12 Ways to Use Buyer Intent Signals as Your Sales Advantage
By Brian Giese, CEO of True Influence.
Verified buyer intent data from a reliable resource can be invaluable across many facets of an organization. Intent is well known for its ability to help B2B marketers spot in-market buyers, but sales teams should get just as excited about how intent data fires up the pipeline with ready prospects.
Try some of these twelve ways to help Sales win with intent:
1 – Flesh Out the Buying Group
Especially exciting is the ability to support account-based engagement or marketing, as well as buying group targeting. Intent monitoring can capture and give context to multiple signals coming from one account. For sophisticated intent readers, the data can even tell you what stage the company might be based on who’s looking at what. As B2B sellers adopt the “buying group manifesto,” it will be imperative for sales to have a reliable way to identify personas and contact information. Gartner states that “by the end of 2022, more than 70% of B2B marketers will utilize third-party intent data to target prospects or engage groups of buyers in selected accounts.”
2 – Reduce Conflict over Lead Quality
Sales and marketing are known for disagreeing about leads. Three-fourths of B2B leads generated by Marketing never close, and may not even be followed up by Sales. Leads often don’t even match the prospect profiles the company wants to sell to. Quality, readiness, maturity and right contact are other common points of contention. Identifying and nurturing prospects remains the most important and resource-intensive activity for any B2B sales and marketing organization, but intent data removes some of the time and steps involved. With verified intent-based demand generation, contact records are real, employed, and reachable, and salespeople armed with that information know they have well-researched prospects. Contact-level intent puts you closer to the customer faster, instead of still having to research activity at a domain level to identify a contact.
3 – Accelerate Sales Outreach
Prospects spend 50% of their time seeking information from third-party sources, according to Gartner, and sales teams typically wait for buyers to complete an action or contact form to identify prospect interest. Gartner notes that “The future of B2B lead generation — buyer intent data — expands the traditional prospect pool by capturing valuable buyer data before any action takes place.” Buyer intent signals make it possible to uncover prospect movement and prioritize outreach faster based on intent indicators.
4 – Guide Sales Messaging
Use buyer intent data to strategically target in-market prospects and turn them into quality leads. Verified intent data can provide insight into prospect research history, including specific companies and products. Use that information to craft messaging around actual prospect interests. It’s especially important now to have this insight for Sales. As teams are encouraged to avoid coming across as aggressive and to take a more empathetic approach, having more information about buyer intent lets you be truly helpful faster.
5 – Reduce Customer Churn
One good intent tip is to set up your existing accounts as topics, so account managers can watch for action from your current customers. What are they searching for? Are they looking at competitors? Are they looking in an area where you can upsell or cross-sell? Jump on the information and get ahead of any changes or dissatisfaction. Intent gives Sales a tool to monitor the activity of current accounts that might otherwise go unnoticed. Monitor intent signals to identify clients who research alternative solutions or competitors. That information likely indicates who may need additional attention or support. When clients search for other solutions on third-party sites, it may be because your product failed to fulfill a specific need. Set up triggers to request feedback from those clients to identify gaps, guide future product development, and reduce churn.
6 – Knowledge Leads to Sales Confidence
Intent shows account managers who are still engaged and what their interests are. Automated alerts based on purchase intent signals help reps keep tabs on what campaigns buyers engage with and what content they consume. Arming sales teams with this data gives them greater confidence to continue reaching out to the buyer.
7 – Stay Connected when Prospects “Ghost”
Even when buyers won’t answer calls or respond to email, Sales has another option to stay tuned in to ghosting prospects. Set up that account as a topic in your intent monitoring platform, and you can see what they’re up to, even if they’re not engaging with you. They still may be researching a purchase, and you’ll know about it. In fact, when you know what topics they’re choosing, you can better tailor your own outreach, and maybe when they’re ready to talk to someone, you’ll be on the shortlist because you showed you understand their interests.
8 – Get Funnel Stage Clues
Become familiar with terms buyers use when they’re at different stages of the funnel. Knowing terms and topics that typically come up when buyers are far along in their journey versus just starting out will help guide Sales to the readiest buyers. Intent monitoring can easily be set up to follow those topics.
9 – Turn Context into Customization
Intent-based engagement puts you ahead of the game with insight into what the buyer is actually researching. It’s not predictive, but analytical and based on real data. This provides valuable context for the buyer’s behavior. Sales teams use intent data to identify specific areas of focused interest or concern and meet prospects where they are as they go deeper into the buying cycle. Then they can better customize conversations and engagement.
10 – Box Out the Competition
Intent technology searches for activity spikes on certain topics chosen by the company investing in the data. One good practice for Sales is to use your competitors as topics. Wouldn’t it be powerful to know when buyers look at your competitors during the sales process? This may help you anticipate buyers’ questions based on the competitors they looked at. You can also tailor your conversations to “box out” the competition by focusing on areas where you have an advantage.
11 – Prepare for 1:1 Sales Conversations
When account executives have intent data available for their 1:1 sales conversations, they’re better equipped to engage prospective buyers on the most relevant topics. This advance insight helps the AE prepare before the next discovery call, giving them enough time to line up their company’s experts to engage with the buyer during the next meeting.
12 – Embrace the Shift to Digital Selling
Coronavirus is accelerating digital transformation, and that includes sales practices and leadership. Businesses that previously planned their digital strategies in yearly phases must now scale initiatives in just days or weeks. McKinsey found these trends occurring, as time compression forces sales teams to step up or step aside:
• Using multiple sources of customer data to assess unmet needs – Now moving to weekly attention or faster
• Using scenarios to time and size potential shifts in industry economics – Now moving to monthly attention or faster
To move this fast, leaders must learn quickly what’s working or not and why, and that’s where digital has stepped up to deliver data, including for Sales. Sales teams can use intent intel to study current sector behaviors and discover others that might be searching but had been invisible to them before. We’re sharing charts showing weekly intent trends in various markets.
Intent for All!
Intent monitoring isn’t just for B2B marketers. The data and insights are just as valuable for Sales. Offer your teams access to intent data and watch as it increases efficiency, encourages data-backed decisions, and creates a stronger sales strategy. This could be the one additional data source you need to move sales teams faster into using digital tools.