How Customer Success Can Use ‘Dark Funnel’ Data to Increase Engagement, Renewals & More

5 minutes
Nov 22, 2021
Account-Based ExperienceSales Effectiveness

We talk a lot here about the data-realm of hidden buyer intent data we call the Dark Funnel™. And we often talk about the Dark Funnel within the context of...

Darkfunnel

We talk a lot here about the data-realm of hidden buyer intent data we call the Dark Funnel™. And we often talk about the Dark Funnel within the context of how this buyer information, when properly de-anonymized, can dramatically increase new-logo signings and revenue.

But this invisible data isn’t just useful for prospecting. It plays a critical role in empowering Customer Success teams to strengthen their brand’s competitive positioning and meaningfully improve the state of renewal, cross-sell, and upsell opportunities.

Reading Signals Near and Far

For newcomers to the Dark Funnel, it’s easiest to think of its anonymous intent data as newfound clues from second- and third-party sources such as:

  • Industry publications
  • Blogs
  • Influencers
  • Product review sites 

With the right account engagement platforms, your revenue team can illuminate the activity of accounts (and buying teams) that use those information sources and are expressing interest in your product. And by smartly analyzing these buyer-intent “digital breadcrumbs” with AI and machine learning, your team can proactively engage these accounts with the right content at the right time in the right channel.

But the Dark Funnel isn’t just for prospects. Customer intent signals live there, too. There’s lots of data — including buyer readiness, behavioral, and psychographic signals — that hide in plain sight within your owned, first-party martech systems.

These sources often include:

  • Your company website
  • Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system
  • Your Marketing Automation Platform (MAP)
  • Product usage data
  • Sales conversation content
  • Account health scores

We call this internal Dark Funnel data … and identifying and analyzing this information is vital for your Customer Success team to successfully cross-sell, upsell, prevent churn, and more.

Beyond Brand-New Biz

It’s easy to forget that revenue teams have more clarity into the interests and intentions of customers than non-customers. This increased visibility is by virtue of having a better understanding of customers’ specific needs and being in regular content with customers. 

But the most potent information isn’t always available within traditional martech and sales enablement platforms. Here are a few examples of game-changing data that may go under-documented (or outright overlooked) by Customer Success teams: 

  • Metrics on how customers use existing products and services
  • Fluctuations in usage over time
  • Changes in personnel using existing solutions
  • The number of interactions with Customer Success and other internal personnel
  • And more

When discovered and compiled, this intelligence can be a boon for Customer Success teams. It helps them understand a customer’s engagement and trust with their product.  

Exceptional revenue technology platforms can help your Customer Success team get a bead on how your customers’ buying teams behave when they’re conducting product research. (This behavior may be markedly different from their process when they were pre-conversion prospects.)

These tools can bring clarity to your customers’…

  • Buyer journeys
  • Cycle times
  • Buying team dynamics
  • Motivational triggers unique to each solution set

…and help your Customer Success team deliver experiences that specially address these factors.

Retaining Business

It’s never fun when clients switch vendors. But with this illuminated Dark Funnel data, your Customer Success team can spot the warning signs before it’s too late.

The buyer intent data you can intercept aren’t only the signals that favor your solutions. It could reveal a fascination — maybe a full-on crush — with a competitor. 

The right technologies empower you to automatically illuminate these buyer intent signals and tell you about them.

For instance, 6sense’s platform enables users to create alerts based on those above-mentioned indicators. This means that when your existing customers begin to seriously research alternate options, your Customer Success team is notified and can perform the necessary actions to reaffirm the customer relationship, address any competitor talking points, and save the account.

Revtech solutions with machine learning capabilities are especially useful for sorting out when those keyword occurrences actually expose a retention risk, or when they might simply be indicative of expanded thinking on the subject within the marketplace. 

This illuminated customer-side Dark Funnel data can also help you maximize the impact of the investments you’re already making in various communication channels and campaigns. Backed by more data, the ways you spend dollars and send messages to customers (via ads, for instance) can become way more effective. 

Learning From — and Preventing — Lost Business

Customer churn may be a reality within the business world, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt any less when it happens. Insights from your internal Dark Funnel can help Customer Success teams learn from these moments and prevent them from happening with current customers. 

With anonymized Dark Funnel data, Customer Success teams can usually determine:

  • Which company won the contract
  • The broad terms of why the deal was lost 
  • The timing for when that lost deal will be up for grabs again

This data can be used to tailor future marketing and sales efforts to displace competitors. Here are a few realistic scenarios for reeling in the ones that previously got away:

  • You learn a competitor is gaining market share and can combat its offering by emphasizing messages about your solution that stand out as superior
  • You notice you’re winning in Q1-Q3, but losing contracts in Q4 because other sellers are offering year-end discounts you could match
  • You see a competitor’s solution starting to lag, and by knowing when the business you lost to them earlier comes back into orbit, you’re poised to swoop in and win it back

Conclusion

It may be in a third-party galaxy far, far away, or it may be in an internal system very, very near, but there’s always customer-relevant Dark Funnel data ready to be discovered. 

Once unmasked and assessed, there are so many lucrative uses beyond customer prospecting this data can bring to the revenue table. Whether it’s expanding, safeguarding or reclaiming business, use the right technologies and adhere to best practices to ensure you’re smartly pursuing the right opportunities.