Let me start off by saying, this isn’t another blog article advocating the transition to account-based marketing. The inspiration for this article came from a conversation with a former colleague regarding the importance of a sales funnel.
The Traditional Funnel
The old way of marketing is to expand the top of your funnel as wide as you can make it to hopefully reach your entire addressable market. If a company might be able to use your product, in they go. But that’s terribly inefficient and you’ll spend 90 percent of your time trying to reach people who aren’t likely to ever become customers.
The reality is – even for the best salespeople in the world – that there are accounts they just can’t get to (i.e. the company that can’t actually use your product). But the sales team has to wade through all of those to see if they can find those few potential customers. And then they end up missing a few companies by just a few days or weeks because they were wasting all their time on the low quality prospects.
The New FIRE Funnel
Today’s revenue teams are learning that efficiency (and overall success) comes from focusing on new prospects that are a good fit and have recent intent to buy. If you’re not spending time and resources to discover these high-fit, high-intent prospects, you may be conceding business to your competitors. You’re not making a bigger, wider funnel, you’re creating a deeper funnel that has more prospects already well inside it, even companies you didn’t know were already preparing to make a purchase.
Currently, you are sitting with leads upon leads in your funnel based only on the number of people who have engaged with your website. But what about the ones who are definitely a good fit and are interested in your product category, but they haven’t engaged with you specifically?
This is what we mean by looking at your funnel myopically. You’ve got such a narrow field of vision — “companies that engaged with us” — that you’re missing out on everyone else.
This is where knowing the Intent of prospects becomes important. It’s the indicator of where all the businesses in your total addressable market are in their buying journey.
FIRE In Action
There are accounts out there that are a great fit for your business, but because you don’t have those leads or contacts in your database, you don’t have any indication of how engaged they are or if they’re ready to make a purchase. Intent lets you see beyond your own funnel, which gives you access to assets that exist beyond just what’s on your website.
Let’s say a company just raised a round of funding, they’ve added a couple new sales development representatives on their team, and realized they need a CRM to keep track of their prospects and customers. They’ve decided not to use Salesforce because they think it’s too expensive, so they’ve gone to look for a new CRM system that’s affordable and built for a business their size.
They’ll research to see which CRMs are ideal for small businesses and which ones they can afford. They may ultimately land on Sugar CRM or Zoho, CRM systems that are built just for small businesses who don’t think they can afford a solution like Salesforce.
But Salesforce would still want to have an understanding of who that new company is even though they’ve never interacted with the Salesforce site or gone to a Salesforce event. For all intents and purposes, that business isn’t on SalesForce’s radar, even though they might have an option for the company. At this point, the company is getting ready to buy from one of Salesforce’s competitors.
Without the concept of Intent Data, without having an understanding that there’s a potential customer out there and they’re actually looking for a CRM solution, even if Salesforce has a small business offering and the company would change their mind if they just knew it, Salesforce is losing that opportunity to have any effect.
Like any business, there are companies that could purchase from you, are probably a great fit for your company, and are actively looking for a solution like yours, but you don’t even know about them. They’re nowhere on your radar!
We’re all myopically looking at our funnels saying, “How do we drive leads that are engaged and qualified?” when there’s a whole world of non-engaged prospects out there. That’s why any business that doesn’t focus on the intent of their prospects is going to miss out on major opportunities.
Take a look at the FIRE methodology to learn how companies like Terminus and Snowflake use Fit to select the right accounts, Intent to see which accounts are actively doing research, and engage with them immediately.
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