Champion tracking: The next high-performing marketing channel

Learn how to take advantage of champion tracking to generate pipeline and drive sales and marketing alignment.
An image of a high performance team building a human tower
Table of Contents
Share the love:

B2B marketing is at a crossroads. With so many teams using the same playbooks, it’s harder and harder for marketers to stand out in a crowd. Add the rising customer acquisition costs, tightening budgets, and higher targets, and you have marketers scrambling to adjust their strategies to generate more pipelines with fewer resources.

Enter: champion tracking.

Champion tracking is one of the oldest playbooks for sales teams. Why? Because champions (i.e., previous users, past buyers, and internal influencers) can help sales teams find a way into valuable target accounts.

Today, 41% of employees are seeking new opportunities, and about 20% of your CRM contacts will make job movements this year alone, making this play a meaningful channel for generating a qualified pipeline. It’s time for marketing to adopt this champion-tracking play to turn their CRM into an always-on pipeline generation engine.

Why champion tracking matters for B2B

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 this 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 did not reach out to me at my new role, a competitor swooped in and got the deal.

It’s a pretty common story. Buyers have nothing to lose by checking out new options.

So I am always surprised when marketers tell me: “I know the value of repeat champions, but we don’t need to reach out when they change their jobs. Our customers love us, and they will come back on their own!”

That is a nice thought, but it’s risky to assume your champions will buy again without outside influence. I can think of three reasons why these marketers should be tracking their champions:

  • If you are not tracking your biggest champions now, you can’t know who has (or has not) returned as a customer.
  • Past buyers and users are some of your lowest-hanging fruit, but that does not make them shoo-ins as customers.
  • You are leaving your pipeline up to chance by putting all of the control in the hands of potential buyers.

Don’t leave finding your best buyers up to chance.

How marketing teams can use champion tracking

There are many ways B2B marketers can use champion tracking to bring in more qualified pipeline, but, in my experience, these are the best ways to leverage champion tracking for marketing:

  1. Create always-on campaigns to generate pipeline. When previous customers and users move to a new job, reach out to these prospects who are essentially “pre-sold” on your product.
  2. Prioritize target accounts. Tracking champions means that you always know which accounts have the warmest leads and the most established relationships.
  3. Enable sales and marketing alignment. When you know who your warmest leads are, it’s easier for sales and marketing to go after them together.

Champion tracking best practices for beginners

The good news about champion tracking is that you don’t need new software to get started. Here are some of the best ways to get started with champion tracking without having to purchase additional technology.

  • Use your existing CRM data to identify potential new buyers. Look up contacts by key persona and research if these contacts have changed jobs in the past year. You can do this research via a contact database or simply look up their job history on LinkedIn. Compile a list of these contacts who have moved into a new company and engage them through paid media and email marketing.
  • Look beyond decision-makers to find your biggest champions. Don’t only pay attention to the individuals who sign the checks. Instead, you should also keep tabs on the end users who are familiar with your product and its value. Some of this data might already live in your CRM, but you should also collaborate with your product team to identify these contacts, then research their job movements manually to create new targeting lists.
  • Browse job postings at your target accounts to find new opportunities. This is a proactive approach for identifying warm paths to your target accounts. By checking job postings, you can easily find out which roles will soon be filled so you can reach out to the new hire after they start. After you have identified these open positions, look for relationships you already have within the company that can help connect you with the incoming hire.

Three ways to re-engage previous champions

When a previous buyer moves to a new company, the marketing team has the opportunity to capture a new account. So how can you reengage your champions when they move to another company?

  1. Pair direct mail with timely outreach nurture. After your contact moves companies, send them a gift and some valuable content or words of encouragement.
  2. Use your relationship with past customers to ask for referrals. Champions can help connect you with internal influencers and decision-makers.
  3. Stay in front of your champions with targeted ads. Create custom audiences on LinkedIn using job change contacts, and then retarget those prospects across other relevant channels.

Unlock a new channel for qualified pipeline generation

Sales teams have been using the champion tracking playbook for years because they understand the value of relationships for making connections and closing new deals. Marketers can adapt this same playbook to generate new pipeline and drive efficient growth (especially in an era of economic uncertainty).


Want to grow your pipeline efficiently?