My first job in tech was responding to RFPs that came in from enterprise brands. I was working for a rocket ship and I didn’t know diddly squat about good marketing. It wasn’t the most glamorous first role, but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything in the world.
It forced me to understand the product and how to position it for some of the biggest brands in the world. The first day on the job I had a RFP from Nintendo sitting in my inbox with a deadline of 1 week to respond. How’s that for on the job training?
This experience set the foundation for everything I’ve done in B2B marketing and everything that I’ve been working towards since. Most importantly, this experience taught me the most valuable marketing lesson that I don’t think gets discussed enough in our space.
It taught me how to deal with and manage expectations with enterprise sales professionals in the SaaS industry. I’ve transferred these skills to every role I’ve been in since and always think back on these experiences as a reminder that marketing’s primary role is to support sales.
I spent the first quarter of my career in direct sales support roles. I responded to RFPs, I helped facilitate the creation of highly personalized deliverables for sales meetings, and I worked in alliances to gain account insights that I could share with the team.
The sales professionals that I worked with were unbelievable. The pipelines were insane and the quotas were ridiculous. It became too normal to see a million dollar deal close. I’m here more than a decade later to confirm that’s not normal.
I’ve got stories for days about working with this group of consummate sales professionals. These stories could make up an entire podcast. I think the most valuable topic that I can provide for you in this piece is sharing what I’ve identified every salesperson needs (no, not leads) and how to establish a relationship that they start to see marketing as a secret weapon.
Over-indexing on information
I was raised in a culture that was highly focused on developing an excellent working relationship between marketing and sales. I vividly remember Knute Rockne type speeches that came from leadership sharing examples and big wins between the two functions. Marketing was never fluffy bs to me. It was always about working for sales and doing whatever I can to provide value to their process.
The proliferation of account-based marketing has shined a light on the fact that if your sales and marketing teams aren’t communicating frequently then there’s likely an issue. This has been helpful and I believe mindfulness has spread throughout the SaaS community of what a successful working relationship between the two groups should look like.
I think that there’s a tremendous opportunity to take some of the foundational principles around sales and marketing alignment to the next level. I’m not talking about building a target list with them. I’m speaking specifically about getting granular with how we should think about supporting sales.
Great marketing is about investigating. We explore people, topics, and ideas through these investigations. The most important and valuable asset that results from this work is information. There’s nothing more valuable that you can provide to the sales pros you support than information about accounts they are trying to get their foot in the door with.
When I worked in alliances I used to set up reminders on my calendar to email my counterparts at the other software companies that I was working with to give them information on accounts that their team was trying to work. I was running hard with “the more you give the more you get” philosophy because it worked.
After firing off an email about a sales opportunity I received a note back that just said, “Brett, call me”. I didn’t think twice. I picked up my desk phone and smashed the dial pad.
One of our dream accounts was a customer of our partner. This was an account we’d thrown the kitchen sink at, but never got a response. I’m talking personalized direct mail, concert invites, years of outreach, VIP experiences, and likely anything else you can imagine.
When I mean zero response. I mean it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
My partner contacted me and informed me that they were no longer happy with the current solution and our company was top of mind based on all of the activity. He wasn’t sure when they were making a change, but shared with me the information that I needed to justify the investment we were about to put in to make sure we were a part of the conversation. I thanked him and then immediately reached out to the rep on the deal.
I’ll never forget the excitement in the voice of the sales rep that had been working on this account for years. There was definitely a disbelief, but started to get more clear as calls were set up with the partner and eventually we got connected into the account.
I share this story to highlight the value that marketing can bring to sales with a little bit of information. This golden nugget moved our team into a several month pursuit where dozens of stakeholders were involved in putting our best foot forward to win the business.
Information is gold. Buying signals are available if you are looking in the right areas or connected to the right people.
This story is why I get so excited about what we are building around never seen before information around content performance.
We're calling it Intent Signals at The Juice.
Let me show you what this looks like in my daily workflow.
Intent Signals for Sales Intelligence
We’ve established that sharing information about how your future customers are interacting with your brand is the glue for a successful relationship between marketing and sales. That’s why one of my favorite updates that we’ve built for brands using The Juice is Intent Signals.
Today, those interactions are happening with your content on Twitter, LinkedIn, Slack communities, Reddit, YouTube, The Juice, and other distribution channels.
What in the heck are Intent Signals?
Intent Signals shed light on the dark content funnel. Think about it as putting Windex on a dirty window and now having visibility into the interactions with your content that you’ve been dreaming about.
The Juice Intent Signals show all engagements with your content with no additional lift from your team. You know all of those things that happen online with your brand that indicate the beginning of a relationship with a new audience member, but we don’t necessarily track? That’s what we are doing with Intent Signals. We are giving marketers visibility into the types of brands that are searching for keywords where your content shows up, content that’s been seen, who’s following you, and more. Whether a brand sees or fully engages with your content, you'll know. This can inform you of what's working, what's not working, and what your target accounts are looking for. It's more Juice, less squeeze.
Intent Signals is the information that you can take to your sales team to provide value immediately. It’s that extra layer of visibility that can lead to more intelligent outreach and account based marketing planning.
I’ll pop into Intent Signals at least once a day. If I see a brand that I know our team is connecting with I’ll drop it in Slack to give them a heads up for future outreach. The other benefit is that I get an email in my inbox at the end of every week with a full recap of everything that is happening on The Juice brand page. We all get busy and some days I miss. This email keeps me on track to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
I reached out to my team in Slack and let them know I was putting this article together.
Alaina responded back letting me know that we’ve had 100k intent signals on our pages this year alone!
That doesn’t mean 100k leads or something that I’m going to upload into our CRM and assign to sales to follow up….we’ll leave that to marketers running outdated content syndication programs.
This represents 100k interactions that sales and marketing professionals have had with our content. It presents an opportunity to create stronger alignment between our marketing and sales teams. It gives us an area of focus on how we prioritize go-to-market initiatives. Finally, Intent Signals serves as a gut check for the performance of our content. I can tell what’s resonating, what’s not, and where we should be heading next.
We’ll be launching Intent Signals publicly next month. If you want an early look and are interested in learning more you can talk to my teammate Kate today.
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