revriv1Two nights ago, I had a dream about HubSpot's Signals software. I imagined I was sitting at my desk typing and a Signals notification box popped up telling me that my prospect Matt had just "opened my email." Yes, I know that sounds crazy. But read on and you'll see why I'm crazy (about Signals).

For those unfamiliar, Signals is a sales tool that provides insight about how and when leads, prospects, clients and vendors view and engage with your emails. It's designed for a salesperson, but it's not exclusive to the profession. Even marketers should be using this amazing tool and if they're not, well, shame on them.

I have to admit, I should have been a little further ahead of this one. I downloaded Signals a couple weeks before HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan launched Signals to the world at INBOUND13 this past August. In retrospect, I’m kicking myself for letting 30 days get by me without using this tool. It’s that powerful.

My excuse was that I wasn’t using Chrome or Gmail at the time, so it just seemed like too much work to transition. However, with the Outlook integration came instant ease of use and I was getting tired of everyone telling me I should be using Chrome anyway. 14 minutes later I was tracking my emails. Booyeah.

So as I’ve had some time to really use the tool strategically with my day-to-day emails I’ve discovered its enormous value. It's a sales tool, yes. But it's also equally effective for marketers too. And what happens when you combine a salesperson with a marketer? You get a smarketer-- and Signals is the perfect tool for the smarketer. Here's why.

1. Use Signals while Prospecting

This is probably the most obvious applications of the tool. Hard-working salespeople love the ability to see the minute their email is opened and their links are clicked. This is a whole new level of email lust and anticipation. Sending your first-touch-email to someone you’re trying to get a meeting with can be excruciating, but a box popping up in front of you saying ‘Mr. Jordan from just opened your email’ can put you into orbit. Selling is a fickle sport because sensitive personalities can become involved.  Sometimes the smallest piece of good news can keep spirits high.

Real Life Story

I met with a prospect yesterday who was looking for some web design help. We had a good meeting, and despite his attempts to jump into the technical stuff we spent a lot of time on his goals. As a follow up the next day, I put together a detailed email with some homework for him. The list included several links to social media posts, blog articles, and landing pages I wanted to use in the education process. I also wanted to see how serious he was about reaching his goals, part of our screening process. In less than 10 minutes I was literally watching him work through my email via the Signals notifications, from opening the email, to clicking the link, to viewing the page. Pretty cool, right?

2. Use Signals to manage your Pipeline

Another great way to use Signals is to help you track and manage your marketing and sales pipeline activities. This is one area that salespeople can greatly improve their effectiveness through the response they get to different follow up messages.  So many times salespeople drive themselves crazy fretting over whether or not their email was even read much less considered, with Signals at least they know when they’re being ignored.

Real Life Application

One of my sales guys flies all over the country for one-hour meetings. He flies in, makes them love what he's selling, sets next steps and flies out. After he’s gone, the once eager prospect often puts on a disappearing act. However, Signals changes the game completely. Instead of stewing around the office working through 14 different fictional scenarios about why they won’t respond, he now has some data to work with. They didn’t even see his email! It was never opened. That means they never saw the proposal, pricing, or offer. Solution? Chill out, pick up the phone, it’s not too soon since they never saw the first one.  Intelligence in action. 

3. Use Signals for Key Account Management

There may no greater value to Signals than its ability to help you improve your client relationships.  Understanding how and when your clients are most likely to engage with your emails has advantages. You can be more efficient, more effective, and less bothersome. You can raise your open rate and response rate with the lead intelligence gained from Signals email notifications.

Real Life Story

I have a client that is always on the run. We have a great relationship, I consider him a friend, and I am committed to performing beyond expectations for him. Being said, it’s a nightmare trying to get him to respond to an email. I always have a couple small action items to try to get from him but I’m constantly balancing good follow up with annoying him. Enter Signals. After sending him a few emails I found a very helpful pattern. He rarely opened my emails during the morning as he was simply too busy. However, no matter how late at night I sent something over he would open it almost instantly. Signals helped me realize something very valuable, and very productive. We were both on our computers every night hammering through our task lists, if I needed follow up from him this was the time to get it.

4. Use Signals to manage your Vendors

Most of us work with a variety of vendors, and we really need stuff from them sometimes. I’m constantly hitting up my vendor contacts for product support, questions, sales assets, and strategy help. When I’m not getting the kind of response I need it becomes a little worrisome, and there are a lot of times I forget I even sent something. Signals helps my patience. I can give them some time to respond knowing they’re aware of the request rather than worry they didn’t get my email and bug them again.


Real Life Realization

I love my vendors. I use Signals for all my important communication with them and it tells me how important I am to them. It also tells me that many of them are working just as late as I am, equally committed to success. That makes me happy.


The Bottom Line

Everyone needs insights and lead intelligence. Whether you’re a manager, a salesperson, or a marketer you can benefit in many ways from the intelligence that Signals provides. It’s just one more tool in our bag, helping us dominate the rest of the working world.

Final Example

As I’m writing this I get a new message, someone has clicked on one of our inbound marketing offers. Two minutes later I have an email notification for a lead in my inbox. Case in point. Furthermore, if the individual didn't fill out the form, I still would have known she was there and interested. I could have searched her on LinkedIn, connected and offered resources. Without Signals, I would have been digging through my Prospecting Tool with only an IP address to work with. Not something I want to ever do, ever again.

Eric Pratt is the Managing Partner of Revenue River Marketing, an inbound marketing company located in Denver, CO. Revenue River was founded in 2009 as an outsourced sales agency but transformed itself for the purpose of inbound lead generation and full cycle customer acquisition.Eric writes about sales, management, leadership, and marketing.


Originally published Oct 15, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated January 18 2023