8 actually helpful ways for SDRs to navigate this sales environment

Right now, Sales teams continue to face one of the toughest sales environments in memory. We may not technically be in a recession, but for years now, companies have been tightening their belts against spending that’s anything less than a sure thing.

It’s no longer enough to have a kick-ass product or the best service on the planet. Your SDRs have to be able to cut through the competition of everyone else’s SDRs (not to mention prospects’ own busy schedules) just to have the chance to talk about your value prop.

In other words, SDR leaders and teams need to learn how to get to the part where they can actually do what they do best.

Here are eight actionable ways you can tee up your SDRs for ultimate success.


ICP part one: Revisit your ICP in a big, big way.

Without a doubt, your team has been selling according to your organization’s ICP. Great. Now, answer this: How often does the company revisit that ICP, and how thoroughly does the ICP understand your best customers?

If you want to identify your best prospects, it needs to be comprehensive. Like, way more comprehensive than it is right now.

Far too often, a company’s ICP fits on a PowerPoint slide. It’s made up of perhaps half a dozen bullet points, highlighting firmographics such as size, industry, location and revenue. These are all relevant characteristics—yet highly superficial ones.

To connect the traits that make your best customers your best, an ICP needs to dig beyond how those customers look on the surface to how they behave on the inside. Their interior operations, the way they approach fulfilling their mission: these are what make them your best customers.

In short: Your SDRs need to be able to focus their time interacting with companies that have the characteristics you care about most—the companies that look- and act- alike. 


ICP part two: Provide your team with a dynamic ICP.

SDRs also need to be able to adapt as your customer base evolves. The landscape, as you well know, is constantly shifting. Your best customers this quarter may not match your best customers two quarters from now.

An ICP that can re-evaluate your top customers will help your SDRs understand not only how companies behave, but how they change over time—and a truly dynamic ICP can predict which companies will benefit from your offering even before they realize they need it.

Rev’s AI-driven ICPs do just that: they use exegraphic data (our B2B version of the psychographic data used in B2C) to build more dynamic customer profiles. Yet even with more traditional ICPs, steps to improve their dynamism will take your sales team farther than any PowerPoint slide.


ICP part three: Share the insights from the ICP.

A truly dynamic ICP will provide you with a dynamite target list. That’ll set your SDRs up for success. But it’s not enough: they need to understand the ICP and what makes these targets truly top prospects.

This will require more legwork before your SDRs start winding up fresh batches of cadences. It’ll also prevent them from chasing down the wrong accounts, or striking up the wrong conversations with the right accounts.

When your SDRs know what traits make up your best customers, and why those traits make them the best, they can better customize their outreach. They’ll have big-picture insight into what makes prospects tick and how to speak to their pain points—before ever picking up the phone.


Nail the first 15 seconds of cold calls.

Once your SDRs do pick up the phone, they want to win at cold calling. They’re as prepared as they’ll ever be, with the backing of a quality ICP. Yet to win more consistently, you can help them hone those first 15 seconds.

James Buckley, sales guru at JB Sales, gives these immediately actionable tips. This script transforms  your SDRs’ cold-calling game by making the conversation inevitable: 

  • “Hi, is this Maria.” Let’s say you’re calling Maria. You start, naturally, by asking if you’ve reached the right person. Ditch the question mark with its upward inflection: ask the question like it’s a statement. Use downward inflection. James calls this “authoritative voice.” Maria can only say, This is Maria or No, it’s not Maria.
  • “Maria, thank you for taking the call. Do you have a moment before your next meeting.” Again, downward inflection. Now, Maria can only say Yes, No, or (more common) Who the heck is this?
  • “This is James.” “If they say Who is this? I’ll say This is James, but not where I’m from—they didn’t ask that,” he explains.
  • “The reason I’m calling you is…” If they say they have a moment, don’t bother worrying over your name or who you’re with. They don’t care who you are—they care what you can do for them. “I’m calling you because you’re a VP of Sales, and we help VPs of Sales and their teams accomplish X” gets right to the meat of it.
  • “Do you want to have this conversation now, or do we need to put something on the calendar?” Downward inflection once again—and Maria now has a simple choice between I have ten minutes or Let me get my calendar.

“I use this opener all the time,” James says. “It really gets the conversation going in the right way.”


Learn from Marketing.

Even if you have a healthy relationship between Sales and Marketing, where Marketing responds to your SDRs’ needs and creates useful sales collateral, that’s too often the extent of the collaboration.

Change that dynamic: actively partner with Marketing to understand the content they’re creating, how to best use it in your outreach and how Sales can improve their own content creation.

  • Marketing can teach SDRs how to best use the collateral they’ve created over time. Marketing materials are made deliberately, often at the request of Sales; their guidance in how a sales piece is built, and how it can be leveraged, can maximize its value.
  • How does the web copy fit into the sales messaging? Marketing shapes your company story, but SDRs are the ones telling the story. Learning how Marketing’s language can make sales messaging more effective (and consistent with all the materials a prospect sees) can leverage the work that went into that story.
  • Compare cadences. Marketing is likely crafting drip campaigns. Compare how their open rates compare to yours. If they’re seeing higher rates, find out what the difference in approach is and share that knowledge with your SDRs.


Get to the point.

Speaking of outreach: Keep your written messages on point.

An evaluation on LinkedIn shows that 90% of InMails are more than 400 characters long—but InMails with fewer than 400 characters achieved response rates 22% better than average.

Cut everything you can. Like in this section—itself 330 characters, including spaces. Boo-yah.


Uncover urgency.

Urgency drives sales. But you can’t reliably manufacture urgency; rather, your SDRs need to discover the urgency already there. 

Back to James Buckley’s wisdom: In order to uncover urgency, SDRs have to get prospects talking about the things that matter to them. Namely: what are their priorities?

“Instead of telling them you’re from this company and we’re the number one provider of X, which is how cold calls begin, you want to say, Here’s what I know about you guys already,” James says. “Normally when I talk to people like you, they’re worried about this, this and this. Which is your priority at the moment?”

Here’s the funny thing about choices: when you give prospects one, they make it. They’ll tell you which one is their priority. Or, if none of them are they’ll tell you that too.

Now your SDRs know what the prospect’s most urgent needs are—and can set about addressing them.


Disqualify bad prospects early.

Deals are taking more time and effort to close now—and your SDRs need to focus on the ones that show promise.

After all, by letting a bad prospect go, they’re not losing a deal; they’re clearing the way for a better prospect.

But letting go is hard to do. It’s on leadership to educate SDRs on when to disqualify a prospect:

  • Check the levels of engagement. And we don’t mean a prospect’s enthusiasm. Help your team set expectations around when they should anticipate setting up a demo, knowing who all is on the buying team, agreeing to a mutual action plan—basically, what are your team’s touch points for knowing the sales process is on track?
  • Set the right values. If you value a high pipeline coverage ratio, SDRs will be more loath to let a prospect go. If you expect perfect close rates, they’ll let too many go—including qualified leads that might require a bit of extra work. Vocalize and demonstrate what you value from the sales team, even to the point of micro-celebrating the times that reps let a big one go.
  • Provide more quality prospects in the pipeline. Providing hyper-clear definitions of what an ideal prospect looks like for your sales team in real time, and a healthy list of prospects that match that profile, means your SDRs don’t have to feel stuck milking bad prospects out of desperation to close a deal.

We started with the ICP, and we’re going to end the same way: A truly dynamic customer profile, such as Rev’s aiCP that can reconfigure itself with each new input, provides and prioritizes lists of best-fit target accounts. That way, your skilled sales team gets to focus on the prospects where they’re most likely to succeed.

Want to see a dynamic ICP in action? Contact us, and we’ll conduct a free ICP audit for you.

How (and why) RevOps teams use exegraphic data, with Intelligent Demand’s Nicole Davolt

RevOps teams are under enormous pressure to grow their companies, and to grow them efficiently. Even C-suites are feeling this pressure. When they do, they turn to Nicole Davolt, a RevOps strategist at Intelligent Demand.

“We align their tactics, their technology and their people into a strategic growth strategy and a program that allows them to acquire, retain and expand revenue with their best-fitting customers and prospects,” Nicole says. “But really, we just exist to help tame the complexity of modern B2B growth.”

An expert growth partner helps companies and RevOps teams align Sales and Marketing (and others within an organization) to deliver better overall customer experience, as well as improve the prioritization of operations within the sales pipeline.

To that end, we dove into conversation with Nicole about exegraphic data—how it functions, how it changes the way revenue teams can think about targeting accounts, and how it can improve precision, streamline operations, maximize resources and harmonize often competing teams within your organization. 


Exegraphics: The behavioral traits of companies

Before companies can improve the precision of their targeting with exegraphics, it helps to understand how exegraphics work.

“I like to think of them as psychographic traits for B2C, but now for B2B,” Nicole says. “Instead of those psychographic traits about an individual, exegraphics are traits about the business and how a business behaves.”

Whereas more traditional firmographics include traits such as industry, size, and revenue, exegraphics examine hundreds of other, more behavioral, traits like: Are companies early adopters of technology? Are they hiring a larger sales team? Are they expanding their marketing teams? How do they operate on the inside and on the outside?

“Exegraphics let us get a more complete picture and a more holistic view of an account,” Nicole says. “When you look at just firmographics, you might have tens or hundreds of thousands of accounts that fit that profile. When you’re conducting an account-based campaign, you need to narrow those down to who will fit your ICP best and who acts just like your best customers—the ones that you would want to clone out hundreds of times if you could.”

Whereas doing this “by hand” would be practically impossible, the AI-driven model behind exegraphics assesses hundreds of aspects to build out an image of what makes those customers the best—and identifies (and ranks) others that resemble them.

Nicole points out that the answer in identifying top prospects does not lie in plucking single exegraphic threads; it’s the composite pattern-matching that creates a more meaningful customer profile than humans could reasonably accomplish alone.

In short: “Exegraphics give us more confidence in building our ICP,” she says.


Prioritizing accounts to get to market faster

Building a quality ICP is an early step—not an end goal. For Nicole, the real power of exegraphics comes into play for prioritizing all those accounts that match your ICP.

“Clients understand generally what their ideal client looks like,” she says, “but they don’t know which ones to go after, how to go after them and who to pay special attention to.”

As an example, Intelligent Demand had a client with a target account list upward of 65,000 accounts—and they lacked the resources to tackle that entire list. So the agency assessed the client’s best customers with Rev’s AI-powered Sales Development Platform and compared them to the prospect list, in order to whittle it to something not only more manageable but more impactful.

Exegraphics trimmed that list to about 10,000 accounts—and then Nicole used them to help rank the remaining candidates.

Then, “Do we want to spread your budget evenly like peanut butter across all these accounts?” she asked. “Or are there certain accounts we want to pay more special attention to? Who do we prioritize for a specialized one-to-one outreach, one-to-few, and one-to-many? Let’s look at how closely they correlate to your best customers.”

Exegraphics (in combination with intent and campaign engagement data) identified the 200 accounts best matched to the ICP, with the highest likelihood to engage.

As Nicole puts it: “Exegraphics enabled us to get to market faster and be able to make smarter decisions at the beginning of the campaign, when we had limited amounts of data.”


Three data sets playing together: exegraphics, intent and campaign engagement

Nicole referenced intent and campaign engagement data above, and that they play well with exegraphic data to prioritize accounts. Here’s how she explains them as distinct approaches to understanding prospects:

  • Exegraphics are like the personality traits of an account: more fixed, and slower to change. “My personality traits don’t change drastically in a short amount of time,” she says. “If an account is likely to be an early adopter of technology or is in a high growth mode, they’re likely to be in that same mode six months to a year from now.”
  • Intent and campaign engagement data examines what an account is interested in. “What are they searching? Which kind of articles are they reading? What are they looking for? Are they in market for something that I have to sell right now?” These data sets are ever-changing.

When these data sets intersect, an ideal customer becomes an ideal customer right now (and thus a high priority for sales and marketing outreach). 


Maximizing limited resources

A common theme in RevOps teams that Nicole works with is this: Teams struggle with limited resources. How can they use this exegraphic data to maximize the resources that they do have?

Nicole provides these three insights into prioritizing a team’s resources in addition to prioritizing their prospects:

  • Get discovery out of the way. “Sales teams don’t have to get on a phone call to uncover the things that you can’t normally see,” she says. “We’re able to see them through exegraphics.” For instance, Intelligent Demand generally looks for clients with a certain level of marketing maturity—and exegraphics helps the Sales team assess the marketing maturity of an account directionally before even reaching out.
  • Determine your talk track. We all know that prospects have different personas that we talk to throughout the sales cycle, and many organizations have standard talk tracks for them. But how to know which ones to lead with? Exegraphics enable a team to step into conversations with high confidence that they’re using the most applicable talk track because they already understand certain behaviors (and thus certain pain points) within the organization.
  • Align Sales and Marketing. The process of using exegraphics to select accounts can actually bring Sales and Marketing teams together. “Historically, you have Marketing teams pick certain accounts for certain reasons, and Sales teams pick certain accounts for certain reasons,” Nicole says. Exegraphics help both teams hone those lists in tandem, without it being a matter of stepping on each other’s domains—instead, Sales and Marketing alignment becomes about identifying the accounts most likely to succeed with limited resources to target them. “It opens up the conversation and gives teams data points to be confident in the accounts they’re selecting, as well,” she says.


Final thoughts: Creating harmonious RevOps teams

Each step of Nicole’s exegraphic discussion comes back to prioritization:

  • Identifying what traits matter most to your ICP
  • Choosing the accounts most likely to purchase
  • Selecting other relevant data points
  • Maximizing limited resources

Exegraphic prioritization enables more than just a smoother, more efficient pipeline, though. It also creates more internal harmony within RevOps.

“When we’re aligned on a target account list, especially for an account-based campaign or an account-based play, there’s less handoff between Marketing and Sales,” Nicole says. “There’s more of What are we going to do at the same time, together? What activities are we going to do at each point in the customer life cycle to work together to get them to the next phase?”

While Marketing and Sales may each take the lead at various points, exegraphic data-driven foundation aligns them on a continuous, parallel path—for the good of your RevOps team as well as your customers.

Interested in hearing the full conversation with Nicole Davolt? Watch it here.

It’s time to improve your aim

Most revenue teams have more prospects in their CRM than they can handle. The problem, frankly, is not building up contact lists—the problem is maximizing the pipeline to identify the best prospects and engage them effectively.

The sub-par prospects that clog your pipeline still consume resources but are more unlikely ever to close. If they do close, they’re less likely to renew or become your best customers.

Our research at Rev shows that up to 66% of the leads sourced through traditional prospecting practices sit dormant, due largely to the fact that many of them shouldn’t have entered your funnel to begin with. They should have never been considered a real prospect. Meanwhile, up to 65% of five-star opportunities get straight-up missed.

Those averages are outstanding in baseball, but horrendous in your revenue functions. The culprit? Most companies don’t actually know what their real ideal customer looks like. Their ICP is incomplete. And if they can’t identify their best prospects, they certainly won’t connect with them.

Developing a high-quality, high-efficiency pipeline starts with improving the fitness of your prospects—and your aim in targeting them. After all, your aim—the percent of accounts in your pipeline that match your ICP—matters, and it should be a key metric you track. When you spend more of your resources engaging with the right prospects, the ones most likely to close and become great customers, the entire journey downstream runs more smoothly. What company doesn’t need that, especially today?

If you’re wondering how to track your aim and how to improve it, you’re in luck. This article will guide you through everything you need to know to get started.


Step 1: Identify the characteristics of your best customers

When you think about your best customers, what traits come to mind? Too many revenue teams still rely on firmographics to understand the traits of their best customers. Broad categories like industry, location, size and revenue don’t actually reveal much about the inner workings of companies and how they execute their missions.

B2C companies have been riding this train for years now. They moved beyond demographics to psychographics to better predict what individual customers want to buy. In the B2B world, you need equivalent insights to really understand your best customers (and, in turn, your best prospects). 

Exegraphics provide those demand signals. They are, essentially, any piece of information you could want to know about a company, gleaned through AI-driven analyses in three ways.

  1. Exegraphics focus on a company’s positioning in its industry and the value it brings to market.
  2. Exegraphics also evaluate the functions of the people internal to an organization, including how those functions are prioritized.
  3. Exegraphics then account for trends over time to better predict where a company is headed.


Exegraphic data digs beyond superficial indicators to evaluate broad organizational behaviors and patterns. You might have two companies that appear identical on the outside: same industry, comparable products, equivalent workforce. Yet they might operate entirely differently on the inside—and those inner workings effectively make them completely different customers.

Evaluating your existing best customers in these ways helps you understand what really makes them tick, and thus, what you really want to look for in a top prospect.


Step 2: Build a dynamic ICP

Exegraphics are precise data points. Any one of them, taken in isolation, may not mean much. But a collection of hundreds of exegraphics accomplishes what a traditional ICP hopes to: it builds a complete and thorough picture of how your actual best customers behave, and what they are most likely to need.

Even better? Exegraphics, by their very nature, enable revenue teams to create dynamic ICPs that continuously improve. (At Rev, we call these aiCPs—AI-driven ideal customer profiles.) These are ICPs that embody the current and ever-changing behaviors, strategies, attitudes and events (such as personnel and product changes) of your ideal customers.

Plus, each time you sign a new customer, or an existing customer expands its account, that customer’s exegraphic data feeds back into the model to better define what ideal means for you.

No more of the old-school, stuck-on-firmographics ICP on a PowerPoint slide that you update every few years. Equipped with a dynamic ICP, revenue teams know (essentially in real time) how their best customers behave—and what to look for in new prospects.


Step 3: See which accounts in your pipeline have the characteristics you care about most

Now that you know what your ideal customer really looks like, and have a living model in place that evolves over time, you’re ready to see how many of the accounts in your pipeline fit your ICP. In our experience working with some of the world’s top brands, it’s much less than you think.

When you evaluate the exegraphic markers of the accounts in your pipeline and compare them to your now-full-picture ICP, you’ll have an aha-moment. You’ll see why certain accounts got stuck in your pipeline with little to no progress. You’ll also see accounts that show more promise, that have leading characteristics of an account that will make its way to closed-won. Those are the accounts you’ll know to prioritize.

When you can see how closely accounts in your pipeline match your ICP, you’re able to take a data-driven approach to seal the deal. Accounts that are a clear match to your ICP could be routed to sales, while accounts with a lower match rate could be placed in a nurture track. The accounts that don’t have matching traits? Toss those. You don’t have time or budget to spend on them.


Step 4: Find new accounts that match your ICP

Now that you have fewer accounts in your pipeline, what do you do? And how do you fill it moving forward?

Volume still matters, yes. But it really needs to be more of the right stuff. More quality targets. You probably get where we’re going with this, and you’re likely saying to yourself, “Got it… but how do I find accounts that have the deep traits I care about most? If I knew how to spot them, they’d already be in my queue.”

Great point. You could try to do it manually: hire a dedicated team to determine the exegraphics behind your best customers, build a more robust ICP and evaluate the exegraphic data behind all the accounts in your pipeline. By the time they’re done running the analyses, though, the data has probably changed. Luckily, AI can tackle this workload almost immediately. It’s great for pattern matching across large data sets and language models—including all sorts of digital “breadcrumbs.”

AI can also tell you which companies match your ICP, and how closely. AIM, an AI-Match, improves aim. No more going after big, aspirational logos just to have them clog your pipeline. By using AI to find the accounts that resemble your best customers, you’ll always know which accounts to target, and when.


Step 5: Improving metrics through better aim

When companies improve their targeting efficiency through the use of exegraphics and aiCPs, they don’t just get better prospects in the funnel—they get improved results the entire way through it.


Engagement case study: Allytics

As a Central Marketing Organization (CMO) for its clients, managing everything from strategy to implementation with an eye on improving their marketing ROI, Allytics requires strong engagement on behalf of all of its customers: growing account lists, acquiring new leads, expanding pipelines for marketing and sales.

To those ends, Allytics have partnered with Rev for more than three years to support deeper lead qualification, target market expansion and nurture campaigns for their clients, with the aid of exclusively tailored Custom Lenses.

“We can come in with any angle and Rev builds a lens for us that helps our clients increase their pipeline growth by providing unique and specific targeted insights,” says Allytics President Dunya Riechelson. “This gives us clear direction and quality results.”

For Allytics, Rev’s Sales Development Platform expanded several clients’ account bases by more than 20% through lookalike targeting, providing access to a stronger pool of leads with higher levels of engagement.

VP of Marketing Services Robert Doi says: “Rev’s technology makes them a perfect partner to help our clients increase both the quality and velocity of new potential customers, closing more deals.”


Pipeline case study: Splunk

When Splunk acquired another company in the DevOps space, it set out to run a demand gen campaign to prospect for it. Splunk had developed an extensive ABM list and inherited a seed list of the acquisition’s best customers, but still struggled to gain traction and add quality prospects. 

Rev created an aiCP for Splunk, prioritized the list and ran a content syndication campaign.

Not only did the campaign result in sourcing the quality prospects Splunk desired, but it also revealed that the companies showing intent previously were not actually best-fit prospects. They were draining revenue resources with a lesser likelihood of actually closing.

Splunk’s new aiCP enabled them to prioritize the account list and focus marketing efforts. According to Joe Paone, Sr. Director of Worldwide Commercial Marketing, more than 15% of the pipeline can now be attributed to the aiCP, with increased pipeline revenue of more than $500 million.


Sales cycle length case study: Oracle

Oracle recognized it needed a more scientific way to maximize its sales cycle. The company struggled with low conversion rates, and thus an increased cost per conversion.

In addition to an aiCP, Rev built and managed an outreach campaign centered around Oracle’s in-house thought leadership content. Rev nurtured the companies that showed interest in this content, signaled strong early-stage buying intent and aligned with the aiCP.

The results from the initial pilot?

  • Oracle experienced a 67% improvement on cost per new logo over the previous channel benchmark.
  • Oracle also created opportunities 78% more efficiently, with $500k in pipeline value.
  • The leads Rev provided moved 23% faster through the funnel, a significant improvement in sales cycle length.

The results aren’t isolated to Oracle either: Allytics saw a 50% decrease in time to find qualified leads, and Splunk saw the above results in less than three weeks.


Final thoughts: Keep on evaluating your pipeline

Once you achieve a stronger sense of your own ideal customers on an exegraphic basis, you can make a pretty immediate and drastic evaluation of your existing pipeline.

If you align with the averages, your revenue team isn’t even touching about 2/3 of the prospects in the pipeline. Imagine assessing the entire pipeline for the best-fit prospects—the ones most likely to close, and to become great customers—and being able to pluck those targets out of the crowd.

You can. And you can evaluate how you’re filling the pipeline based on what percentage of the prospects there match the characteristics that matter most to you. These are the metrics that can change the game for revenue leaders: early indicators of your revenue teams’ operational efficiency and ultimate success.

Doing so not once, but continuously, calibrates your teams’ efficiency and your pipeline’s quality. As Allytics’ Richelson says: “Quality is a focus from end-to-end through every touch point in the engagement. And, because the AI gets smarter over time, we can optimize as we go.”

As you need to pivot in an ever-changing market, exegraphics and aiCPs equip you to constantly refocus your aim and maximize your efforts. After all, your objectives aren’t static. Your approach doesn’t have to be, either.

These pipeline pain points are a universal experience, but they can be addressed head on by revamping how you think about your ICP and changing the way you identify and source top prospects. Refine your ICP. Contact us and get a free look at the exegraphics behind your best customers.

How to win with multi-level selling, with Pegasystems’ Judy Buchholz

Multi-level selling creates more direct conversations at all relevant levels of your prospects’ org charts. It’s clearly a solid strategy—but one that you do not want to implement cold.

“It all starts with a strategy,” says Judy Buchholz, SVP of Global Partner Ecosystems at Pegasystems. “You make a map of the critical constituents at your client, at all levels, who are decision-makers, and look at how to engage them from C-suite through to the people doing the job every day and understanding their process.”

In her decades-long technology career at IBM and Pega, more than half of which she has spent facing clients from services and consulting to client engagement and sales, Judy has been able to develop a deep understanding of multi-level selling practices.

First, you really understand, discover, listen, research and then map,” she says. “Who is going to be part of this life cycle of a decision process? What is your strategy for this client? How do you want to engage with them? Where do you believe your product or service is relevant in solving their business problems?”

We recently sat down with Judy, she shared her insights into winning at multi-level selling. Here it is.


Leverage a prospect’s peers

Identifying the right people to talk to in a prospect company is pretty standard practice for Sales and Revenue teams. Identifying the right people in your own organization to talk to them? That doesn’t always happen—and Judy sees the benefits of doing so.

“Step back and look across your teams at your firm,” she says. “How do you leverage the best people to face off in a conversation?”

For instance, if you’re selling to a finance team, you want buy-in from their CFO. That’s a tough meeting to land, and you end up relying on others on that finance team to champion your product. But if you could engage your own CFO to connect with the target CFO, that meeting is much more likely to happen—and to provide your target value beyond the sale itself.

Think of it this way: it just makes sense to have people with similar interests and experiences talk to each other, whether it’s executive to executive or sustainability coordinator to sustainability coordinator.

“They’re going to share insights and information,” Judy says. “They see peers as a chance to talk about how they’re running their business. It’s not just about what you’re selling to them. Relevance is important in who you align just as much as what you’re selling and how relevant it is to their business problems.”


Get your C-suite creating relationships

Of course, a cold call from one C-suite to another is still a cold call—unless a relationship already exists. Creating those connections before the sales cycle even begins is wildly beneficial.

“Typically, you’re not going to get CEO interaction,” Judy says. “So the natural thing is to go where they are. Are there events [aligned with your prospects’ interests] that the CEOs are attending and your C-suite should participate in?”

Finding opportunities to build these trusted relationships depends on understanding your prospects’ agendas. What are the most important things they’re trying to accomplish for their firm? If, say, ESG investing is a big deal to them, you could get your C-suite to speak at an ESG conference. Engaging in external forums like these improves your brand’s visibility as well as providing this sense of familiarity.

“It’s about discovery and learning, aligning their business goals to what your corporation can provide,” Judy says. 

This proactive approach not only creates connections between executives—it makes it easier for you to call in your execs during the sales cycle. It’s hard to get executives (internal or external!) to take a call without having that relationship first. Just recognizing someone’s name eases that process and makes a call that much more realistic.

“Over time, they get comfortable,” Judy says. “They’re betting their business on you; they need to know that you are vested in them.”


Make your prospects’ partners your partners too

The best people to connect with your prospects may actually be outside your organization. Think consulting firms, systems integrators, other service providers. These groups might actually be better positioned to talk with your customers—especially if they understand the value of your offering.

Judy assesses potential partners by wondering if they are (or if they can be) an extension of your organization, in order to provide unique capabilities as one thread.

“As you’re working to map your clients, my advice is to know who their trusted partners are, who they go to for advice,” she says. “Understand that just as much as you understand the client.”

In approaching these partners, Judy recommends:

  • Target the right partners. “Who are the people that are going to affiliate the best with your solution?” she asks. (Shameless plug: Judy identifies solutions like Rev’s AI-driven model to help determine the right client set.)
  • Build rapport with those partners before pitching them anything—just as you would create relationships between executives.
  • Bring them value. “Identify how your technology or service could aid them in what they’re trying to do, so that they have an interest in working with you,” she says. “Clients don’t take meetings unless they believe you are going to be relevant and impactful for them.”


Four health-check questions to assess partnerships

In the context of multi-level selling, where you’re trying to leverage partners as well as your internal experts, how can you measure the value of those partners?

After all, a successful partnership can bring a lot of credibility to your offering—especially if it’s a new technology. A consultant or other third-party firm vouching for your company enables a client to stump for the budget and champion your product. Similarly, a less healthy partnership can undercut your organization’s credibility.

Judy identifies four pieces that you can use to evaluate the health of these partnerships throughout your ecosystem.

  1. How well are they feeding your pipeline? “Are they bringing you leads and opportunities?” Judy asks. “What’s the win rate? The health of what they’re sourcing so that you can co-sell with them is a critical measurement.”
  2. How are they developing a practice around your capabilities? Any firm partnering with you needs to have this objective: they want their clients to be using your services. “At the end of the day, an SI or a consulting firm doesn’t want people on the bench,” Judy says. If they’re growing their practice and growing their bench, they see market opportunity. How well your service or product is being deployed by these partners shows how seriously they’re invested in you.
  3. Are they certifying and training for your capabilities? Partners’ representatives having the skills to represent your firm and your technology properly is crucial to a successful partnership.
  4. How satisfied are your partners’ clients? Client satisfaction with the projects these partners deliver is most important of all. If the clients aren’t happy, you’ll likely never work with them again. “This is the ultimate test post-sale,” Judy says.


Final thoughts: It’s all about relationships

A robust multi-level selling strategy comes down to this one word: relationships. Seller to buyer, CEO to CEO, vendor to consultant—every relationship a seller cultivates is just that. Building genuine, quality, valuable rapport creates sound relationships both within and outside of the sales cycle.

For many, the shift to remote communication has made building relationships more challenging. They want face-to-face connections. Others love the productivity and efficiency of the virtual world—you’re talking to people instead of traveling to them.

Which is better for multi-level selling? Doesn’t matter, Judy says.

“At the end of the day,” she says, “if what you have an agenda for gets the person’s attention and they’re willing to give you the time, be it on the screen or in person, it’s about relevance.”

Bring enough value to that conversation for them to have another one. Often, that means connecting them to the right person, as Judy stresses throughout our conversation:

  • Whoever’s buy-in you need, get their peer in your org on a call.
  • Enlist your executives to participate in the right external forums.
  • Partner with the orgs that your prospects trust.
  • Evaluate the health of your partner relationships to ensure ongoing success for both your team and your customers.

Interested in catching the full conversation with Judy Buchholz and Fred Mondrago, CRO at Rev? Watch it here.

What is sales prospecting? (Definition, techniques and video examples)

You’re wrong if you thought sales prospecting and lead generation were the same things. While they are related, sales prospecting is a more focused and targeted process that involves finding potential customers who may be interested in your offer.

Lead generation, on the other hand, is the process of finding potential customers who may not be actively looking for what you offer but are still a good fit for your business. While both sales prospecting and lead generation require market research and a strong knowledge of what your target customers want, the main difference lies in how you go about reaching these potential customers.

In this blog post, we’ll explain the meaning of sales prospecting by looking specifically at one of the most challenging strategies for new and seasoned sales reps: cold prospecting. You’ll learn about the three most common cold prospecting techniques and find videos with cold outreach experts sharing their best tips. 

We’ll also show why you want to start using exegraphic data to find the prospects most likely to convert. Let’s get started!


Cold prospecting meaning and methods

Cold prospecting is perhaps the most labor-intensive form of prospecting for sales professionals. It involves reaching out to potential clients or leads who have not previously expressed interest in what you have to offer. And to do that effectively, you have to know how to research who to target, what to say to them, and what tools and resources you can use to influence them to convert.

But how does cold prospecting look in practice? There are three main methods of cold prospecting used by B2B sales reps:

  1. Cold calling
  2. Cold emailing
  3. Cold messaging on social media platforms like LinkedIn

Let’s take a look at each method.


Cold calling meaning

Cold calling is often the first method many salespeople think of when they think about cold prospecting or outreach. It involves making unsolicited sales calls to prospects you have yet to interact with.

For new sales reps, cold calling can feel useless and nerve-wracking. But according to a recent report, 82% of buyers accept meetings with sales teams who proactively reach out. So, cold calling isn’t the real problem. What is? 

The real problem is that most beginner sales reps simply pick up the phone and talk to prospects without any preparation or research. Unsurprisingly, this is a recipe for failure. So, how do the cold calling pros do it? 


Cold calling techniques and examples

One of the best ways to improve your cold calling success rate is to research your prospect ahead of time. For example, look up what challenges their company is currently facing or recent achievements your offer can help support. Then, before you make the call, you can tailor your pitch to their specific needs and concerns.

In the video below, Trent Dressel, a Senior Account Executive at Qualtrics, explains his process for creating a high-converting cold calling script for B2B software sales. If you’re unsure how to tailor your pitch and overcome common objections during cold calls, the video is worth watching!

Cold emailing meaning

Cold emailing tends to feel less intimidating than cold calling, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier. This is why it’s common to hear defeated salespeople complain that cold emailing just doesn’t work. But that’s not true! 

What is true is that many sales reps send cold emails that aren’t worth a prospect’s time to respond. Again, this results from sending emails that fail to resonate with the prospect. It could also be because of a lack of awareness about factors influencing your ideal customer to convert.  How can you make sure your cold emails are worth a response? 


Cold emailing techniques and examples

For cold email to work, you’ve got to dive deep into what characteristics and problems your prospects have that your company’s solution can help alleviate. It’s the only way you’ll create a message that resonates and inspires your prospect to take action. 

You should also take a look at these excellent tips from Patrick Dang. In the video below, Dang shares his top 5 cold email tips that are essential knowledge for sales reps using cold email to find prospects. 

Cold messaging on social media meaning

You’re missing out if you’re not using social media to find prospects! According to LinkedIn research, the average reply rate to LinkedIn messages is 85%, three times higher than email.

At its core, cold messaging on social media is about finding the profiles of people interested in your offer and starting conversations that may eventually lead to sales. This can involve sending a direct message or posting comments and replies on the profiles of targeted users.

But beware: every day, people on LinkedIn complain of being bombarded by lousy cold messages that just get ignored or turned into viral posts for all of LinkedIn to judge and criticize! So, how do you ensure you’re sending cold messages that get enthusiastic responses from your ideal prospects? 


Cold messaging on social media techniques and examples 

Like the other methods of cold prospecting, you’ll have the most success with this method if you make time to craft thoughtful and personalized cold messages tailored to your target audience.  

In the video below, Sarah Moore from Eleven Lights Media shares her process of writing cold messages on LinkedIn that lead to genuine sales conversations. 


Improve your sales prospecting with exegraphics

It doesn’t matter which cold prospecting method you choose. Your success in acquiring quality prospects will depend on how well you know your ideal customer, their pain points and what motivates them to buy.

Unfortunately, most sales reps—novice and experienced—rely on limited firmographic data to build their company’s ICP. And that type of data only gives you information like what industry the prospect is in, the company’s annual revenue and the company’s size.

What can you do with this information? Not enough. Because more is needed to create compelling sales messaging that will resonate with your target audience and help move them further down the sales funnel.

To improve your sales prospecting efforts, we recommend using the exegraphics of your best customers to improve your outreach strategy. What are exegraphics? Good question!

Exegraphics are the data on how your best customers operate and the signs they display when they’re ready to buy from your company. Recently, Oracle used exegraphics to fine-tune their ICP and start going after higher quality leads. The result? An additional $500k in pipeline value and leads that move through their funnel 23% faster!

Want to see if exegraphic can support your business to have similar or better results? Contact us to get a free ICP audit and a free list of target accounts that match your real ICP. Our AI-powered Sales Development Platform will help streamline your sales prospecting by showing you the prospects most likely to convert. 

So you think you’ve exhausted your market?

With the economy lagging and experts forecasting possible recessions, forward-thinking companies are looking to stimulate new revenue in new markets. In a vacuum, not a bad strategy. But many companies doing so are leaving money on the table in their current markets.

If you think you’ve exhausted your market… you’re probably wrong.

In fact, a recent Gartner report recommends that tech CEOs renew their sales and marketing efforts in two areas:

  • Existing markets (where their products are proven)
  • Existing customer base (as a chance for expansion with new buying efforts)

The report does not mince words: “Tech CEOs must avoid the temptation to go after new markets and verticals (especially when there is not a clear, well-researched and validated opportunity for growth) if doing so puts success in existing markets at risk.”

Venturing too heavily into new markets is a lot like abandoning your fortress in battle: when companies lose focus on their core market, their competitors swoop in. As a result, companies forfeit the Fortress of Market Share, including both new accounts and expansion opportunities with existing ones.

This is of course not to warn ambitious orgs away from exploring new markets altogether. There are strategic reasons to leave the fortress. Yet breaking into new markets and booking revenue requires time—a resource that many companies don’t have enough of. 

Fully evaluating your current market for growth opportunities (especially when the economy is suppressed) is a worthy—and worthwhile—endeavor. Then, when looking at new markets at the right time, employing a smart, surgical strategy will maximize the return on your efforts.


Re-evaluate your market stronghold

Many times, companies that believe they’ve exhausted their market have actually exhausted their ICP. 

Too often, a traditional ICP fits in four or five bullets on a PowerPoint slide. These are usually firmographic indicators of a prospect’s industry, size, location or revenue—and are often ineffective ways of describing your actual best targets. Also too often, organizations allow their ICP to remain static for years on end, failing to reflect changes both internally and in the market.

Rev has developed AI-driven ICPs using exegraphic data to build better customer profiles that understand how companies behave and change. But even with more traditional ICPs, re-evaluating who you are selling to (and who you’ve already sold to) will help you understand who your actual ideal customers are—rather than what a PowerPoint says they are.

The benefits of re-evaluating (and re-re-evaluating) your ICP are significant:

  • Engage your current customers. Presuming that your best customers do not change over time is a sure way to lose them to competitors offering products that better suit their needs. 
  • Grab the attention of new prospects. By understanding what makes your best customers tick, you can refine your messaging to speak to the needs and pain points of act-alike companies.
  • Maximize your pipeline. You can compare accounts in your pipeline to your active ICP to determine which matches to emphasize. 
  • Maximize your resources. Ditto for the companies you have not yet made first contact with—understanding which target accounts are most likely to bite increases the power of your revenue teams.


Dig in deeper with existing accounts 

If you find through evaluating your ICP that you already have deep market penetration, it still does not mean you’ve exhausted your market. It may well mean you need to optimize your approach to account expansion. 

Companies with deep penetration and a product-led growth motion often struggle to know which accounts to target next, and why. After all, in tough economic times, upselling is not always a strategic move. Identifying which accounts will be most receptive to expansion is critical to maximizing revenue teams’ resources. 

Exegraphic data can surface those signals. Exegraphics identify the trends for the accounts that have already expanded, increasing confidence in your prioritization of the target account list for potential upsells.

The right data can also evaluate potential expansion for each one of your company’s products and services. Getting granular about not only who is ripe for expansion, but who is ripe for expansion in which direction, keeps your aim centered and results in more successful targeting. 

Depending on the size of your customer base, it might also be important to segment existing accounts into 1:1, 1:few or 1:many engagement plans, according to their exegraphic matches. This segmentation enables account managers to spend the most time with customers that are high-fit for expansion opportunities. 

No matter the scale and complexity of your offerings, the actionable insights provided by exegraphic data will help you identify which current accounts are ripe for upsells and expansion—further improving your reach into your current market, without the opportunity and financial cost of breaking into a new one.


Be savvy about leaving the fortress for new markets

Now, you may find—immediately, or in the future—that your company really has exhausted its current market. Or, perhaps entering new markets is integral to your larger GTM strategy.

In either case, tapping into new market segments opens up a world of potential new customers. It’s an aggressive strategy in times when many customers are tightening their belts—and also looking for effective solutions.

The strategy is risky, too. What if you invest marketing resources in a market segment for 12 months only to fall flat?

Fortunately, you can minimize the risk with a data-driven approach. You are starting new, but you don’t have to start cold. 


Trust your real ICP

In-depth ICPs, such as Rev’s aiCPs, will identify act-alike organizations, even if they look nothing alike (and they often don’t between markets). This enables you to get much clearer about targeting accounts in the new market: odds are, your best customers in the old market will mirror your most likely best customers in the new one.

Finding companies in a new segment that have the same “fit” and “ready” characteristics as your best customers minimizes risk and maximizes the potential for gains. Companies in very different market segments might have very similar internal operations that make them a great candidate for your product or service. 

You want to aim your outbound teams at these prospects to maximize leads they can convert into sales. Exegraphics and aiCPs equip your outbound teams to go after the best-fit targets, reducing the time spent on fruitless cold outreach.


Deploy a SWAT team

In fact, you can make this approach even more surgical to reduce risk and increase effectiveness. Before fully divesting from your company’s core focus—or before fully committing to a new market—test it with a SWAT team.

Think back to the fortress: you are unlikely to leave it in force while dispersing your forces in all directions. You’re much more likely to leave the fortress for a specific target, with a strategic approach. And why empty the fortress at all if you can send out the equivalent of a few hardy scouts to test the terrain?

Key word here is test. We recommend resisting the urge to over-rotate (and over-invest); instead, we advocate for this SWAT-team approach in a new market: lightly staffed with strong expertise, able to pivot and adapt on the fly. Think something like one business development rep, two AEs and light marketing support.

After all, if you’re using the power of exegraphics and aiCPs, you already have rigor in your process: you know you’re sending reps after prospects most likely to bite. Developing a few good pieces of early messaging and simple collateral can test the market.

Then see what happens. Do you get engagement? Are the reps able to close deals? If not, what needs to happen differently? 

This approach accelerates the information-gathering period and helps you assess, quickly and definitively, whether a new market segment is actually viable. This approach manages to get you answers in 3-6 months, not the more typical 12-18 months (plus exponential expenses) needed to determine market fit.


Final thoughts

The Gartner report referenced above could hardly sound more dire about new market expansion. It reads: “Tech CEOs face losing market share to competitors from neglecting existing customers and the expansion opportunities within them.”

The inverse is simple: Don’t neglect them. 

But what that looks like in practice is much more than the absence of neglect—it’s the presence of active re-evaluation of the current market, especially existing accounts, to develop a living, breathing, evolving ICP. 

It’s the development of exegraphic data to optimize account expansion. 

And, when new market penetration happens, it means doing so surgically and scientifically—with precision, experimentation and speed.

Take a step in the right direction, and let us build your aiCP for free. We’ll show you the exegraphics behind your best customers—and show you how to identify the accounts ready for expansion.

MQL vs. SQL: What’s the real difference?

Marketing and sales teams use a lot of acronyms, and we throw them around like everyone knows what they mean. Most people in the field quickly catch on and come to understand the words associated with the acronym, but often only at a superficial level. That’s exactly the case with MQL and SQL.

We know that MQL stands for marketing qualified lead, and SQL stands for sales qualified lead. But what do those terms actually mean? How are they different? How are they related?

This blog post breaks it down for you.


What is a marketing qualified lead?

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is an individual that the marketing team has identified as a good fit for your product or service. The person has shown signs of interest (or need) in what you have to offer. These signs often include activities like downloading content from your website, signing up for a webinar, clicking an email link or filling out a contact form.


What is a sales qualified lead?

A sales qualified lead (SQL) is an individual that the sales team has identified as ready to move forward in the sales process. This means that the lead has expressed interest in purchasing your product or service and is ready to take action. 

Some SQLs were once MQLs. Others began as SQLs from the get-go. That’s because what makes an SQL an SQL is the sales-vetting process. You see, your sales team could get an MQL and qualify them as being ready to take the next step in the purchasing process and that’s how they’d become an SQL. Sales can also prospect and determine that the individual they spoke to is ready—bypassing marketing altogether and jumping straight into conversations with sales. 

How does a sales team know if a prospect or MQL is ready to move forward in the sales process? Often, the prospect or lead may request more information, ask for a quote, and respond to follow-up emails or calls from the sales team. 

While an SQL shows more potential to become a customer than an early-stage MQL, they still need to be nurtured until they are ready to purchase. 



MQLs and SQLs are both leads. But, as you can see, they’re not the same. To get really clear on what we touched on already, here’s what you need to know: 

  • The primary difference between an MQL and SQL is the intent to purchase
  • MQLs are often characterized by their interest in your product or service
  • SQLs have expressed interest in buying

But that’s not all. There are some other differences, and they include:


1. Behavior

MQLs have interacted with a company’s marketing efforts (such as viewing website content, engaging on social media and downloading content). SQLs are leads who have expressed an intent to buy by responding to a sales pitch or taking other action.


2. Timing 

Generally speaking, most MQLs take longer to become customers compared to SQLs. MQLs must go through marketing’s nurture process, while SQLs are ready to engage with your sales team. 


3. Conversion rate

MQLs typically have a lower conversion rate than SQLs, as they are still in the process of being nurtured and educated on the product or service. SQLs already know what they want and are more likely to convert into customers. 


4. Demographics

MQLs may or may not have demographics—things like age, gender, location and job title—associated with them. You don’t need to have all the details to have an MQL. You just need enough. SQLs, on the other hand, always do. Your sales team likely gathered the missing data while talking to the lead.


5. Lead score

Lead scoring is a process used by marketing and sales teams to rank leads in order of their potential value. This process is done by assigning a numerical score to each lead based on their behavior and interactions with a company’s marketing and sales efforts. 

MQLs typically have lower lead scores than SQLs. This is because MQLs are still in the early, nurturing stages of moving from “fit” to “ready” while MQLs are ready to make the move from “ready” to “tell me where to sign.”


6. Lead nurturing strategies

MQLs must be nurtured through the funnel with content tailored to their needs. This includes personalized emails, webinars, blogs or demo videos.

SQLs need to be nurtured, with content focused on closing the deal. This could include follow-up emails, special offers or discounts, product demos, and case studies, to name a few.


7. Request for contact

Studies show that SQLs are 2.5x more likely to request contact than MQLs. SQLs have already expressed an interest in the product or service and are ready to purchase. MQLs, on the other hand, are still in the process of being educated about the product or service. 

SQLs who request to be contacted are usually further down the funnel and more likely to become customers—faster.


What comes first: MQL or SQL

The MQL stage is the first step in the sales and marketing funnel. It typically involves getting potential buyers interested in what your product or service can do for them. MQLs are usually scored based on their engagement level, which helps determine if and when they move forward down the funnel. 

The SQL stage is the end of the funnel, where buyers decide whether to purchase your product or service. Here, buyers are looking into things such as 

  • Sales: The discounts and offers available
  • Pricing: What works best for their budget 
  • Financing: How they can best finance the purchase and whether they need to take advantage of payment plans or other options
  • Technology: Whether the product offers the best technology for their needs 

MQLs usually start at the awareness stage, but only sometimes. They often end up as an SQL in the conversion stage of the marketing funnel. Successful MQL-to-SQL conversions improve the overall efficiency of your marketing campaigns and increase the chances of making a sale.

For a  successful MQL to SQL conversion, sales and marketing teams need to be aligned  and understand what’s happening throughout the entire funnel. Here are a few things you can do to optimize for MQL-SQL conversion.


1.   Have a lead scoring system in place to properly assess MQLs

Lead scoring involves using MQL scoring parameters—such as website visits, form submissions and others—to determine the likelihood of an MQL converting into an SQL

For example, if an MQL has visited your website 10 times and opened your emails five times, they would receive more points than someone who has only been to your website twice and opened your emails once. 

This process helps ensure MQLs are being evaluated accurately and that the most promising MQLs move forward in the funnel. 


2. Share MQL data with the sales team

Once MQLs have been scored, it’s important to share this data with your sales team so they can focus their efforts on MQLs that have a higher chance of closing. By sharing MQL data, the sales team can more easily assess MQLs and determine which MQLs are most likely to become SQLs. 


3. Establish MQL-SQL goals

It’s also vital to establish MQL-SQL goals so you can track progress and measure success. Setting MQL-SQL goals sets up parameters around what you should be tracking and allows you to better understand how MQLs are converting and what areas to improve. It’s all about optimizing for the highest possible conversion rate.

Your goals should include the following:

  • Conversion rate: How many MQLs convert to SQLs
  • Conversion time: How quickly MQLs are converting 
  • Lead yield rate: How many MQLs are being generated
  • Engagement rate: How engaged MQLs are with your product or service (this is determined by calculating the weighted engagement score)


4. Maintain MQLs

Maintaining MQLs is also important to ensure MQL-SQL conversions. Maintaining MQLs involves staying in contact with them, providing them with content and resources, and responding to any questions or concerns they may have. 

This also helps build relationships and trust, which can ultimately lead to MQL-SQL conversion. 

It’s important to note that MQLs should not be pressured to purchase. This is because MQLs are still learning about your product or service and need time to decide. So, this process could take weeks or even months. 

Following these steps will put you on the right track for growing your MQL-SQL conversion rate, but it won’t guarantee that all will convert. Knowing this up front is important because it removes the friction that too often lives between the sales and marketing team—when sales blames marketing for sending poor leads and marketing blames sales for not correctly approaching the lead. In reality, some leads may not convert because of factors outside of your control: the lead is shifting strategies, had their budget reduced, etc.

To facilitate all of it—high conversion and deep learning, it’s important that sales and marketing teams stay in regular communication. 


Final thoughts

Whether you’re in marketing focused on MQLs or in sales focused on SQLs, the reality is that you need to focus on accounts that show the most promise. You don’t have the time or resources to be engaging with targets that will never close. And in order to bring in the right leads, you need to look deeper than the firmographics that make up the traditional ICP.

With Rev, you’ll be tapping into the pattern-matching capabilities of AI to evaluate your best customers, discover their deep characteristics that make them your best customers and find other accounts that share those same traits. It’s that simple. And just like that, you’ll be bringing in MQLs and SQLs that have a higher propensity to engage and move through the funnel faster.

We’d love to show you how it works. Contact us and we’ll conduct a free ICP audit and give you a list of target accounts that you should go after next.

What chatbots teach revenue teams about using AI

AI has reached a tipping point in accessibility and proficiency, and Sales and Marketing teams are suddenly engaging with AI in new ways—many for the first time.

They’re using ChatGPT, for instance, to write their B2B prospecting emails, personalization and all. It takes a human five minutes or thirty or an hour to do some prospect research on LinkedIn before they can even get started. AI? It can do it all almost instantaneously. Or can it?

Not all AI tools are created equal. They’re not all trained to do the same thing. A chatbot like ChatGPT might write a heck of an email, but the accuracy of that email, especially when it comes to personalization, may not be as dialed in. As fascinating (and remarkable) as ChatGPT is, it also can’t build you an accurate target account list.

There are, however, AI tools that Sales, Marketing and RevOps teams can (and should) use to run faster and generate quality revenue. The key is to make certain you’re using the right tools to produce accurate and powerful results.

With the lessons learned from AI chatbots like ChatGPT and Google Bard, here is our Rev primer for revenue teams that require up-to-date and spot-on results from the leading edge of AI.


AI sources what is available—and it needs quality data

AI can improve lead generation efficiency and speed. So revenue teams absolutely can implement it—just not indiscriminately.

Not all AI is up to the task for what revenue teams need. It can get the details wrong. It did so, infamously and publicly, when Google Bard provided incorrect information about the James Webb Space Telescope.

It’s true that generative AI’s ability to create smooth, coherent, plausible text is impressive. Afterall, that’s what it was trained to do: generate realistic-sounding answers, not necessarily accurate ones. The details can be off. In Sales and Marketing, those details matter.


Teaching a robot to love

Here’s an illustrative thought experiment: Pretend that (like a shocking amount of people) you tasked an AI chatbot with writing a love poem for your partner. Could you pass it off as your own?

If you and your partner just met, maybe you could. But if you know each other well, you can’t get away with cold-calling AI to write a love poem. Straight-up, it won’t sound like you.

But it might, if you adjust the parameters: Give the AI chatbot all the love poems you’ve written over the years, then ask it to write a poem in that style. You just might pull it off, because the AI has greater access to relevant data.


Data quantity matters too

This is part of why Google Bard dropped the ball on the James Webb Space Telescope data: it’s a very recent news phenomenon, so there simply isn’t much information for the AI chatbot to source its knowledge from. It wrote an answer without sufficient context. If the question had been about the Hubble, Bard’s odds of nailing the answer would have improved dramatically. But, again, its model is designed to pick the most likely words and phrases, not what’s true.

To move the needle on your GTM functions, your AI-driven systems need to be used for what they were trained to do and have access to enough data. Otherwise they will point you in the wrong direction, or just come off sounding… well, off


Revenue teams require up-to-date data

More data doesn’t just give your AI a better knowledge base to draw from; it improves the AI’s performance—more so than more processing elements. It’s a lot like how a bigger brain doesn’t make a person smarter so much as more experience does.


Historical bias causes revenue issues

Yet AI runs into the historical bias problem referenced above with the telescopes: history often overwhelms recent info in AI processing. This is a problem for revenue teams that rely on immediate, relevant data to make decisions both accurately and fast. The lack of data created about today or yesterday can’t stop you from taking action now.

That’s one thing that limits generative AI models like ChatGPT. Put to work for a Sales team, it would miss some timely events and milestones about your target accounts to draft accurate email copy. And if you asked ChatGPT to build you a target account list? Well, it might do a reasonable job of finding a few good targets given enough context about what you’re selling. But generating an accurate list of hundreds or thousands of companies is a fundamentally different task—and absolutely requires specific, up-to-date information. Data that’s even a few months behinds will leave you in the middle of another James Webb Space Telescope situation.


LLMs improve accuracy

So, if you’re looking to AI to build your target account list you need to look beyond the hype of generative AI and start looking at AI that’s using large language models (LLM) in ways that leverage up-to-date information that’s most relevant to B2B targeting. That’s how you’ll get outputs that have a high level of accuracy in the details.

LLMs are the deep-learning algorithms that identify relevant data and synthesize it into useful form. Despite the name, they’re not just used for language processing applications like chatbots—they’re used in many other cases, like building aiCPs, or AI-driven customer profiles, that help revenue teams identify the exegraphics behind their best customers and find other accounts that share those traits and fit their ideal customer profile.

Short version? AI that uses an LLM can make sense of data scraped from the web, including up-to-date information about what’s happening with millions of companies, then analyze it to understand how those companies are executing their mission. It can compare this to how your current best customers are running their business, in order to provide real-time insights into the accounts that you should be targeting. 


It’s a sorting problem for revenue teams

The headline-grabbing generative AI used by chatbots relies on, essentially, solving search problems. They are a natural extension of what Google does today, where you ask a question and expect even just one good result.

In B2B, targeting is a different search problem: you want AI not to find you just one result, but to find all the results and then stack rank them in terms of how good a fit they are for what you’re trying to sell. Oh, without missing any, and without diluting the results with poor-quality targets.

In short, revenue teams require AI capable of solving sorting problems in addition to search problems.

To solve those problems accurately requires the right data, normalized in a way that an automated process can digest it. And it has to be up to date. These are significant challenges for LLMs. And LLMs are neither cheap nor easy to create; a company is not going to rebuild LLMs every day to account for new data.

This is why not all AI is created equal, and revenue teams in particular have to be selective in what will create not only fast content, but the right content. The best-fitting AI tools can identify the right information and assess relevant context around the organizations you should be selling to.


Final thoughts: Presentation matters

Let’s face it: the accuracy of AI chatbots is kind of a novelty. It’s fun to see what responses we get, but we’re all too used to finding the right answers on Google to be wowed by, essentially, an impressive search function.

We’re much more moved by the ability of AI to respond like a human in real time—faster than any person could—and sometimes even better. The ability to synthesize information, to comb those billions of data sources and come up with answers that come across more eloquently than any of us ever sounded in a job interview (or a prospecting email), is why revenue teams are so intrigued by technology like ChatGPT.

Presentation matters. No one would let AI write prospecting emails if it talked like a robot. But in the end, substance matters more than presentation. AI saves revenue teams time and resources, no doubt. But relying on the best-fit AI, AI that produces accurate results on B2B prospects, will be the real differentiator for revenue teams in this new landscape.

Layering exegraphics and intent data to up your game (and your returns)

RevOps teams are justifiably driven to incorporate intent data in their prioritization strategies. Which makes perfect sense: in the world of demand gen and cold outreach, a prospect who has voluntarily expressed interest in a solution your company offers is way more likely to buy than someone who hasn’t. Intent data offers much better predictive capabilities than standard firmographic filters (like industry, headcount, location or revenue).

Intent data is powerful. There’s no doubt about it. However, it may not be giving you the full spread of information you need to maximize your conversions. For example, intent data can overemphasize “window shoppers,” lookie-loos who are only checking things out because they cost little to nothing.

Sure, a prospect downloaded a white paper or attended a webinar in exchange for a live email address, but those actions could be lightweight indicators of actual readiness. Typically, 66% or more of prospects on a normal, unfiltered intent list are such window shoppers—not the hot prospects you’re most likely to land a meeting with.

But when you pair intent data with exegraphics? Now, you’re unlocking the real potential of both data sets to optimize your sales pipeline.


How exegraphics differ from intent

Exegraphics and intent data offer essentially a macro- and a micro-view of a potential customer. Intent signals reflect individual actions that indicate some amount of willingness to engage with your company’s offerings. Exegraphics are demand signals: they reveal the inner workings of companies and how they execute their mission.

An exegraphic is essentially any characteristic you would want to know about a company—even if that information is not readily accessible. The B2C giants have been in on this concept for years with psychographics that extend well beyond demographics: the large data attractors (think Amazon or Google) can predict what you’ll want to buy, as an individual consumer, before you know it yourself. Exegraphics offer similar insights for the B2B world.

AI-driven exegraphics look at companies two ways: one is a focus on a company’s position in its industry and the value it offers to its market. The other focuses on the functions of people within the company, and how those functions are built, sized and prioritized. Rather than create static data points, exegraphics also account for trends and change over time.

Here’s one way to think of it: Intent data reflects small-sample-size data points where a prospect has engaged with your company in some lightweight way. Going after those prospects on that data point alone is like fishing based on where you see a ripple on the water. You know at least one fish is swimming there, and if it’s hungry, it might bite.

Exegraphic data, on the other hand, goes deeper than surface-level interactions to understand broader behaviors and patterns. In the fishing metaphor, you’d have a working knowledge of where schools of fish travel in the lake during different seasons and times of day. You’d know what they like to eat and when they’re most active. You’re not chasing ripples; you’re casting a lure where you know it’s most likely to land a hungry fish.


Combining forces to focus your sales strategy

Now you could argue that the best way to fish is both to understand the deeper behavioral patterns, and to look for the ripples that signal a live one. We agree.

Every prospect can potentially exhibit both intent signals and demand signals, as in this case: 

If you’ve already implemented an intent data provider’s system to capture the potential desires of individual prospects, great: keep using it. Alongside that, Rev can identify the exegraphics that your best customers share. We use millions of behavioral data points from thousands of companies to understand what characteristics underlie your best-fit prospects’ needs and create an aiCP (an AI-supported ideal customer profile) to build you a prospect pipeline from the companies with the top “Rev Scores.”

Layering your existing intent data atop the aiCP offers even clearer direction for your sales and marketing strategies, combining the fish’s behavior with the ripples atop the water.

This matrix describes four primary scenarios for combining exegraphics and intent data:

Next wave: high Rev Score + low intent score

These target companies demonstrate the right heavyweight behaviors to match your aiCP. They act like your current best customers on the inside, and for those reasons they are highly likely to have a need for your product or service—even if they don’t know it yet, or haven’t acted on it yet.

Your strategy: Nurture these next-wave prospects.

 These companies are ripe for a higher-volume nurture campaign. They may not be fully aware of a looming pain point, or that your company offers solutions for it. So, start creating those relationships. At the same time, you can monitor these prospects for intent signals—any way they are responding to your nurture campaign or seeking more information, which could bump them into the “hot prospects” category below.


Window shoppers: low Rev Score + high intent score

We mentioned window shoppers above. These prospects are often false positives. They demonstrate interest or curiosity, but the underlying exegraphics reveal they may not be a likely best fit because they don’t share many similarities with your best or ideal customers.

Your strategy: Delegate and deprioritize.

These prospects’ high-intent scores come at a low cost to them (often nothing more than offering an email address). The good thing is, interacting with them can remain a low-cost proposition for you, too. Don’t ignore them, but don’t expend time and resources on them, either. You can route them to automated marketing campaigns until they demonstrate a more serious interest.


Non-prospects: low Rev Score + low intent score

Odds are, your product isn’t useful to everyone out there. These companies have not shown significant interest in your product, and their exegraphics don’t demonstrate much likelihood that they ever will.

Your strategy: Simply ignore them.

Sometimes, you might want to think non-prospects are an untapped market. Most often, they’re not worth your time. The ROI on marketing to these companies would be minuscule, and odds are they’d be unsatisfied customers anyway. Unless these companies start to demonstrate some interest or radically evolve closer to your ideal customer, just don’t even bother.


Hot prospects: high Rev Score + high intent score

These are the golden-ticket prospects. The holy grails. The unicorns. Not only do they look and act like your ideal customers, but they’re also demonstrating a readiness to engage and buy. Do we really need to explain why you should call these companies right now?

Your strategy: Go for it! Route them to your sales team for immediate action.


Final thought: Exegraphics and intent data are more powerful together

Of course we believe that exegraphics are the most powerful tool for any RevOps leader. We know of no more comprehensive way to understand what makes your best customers tick, and to identify your true ideal customer profile.

Yet there is no denying that intent data augments the precision and strength of exegraphics. With exegraphics alone, absent intent data, your sales team knows they might have to spend time selling the idea before selling the product. But knowing which prospects function much like your existing success cases and which ones are already looking at the solutions your team offers?

Well, we can’t promise the trout will jump right in your boat. That’s no fun. But with exegraphics and intent data playing together, your sales team can focus its efforts on the greatest likelihoods of landing satisfied customers.

Ready for a free list of target accounts that have the exegraphics you care about most? Contact us.

Stay informed of critical events among your best prospects, with EV lenses

Reaching out to a prime prospect at a critical moment in their company’s journey—and before the competition does—could be the difference between a closed-won and closed-lost. You know that, and we know that. So, we decided to give you the first-move advantage.

Our groundbreaking AI-driven Sales Development Platform just got even more powerful for RevOps and sales development teams. We’re stoked to announce EV lenses, a new category of exegraphic data that is event based. EV lenses identify critical events among your top accounts and best prospects—in real time.

Now, the moment that meaningful event happens within your customer base and your target accounts, your revenue team will receive triggered notifications. This heightened level of visibility equips your team to take relevant and timely action, while your target companies’ needs are at their most immediate.

With EV lenses, you’ll know when a target account experiences a major event:

  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Funding rounds
  • Office expansion
  • Closing offices
  • Hiring sprees for particular functions
  • Layoffs in particular functions
  • And more

Exegraphics have always been able to identify trends in your target accounts over time. (Check out this article to learn how exegraphics work.) In short, they are pieces of information or characteristics that convey how a company executes its mission. They’re deeper signals for identifying accounts that fit your product and are ready to hear your pitch. With the availability of EV lenses, you can now catch a prospect’s attention at a moment when your prospect could use your help the most—or when you simply want to tailor an outreach message that feels timely and relevant.

But, that’s not all. We also just launched a new notification capability that flags any shifts in exegraphic status among your target audience. So, if a target account went from “early adopter” to “late adopter”—you’d be the first to know. It’s all about equipping your revenue teams with critical updates, right when they matter most.

Want to see it in action? Contact us to schedule a demo.