AI for B2B Lead Generation: 3 Ways to Start

How Intent Data Benefits B2B Sales Prospecting

You’d think intent data would be no stranger to B2B prospecting teams. Research firm SiriusDecisons identified intent data monitoring as a “requirement” in the Active Demand stage of the Demand Unit Waterfall. This is often where sales and marketing find the most promising candidate accounts

The Problem with B2B Sales Prospecting 

More than 40% of salespeople say prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process, followed by closing (36%) and qualifying (22%). This is important for B2B marketers to understand, too, since they perform prospecting roles earlier in the pipeline that affect what happens downstream. 

There’s a relationship between the number of opportunities in a pipeline each month and quota attainment. HubSpot Research found 72% of companies with less than 50 new opportunities per month didn’t achieve their revenue goals. This compares to 15% with 51-100 new opportunities, and just 4% of companies with 101-200 new opportunities that didn’t hit targets. So pipeline matters.

Connect Intent and Keywords for Precise Engagement during Sales Prospecting

Intent combined with corresponding researched keywords provides a map of which accounts to pursue. These topics in the context of the buyer behavior are strong indicators of interest and journey stage. 

Information derived from intent signals and researched keywords is valuable in crafting relevant, personalized messages that attract the most reticent of searchers. However, follow best practices for contacting customers and prospects. In other words, try not to frighten the “fish.”  For instance, your contact vehicle shouldn’t begin by stating “We saw you research widgets on the widgets-r-us website, and boy, have we got a deal for you.” 

You should have one objective and one objective only – to put your prospect at ease as quickly as possible in order to schedule an appointment with them. Showing you understand where they are and what they’re looking for goes a long way. Turn intent intelligence into understanding. 

“Build digital relationships and reputation before closing a sale.”

– Chris Brogan, President, Chris Brogan Group

Even at the early stage of your pursuit, remember the process is all about the customer, especially as it relates to relationship-building. You’re there to help, not get pushy. But seasoned sales professionals know that, and that’s why the synergy of intent data and search can be so intriguing. It gives you the context that gives you permission to reach out with information and answers. 

Pick Up B2B Prospecting Speed with Intent Intelligence

A benefit of a demand waterfall infused with intent data is earlier target account identification, which speeds up the sales cycle. For many B2B companies, a sales cycle can typically stretch out for months, or even a year or more. When you know who’s in-market earlier, you can prospect more efficiently and responsively.

Keep in mind, the information comes with a sense of urgency. Intent data is timely, but not timeless. All data degrades. He with the freshest data wins. That’s where Sales can pick up speed from intent signals

These practices use intent intelligence to shave wasted steps off prospecting:

  • Set appointments based upon your targets
  • Only identify decision-makers
  • Overlay intent data to identify prospects who are in-market
  • Understand your prospects’ interests before speaking with them
  • Convert a higher percentage of website visitors into leads
  • Connect with more prospects over email
  • Automatically track and organize every sales attempt

Prospect Together. Prospect Productively. 

There are ways to prospect more productively, while keeping pace with fast-moving buyer journeys. To win sales calls with decision makers researching a purchase:

  • Identify prospects actively researching your product or service – Create a library of topics that interest your target audiences and set up intent monitoring around those.
  • Ramp up prospecting quickly to meet near-term revenue goals – Become aware of buyers and their interests close the time of their recent actions. Automate to respond quickly to the intent data in the marketing cloud.
  • Use call center professionals who understand your core value propositions – Prepare relevant content to train them for engaging conversations.
  • Build a capable team committed to cultivating sales-ready opportunities – Earn trust with qualified leads discovered by intent-driven demand gen.

Now this may seem like B2B Sales 101, but again, it’s so important for B2B marketers to also understand what it’s like to be in the Sales role. And it’s good for Sales to understand how intent data has uses beyond Marketing. Then the two teams can better collaborate on the common interest of the in-market buyer.

The ways Sales and Marketing prospect may be different, but we have the same goal – drive revenue. Our programs also touch the same buyer. We have a lot more in common than we think. When both teams work with intent, we work better together.

Finding Your Next Customer

After prospecting comes a meeting. A mainstay of any business pipeline is appointments with influencers in an organization. Please take note — not the “right person,” or the “decision maker,” but “influencer.” Influencers are real, accessible and useful. They can be persuaded and educated by relevant content and useful engagement. They have a voice in the buying group.

At this point, you may be thinking this sounds great, but how to get started? An easy step is to have a conversation with leading intent providers, who bring the expertise, data, services and tech to help. You will be best served by a team with the automation, data and human support to take care of the dreaded legwork of setting up quality appointments. 

When looking at intent partners, start your evaluation with these questions:

  • How big is their contact record database?
  • Can they fill your pipeline with enough appointments?
  • What CRM features and integrations are offered?
  • Can the quality of the appointments be verified?
  • How will the cold callers represent you and your company?
  • How responsive is this vendor? You don’t want to wait for answers.

What’s stopping you from using intent to point Sales in the right direction and close more deals faster? Here are more articles you might find interesting:

Expand the Impact of B2B Intent Data: Where to Start?

B2B Sales Metrics You Need to Know

Modernize B2B Selling with Data and True Influence Summit

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