How to Use Sales Intent Data to Grow Revenue

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I’ve seen this question pop up on social a lot lately: “how do I use intent data?”. Then a hundred SDR’s trying to pitch their product will reply asking for meetings but never really answer the question. Well, I have no product to pitch but have used intent data for years, from several well-known data partners, including ZoomInfo, Bombora, and LeadSift.

Intent data is marketing and sales behavior intelligence. It observes and segments actions taken online by individuals and companies with content, events, social media, and websites that may indicate buying signals. In most cases, the intent data will not accurately drill down to an individual, unless they take action on a data collection asset like a form fill.

First-party intent data is information you collect on the customers and prospects interacting with your website, email campaigns, social accounts, chat-bots, and any other marketing tool you may use. Most marketing automation and chat platforms allow users to engage website visitors proactively; first-party intent data is what you would use as a trigger to start the conversation. This type of data is also perfect to compliment your lead scoring and grading processes.

Second-party intent data is collected by outside networks and companies and then distributed to a customer channel, basically other companies’ first-party data boxed up and sold. When I was leading sales development for a software VAR, we used to buy lists to supplement outbound from a company that published a “Top 40 CRM Vendor Guide.” They were hot leads, all middle funnel, but distributed to us and hundreds of other firms all doing the same thing, and because of that would churn fast.

Third-party intent data is the big brother microscope that watches all your behavior on the internet. Typically, this data gets collected from Ad networks, widgets, media exchanges, reverse IP lookups, and media publishers. You know that fancy laptop cover you looked at on Amazon last week that happens to appear on every website you visit for the next month and a half? That’s from your data that’s been collected by a third-party.


Intent and Marketing

Things move fast in today’s market; demand and brand awareness can shift over what sometimes feels like hours, and marketers need to stay agile to keep up. By leveraging real-time buying signals, marketers can optimize content types, messaging, delivery methods, and transform their marketing experience into a behavior-based journey.


Intent and Sales Development

For teams with dedicated business developers, first-party data collected on your social channels and website can be a powerful tool to understand where your prospect is in their buyer’s journey.

If you use marketing automation, most can show behavior by IP address of your social engagements and website visitors and then track by # of visits. By monitoring those very top of funnel visits and events, you can use chat and social channels to offer relevant content, with the end game to get a form conversion, thereby creating a warm lead from an unknown prospect with first-party intent.

Different pieces of content consumption indicate the position of the buyers’ process. You may be planning an outbound account-based marketing campaign to a segment of ideal accounts within an industry. Your marketing message will resonate with the right people at the right time by using second-party intent data to identify the companies whose signals indicate an increase of interest in the same topic. Your SDR may hear, “this is perfect timing, I’m glad you called.” Just make sure you don’t use the intent data in your messaging. “Hey, I know you are searching for us” doesn’t break the ice.

Outside partnerships in sales development are essential, and you can create a flow of highly qualified leads by leveraging the data your partners collect. For example, a SaaS services company would partner with managed service providers to expand service offerings. The third-party data from the MSP is valuable to the SaaS company if software signals are present. Likewise, the SaaS company data would be useful to the MSP if IT services are needed. By publishing consumable content, people begin to market to themselves, and sales developers can get back to telling the story of value.


Intent and Sales

Imagine if there was a way to know if that ultra-qualified, fully engaged SQL was searching for your competition or had other priorities that may take precedence. Perhaps you are single threaded in a deal and need to know who else may be part of the data gathering team. These scenarios are all examples of how sales teams can use intent data to increase sales velocity and get deeper entrenched in a deal. I’d encourage SDR’s to prepare this type of intel for your sales counterparts; anything you can do to make deals move faster and be a more significant part of the strategic picture will help you move up.


Intent and CX

You can have a more significant impact on your customer’s overall business plan by being where you need to be when you need to be there.

We’ve all been there before; you send off renewals and get back the “we went with another company” or during a QBR find out they added a redundant solution that you offer too. By using customer intent from all three data sources, your customer experience reps can paint the whole picture of who your customer is and what their real priorities are.

Value gets engineered by understanding the behavior of the buyer. Intent data is the indicator of the behavior; then it’s up to us to tell the story of value.