B2B marketing is at a crossroads.
With so many teams using the same playbooks, it’s becoming harder for marketing teams to stand out in a crowd.
Add in the rising costs for customer acquisition, tightening budgets, and higher targets, and you have marketing teams scrambling to adjust their strategies to generate more pipeline with fewer resources.
Enter: champion tracking.
Champion tracking is one of the oldest and most popular playbooks for sales teams. Why? Because champions —previous users, past buyers, and internal influencers — at a target account can increase your chances of closing a deal by 114%.It also helps to shorten sales cycles by about 12% and offers an average of 54% bigger deal sizes!
Today, 41% of employees are seeking new opportunities, and about 20% of your CRM contacts will make job movements in the next year alone, making this play a meaningful channel for generating qualified pipeline.
Why champion tracking matters for B2B
Champion tracking is when you keep an eye out for previous users, past buyers, and internal influencers who change jobs. These are warm leads who make it easier for you to connect with new target accounts and who can make it easier for you to generate pipeline.
Here’s a true story.
My background is in product marketing. As a product marketer, I was a huge fan of a particular call recording tool — let’s call it Software A. I used this tool extensively and sang its praises. I said it was an absolute must-have tool for sales and marketing.
Then I joined a new company that didn’t have a call recording tool. Around the same time, I started noticing a different call recording tool all over LinkedIn — let’s call it Software B. Their company and employee content was educational and entertaining. And they stayed on my radar. By the time a seller reached out from Software B, I was already a fan. I made the switch from my favorite must-have tool and became a raving fan of the new one.
If the team from Software A had reached out, I’m not sure if I would have bought from them again — but the chance would have been higher. However, since they didn’t reach out to me at my new role, it’s impossible to say what might have happened.
It’s a pretty common story. Yet, I’m always surprised by how many marketers leave these leads up to chance because they believe customers who love the product will come back on their own.
Why does champion tracking matter in today’s environment?
It's risky to assume your champions will buy again without outside influence. Buyers have nothing to lose by checking out new options.
But you miss out on several benefits by leaving the opportunity to capture a new account to chance.
Here are seven reasons why you should be tracking your champions:
1. Tighter budgets
The current market conditions have led to tighter budgets and higher targets, making it necessary for marketing teams to set up strategies that allow them to do more with less.
Champion tracking gives you a chance to gain more ROI from your budget by unlocking your champion lifetime value. This means you can expand your customer’s lifetime value when they change jobs by winning their new company’s account.
2. Enable sales and marketing alignment
Champion tracking makes it easy for sales and marketing teams to go after the best buyers together. This alignment between sales and marketing results in a coordinated go-to-market (GTM) strategy that leads to more effective outreach campaigns and higher conversion rates.
3. Buying committees keep getting bigger
In B2B sales, buying committee are expanding. It’s not uncommon to see 6-12 people who influence the buying decisions within their companies.
This is because buyers are more cautious when it comes to how the budget is being spent and only want to invest in tools that can directly impact their revenue and/or reduce costs. Having a champion in the buying group increases your chances of closing the deal by 114% because they’ll serve as an internal advocate and make a strong case for your product’s value.
4. Warmer conversations
Selling to previous customers reduces the need for cold outreaches. As former users or buyers of your product, they already know how it works and the results they can get from using it again.
You don’t have to start building trust from scratch or educating them afresh about the benefits of your products. This results in 12% shorter sales cycles, which means you can hit your quota faster.
5. Run an always-on campaign
Tracking your champions helps you avoid pipeline anxiety with an always-on campaign.
By setting up automation to track champions’ job movements and enroll them in your campaigns, you’ll have an ongoing additional source of qualified pipeline with minimal lift from your team.
6. Prevent churn
Ever been in a position where a champion suddenly left an account and you found yourself scrambling to reduce churn risk? Champion tracking as a key part of your customer success strategy helps you stay one step ahead of this issue.
First, it allows you to multithread and nurture relationships with more than one champion, which ensures you have another advocate in the account. And it keeps you informed when there’s a new executive in your existing account so you can build a relationship with them.
Second, you can track where your champion has moved to and pitch to them in their new roles. So, you get to retain them as a customer.
7. Bigger deal sizes
Our studies have shown that deals with previous champions have a 54% bigger deal size. They know your product and trust you, so they’re more likely to go big when buying from you.
Our customers at Cobalt, a cybersecurity company, also experienced bigger deal sizes with former champions. “Our Enterprise deals are typically five to six months and with a $40,000 average deal size,” says Clare Corriveau, Sr. Director of Demand Generation at Cobalt. “We reached out to a churned customer — a UserGems lead — who had moved to a new company, and this closed three weeks from the day that the lead got sent to the BDR and closed at $90,000.”
4 questions to ask before you track champions
If you have trouble tracking your customer's job movements, or your team suffers from constant pipeline anxiety, champion tracking might be a good fit for you.
But before you get started, here are four questions you should ask yourself to make sure that you're ready to add it to your pipeline generation strategy.
1. What’s your current process and how does champion tracking fit into it?
The first step you need to take is to understand your current process and then identify a business case for champion tracking.
“Many organizations look at the BDR function as a money pit. And if done wrong, it certainly can be one,” says Drake Danford, Senior Manager of Business Development at ShowPad “But when done right, your BDR function makes a huge IMPACT on your bottom line. And getting it right means you have to invest in the right tools and the right process.”
Danford continues, “Instead of throwing the kitchen sink, focus on investing in intent data and tracking former champions, key contacts, and contacts of your solution for job changes.”
Danford recommends using 6sense and Demandbase for intent data and UserGems or Sales Navigator to track champions/key contacts moving to other companies.
“Once these tools are in place, you’ll need a prospecting prioritization process — a dashboard that prioritizes accounts for your BDRs to go after — in place,” he explains. “This process sets your reps up to convert more conversations and source more revenue.”
“Setting up a prospecting prioritization process dashboard has meant our BDRs don’t have to THINK about where to find accounts OR how to find accounts to go after,” adds Danford. “The combination of the right tools and the prospecting prioritization process led to a 440% increase in BDR sources revenue in the United States for Showpad.”
2. Who are your champions?
Champions typically fall into one of two categories in B2B sales: the decision-makers and the end-users.
The decision-makers are ex-users who have the authority to make a purchasing decision in a new role. They usually have a budget, and their employers expect them to use it to build new processes and implement new tools.
The end-users are former users of your solution but aren’t in a position to have much influence over the decision-making process. While they may not have purchasing power, they can provide insights about their new company and set up an intro with a decision-maker, like their manager or a department head.
Defining your champions streamlines the champion-tracking process and helps develop persona-specific messaging for your leads.
LeanData, a revenue orchestration platform, creates repeat customers by segmenting their champions into four categories:
- Past Champion Contact: Initially identified post-sale as a power user or champion of LeanData, this contact has now moved to a new company.
- Past “Closed Won Opportunity” Contact: Previously added as a contact role to a Closed/Won Opportunity in Salesforce, this contact has now moved to a new company.
- Past “Open Opportunity” Contact: Previously added to an Open Opportunity in Salesforce, this contact has moved to a new company.
- Past “Closed Lost Opportunity” Contact: Previously added to a Closed/Lost Opportunity in Salesforce, this contact has moved to a new company.
“It’s so important to be thoughtful when reaching out,” says Monica Bacican, Senior Sales Operations Manager at LeanData. ”You want to make sure the sales team is doing their research on whether they were a customer or they were involved in a previous opportunity. And what's so great is UserGems provides all that information on the contact record, so it’s right at their fingertips.”
With UserGems powering their champion tracking playbook, the sales team at LeanData could focus on the leads who were most likely to buy, leading to $100,000 in new sales pipeline in just over one week and increased open rates for their SDRs’ Outreach sequences.
3. Do you build or buy?
Next, consider whether to build your champion-tracking tool internally or buy a third-party solution.
Before scaling to an automated solution, consider tracking it manually. Especially if you need to prove the value and ROI of tracking job changes to your team and management.Here are some of the best ways to get started with champion tracking without having to purchase additional technology:
- Go through your CRM to identify contacts that match your ICP who have changed jobs in the past year.
- Don’t only pay attention to the individuals who sign the checks. Look out for the decision-makers and end-users.
- Browse job postings at your target accounts to find new opportunities. This allows you to stay informed when there’s a new hire and identify relationships you already have within the company that can help connect you with the incoming hire.
If you decide to build a champion tracking tool internally, here are some tips from De Villepion Maxence, Revenue Maker and Co-founder of Cargo:
“Ideally, a good internal solution will include:
- An extractor tool (such as Captain Data or Phantombuster if you are on a budget) that extracts data from the input source (the LinkedIn profiles of your customers).
- A dedicated data model to automatically clean and keep only the customers that change jobs.
- A synchronizing tool such as Hightouch or Cargo's prospect relationship management function to sync the new job change details to your CRM and outreach tool.
- Routing leads back to the appropriate sequence (decision-makers or end users).”
Building an internal solution requires software engineering skills and even more tools to make it work. And using a manual process is time-consuming, often inaccurate, and sales reps struggle to follow up with these leads.
A third-party solution like UserGems helps you automate the entire process. Plus it’s user-friendly and integrates with Salesforce.
Alex Griffin, Director of Global Sales Development at Segment, automated their champion tracking with UserGems and describes it as a miracle. “Our SDRs have been trying to find this information manually for years, right? They would get on LinkedIn, try to track job changes and stay in touch with people from different companies. And it gets so messy and inconsistent from rep to rep, as you can imagine. So there was a lot of training around that through the SDRs at first.
“And then when we launched the UserGems and said, ‘you no longer have to take the time to go and do this research on your own and track this down. We’re going to be pushing it to you on a monthly basis for you to then action and follow up.’ It was a game changer for their workflows.”
She explains, “It’s a much warmer conversation to reach out to someone who knows what Segment is, who has been a part of the buying process, or who used it. And so it’s easy for our SDRs to connect with people.”
Here’s what implementing UserGems looks like:
- Connect your CRM to identify customer accounts and customer contacts. (Optional: connect calendars and product databases to identify more contacts, such as power users vs. casual users).
- Update UserGems job change settings for your list of target prospect accounts and criteria for target personas (buyers vs. users) to highlight the most relevant job changes.
- UserGems then creates new records in your CRM for all job changes and provides their new information (new job title, company, email address, phone number, LinkedIn URL). It also connects the new record with the old record, carrying over any past info (last NPS, user type, etc.).
- Next, UserGems alerts account owners (SDRs and CSMs) and flags outdated records as “No longer at company.”
Depending on the type of job change, UserGems automatically adds the new contact into the relevant sales sequence.
- Previous Customer Buyer —> Now at ICP Company and Director + title
- Previous Customer Buyer —> Now at ICP Company and User title
- Previous Customer User —> Now at ICP Company and Director + title
UserGems has customer job-change messaging playbooks that you can use for your outreaches. So it's easy for your team to promptly act on these most valuable leads because they have all the resources they need.
4. How do you align across teams to ensure champion tracking is successful?
Champion tracking is more effective when sales and marketing are aligned about which buyers are on the target account list and then go after them together.
Instead of targeting leads separately, a champion tracking process supported by an account-based everything strategy means that sales and marketing focus on the leads who are most likely to buy, such as previous customers and users. This results in more wins, bigger contracts, and more strategic customer logos.
Lead with data to get buy-in from teams and show them the value of prioritizing champions. “By leading with data, you’re already laying the groundwork for successful sales buy-in, which is typically one of the most challenging obstacles to overcome to get these strategies off the ground for long-lasting success,” says Corrina Owens, Senior ABM manager at Gong.
Corrina shares two tips for aligning the sales team in her playbook for driving revenue with ABX through champion tracking.
- Create service-level agreements
“This can be as simple as Service Level Agreements) between these departments on key metrics like:
- # of outbound touchpoints with key personas at account per week
- Speed to respond to inbound inquiries across target accounts
- Content creation per account, persona, etc.”
- Transparent dashboards and reporting
“Make your account-level and personal-level data visible and easily consumed by all. Show how you’re tracking towards those goals and call out areas where you see the potential risk in reaching those goals.
- Work as a unit to pivot your strategy as needed.
- Share learnings often. Even with the best intentions and thorough research and planning, the market is constantly shifting at unsustainable speeds.
- Disappointment may happen, but not sharing honestly and freely breeds distrust and hurts your credibility to partner with your crucial GTM functions in the future.”
UserGems tested tactics to re-engage previous champions
When a previous buyer moves to a new company, the sales and marketing teams have the opportunity to capture a new account. So how can you reengage your champions when they move to another company?
Our Director of Demand Generation, Isaac Ware, and Blaise Bevilacqua, UserGem’s Enterprise Account Executive, share how we do it at UserGems:
Champion tracking for sales
Here are four ways our sales team uses the champion-tracking playbook:
1. New logo acquisition
This refers to having former champions, past evaluators, product users, product admins, etc., bring us into a new org.
“We call this playbook UG4UG, and it accounts for about 25% of my quota attainment,” says Blaise. “I prioritize all of my deals that are being led by a former customer given the propensity to buy. They are already sold on the pitch, so the hard part is done. Typically these deals involve working with the former champion on co-designing the business case to make a successful second sale.
2. Customer expansion
This is when a former customer lands with a current customer and involves tapping them on the shoulder to open a new line of business/upsell opportunity.
“Strategic Account Managers or any rep responsible for expansion within their customer base love when former champions land within a new business unit within their book of business,” says Blaise.
“Two things could happen. Either a) they reactivate a stalled deal by bringing in the former champion into the conversation OR a new opportunity is created based on interest in a potential new product.”
3. Deal acceleration
This involves bringing in former customers mid-cycle to help accelerate the deal and sell internally.
“These are some of my favorite trigger events,” says Blaise. “Along with helping to shorten the sales cycle, they also could help reactivate a stalled or dead deal. When I receive a notification that a former champion landed in an open opportunity contact, I typically send a congrats email + LI connect request that looks like this:
Hey Dozie, congrats on the new role!! We miss working with you at ACME. Good news -- your colleagues Derek and Emily are looking to bring UserGems in for ACME to help hit their $120M pipeline target. Our next call is Monday at 2PMET if you'd like to join?"
Also, I send this to the buying committee I'm speaking with:
Hey Derek and Emily, kudos on your new team member Dozie! He actually led the evaluation of UserGems back at [Company] and is a huge fan. Talk to him about his experience for some unbiased feedback.
4. Deal de-risking
This is when a key contact leaves without telling you.
“Getting notified when a champion leaves mid-funnel. Every rep's worst nightmare,” says Blaise. “Thankfully for our team, we get notified of in-flight contacts during their evaluation.”
He adds, “If this does happen, we see if they land in a prospective target account to reengage the conversation and should be multi-threaded enough with the rest of the buying committee that the departure doesn't crumble the deal.”
Champion tracking for marketing
To match the playbooks being executed on the sales side here’s what we do from the marketing end. Think of it like air cover:
- Pair direct mail with timely outreach nurture. After a contact changes companies, we send them a gift, some valuable content for their new job, and/or words of encouragement. This is an ideal gifting scenario to build trust and stay top of mind.
- Use your relationship with past customers to ask for referrals. Champions can help connect you with internal influencers and decision-makers. So, we’re never shy about asking our champions to introduce us to other remembers of the buying committee.
- Stay in front of your champions with targeted ads. We create custom audiences on LinkedIn using job change contacts. And then we retarget those prospects across other relevant channels.
- Invite your champions to co-host webinars, exclusive dinners, and other marketing events. Think of your champions as a captive audience of people who know you, trust you, and don’t need to be put through a 12-email sequence to get their attention. You still need to stay top of mind, just using a different strategy. So, we make sure to keep them engaged by inviting them to exclusive dinners, company webinars, or company-sponsored events and conferences.
Unlock a new channel for qualified pipeline generation with champion tracking
Don’t leave finding your best buyers up to chance. It's risky to assume your champions will buy again without outside influence.
Buyers have nothing to lose by checking out new options. But you’ll miss out on an opportunity to shorten your sales cycle, increase the ROI of your marketing activities, and grow your pipeline with warm, qualified leads who are 3x likely to buy.
UserGems is pipeline generation software that helps revenue teams generate and protect revenue efficiently. With UserGems, companies can track and automate outreach when their champions change their jobs, and capture the buying groups to find the warmest path into every account.
Companies like Mimecast, Greenhouse, and Medallia use UserGems to reach their revenue goals quickly and efficiently