Intent Data: The Key to Marketing and Sales Alignment

Marketing and sales alignment depends on common strategies for segmenting, personalizing, connecting and closing. Pundits and other followers of the trade have talked about the benefits of aligning marketing and sales for years. What does that look like in a digital world? How can intent data make a difference? Is it worth the effort? 

Here’s what Leslie Canning, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) said about it during the True Influence Summit:

“It’s a new frontier, 60 to 75% of customers don’t engage with an organization or salesperson. They’re doing it all by themselves. That is ripe for a platform and service to help marketing and sales coexist very collaboratively. For us in our organization, sales enablement actually sits within marketing and digital sales, and how digital sales affect the enterprise sales process is now a key competency for us. So they are aligned, and they are getting more and more integrated every day.”

Problem Statement: Some Stats about Marketing and Sales Alignment

A mere 16% of organizations are satisfied with the alignment between their sales and marketing teams. Forrester Research found that organizations with aligned sales and marketing teams saw annual revenue growth on average of 32%. Companies with misalignment issues witnessed a 7% decline in growth.

The Pandemic Has Connected Business in New Ways

B2B organizations are witnessing a gold rush towards data to understand how markets are evolving along this new trajectory. They want to deliver value to buyers in ways that stand out. Covid-19 changed the nature of buyer behavior, preferences, values and interests. That all correlates to what brands they choose to support or ignore. The disruption we’ve seen in 2020 will no doubt repeat itself in 2021. B2B marketing is moving rapidly towards more intent- and outcome-based marketing.

“The world is being reshaped by the convergence of social, mobile, cloud, big data, community and other powerful forces. The combination of these technologies unlocks an incredible opportunity to connect everything together in a new way and is dramatically transforming the way we live and work.” 

– Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO, Salesforce

We must bridge any gaps between marketing and sales to provide a solid foundation for building better customer relationships. In the United States, 75% of customers have already experimented with a new brand retailer or site. 60% have said they’re going to stick with those new decisions post-pandemic. That essentially translates into loyalty being up for grabs, and that’s why relationship transformation is more important than ever. That applies to the B2B space as well. Whatever happens in B2C seems to eventually make its way over to B2B marketing in some form. Better to be ahead of the curve.

Why Intent Is Central to Marketing and Sales Alignment

In B2B organizations, intent data brings these collaborative values to the table:

  • Outreach Efficiency – Marketing can help sales prioritize accounts on the basis of intent signals, saving time for everyone involved.
  • Quality of Leads – Intent data increases qualified opportunities so sales can accelerate and make conversions at a higher rate. 

Intent data avoids those all-too-common arguments over lead quantity and quality. Both sales and marketing operate as a single unit focusing on common data about buyer signals. The same contacts are targeted by the teams working with tactics like: 

  • Defining personas
  • Executing campaigns 
  • Account insight and engagement

When you understand the data source, behavior types and topic variations carried in intent signals, you can eliminate casual content buyers from the equation. Then you’re left with prospects who are serious about buying, inevitably leading to a faster sales cycle with the right decision makers. When sales spends time making sales rather than sourcing contacts, better ROI becomes the new normal. 

In-Market B2B Organizations Show Intent

An in-market B2B buyer will show some sort of intent signal. You can’t walk across a beach without leaving footprints. A survey from Demand Gen Report shows nearly 80% of B2B brands leverage intent data, with another 16% planning to do so within the next 12 months. 

The survey also found a majority of organizations seeing positive payoffs from their investments in intent data. Around 39% said it has been significantly beneficial, and 32% categorize it as somewhat beneficial.

Intent data isn’t just a buzz word anymore. It’s a ray of hope when global markets are recovering from a pandemic-triggered slow down. It’s a proven rallying point for B2B selling teams. 

The question is: when will you start using intent for marketing and sales alignment, leading to better buyer relationships? Marketers who leverage the power of intent data and share insights with the sales team support conversations that convert prospects into long-term customers.

Here’s another article you might like: B2B Leaders Go All In for Sales, Marketing and Data Alignment.

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