The Effect of COVID-19 on B2B Intent & Sales Activity
Stephen Farnsworth, Head of Partnerships at Outreach
How many times have you started an email or call with, “Hope all is well during these wild times.” If you’re like me, you’re starting to hate yourself just a little bit more because of how much you’re repeating yourself on Zoom calls in an attempt to have a normal conversation during these wild times (see, I did it again).
The fact is, these are unprecedented times and we’re all trying to find ways to cope both personally and professionally. Our advice (detailed by Brooke Simmons here) is for sales reps to acknowledge the situation and become a trusted advisor that collaborates with the buyer - and doesn’t pitch.
Collaboration with Bombora
Right now, it’s hard to know what your buyers’ priorities are, or how they have shifted in the last few weeks, but there are tools that offer sales teams a window. In fact, our upcoming partnership with Bombora, a leading intent data provider, is a great way for sales teams to get a pulse on their buyer’s level of interest, as well as purchasing timelines.
Bombora collects data on web users’ observed behavior and web content consumption that gives insights into their interests and can indicate intent to take an action or make a purchase.
The Data on COVID-19
But Bombora isn’t only a leader in providing intent data, they’re also a thought leader. Bombora just published an extremely informative analysis on COVID-19’s impact on B2B (you can read the whole thing here). As you can probably imagine, once the world realized COVID-19 was a real threat in early March, B2B buying intent dipped. Everyone was reacting to all the uncertainty, and of course the last thing on their mind was to research products and services.
And without Bombora’s data we might not have not noticed what happened at the end of March and early April (weeks 8-10 below): B2B intent activity is picking back up as companies are getting used to operating remotely and in uncertainty. The same struggles are still there, but with the country on lockdown for the foreseeable future, it’s necessary to confront the obstacles at hand with greater urgency than ever.
Aggregated Outreach activity data tells a similar story, though the swings aren’t as prolonged or dramatic, likely because sales teams can’t ever truly let off the gas. In particular, email volumes remain constant due to Outreach automation, while more manual activities like task and call completions take a big drop. Corporate and enterprise companies (the green lines) as a whole haven’t been as affected due to deeper pockets and more stable businesses, whereas companies with under 250 employees (the blue lines) saw a much larger dip in activity at the same time as Bombora’s data in week 8. Thankfully, activity data quickly returned to normal.
In section “The rise and rise of the need for ‘Security’ during COVID-19” of Bombora’s article, some verticals are in obvious trouble (i.e. travel, events, retail), while others are benefiting from increased interest, including ‘security,’ which has seen a 35% increase in interest in the last month. With so many companies’ forced transition to remote life, information security is now an urgent need!
For example, lots of us use Okta or another Identity & Access Management provider for multi-factor authentication to ensure when somebody logs in, it’s actually them. With teams working remote, all of the companies that had been mulling over transitioning to use a Identity & Access Management solution are now looking to buy a solution ASAP to ensure only employees are accessing their systems. Despite the economic slowdown, this data helps “me” (as a security company) understand it’s time to step on the gas rather than be cautious.
The Integration & Offer
Bombora’s integration will be ready for use in May, and they have an exclusive offer for all Outreach customers to use their industry-leading intent data for free! Sign up for the waiting list here. The integration will automatically create Outreach tasks for reps to engage with the accounts showing the highest intent.
With teams remote and in-person meetings impossible, intent data is more important than ever. Buyer intent data helps you identify prospects who are desperately looking for you, but don’t show any engagement (website visits, email opens, content downloads, webinar registrations, etc) with you directly yet. According to a study by Lead Connect, 78% of customers buy from the vendor who contacts them first. This is because you’re able to quickly position yourself and your brand as the trusted consultant - putting you on offense rather than defense. Intent data helps you identify these needles in the haystack super early on, and when connected with Outreach, you’ll never miss out on a hot account again!
We’re going to be releasing more thoughts and updates from Bombora’s intent data trends and even sharing how our own data trends are changing over time. We encourage each one of you to use the data you have at hand--Outreach email open/sequence reply rates, Bombora’s Company Surge® activity, website traffic, white paper downloads, ad impressions & clicks, etc--to focus your time becoming a trusted advisor to the accounts most likely to close during these wild times (alright, that one was on purpose).