales.
So, Logan, let's see, so you joined Union late summer 2018, around the same time I did. The actual start date for both of us is a little gray to me.
Late summer, early fall, we're jamming along with Union, which at the time was a lead generation company and our special sauce, I guess they'd call it then, was that we had actual humans doing sales outreach, like one-to-one cocktail party emails, as we call them, right? You attended a conference in San Francisco, it was the Twilio event called SIGNALs, right? And you saw the former VP of growth from Drift. It was Guillaume Cabane, and he was talking about their sales tech stack and how they're using intent data for lead prioritization, et cetera. So really all I remember is you were calling me. You're so fired up. You're talking really fast, you're wearing a suit, you said, I'm walking around San Francisco, I'm in a suit. I heard this guy talk today. You were just going off on all this stuff, and I was just like, whoa. I'm trying to take notes, and I'm Googling stuff while we're talking. I remember my kids were asleep upstairs, and we were just riffing on stuff.
Tell me about what you recall from that and kind of dive into how we transitioned the company into what it is now. Tell me about what got you so excited at that show.
Logan Kelly: Yeah, man. I mean, for most of my sales career and probably most of anybody who's been kind of tasked with selling for a living and prospecting and all that, it's always been about how do we get in front of the right leads at the right time? Basically Mr. Caban's speech was, or talk was basically automate as much as you can, use data to prioritize, and then really focus on the high value opportunities, prospects, based on these different tactics and additions to his tech stack. So, he was more working on the media side and inorganic traffic, and it's totally different from what we were doing at the time and still, what we're doing today, which is outreach, LinkedIn outreach, email outreach.
Chris Battis: Yeah, but the big piece that it introduced is the technology, this concept of a tech stack to improve what you do and effectively differentiate us from other companies, right?
Logan Kelly: Yeah, exactly and the line really started to get drawn between what was going on in this super high-tech, media, high-dollar technology sort of stack that he was playing with, to like: All right, what if we could... when you're doing outreach, you don't need that much, right? It's okay if a rep isn't with the perfect lead on every call or on every email, but if it's 50% better, like oh my gosh, one, our lists are going to get smaller, two, our success rate is going to increase substantially.
The battle really for us became how do we find this and incorporate it into what we were doing, because it was obvious what to do, but how to do it was less obvious and I think that's really where we went on this journey of finding the right data sources. How do we use the data sources? How do we map that to content, et cetera. And that's really been what has been our special sauce here over the last half of the year.
Chris Battis: And so the way it was introduced to us, to kind of recap, was there's this thing, account-based marketing, which is using data to put content in front of the right people. Then, there's this talk that you saw that was about prioritizing sales reps' time to create efficiency to move the needle on revenue, even if it's a percentage, it matters. We transitioned that into, how do we use this data in a way that account-based marketing teams, or marketing departments were using, as well as how do we ensure that we can put the right content in front of these people and make sure that we're getting in inboxes with this kind of personal, one-to-one, cocktail party kind of email.
I remember the call in October. So, you and Lisa, who used to work here, put together, sounds like you guys had a bunch of meetings. You put together a proposal to market. I remember I was driving home from a meeting in New York with Mark and you guys are like hey, we've got to sit down and talk to you, we have an idea, not sure what you're going to think. You guys were super prepared and I remember being and mute, and me and Mark, I'm driving and Mark's in the passenger seat. We're just looking at each other like, what the fuck? This is incredible, this is sick, how do we get going on this? We were both blown away because I'm relatively new. I'm more of a marketing, kind of digital marketer, so I'm new to this sales thing and you guys were so excited, and then you were talking through how we could build it at a high level and what it would cost us and what you thought the output would be. Mark and I were like, let's go. Let's talk a little bit more about where we are today. You want to talk about what we're doing?
Logan Kelly: I think our biggest challenge was to get the word marketing out of anything that we were doing. A lot of this stuff had been piped into marketing animation software. It had been piped into marketer's deploying campaigns, or targeting media and that kind of stuff. So, what we really wanted to do was to push that to the sort of front line and generate sales qualified leads with the data. That's a big challenge because what are success metrics look like are different from a marketing to a sales perspective. So, open rate, click rate, visits, frequency, impressions, all these kind of marketing words don't matter that much when you put them into a sales context. So, what we needed to do was really take the data, figure out how to use it, and then map that to, are we actually increasing the KPIs that matter to the sales team, which is ultimately sales qualified leads and appointment creation. That's what we've been able to do because we've figured out how to message against the intent data and really prioritize the accounts and that's where we can see this account has a better probability of turning into a lead.
So, we can really allocate resources on, how can we customize messaging against this? Can we find another contact that we might be able to make in-roads in? Is there some back-channeling we can do on our network to really pull down a lead. That's really where shifting the data from the sort of back office marketing teams into that front line has been our journey, since we kind of uncovered the potential for it. Where we are today is, everyday we're getting better and better with account identification, mapping content, putting that right information in front of people. Also, picking the right tools to deliver. We've realized that marketing animation software doesn't deliver emails into the right part of the inbox way too frequently. Is that the right word? What we've done is taken what we know from one-to-one sending and sort of the technical reasons that that's so much better than marketing animation. So, we've stripped down, or we've loaded up as much animation we possibly could to really maximize that data, but then it's really that hand off between the data, the animation, and then how does the human who's going to take the ball over the line pick that up and run?
Chris Battis: Yeah, cool. The other thing that I've found interesting, we're kind of evolving into an even next phase. As we're starting to roll out managed live chat for clients, as well as the LinkedIn, still using this intent data, it's really just a different communication channel. They all have their different connectivity to the prospect. Can you talk about ways we're using intent data with live chat?
Logan Kelly: Sure, so what we look at are sort of groups of intent data, you know categories. We take that and we map that into our outreach, and so it might be a call, it might be an email, might be LinkedIn. From there, we can get very technical with how links are constructed, how referral pages and what not, or not referral pages, but what page chat is on and where that traffic is being driven from. From there we can kind of understand, one, in some cases specifically, who that person is, so if I can pass a variable from a page then I can obviously, hey Jerry. Or, we look at what I would consider the metadata. Okay, you were part of this outreach group, you were searching for these kinds of topics, so we're going to message the chat trigger against that. Then, from there, we have a database where the chat operator can see, all right this is the chat trigger that fire and pull that up real quick. Our people are lightning fast, they're highly trained, they're like chat mercenaries. They know, all right, they're coming from here they got that trigger that means something is sort of signaling that this is the conversation that we should have and then they can guide that conversation.
It's very much as I said figuring out how to position the data in the right way so that the human can pick it up and bring it over the line.
Chris Battis: Right, that's it. So, as we've referred to you as the mad scientist at Union, I kind of put you on the spot here, but where do you see this going, or what kind of tooling or tech, or experiments do you want to get into next? What are you excited about? What's coming at us from the lab?
Logan Kelly: I think intent data presents an opportunity for businesses that they have never had where the B to Cs base has had it for years, like Facebook, Google, all these different ad platforms and all the different cookies, TransUnion, Experian. You can buy data everywhere in the B to Cs base, but very rarely can you get reliable data in the B to B's base. In intent data, it has all the promise in the world to be able to provide that. What I'm looking to get into is, how can we optimize the content creation? How can we optimize the outreach channels? How can we kind of give the air cover around media, so how can we target ads with this? There's companies that are doing it and I think where I want to see Union go is a very wholistic outreach so that the user experience, the prospect experience, is the right content at the right time with the right person and it evolves over the course of the journey.
This is something that was done, the Drift guys did it, but right now the use case for them is very... they have a piece of software that could deliver the messaging, so they should've. But now, how can a software company that sells CRM software do the same thing? Or, how can an industrial manufacturer deliver that sort of experience? I think that's where we can get to. So, I don't know if that was specific enough for you, but that's where my head is.
Chris Battis: Yeah and I have a vision, and I talked about this in one of our previous podcasts is, I would love to see us almost create a way to create a services side of the company tool to identify red flags, or identify customers that aren't having a good experience, that are at risk. That's what I would like to tinker on in the lab.
Logan Kelly: Yeah, I agree. What's awesome is there's so many data sources. We don't just use one intent data source, there's many intent data sources and people are figuring out how to do this better and better everyday on the data side. Mapping that against account management and sales is where Union will shine. It's where we do shine, it's where we will shine, for years. I think that your mind, and my mind, and Mark Troy's mind and Beth Redden's mind, along with our customers who sort of experience, oh wow this is a market shift and how can we respond? Those are kind of the exciting things that we're thinking about here is as challenges arise in the market place, we hit a recession, how important is targeting and all that going to be?
Chris Battis: Yeah, laser focus, prior authorization. I love it when a client comes to us and is having a few times very silly, like a client says I've really wanting to get into this vertical, or we've been thinking that we want to sell to this persona, but we're not sure, let's start with could you look into some data to see what's going on over there? Its turned into ramped up engagements and more success on both accounts and that's been neat. I just love that the data's allowing us to help our clients make business decisions, maybe filling white space, or maybe testing things that are outside of their already defined working process, or sales strategy, so that's exciting to me because we're helping new businesses head into new frontiers for them.
They didn't know exactly how to do it and don't actually know how to A, access, or B, look at or analyze the data to make those decision. So, that's some of the fun stuff with this intent based sales, kind of category we're creating here.
Logan Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. Its answering the questions we've always wanted to be able to answer [crosstalk 00:16:42]. Yeah, exactly, and just have empirical data saying you're assumption was incorrect, or your assumption was correct, or it was almost right, but think about it this way. You can move and you can see the success and it changes and I think as long as people are comfortable with relying on the data as much as they are their intuition, I don't think either one will replace the other. That's where this gets really cool and that's where we're really in that world where human intelligence is augmented by AI and I think that's where we're going. I love it, cool.
Chris Battis: All right Logan, well this wraps up today's episode of Intent Topics, I'm Chris Battis.
Logan Kelly: And I am Logan Kelly thank you everybody for listening, please give us a five star rating on whatever podcast app you are listening on. We are on Stitcher, Apple, SoundCloud, and Spotify, so should be pretty well covered. Have a great day everybody.
Chris Battis: Thank you, take care.