Finding a prospect's level from their title
RevOps teams need to do more than just group prospects by title. Position title is very different by org. Read: "Everything Starts Out Looking Like a Toy" #183
Hi, I’m Greg 👋! I write weekly product essays, including system “handshakes”, the expectations for workflow, and the jobs to be done for data. What is Data Operations? was the first post in the series.
This week’s toy: browsing the internet like it’s 1999. It’s a good reminder of how much things have changed. (And if you don’t remember because you weren’t around then, check it out!) Edition 183 of this newsletter is here - it’s January 29, 2024.
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The Big Idea
A short long-form essay about data things
⚙️ Finding a prospect's level from their title
Let’s take a look at a common scenario.
You are an SDR at a company selling SAAS software to technology companies. You know that some of your prospects are at larger firms and might not look like the exact buyer persona your enablement team told you to look for when you had training.
You get a notification that a new lead has entered your mailbox by responding to an email sequence. The person is a Vice President at a major bank whose brand you know and the email arrives from a business email.
Can you qualify this lead and understand whether a “vice president” at this company has the right characteristics to be a buyer?
There’s a lot in a job title
If you have ever sold into a company in banking, you’d know that the keyword “Vice President” in the absence of other information might not be as high a level as you thought. There are lots of “VP” title folks at banks, and this is a good example of how industry standards vary from company to company.
In contrast, if you were marketing to a person at Amazon.com having a VP title, that person has a much larger scope and responsibility than the generic title “VP” at a mid-sized bank.
Company size is another key factor when evaluating the level and seniority of a job title at a company. A classic example is the title “Head of” which often shows up at early-stage companies, which could be everything from an Individual contributor to a VP-level manager. As Andy Mowat suggests, this might be an intentionally vague title for various reasons.
Job titles are a reflection of the organizational structure of the company and the way a company presents itself internally and to the outside world. That means that other factors come into play for job titling, including:
level - typically when you’re engaging with companies, you’re looking for Managers, Directors, Vice Presidents, and C-Level buyers. The level might have a modifier indicating an additional variation in experience
region - companies that operate in multiple countries might include a regional keyword (EMEA for Europe and Middle East) or a localized one (US West)
experience - “Senior” may or may not mean “this person has more authority to make a purchase” as a keyword in a title. But combined with the distribution of other titles within a company, you’ll get a better view of the organizational structure
All of these factors, combined with the small sample of titles you’re likely to see from a given account, are the source of variation and lack of consistency for titles and positions in your accounts.
Tips for normalizing titles
So you have an email or a form submission with a vague title. What can you do in Revenue Ops to make this easier for reps and give them some inference on the combination of title, level, and seniority?
Look for the existence of title keywords - if you decide that you’re selling to director+ individuals, don’t get discouraged when you find managers. They are not the buyer, but they know who the buyer is … so switch modes.
Build disqualifiers or scoring adjustments for non-ICP companies - If you tend not to get closed-won from enterprise companies, you might want to lower the scoring on a lead from a company with more than 1000 employees. This works both ways - if you’re selling enterprise software, be pretty cautious when you encounter a team with 10 people. (Yes, you need some data sources like D&B, SimilarWeb, ZoomInfo, or AmpleMarket to get this firmographic data.)
Create a title key to group and normalize titles - if you start by matching keywords in a job title, that will help you to create segments for your reps. Having an “IC vs Manager” or “Manager vs Manager of Managers” grouping is a good first step and you can also create a key for similarity, e.g. “level_titlegroup_title”, so that you have a “sr_vp_technology” or similar.
Using this grouping (whether it has a single level or multiple levels) will help you to count the prevalence of a title and level in your CRM and also among accounts.
Normalizing and grouping titles to understand who you are talking to is a first step. Your team will succeed when they start including industry norms, Linkedin keywords shared by prospects on their profiles, and other bits of digital exhaust.
Respond like you’re a human
When you get that ping from a person, the best response is to respond … like a human.
What do people want in sales outreach? Direct talk and clear benefits. Often, they don’t mind humor as a way to say hello.
Building a map of title, seniority, and level as a way to help your reps is a powerful strategy to help them align the benefits of their offering to potential prospects.
Be forewarned: a “VP template” is not what we’re after here. We want to use the title information people provide (or that we enrich from their email or Linkedin page) to deliver additional information and connect more effectively with the prospect.
What’s the takeaway? One of the best ways to help your seller team is to add automation that groups prospects by title, level, and seniority. Delivering this extra intelligence lets them customize their prospect approach and focus on sharing value rather than doing research.
Links for Reading and Sharing
These are links that caught my 👀
1/ Barcodes are outdated, or are they - Barcodes are those ubiquitous lines that implement the Universal Product Code. In a world of QR-enabled digital codes, what information will be standardized for every product? The GS1 digital standard attempts to define that new world. Will it replace bar codes? The Lindy Effect suggests that since UPC labels have been around for 50 years, it might take another 50 for them to go away.
2/ Apple Packaging is a product - Do you have a pile of Apple boxes that you don’t throw away? A lot of people do. One of the reasons is that Apple obsesses over the boxing and unboxing experience. The “first impression” that you get from the package drives your perception of the product and helps you ignore the parts of the product that have rough edges.
3/ unexpected dividends - you may not know that using lowercase letters saves data.
What to do next
Hit reply if you’ve got links to share, data stories, or want to say hello.
The next big thing always starts out being dismissed as a “toy.” - Chris Dixon