What Are Sales Signals? (Plus Where to Find Them and How to Use Them)

Posted in: sales triggers, sales, outreach, Sales Operations, AE, SDR

What's a sales signal? For something that wasn't even in the sales lexicon a few years ago, it's rapidly (and rightly) gaining in popularity. Sales signals are, in a nutshell, a reason to reach out to a potential customer. They turn outreach emails from "Hi {name}, just checking in..." to "Hi {name}, congrats on the new job! Here's how {my product} can help you in {role}." Generic emails get deleted. Personalized emails get responses. The difference between them is sales signals.

Examples of sales signals

Here are just a few signals that you can use as a reason to reach out:

  • Funding events
  • Office expansions or relocations
  • Executive changes or major hires
  • Partnerships, mergers and acquisitions
  • Awards or news mentions
  • Conferences attendances
  • Revenue, product or user milestones
  • Product launches

This is hardly a comprehensive list, but it's more than enough to get you started.

What are the most valuable sales signals?

At DataFox, we've found office expansions and relocations, major hires and conference attendances to be major signals. We also learned something pretty counterintuitive. You'd think that announcing a funding round would be an amazing sales signal - the company is getting a huge influx of cash, which they're probably going to spend on improving their tech stack, recruiting and marketing. So, perfect time to reach out, right?

Well, unfortunately, funding announcements usually come months after the funding itself. By that time, companies have already started (and maybe even finished) hiring and buying new products. Here's the timeline that DataFox went through when we raised a round in 2015:

Timeline

There were a number of sales signals that indicated our ability and willingness to spend: a new office, an uptick in hiring, more media mentions. Any of those would've been a good time to reach out. But we didn't get much attention until we announced the funding - and then we were deluged with 60 emails in just one week. Ironically, the day we announced our new funding was the worst time to reach out. Not only had we already started spending the new capital, but we were slammed with so many emails that even good ones probably got lost in the noise.

So while most signals are valuable, certain ones can be more effective than others.

How to use sales signals

As we mentioned before, sales signals are a reason to reach out. For example:

  • "Loved your Medium post about the importance of longform content. {My product} offers a way to track the success of your content."
  • "I noticed you'll be attending SaaStr later this month. Would you like to grab a quick coffee?"
  • "Congratulations on reaching 100,000 users! That's a huge milestone."
  • "Saw you in Time the other day - I definitely agree with your point about..."
  • "Congrats on your promotion to CMO! As you're building out your team, I'd like to recommend some top-notch manager-level demand generation candidates."

Signals form the basis of the 10/80/10 model of sales emails and calls:

  • The first 10% should be sales signals: personal or company milestones, shared connections or investors, news events, etc.
  • The middle 80% should be relevant information: customer stories, use cases, value propositions, and the like. While this section isn't as personalized as the first 10%, it should be tailored to the customer persona.
  • The final 10% should include a clear call to action, such as scheduling a time to talk or get coffee.

Used effectively, sales signals are the hook that gets the conversation started. Accurately categorizing your leads can make the middle 80% and final 10% easy and relatively scalable; the first 10%, though, is all about personalization.

 

Where to find sales signals

Smart sales reps are already using sales signals. They're setting Google Alerts on their tracked accounts; searching LinkedIn; and checking Facebook and Twitter. That's a smart way to get signals on your existing account. The downside? It doesn't scale well. At all. It's hard to find the signal in quarterly earnings reports, repostings and other noise.

Plus, that strategy only gives sales signals for tracked accounts. Let's say you're interested in Bay Area tech companies with at least 100 employees. If a company goes on hiring spree that puts it over the headcount threshold, that's a pretty great reason to reach out. But if you're only looking for sales signals on your tracked account, you'll miss the opportunity.

We're all about getting rid of grunt work and helping you find more qualified prospects. After seeing our sales team spend tons of time wading through Google Alerts and switching between tabs as they juggled information from a dozen different sources, we decided to make sales signals easier.

With DataFox, you can quickly and easily sign up for alerts on your tracked accounts, or on companies that meet your criteria. For example, you can get daily or weekly emails whenever:

  • One of your tracked accounts is in the news
  • A new company meets your criteria on location, sector, headcount, or 30+ other data points
  • A SaaS company in Boston will be attending a conference

We've been working on our signals for years, and, well, we're pretty proud of them. We're not exactly unbiased observers, but we strive to make our signals:

  • Relevant. We make sure that our signals are actually relevant to the companies they're linked with. Let's say that Looker gets an extensive feature piece in a tech journal. That's a great signal for Looker. But if that feature piece casually mentions Birst or Domo as Looker's competitors, you wouldn't consider the article a signal for either of those companies. With DataFox, your signals will be actionable and relevant to the companies you care about.
  • Comprehensive. We process thousands of events daily, from sources ranging from the New York Times to the Albuquerque Journal to social media to SEC filings. We get the most news coming into our database, so you have the most signals at your fingertips - no Google Alerts required.
  • Trustworthy. We audit our signals to make sure you never have that sinking, awkward feeling of having sent an inaccurate email. Whether it's differentiating between Drop, the pool monitor, or Drop, the messaging app, we make sure that your information and signals are clean.

Don't be among the hundreds of sales reps sending cold emails a company announces a funding round. With DataFox, you'll be the first to know when a company's ready to spend - and be the first to reach out with the right message at the right time.

Ready to give DataFox a shot?

Sign up for a trial and see how we enable personalized conversations at scale - from finding qualified prospects to aggregating sales signals to supplying contact information.