We live in an on-demand world. Our customers’ expectations are always evolving, which means the way we engage with them as salespeople must evolve, too. Today, customers are at the center of everything we do in the revenue-driving function – or, at least they should be. So in order to create a customer-centric experience for our prospects, the tools and technologies we use must inform and support all aspects of the sales process.
Modern buyers have more information at their fingertips than ever before. As a result, they’re doing more behind-the-scenes research – with more than 70% of buyers defining their own needs before engaging with a sales rep.
In sales, our success in sealing the deal depends on how well we can empower and engage buyers throughout their journey. But with marketing qualified leads (MQLs), you only have an opportunity to provide value to your buyers after they’ve made themselves known to you.
Stop Guessing, Start Knowing
Historically, one of the biggest challenges for salespeople has been knowing exactly what our customers want. Typically, we rely on MQLs to provide us with a general idea of who the prospect is and what their pain points are before going into a meeting. But, more often than not, those MQLs leave us with generic information mapping back to our ideal customer profile (ICP), not the specific insights into each unique prospect we need to create a personalized experience.
The 6sense team conducted a study that revealed that, despite over half of account-driven organizations focusing their strategies on metrics like MQLs, 80% of companies failed to exceed revenue goals in 2019.
MQLs are more convenient than they are accurate: they gather data from outdated tactics like form fills and cold outreach, leaving BDRs to use limited, static information to decide where to invest precious prospecting resources. In the Age of the Customer, where prospects expect personalized and accurate engagement from a sales team, MQLs aren’t enough.
Sales teams have used MQLs as our guiding light for buyer engagement for far too long. They don’t give us the real-time insight we need to add value to our prospect’s unique journey. That’s where intent data can help.
Trade MQLs for In-Market Accounts
Unlike MQLs, intent data gives you full visibility into the buyer’s activity before they even meet with a sales rep. It is a compilation of all the research and activity taking place anonymously across the web, indicating behavior and buying signals you wouldn’t have had insight into before a buyer makes themselves known. At 6sense, we call this place where buyers are conducting third-party research and web visits the Dark Funnel™. Without intent data, it’s impossible to know what your prospects are really looking for in a solution.
This insight is critical for sales teams. As I said before, modern sellers have to provide value to their prospects – or they’ll go running to your competitors.
Because in sales, timing is everything. Show up on their radar before the prospect is ready to talk and they’ll have forgotten about you by the time they are; show up too late and you’ve probably already lost them to the competition. With intent data in hand, you can identify your in-market prospects – the ones who are currently looking for a solution. Instead of chasing around every possible lead – only to have the majority of them fall flat – sales teams can focus on prospects they know are ready to buy exactly when they’re ready.
Then, when your dream buyer lands on your site, you can use Conversational Marketing to connect with your buyers at the moment their intent is the highest.
Get to Revenue Faster
To do that, you need real-time insights into who they are, what they care about, and where they are in their buying journey. By focusing on intent data and conversations (instead of MQLs), you can put your prospects first no matter where they are in their journey and deliver the kind of value that converts.
As the Director of Sales Development at 6sense, Ernest Owusu leverages his passion for helping others succeed as well as his insights from the field to foster a winning team. With previous experience as an NFL athlete, Ernest thrives in team environments full of high collaboration and healthy competition. Outside of the office, you’ll find him tackling the industry’s diversity problem by mentoring and empowering under-represented people so they can confidently grow their careers.