Episode #005 - Determining Good Fit for Intent Based Sales

Transcription of Episode

Chris Battis:  On this episode of Intent Topics, we're going to talk about what makes a business a good fit for intent-based sales. I'm Chris Battis and this is Logan Kelly, and today we'll be talking about what businesses are a good fit for intent-based sales, why some businesses are not a good fit for intent-based sales, and we're going to share some of our favorite success stories from intent-based selling.

Chris Battis:  Logan, tell us, what makes a good fit for businesses to use intent-based sales?

Logan Kelly:  Yeah, good question. The way I look at it, there are four questions that I ask before I take on any engagement. One of the important things here at Union, is we want to make sure that we're taking on clients that we believe can win using this strategy.

Logan Kelly: The first thing we're asking is, is there a clearly-defined or a definable market? Now, our client or our potential client or any business, might be saying, "This looks like an interesting strategy. I really haven't spent time thinking about what are the parameters of my market. It might be informal, but we need to start putting that in terms of data." So that's what we want to look at. Is there a clearly-defined or a data-definable market?

Chris Battis: Makes sense. Cool.

Logan Kelly: The next thing is, are there intent topics that match? So what I mean by that are, not every single product that somebody is selling is tracked by intent data sources. Not every problem that their targets have are tracked by intent data sources. But the key is, is looking at the data that's out there between the firmographic data and the technological data, and then matching that to some of the intent topics and saying, "Okay, are there some things that I'm seeing that we might be able to draft off of and sell off of?"

Chris Battis:  Very cool.

Logan Kelly: The third piece that we're looking at are, are there enough companies surging at any one time? What's kind of a killer, is there are some topics or some industries or some verticals or sometimes our defined market is way too narrow that you might only have five or six companies giving signals off-

Chris Battis: Right.

Logan Kelly: ... for intent. For me, I don't see that that's really going to drive ROI. That's the last question, is can this be profitable for our client or any business, right? So if you're thinking about making the investment into these tools and into this data, you're going to want to see a substantial ROI for it to make sense.

Logan Kelly: Now, what that means is different for every business. If your margins are fat and you're writing $250,000, $500,000 deals, one deal might do it. If you're a smaller business or you're writing smaller ticket items and the volume might need to be higher, I think we really need to look at the answers to the first three questions to figure out, can this be profitable? What are the metrics on that profitability?

Chris Battis: Nice, nice. Cool. So as you look at, say, a new client in the sales process, how comfortable do you feel when you've done your research on and answered all these questions? What's your kind of level of comfort going into an engagement of success, right?

Logan Kelly: Yeah. So what I'm looking at is, I want to see the baseline of what the client ... If somebody were to ask me, "Is this right for my business? I want to do it myself," what I would look at is, "What are your current success metrics," right? So, "Do you have a lot of inbound sales or inbound leads? Are you pure outbound, and you've got a pretty good understanding of what that looks like? Is your content strategy pretty strong already? Do you have sales data?" Because I can tell you that, for a startup, it's a very viable and great strategy, but there's a lot of things you got to figure out.

Chris Battis: Right.

Logan Kelly: There's a lot of assumptions that you got to make. So I would say that, well-established companies, if I've got some data about the company and then I can put that against the firmographic, the intent, the technology data,-

Chris Battis: Right.

Logan Kelly: ... then I can say, "All right, this is reasonably what we say," and I'm always underplaying myself, because we're in sales at the end of the day. I'd rather under-promise and over-deliver.

Chris Battis: Sure.

Logan Kelly: That's the only way to play it safe. We don't bat a thousand, but we bat pretty high.

Chris Battis: Yeah. So you're talking about content, right?

Logan Kelly: Yeah.

Chris Battis: I want to drill into that a little bit. So we've made the assumption here, and it's worked out, right? We've tested it. Is that companies that have spent the time to create a lot content, there's a couple things going for them. One, they've created the content, right?

Logan Kelly: Sure.

Chris Battis: They've put the work in. They've probably identified their personas, and they've probably written to that. The other thing is, it's likely that they have kind of first-party data. What I mean by that is, say, like a HubSpot or a marketing tool where they're kind of measuring the success of the different pieces of content they've created. So they have a little bit of a good idea on what content is the most productive when we put it in front of the right people, right? So that's been really successful for us. We would probably agree that layering intent data onto existing content is a great fit, right?

Logan Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. This is timely, because I've spent my entire day building this kind of stuff and working with the content teams and working with the data teams and all that.

Chris Battis: Right.

Logan Kelly: One of the really interesting things is, content can map to intent topics really well.

Chris Battis: Right.

Logan Kelly: I see this all the time, is that people take these intent topics or this intent data very literally, right?

Chris Battis: Yeah.

Logan Kelly: So they're saying, okay, they're consuming content around this or they're consuming content around that and saying, "Well, I'm going to send an email that's caused that particular thing out." That's not what the data's for. The data's really for us to be able to build a narrative that's in a context that's close to what the prospect is researching.

Chris Battis: Sure.

Logan Kelly: I think that's really where content comes in powerfully, is we can take that content and really start to plant it kind of subtly, but telling that story, in front of the prospect while they move through their process. That is so powerful from a content perspective.

Chris Battis: Yeah, and it can guide the content creation, right? As you see topics surging, then you can go back to your content and look for kind of white space there. It can guide the creation. The other thing that's neat about it, is say there's a business that's doing great in a certain vertical or space who is looking to test a new vertical, right? We did this recently with a client, and the data helped suggest what content we should create to get in front of these people. Then we could kind of test it. So that's unique opportunity that the data provides.

Logan Kelly: Absolutely. One of the interesting sort of adventures that we've been on over the last few days is very drilled into a specific vertical, huge project. It's been a lot of fun. What's cool in the space and with our data provider is, they've got all these different sort of software, specific software brands as intent topics. So we can see where they're surging or they're searching for these specific types of software, they're consuming data around this specific type of software.

Logan Kelly: We're obviously represent a competitor. So now we can run a competitive campaign, but we can't say, "Don't choose this, choose this." But we've basically created this narrative of X versus Y versus Z versus A and building engagement through that. As we get that first-party data, we can really start to understand where these people are at, and that's amazing. Because then that influences our next step and our next step and our next step.

Chris Battis: Nice. Love it. As I mentioned in the intro, we were talking about some success stories. Do you have any clients or businesses that you've done this on that are worth sharing with the audience?

Logan Kelly: Yeah. Actually with Union, I think I have the most fun story. One of the things that we've been experimenting with pretty substantially is kind of linking the technology that somebody's using with the intent topics. We drafted on a marketing automation software that's fairly well-known, and we kind of built an audience of people with that, and then looked at intent topics on topics that might say, "I'm not super happy," or, "I'm not getting what I need out of that," right?

Chris Battis: What topics were you seeing?

Logan Kelly: I would have to kill you if I told you.

Chris Battis: Okay, great. I'll have to log in myself.

Logan Kelly: What was really crazy is, I've got this list of like 80 people. I wanted to validate the data, because it's a new strategy, so I'm doing this all myself. Eventually, I'll be able to stop doing that. But it is still fun for me, right? I'm creating the email content, and then we push it out, and I make some phone calls. What's crazy is the conversations that I had been having mapped back almost perfectly to the data, and then they were obviously ... I think you and I verified that they had been using the specific software.

Logan Kelly: So from a sales perspective, like list building and account identification, that's crazy. I couldn't sleep that night. It was just like, wow, this stuff is so powerful. I'm not guessing like I am in like Facebook marketing or Google advertising-

Chris Battis: Right.

Logan Kelly: ... with these audiences and that kind of stuff. Some of these topics are straight line, and that's incredibly powerful.

Chris Battis: Can you prove it with the success, too? Didn't you generate a qualified lead in less than 100-

Logan Kelly: Yeah, yeah. It was a list of 80, and we're in a sales conversation now.

Chris Battis: [inaudible 00:11:28] [for sent 00:11:28], yeah.

Logan Kelly: For sent, right? So we're meeting people where they are with the content that they want to see in the right time. So we're really getting that recency and engagement just nailed down. So I would say that's a great story.

Logan Kelly: I think one of the other great days of intent was, I just had this flurry from various clients who I'm running these kinds of things for. This flurry of like good timing, request for quote. I think there was five or six in one day. That's when you really feel ... we do a stuff, this is sales. So it's not like every day is a perfect day.

Chris Battis: Right.

Logan Kelly: But when things are really aligned and things are really calibrated and you run playbooks, sometimes you get those days that it's like, wow, this is way, way, way over-indexed, way above average. That was super exciting.

Chris Battis: Yeah. I love the conversation where, you know, so you forward the email response, and it's like the person we're prospecting is like, "Oh, as a matter of fact, we just happen to be looking into X and Y and Z."

Logan Kelly: Right.

Chris Battis: And we're like, "Oh my God, what a coincidence."

Logan Kelly: Right, right.

Chris Battis: Yeah, I love that.

Logan Kelly: It's almost clich√© to me, just because like I'm living it, right?

Chris Battis: Sure.

Logan Kelly: But every once in a while, I'm like walking down the street to grab a bite to eat for lunch or something, and I'm like, "Wow, if I had this 10 years ago,-

Chris Battis: Oh, yeah.

Logan Kelly: ... I would be just in a totally different ... like I could just kill it, right, as a salesperson." And so now, we're doing that for a lot of clients. So that's really fantastic.

Chris Battis: I think it'll be interesting to see how it plays out as strategies like this, and maybe the data becomes more affordable and this strategy is more wide-spread, I'm curious to see where this goes, right? For example, we have clients who manufacture in an industry where there's plenty of people doing the same thing. It's just a matter of getting ahead of your competitors, keeping that gap as wide as possible. But they're eventually going to catch up, right? I saw that happen with inbound marketing, right?

Logan Kelly: Yeah.

Chris Battis: The same client was one of the first people in that industry. Inbound marketing now, it's just table stakes, right?

Logan Kelly: Well, yeah. I think that that's a completely valid point, but ... Wow, somebody just walked in. That's a completely valid point, but the thing about it is, if you think what existed in the sales realm 30 years ago, it's outreach.

Chris Battis: Right.

Logan Kelly: A little bit different, but not that different, right?

Chris Battis: Sure.

Logan Kelly: So now, the inbound kind of solved for this like, "Well, we don't want to do outreach anymore, because it bothers people." But really, we can't emotionally take no. Now we've gone to the place where it's like, whoa, we're arming our sales teams and our bus dev teams with content, data, and they're still doing what has worked since like Roman times, right? There has to have been door-to-door salesmen back then.

Chris Battis: Oh, even before that, yeah.

Logan Kelly: Yeah. So it feels like, okay, the data might come back, but what I'm happy about is we're having this renaissance of like outreach is okay. Well, outreach is necessary, but do it smarter. What I think is, over the next 10 years, lists go down from 200 to like 50. If your list is 200, you're a caveman, right?

Chris Battis: Right. It's not targeted enough, it's not specific enough.

Logan Kelly: No.

Chris Battis: Right? Yeah.

Logan Kelly: Yeah, yeah. So maybe the swim lanes get better. I think that's a very techno-optimist view of sales. But yeah, that's where I am.

Chris Battis: But like we say here a lot is, "There's no replacing the human hustle," right? And right now, it's a lot of research, it's a lot of specific targeting. But when it comes down to it, it's having conversations. That's just never changed, right? That's almost recession-proof, right? There'll always be a need to sell.

Logan Kelly: Right.

Chris Battis: That what you're selling may change, and the way to sell is going to need to be having conversations. That's just never going to change.

Logan Kelly: Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, yeah. I think that as long as we stay in trying to empower our sales teams with this good content and this good data, right, it truly will be recession-proof. I think as long as you're willing to do the hard work, there will always be a place for this stuff.

Chris Battis: Yep. Cool, cool. Well, all right, Logan. This wraps up today's episode of Intent Topics. I'm Chris Battis.

Logan Kelly: And I am Logan Kelly. Thank you everybody for tuning in. Please give us five stars on whatever podcast app you're listening on, and we will see you next time.

Chris Battis: Take care.

PodcastChris Battis