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What is Behavioral Intent Data and Why Do You Need It?

It may seem like there’s always a new, popular sales and marketing term that catches on in business circles.

Words like pivot, disrupt and intuitive. Don’t even get us started on “hustle” and “grind”.

One term you may not be familiar with, but could be the most powerful tool that has become available to you is Behavioral Intent Data.

Are we talking about serial killers? FBI Behavioral units? No, we’re not talking about Silence of the Lambs here.

But Dr. Lecter would appreciate the data. Because it’s all about the data. And it’s all about helping you make more sales to people who already want to buy.

Because Behavioral Intent Data tells you when your prospects are in market and are ready to buy.

The timeworn sales and marketing methodology is to take internal data that has been compiled and analyze it from there to predict what prospects/clients MIGHT do based on the info.

Behavioral Intent Data, however, is REAL TIME sales intelligence, telling you what prospects are looking to do NOW.

It takes the guesswork out of prospecting.

Sure, the old-school sales model consisted of sales reps ripping pages out of the phone book and dialing, buying leads to start “spray and pray” prospecting, or canvassing industrial parks and playing hit or miss (or hide and seek) with unsuspecting prospects.

When prospecting cold leads like this there is no guarantee that your product or service is top of mind, or if it’s even on your prospects’ radar.

With Behavioral Intent Data, you have a level of confidence that there is relevancy in your proactive contact, based on discussions and actions observed in real-time.

Behavioral Intent Data tells you where your prospects are, what they are looking at and WHEN they are interested in buying.

Studies show that that 89% of B2B buyers use the internet during the B2B research process and on average do 12 searches prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site.

Wouldn’t you want to know when your prospects are engaged in a buying decision, or close to buying?

The probabilities of closing go in your favor, and if you are the first one to make contact, then you have a much better chance at closing the deal.

Sales is all about having an edge. Behavioral Intent Data gives your sales team that edge.

If your sales team is properly trained to sell, getting this valuable info in their hands increases their chances of converting new clients, upselling existing clients, or preventing current current clients from being scooped up by the competition (reducing churn).

Behavioral intent data allows companies to focus their sales and marketing resources on buyers that are actively taking steps to research a particular service or product. This buying signal data can come in many forms:

  • Reading articles (product specific or industry related)
  • Social Media Posting (engagement, questions, hashtags)
  • Social Media Interactions (when decision makers engage with competitors on social)
  • Watching Videos (explainer, whiteboard and how-to videos)
  • Website Visits (searching competitors sites)
  • Signups and Downloads (whitepapers and webinars)
  • Event Attendance (Attending industry conferences and tradeshows)
  • Hiring Trends (change in senior functions, hiring for new roles)


The desire is there.

For example, if you sell artificial intelligence aimed at the trucking industry to make freight brokerage more streamlined and efficient, that’s a pretty tight market niche.

If you are able to leverage behavioral intent data about contacts or accounts searching online or discussing on social media about AI in the trucking industry, you know there is a high probability of buying intent on the searchers part.

If these same prospects are searching multiple competitor websites, asking questions on social media and downloading white papers – that shows interest. Remember AIDA? Attention Interest Desire Action?

A salesperson doesn’t need to create interest or desire; the buyer’s actions and behaviors are already shown to be there.

Behavioral Intent Data puts the most valuable information in the sales rep’s hands: the direct contact details of everyone who meets their target profile, and who is taking action anywhere on the internet that shows interest and intent to buy the products and services they sell.

Behavioral Intent Data allows you to better understand your clients, prospects, and leads. LeadSift’s Behavioral Intent Data helps you to understand what’s going on in your market by seeing what actions your leads and customers take outside of your own digital properties. Whether they interact with a competitor’s piece of content, engage in social media conversations about your industry, or followed a competitor on a social media channel — intent data keeps you in-the-know and enables you to take action.

Why you need it.

There are many tools in a salesperson’s toolbox, why not use the ones that eliminate guessing and give you the best chance of getting in front of prospects and target accounts at the time they are most likely to buy?

It’s the difference between throwing food in the cage during feeding time at the zoo and throwing some food in the cage when the animals are sleeping.

They may eventually eat it when they finally wake up, but it may take awhile.

Don’t be last. You want to have your offerings ready to sell when it’s feeding time.

Many times, the first rep who contacts a prospect will be the one who wins the deal. Most reps also know that a company’s needs can change at any time—a prospect can go for months without showing any interest in your product or service, and then suddenly start to shop for a solution because they’ve encountered a problem that needs to be fixed—NOW.

By collecting Behavioral Intent Data from all over the web and social networks—not just IP based data that leaves your sales & marketing team guessing—and providing that timely data to your sales reps, their productivity will be increased and it will help them engage the right people at the right time and win more deals.

LeadSift’s Behavioral Intent Data helps you to monitor conversations within your industry and allows your sales reps to provide information and value at the right time.

Behavioral Intent Data is not guessing, it’s not predictive. It’s knowing that an account has your target buyer looking at your website.

Behavioral Intent Data is about knowing when those real decision makers do something that shows their intent to buy, their intent to get information, and to get content. It’s real-time sales intelligence.

It’s feeding time and you’re the first one to offer a fat, juicy steak.

Being able to identify prospects who are asking questions and doing research within your industry lets your sales team initiate contact and position themselves as problem solvers and value-adders.To increase your odds of talking to prospects who are actively seeking out your solution, schedule a demo with the LeadSift team today.

How to Ask for a Customer Reference the Right Way

For many salespeople, asking for a customer reference is like pulling teeth. Despite providing a useful product or service and developing genuine relationships with their customers, salespeople often freeze up when faced with directly asking a customer for a testimonial or reference.

If this sounds like you, we’ve got some tips for asking for a customer reference the right way.


What is customer reference?


A reference is a positive story, testimonial or other word-of-mouth recommendation. Salespeople can gather references and use them to show prospects their past successes. And if you are questioning how effective these references are, consider this: one study found word-of-mouth was driving 20 to 50 percent of all purchase decisions. The topic is so valuable to salespeople that there’s even a customer reference forum that meets to discuss the right and wrong ways to approach asking for references.

Too many salespeople overlook these powerful testimonials, though, likely because asking for them is awkward. But it doesn’t have to be. If you are unsure about how to approach current or past clients to get their positive feedback, try out these tips below.


Do the legwork for your customers


Nobody wants extra work on their plate, so why not offer to take the majority of it off your customers’ hands?

When asking for a reference, don’t make it seem like a chore, or a long, drawn out process. Instead, do as much of the work for your client as you can. Not only will this make them more likely to agree, it will speed up the process, too.

For many clients, this means actually writing out a template testimonial for their approval once they agree to the reference. They will appreciate the effort, and – as long as the testimonial is truthful and accurate – will likely sign off with minimal edits.


Develop a customer reference program


Rather than asking customers for references ad hoc, develop a formal program to capture and utilize references on a regular basis. This might look like a single salesperson taking ownership of customer reference management, or incorporating customer references into the weekly activities of all of your salespeople.

And remember: just like closing deals, the art of getting customer references requires a lot of persistence, too.


Use customer reference management software


There are dozens of great platforms out there that can make it easier for you and your team to acquire testimonials. Customer reference software ranges from robust tools that do everything from capturing and transcribing phone testimonials and proving ROI, to simpler tools that help store and leverage references that you have gathered.

Price points vary based on feature sets, so it’s a good idea to get a customer reference program up and running first before investing in the tool that best suits your needs.


Display your customer reference list proudly


One you’ve gathered enough customer references, don’t be shy about showing them off. Create a section of your website to collect them all, and use them in one-on-one sales pitches.

By showing that you are proud of the work you’ve done with past clients, you’ll be more likely to get future clients to agree to their own testimonials. This becomes a virtuous circle that perpetuates itself, and makes the job of asking for references even easier over time.

How to Scale Your Outbound Sales Process: Part Two

In part one of our two-part piece on scaling your outbound sales process, we covered all the basics: The two essential prerequisites that must be in place before you get started and a detailed look at the five steps you need to take to get your program off the ground. In this part, you’ll learn what metrics you can use to determine success, an ideal (and affordable) tech stack to launch with, and some critical things to look out for.


Outbound sales metrics


So you’ve got a dedicated employee reaching out to prospects daily, some robust ICPs and a stellar email outreach campaign on autopilot. Now how do you know your outbound sales process is actually working?

It’s all about the metrics.

While every company will have different specifics based on size, industry, target buyers and other factors, here’s an idea of how you can develop your own metrics to measure your success.

In this scenario, let’s say you’re reaching out to 50 people per day, or 250 people per week. Of those 250, you should aim for at least 10 meetings or demoes booked per week. That works out to 4% meetings booked.

Of course, weekly measurements (and daily) will fluctuate, so expecting 40 meetings booked per month is reasonable. Whether those are spread out evenly through the days or weeks doesn’t matter as much as the numbers you’re seeing each month.

Assuming you’re reaching out to customers that are a good fit for your product, you can expect to create 20 opportunities from those 40 meetings. If your average contract value is $10,000 per year, that’s $200,000 opportunities generated in the pipeline every single month. And assuming you close about 25% of these opportunities (so 5 closes per month), you’ll see $50,000 in annual recurring revenue per month generated from your outbound sales efforts, or $600,000 for the year.

Your numbers might all be different (and they probably will be!), but this should give you a good idea of how beneficial having a dedicated outbound salesperson can be in terms of contributing to your bottom-line revenue.


Tech stack


There are a number of tools that you’ll need to incorporate into your outbound sales process to get it off the ground. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorites that you can grab for relatively cheap – altogether, these tools shouldn’t cost more than $250 or $300 per month.


  1. A contact details tool


If you’re using LinkedIn to find prospects (and you should be – it’s the largest, free database of professionals out there), you’ll notice that there is no native option to get their contact details. You’ll need to use a tool to get that info, which you can then plug into your email outreach tool.

Our top picks for contact details tools:



  1. An email nurture tool


There are many great tools out there to help you create email nurture campaigns. These are essential for outbound sales, because buyers typically require multiple touchpoints before they make a decision. By adding them to a nurture sequence, you’re more likely to be top-of-mind when they’re ready to make a purchase.

Our top picks for email nurture tools:



  1. A tool for additional criteria


The more information you have about any given prospect, the more likely you are to end up closing the sale. That’s why we recommend using a tool to get additional details about the prospects and companies you’re targeting, such as whether they are sending Facebook ads, or using a tool that your software is complimentary to.

Our top pick for additional criteria tool:



  1. A CRM


A customer relationship management tool is essential for inbound, but it also helps with outbound. Both sales teams should be talking to one another, and using a CRM can help avoid duplication of efforts or (embarrassingly) sending a cold email to a prospect that is already in an inbound nurture sequence.

Our top picks for CRMs:



  1. Bonus: LeadSift


Of course, we use our own tool for prospecting, too. In fact, we don’t need to spend hours each day scouring LinkedIn for leads: we use LeadSift to do the job for us, which enables our outbound salespeople to focus more on email nurturing and developing a more refined strategy.


Things to look out for


To wrap up our guide to scaling your outbound sales process, here are a few things you want to watch out for:


  1. Don’t resend emails to the same contact


Internal communication between salespeople, and between your sales and marketing departments, is essential for a well-oiled outbound program. Without it, you might find yourself sending multiple emails to the same contact. This happens when your salespeople don’t have visibility into each other’s pipelines.

Likewise, if your inbound and outbound teams don’t communicate, contacts who have filled out a form on your website might also be added to an outbound sales nurturing sequence – a big no-no, and a red flag to prospects.

We suggest synching up once a week with your inbound team and CRM to see if any contacts match those you’re prospecting to, and stop prospecting immediately.


  1. Normalize company names


Uncovering prospects through LinkedIn is great, but it does come with a caveat: often, your leads will come in with “odd” company, or even personal, names. They might work at IBM, for example, but their contact information will say “International Business Machines.”

This is one of the reasons why we suggest reaching out to 50 – and not 500! – prospects per day. It gives you the opportunity to normalize names and personalize emails.


  1. Don’t send emails at inappropriate times


Lastly, be sure to pay attention to the timing of your emails. You want to know the holidays in the timezones of each of your prospects, for instance, so that you don’t send an email while they are away. Similarly, sending emails at 3a.m. in your prospect’s timezone, which may be noon for you, is likely to backfire. You’re trying to send emails when they will be seen, read and responded to, so stick to appropriate hours. This is were an email scheduling tool comes in. Write emails now, schedule to be sent later for perfect timing


And that’s it! If you combine these tips with the steps outlined in part one of our outbound sales guide, you’ll have a fully functioning outbound sales process in no time. Good luck!

How to Scale Your Outbound Process (Based on our Experience with 200+ Clients)

With hundreds of meetings, demos and deals under our belts, we’ve become a team of outbound sales veterans. But we weren’t always confident in our approach to outbound, especially in the beginning – and that’s why we’ve put together this guide: to help you learn outbound sales best practices from our experiences.

This guide will show you the exact steps you need to take to start your outbound sales process from the ground up. And if you already have an outbound program in place, the methods, metrics and tech stack that we will share in this post will give you plenty of new ideas to incorporate. So let’s begin.

Two Prerequisites for a Great Outbound Sales Program

  • A product

It might sound like obvious advice, but in order to successfully launch an outbound sales program, you must have a functioning product that you can sell and charge customers for. Outbound isn’t meant for products in the idea-stage, or before an official launch.

  • An average deal size of $3,000+ ACV

If the annual contract value (ACV) of your average deal is less than $3,000 (or about $250 per month), it doesn’t make financial sense for you to develop an entire outbound program. Hiring an outbound prospector to do the demos and sales process is not going to pay off if your software costs $29.99 or even $99.99 per month. In this case, you’re better off going the self-serve route with paid ads, SEO, gated content and website forms.

Once you’ve met these prerequisites, it’s time to start building your outbound process. Here are the 5 steps you need to take to make that happen.

5 Steps to Creating Your Outbound Sales Process

1) Develop a buyer persona (Outbound ICP)

Before you make a hire or do any prospecting, you need to know who you’re selling to by coming up with a buyer persona, or ideal customer profile (ICP).

You can develop your ICP in two ways: 1) by using your understanding of the market and 2) by leveraging knowledge of past customers you have had success with.

It’s important to note that your outbound ICP may differ slightly from your general ICP. Here’s an example to illustrate why this might be the case:

You know you’re selling to companies in North America with a marketing function that have 250 or more employees. In this case, the VP Marketing would be the obvious choice for your ICP. You know this based on your instincts, knowledge of the market, and a couple of deals you’ve closed with similar companies.

However, even if you have a client whose VP Marketing signed off on your deal, you need to revisit your outbound ICP. You may find more luck reaching out to Marketing Operations Managers, for instance, because they are more likely to be researching tools and taking meetings. Once they’ve met with you, then they’ll bring in the VP Marketing to make the final decision.

Too often outbound prospectors go after VP-level targets, when they should be focused on the employees doing the gatekeeping and research. Often, VPs are too busy to initiate a purchase, and will be brought in at a later time.

Note: You may not understand this distinction in your own market right away, but it’s important to keep this in mind when refining your outbound strategy.

Typically when prospecting, it’s not one buyer that buys from you, especially in larger organizations, Multiple decision-makers who have input creates a complex sales process, so it is imperative that you develop multiple outbound ICPs to target per organization.

2) Separate your prospecting from other account development processes

Once you have internal buy-in for your outbound sales plan, it is imperative that you separate your prospecting activities from other sales and marketing activities. If possible, you should have a single person whose sole job is to do outbound prospecting – not to close deals, handle inbound leads, go to trade shows, not even to do demos. They should be prospecting into cold accounts, all day, exclusively.

What we’ve seen from companies with full stack account development processes is that the person who is in charge of closing deals isn’t usually motivated to do cold prospecting, because their success metrics are aligned differently. This causes prospecting to be put on the back burner, and leaves money on the table in terms of potential deals being overlooked.

Once the outbound sales person is up and running, assign them to reach out to a target number of prospects each day or week. There is no magic number here, as it will be defined by your strategy, time and bandwidth. However, we suggest starting with reaching out to 50 unique prospects per day, on average, within target organizations.

50 unique prospects is a good baseline to start with, but don’t assume that these prospects will all immediate jump at the chance to speak to you. In step 4, we detail exactly how to use personalized and automated email nurturing to boost your response – and meeting – rate.

3) Use LinkedIn like a pro

There are many tools out there to build lists and identify prospects, but by far the most popular – and cheapest (it’s free!) – is LinkedIn.

To get started, your outbound salesperson can search LinkedIn by job title, and filter by company size, location, industry and more to target based on your outbound ICP. From the resultant list of prospects, you can examine the description of the company, posts made by employees and more to uncover the best prospects to target. Here’s an example:

Say your tool integrates with several popular account-based marketing products. You can use LinkedIn’s advanced search to discover prospects who are talking about specific tools or account-based marketing in general, and narrow down the list this way. Or, if you know you’re going after CTOs and your tool integrates well with AWS, filter out any company that doesn’t mention AWS in its description.

Once your prospects have been identified, you need to get their contact information. This is one place where LinkedIn won’t help you, as they don’t share their members’ email addresses or phone numbers. Instead, you can use one of the tools outlined in our tech stack below, like LeadIQ, Prospect or Clearbit, to scrape the contact details for you. This is an essential step, and will require a relatively cheap (and good value for the money) investment.

4) Become an email ninja

To start, focus on email as your main method of reaching out to your 50 (or whatever number you land on) prospects per day. Personalized email nurturing has a good success rate and lends itself to automation, which will help you scale as you grow your program.

For each of the 50 prospects, send a personalized email introduction. Then, continue to send four to five email touches over a three to four week period. As we’ve discussed before, persistence is an essential skill for any good salesperson.

There are many tools that allow you to create a personalized, automated email nurture sequence, including Outreach, Reply and Yesware. Put each of the 50 prospects you’re contacting into your chosen tool, assign them to an email sequence, and the emails will be sent on autopilot.

The key here is having good, crisp email copy. The typical cold email is too long, generic, self-serving and lacks a true value proposition for the prospect. Yours should be different. Keep it short and sweet, and continue to refine it as you get responses back.

As you send your emails, you should also do some A/B testing to determine what’s working, and what’s not. You’ll want to test two things:

i) Your copy

Begin with two versions, and test them against each other. One might be straight to the point, while the other is more humorous, contains social proof, includes an anecdote, etc. Keep what works, and discard what doesn’t.

ii) Your buyer persona

Let’s say you’re going after IT teams. You could test reaching out to people with “software” in their title alongside those with “product” in their title to determine who is a better target buyer. Like your copy, continue to revise your target persona as you learn about your market.

Your email sequence can include anything you deem worthy, but if you’re stuck for ideas, here is a high level overview of what we recommend:

Intro email. This first, brief email should explain how your solution could help your prospect. Include a clear call to action, and ask permission to set up a call if they are interested.

Follow-up email. This email should bolster your credibility in some way. Share a high level overview of what you’ve done for similar clients, and include numbers if you can (like mentioning that you have increased performance by 200% for clients in their industry, for example).

Social proof email. Give your prospect more evidence that you can help them by including a case study or more statistics and social proof.

Quick check-in email. This should be an extremely short email, checking in with them and letting them know you are happy to hop on a call. Again, include a clear call to action.

Valuable content email. Include a valuable piece of content in this email, like an ebook, whitepaper, webinar or blog post.

End of sequence email. Clients don’t buy from you based on your timeline – they have their own budget life cycles, internal pressures and more. So just because you stop reaching out doesn’t mean they will feel pressure to buy. At the end of your sequence, let them know that you are pausing outreach, and you understand that the time might not be right for them. However, don’t close the door if you haven’t heard a firm “no” at this point: ask to reach out again in 90 or 180 days.

During this sequence, you might notice that a number of clients do not respond but they do open the email and click on your links. This passive engagement shows some interest, so be sure to make note of who engages and recycle those contacts, using fresh email copy, after a 90 or 120 day period.

5) Scale

Congratulations! You now have solid outbound ICPs, a distinct prospecting process, you’re using LinkedIn to discover prospects and your email nurturing is running smoothly. These are the essential ingredients in any great outbound sales program – you’re officially up and running! Now it’s time to reflect on what’s working, watch the leads come in, and scale your process to grow with your business.

In our next post, we will discuss the metrics you can use to measure the success of your outbound program, an ideal tech stack that will get the job done for a relatively low cost, and key things to watch out.

Choosing the Right Channels and Strategies for Your ABM Program

Choosing the Right Channels and Strategies for Your ABM Program

We’ve explored how to target the right accounts for your account-based marketing program, but once that’s accomplished, how do you actually reach them? After all, developing content and organizational buyer personas is only effective if you have a method of delivering this content to the right buyers.

Choosing the right channel and strategy for your ABM program is all about understanding where your target audience “lives” online. You want to deliver content where your audience already is.

If you have a solid buyer persona for each account you are targeting, you may already have information about ideal channels to pursue. For instance, if you know that the executive team at a big account uses LinkedIn and Twitter to share thought leadership articles, those would probably be good channels to use. Or, maybe you are already in contact with some key prospects via email. This could indicate that email newsletters and one-on-one sales pitches are the way to go.

Here are some examples of channels that your target audience might use:

  • Social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook)
  • Email
  • Direct mail
  • Video
  • In-person events and conferences
  • Blogs
  • Webinars
  • Mobile

Once you’ve pinpointed the channel(s) that you will use, it’s time to strategize how your team will use them. Will you publish thought leadership and share it? Create highly targeted display ads? Encourage salespeople to reach out one-to-one?

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for ABM. Instead, it will depend on your goals and resources. And often, you will have multiple goals that will require multiple strategies.

Some common ABM goals include:

  • Expanding into new markets or territories
  • Increasing visibility in existing market or territory
  • Making more efficient use of your marketing resources for larger, bigger-impact results
  • A higher return on investment
  • Better sales-marketing alignment within your organization
  • Launching a new product to a targeted audience
  • Seeing more value from existing customers through upsells, etc.

For example, if you want to reach marketing specialists at a select few mid-sized SaaS companies, you might choose LinkedIn as your preferred channel, since you know they typically share content there. Your goal is to generate new leads, so you start by raising awareness using sidebar ads. Then, once your audience is aware of your brand, you move onto delivering in-stream thought leadership pieces. From here, you monitor who engages with and downloads your content, and your sales team contacts the accounts that have shown interest.

Lastly, any good strategy requires measurement and follow-up, so make sure you are tracking and evaluating your results, and using the lessons learned in your next ABM program.