If only you’d invested in Bitcoin six years ago. If only you had known where Amazon stock was headed.

Timing is everything.

There’s no Magic 8 Ball for investing, but new tools are making the world of B2B sales development a whole lot more predictable.

There’s something very sexy under the hood of DiscoverOrg, and it’s solving a quintessential outbound sales development problem: Knowing when to act.

It’s one thing to recognize buying signals from a customer. It’s another thing entirely to detect predictive signals from a prospect with whom you’ve never interacted … or didn’t even know existed.

Or as the Magic 8 ball would say, Outlook not so good.

Prioritize accounts for sales development

A common issue for sales development is knowing which accounts to go after first.

Sales development isn't guessworkWhile technology aims to expand your capacity to engage with multiple individuals, you can only really engage with one prospect at a time. And you know other sales people are acting to solve their needs in your absence.

One of the most painful aspects of sales is finding out you lost an opportunity you never knew about. Maybe they would have been your 99th call for the day, and you ended on 98. Maybe you weren’t actively prospecting to them. Maybe you tried them months ago without any luck.

Where did you go wrong? How did you miss it? Reply hazy, try again later.

If you dig deep enough, you’ll find all sorts of signals and indicators that led them to purchase. But hindsight is 20-20.

There’s nothing worse than hearing back from a key prospect at a target account and learning that they just purchased from your competitor.

What you need is a way to detect and respond to these signals before it’s too late. Magic 8 Ball says, Concentrate and ask again.

Certain company movements and events can predict purchases, such as when a new VP or CMO joins a team, or job postings for 15 new sales reps, or a new round of funding is received, or there are spikes in consumption of certain types of content. These kinds of events indicate prime time for SDRs to reach out with a cold call or email.

DiscoverOrg’s Subscriptions is that red flag.

How it Works: DiscoverOrg’s Alert Subscriptions

Here’s how it works: Suppose my company sells cloud storage solutions. I’m paired with an Account Executive who gives me a list of her top 50 named accounts. She asks me to drill into each account, do some research, start prospecting and book appointments.

Using DiscoverOrg’s list-matching tool to pull up those 50 accounts in Advanced Search, tab over to Employees results, and further refine search criteria to target specific roles:

  • Director level or higherThere's not magic ball for sales
  • In IT or TEDD (Technology, Engineering, Design, and Development) departments
  • Contacts with a keyword of “storage” or “cloud”
  • Enterprise companies with 500+ employees

I’d collect the results and save the search criteria as a Saved Search rather than the list. At the same time I’ll check a box to subscribe to any Company, Employee or Trigger updates that happen to my list. That way I’ll know when people come and go, when phone numbers or email addresses change or when key initiatives are taking place.

I can now monitor changes and updates at those companies, and I’ll be the first in the door when new prospects and opportunities surface.

And it is important to be the first in the door. According to Forrester, the first viable vendor to reach a decision-maker has a 74% average close ratioMagic 8 Ball says, It is decidedly so.

Read: How Sales and Marketing Intelligence is Democratizing Growth and Driving Disruption

Example using DiscoverOrg’s Scoops feature

Sales Scoops like these can be used to prioritize accounts:

  • A new VP of Sales or CMO at a target company
  • A spike in search volume around cloud service providers indicating research and possible intent to buy
  • A plan to hire 15 new sales reps

If the account is already being prospected to, the results of the alert subscription give me a foot in the door.

In the case of a new VP or CMO, I’d call first. (At DiscoverOrg, we’re not afraid of the phone!) I’d ask that new leader where they came from (checking first to see if they previously worked at a current client).

Our conversation might sound like this: “Hey Jason, I know you’re new to the role and you’re getting your feet under you, but my assumption is that you’ve been hired for a reason, and that you’ve got some very big goals and tasks in front of you.

“In fact, when speaking with your counterparts, I often hear that within their first 30 to 90 days, new CMO’s are focused on Task A, Task B, or Task C: Are those your top priorities too, or is there a fourth?” (In this scenario, Task A, Task B and Task C represent 3 key priorities or business challenges you know your product solves.)

After the prospect responds to my leading question, I can respond with: “Great. At WidgetCorp, we’ve been helping companies like [insert competitive customer] solve that, and see immediate ROI.”

And then I’d ask for the meeting …

For more on this strategy, see my post: 3 Sales Tactics for Creating a Sense of Urgency by Asking the RIGHT Questions.

If the subscription alert revealed a plan to hire 15 new sales reps, my target company clearly wants to grow. That’s a significant investment, and management will want to see ROI right away. We’d call first, then put the prospect in a very specific nurture email campaign.

Account Executives who don’t have the support of sales development can use it the same way: to quickly prospect and make contact at exactly the right time.

Download: Why Didn’t They Buy? A Deep-dive into Buyer Preferences – and the Implications for Salespeople

Monitoring as an Account Executive

AccountView helps marketers do ABMAccount Executives who do have the support of an SDR can set up Saved Searches and Subscriptions once – then respond to the email alerts.

To do this, I’d save a single search for my top 50 accounts. Within those accounts, I’d set up a second search for the CIOs, CISOs, and VPs of info security – if those were my core buyers – and focus on updates to those roles within my 50 accounts. I’d then set up a third subscription: Scoops related to keyword of cloud, big data, or “data storage” AND “cloud security” (if those type of projects was what my product offering helped with).

Now, every day, I’m going to get one email with any change within those top 50 accounts; for example, a new procurement officer or new CEO. (Even though it’s not my focus role, I still want to know what’s going on.) A second email will show changes within my core contacts, to make sure I’m engaged. And I’ll get a third email with all issues related to cloud storage – so my competition doesn’t get in front of me. I can also use this for existing customers so that I’ll know if my customer is evaluating other competitors.

Get a free copy of our study: 30 Ways to Get Inside the Mind of Your Target Buyer

Marketing alerts

Marketing can go a long way in warming up leads, with the right data at the right time. This department can use same Search and Subscription tools I’ve been describing – with a slightly different spin.

Suppose I work in the Marketing department for a cloud vendor, and we have an event coming up. I’d set up a subscription for a CIO, CTO, and Director of Infrastructure, and put them into an event-based email campaign. I’d also set up subscriptions alert, so that any new contact added to the database, and who live in the area of the event, will be added to the email campaign.

Voila, you just boosted attendance! (Magic 8 Ball: You may rely on it.)

It’s not a crystal ball. It’s not even a Magic 8 ball. But these features of the platform were designed to tackle the problems of sales development head-on by offering an insider’s look into your best-fit companies – so you can connect in the right way, exactly at the right time.

Signs, Magic 8 Ball says, point to yes.

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About the author

Steven Bryerton

Steven is responsible for Enterprise Sales at DiscoverOrg. Steve has grown with DiscoverOrg with positions in Research, Lead Generation, Marketing, and is now as the VP of Sales for the Company. Before joining the team at DiscoverOrg, he worked in sales and marketing at IT firms including Cxtec and Orion Systems Integrators. Steven graduated with a degree in computer engineering from the University of Miami, where he played for the club soccer team.