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The science of sales development: how Everstring uses intent data to build pipeline

Collin Stewart, CEO

27 February 2019

The seemingly unbridled growth of the sales development discipline over the last 10 years has brought countless benefits to our profession: dedicated teams, expert leadership, and better pay.

Of course, the growth of sales development – and all of its professional-development bonuses – means more competition. And more competition means devising new and interesting ways to stand out from the pack.

Although that task is the very definition of our job (if you don’t stand out, you won’t get that meeting, right?), separating yourself from your competition is easier said than done.

Think about this: when Jack Veronin, Senior Sales Development Manager at EverString, attended SalesLoft’s annual sales conference last year, they discussed the fact there were more 2 billion B2B sales emails sent everyday.

That’s right – more than 2 billion.

That’s a staggering amount of emails – and every person that sends one is trying to stand out from their competitors.

“There’s probably even more being sent now. How do you stand our, right?” asks Veronin, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“Email as a channel has been beat up. Everybody is trying to contact you through that channel, including marketing automation software. A sales development rep can stand out from marketing automation because we have three things at our disposal: email, phone and social. Marketing automation only has one option: email. So, a multi-prong, multi-channel approach is the new way to get people’s attention.”

The importance of being relevant

The overwhelming trend in prospecting over the last few years has been to personalize one’s outreach as much as possible. No one wants to be sent an automated, canned response, right? Right?

Well, almost.

Personalization is good, says Veronin. But relevance is better.

“A couple years ago we would send marketers cute emails about their dogs. Or, if they were into sports, we’d email about their favourite football team. That’s personalization, but hat does that have to do with helping them at their jobs? Relevance and timing have become much more important.,” says Veronin.

“Personalization, in fact, is in a solid third place for me. And that’s the approach we take here.”

Relevance at EverString begins with intent data, information gleaned from a prospect’s or an account’s search history. Think about searching for a new pair of shoes you want to buy: one trip to Nike’s website will result in a stream of ads for Nike products (and Nike’s competitors) being served to you.

The intent data that EverString uses to understand the interests of their prospects is the same, just now being used in the B2B world.

“Account selection is super important. You don’t want to waste your time on companies that can’t use your services. And, we rely on data to figure out that fit for us,” says Veronin.

“The internet is slow – reading investor relations documents is slow, reading product descriptions is slow. But, we have sooo much data at our fingertips. And that data is now available for sales development teams, you can do similar retargeting as you experience in a B2C environment.”

Intent data…in the trenches

So…what does that intent data look like on the ground for EverString’s SDRs? How do they actually execute their prospecting using this information?

The process is remarkably simple: EverString collects intent data (sent to the via Bombora, the service they use that collects the information) in Salesforce. What their SDRs see is a simple dashboard containing:

  • SDR owner
  • Account name
  • Website
  • Everstring fit score
  • Intent topics (Bombora data)
  • Last activity

The “intent topics” from the above list could a collection of keywords an account is searching, or a list of websites they are visiting in their search for a new software vendor (or both). And the EverString fit score, like traditional lead scoring, is number derived from the data they receive from Bombora (relevant search terms, relevant vertical etc.).

“Intent data and keyword data all flown into your CRM, all in one crisp, clean, tidy report and you have your target accounts for the week. You walk in a monday morning – you see accounts, what they do, and what they are actively searching for,” says Veronin.

“So our reps are able to look at the fit right there, and reach out to them.”

(We had Veronin’s boss, Matt Amundson, on the podcast a while back to discuss the importance of being “human” while prospecting. You can read about our chat here, or listen the in-depth full interview here)

The outreach

Once an EverString SDR begins reaching out, they use three sources to build their messaging:

  • It all starts with intent data – it’s the trigger, and the source that displays what the company / account is interested in
  • Keyword analysis so an EverString knows which specific words to use in their messaging (using strategic terminology shows you know what you’re talking about, says Veronin)
  • Finally, EverString SDRs use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to personalize their message to each specific contact

Depending on what the intent data is showing, EverString has unique cadences for the different types of topics that prospects are researching (or “surging on” as the team refers to it internally).

Those cadences, however, never refer to an account’s explicit keyword or search history.

“We don’t say ‘we know you are looking into solution X.’ That can come across as a bit creepy. We want to poke around, prod, and find out what they’re doing, but not say we know exactly what they’re doing,” says Veronin.

“So, what we do is say ‘hey, we’re an alternative to this solution.” We also say who we are working with, if we have a client that is similar to the one we’re retargeting.”

Being pleasantly persistent

Once a cadence in set in motion, it lasts for 6 days. Over that period, EverString use their aforementioned three-pronged approach (email, phone, and social) to reach out 12 times. Two per day is aggressive, admits Veronin, but that’s why being relevant is so crucial.

“Personally, if I’m getting relevant updates, I’ll read them. If you’re not relevant – then you have a problem,” says Veronin.

“We call it pleasantly persistent and relevant, you will get responses. Whether they are positive or negative, that remains to be seen. But, you will get them. I want brands out there to know what we do, so when they are ready to buy, they reach out. They know they heard from us, and they know what they do. Aggressive outreach helps you get through prospects as well – you want to get an answer and move on to the next one as quickly as possible.”

In total, EverString SDRs are working 50 accounts per week (200 per month). For enterprise companies, they’re working about 10 contacts per account and for SMBs, only 2-3 prospects. That’s a total of 2000-3000 activities per SDR, per month. From that activity, SDRs on their enterprise team are expected to create 4 opportunities per month, which totals about $250,000.

“That’s the clip we’re able to perform our best at. The pipeline we’re throwing up has never been better,” says Veronin.

“And it all comes down to being authentic, being relevant, being helpful.”

For more on Veronin’s thoughts on prospecting, check out his full interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

Have a look at these blog posts, too:

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