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Overcome These Obstacles to Operationalize Intent

In the right hands, intent data increases the velocity of sales and marketing processes, so what stops some organizations from achieving their desired results? Just like with everything else, when it comes to intent data, you get out what you put in

To achieve maximum value from intent data, it all depends on how you use it. Operationalizing almost any kind of data poses challenges across the typical marketing and sales cycle. 

Read on to learn best practices in optimizing intent data and how to overcome some of the challenges you might encounter. This blog walks you through overcoming obstacles to operationalize intent data.

First, what are the main obstacles and their impact?

  1. The number of organizations using some form of a martech stack grows every day. But the added capabilities of different technologies are only as valuable to your organization as your ability to implement them cohesively. There are more than 8,000 martech tools available today, up 13.6% in just one year. This figure doesn’t take into consideration the 615 tools that either consolidated with another martech company or became obsolete, pushing the growth of new martech entries to 24.5%. This gives you an idea of the rate at which these technologies are becoming available – one aspect that makes the marketing landscape pretty overwhelming. 

As complexity increases, transparency decreases. One possible consequence is lack of clarity in the sales funnel. If you cannot see how your funnel is progressing with accurate conversion rates, the projection of useful forecasts and results is impossible. A martech stack is a bit like a double-edged sword. If used correctly it will catapult your organization forward. If improperly utilized, it will hold you back.

  1. As marketing teams work closely with sales and customer success, it becomes necessary to integrate data from their various technologies. More than 80% of organizations share their revenue growth responsibilities between marketing, sales and customer operations, so that’s only logical. As with any analytic initiative, actionable insights are the goal. However, without strategy, processes and alignment priorities across departments, it’s hard to reap any solid or lasting benefits from your data. When teams work with different data sets, misalignment is bound to happen, leading to finger-pointing, mistrust and wasted time.
  1. Sales and marketing alignment is essential to drive results, but it brings integration challenges on many levels. This may be one of the most difficult practices for some organizations to develop.
  1. Bad data slows revenue growth. What if hot leads are put into the wrong queue or sent to the wrong team? It can push the whole sales process out if it takes days or even weeks to reach the right rep. Losing crucial time during the sales cycle leads to contacts growing cold and eventually loss of revenue. The quality of your data is paramount – so much so, that as much of 15-25% of total revenue can be lost as a result of poor data quality, according to a study conducted by MIT Sloan. 

One example of this is sub-par customer experience due to delayed follow up with relevant leads, as a result of having poor leads in the dataset.

Create an Intent Data Management Strategy 

The problems around operationalizing data may look complex, but the solution is basic: Create an intent data management strategy. 

Here are five steps to intentionally grow and expand the impact of your intent data. 

  1. Build the right intent data team.
  2. Understand and audit your intent data.
  3. Define processes to use it.
  4. Integrate or align marketing and sales.
  5. Map, measure and optimize. Repeat.

✔ Build the right intent data team

When building a team, always remember that a cross-functional group leads to cross-functional solutions. Marketing and sales alignment is one of the major obstacles to operationalizing intent data. To address this, build a team that consists of both business and technical representatives from the start. 

This might mean involving the CRO, VP of Sales, Head of Growth, Marketing Operations managers, and other adjacent roles across Marketing, Sales and Revenue Operations.

A diverse team ensures intent data gets the necessary C-suite support. It will help upper management and technical teams to come together and find a middle ground in intent for their common problems. 

✔ Understand and audit your intent data

Understanding your intent data starts with three major questions:

  1. What is the quality of the data?
  2. What is the origin and source?
  3. How old is the data?

Answering these questions regularly will help you audit your intent data at regular intervals. Do a regular audit of your intent data and weed out Inactive contacts, incomplete data and records that don’t comply with GDPR, CASL, and other compliance laws. More than quantity, it’s the quality of data you have that matters. As business decisions are driven more and more by analytics, it’s paramount that all stakeholders can trust the data. 

Define processes that could use intent intelligence

Ask the following questions of your data. If any of these questions lack an answer, obtaining that information will be the first step to defining an efficient process: 

  • How are you acquiring your data?
  • How does Sales add new contacts?
  • Is the marketing team adding accounts without contacts in the system?
  • How much time does it take to follow up on leads? 
  • What kind of CRM do you use and what capabilities are you missing?
  • Are your sales and marketing teams using the same data sets?

Determining which processes can most efficiently use your data will be unique to each team and organization, so it’s useful to have an experienced data partner to consult. Seeking out process visualization and organization tools like Lucidchart, Miro, Visio or Whimsical can help with the structural flow. When designing your processes, strive to keep them simple, scalable and specific to accomplishing the goal you’re after.

✔ Integrate marketing and sales teams

Once you’ve committed to operationalizing intent, and you’ve audited your data and defined processes, the next step is integrating marketing and sales.

Marketing and Sales use different tools to accomplish their goals. For example, Marketing works with Marketo, WordPress, Hubspot and Hootsuite, while Sales works with SFDC, Oracle, Adobe and Sales Navigator. Though different tools, each stack has valuable information, even for teams not using the tool directly. How do you know which information is valuable to your colleagues, and once this is identified – how can this information be shared efficiently? 

If you want to implement account-based marketing as an organization, for example, lead-to-account (L2A) matching is a must. If leads aren’t connected with accounts, the sales team has no context for follow up, leading to time wasted or additional work. Integrating Marketing and Sales, especially around intent intelligence, keeps both teams in sync with each other, resulting in the following benefits:

  1. Sales awareness of new leads entering the CRM associated with their accounts
  2. Greater visibility at the account level, leading to better engagement data
  3. A precise data foundation

Going back to point number one, if you’ve built an intent data team with different stakeholders from across your organization, integration will be easier. Communication of goals, transparency in processes, and constantly seeking new information about tools in your stack as well as your colleagues’ stacks will provide a strong foundation for integration and success with intent data.

✔ Map, measure and optimize. Repeat.

Once you acquire and audit data, and practice optimization, utilization and analysis follow. Map your intent data strategy; measure its success: and optimize it regularly to keep it effective throughout. It will allow you to track improvements that result from your better data usage. It will also highlight weaknesses and errors that can be rectified going forward.

A data-driven model provides a more informed custom approach, by seeking to understand customers’ behaviors using data and cutting-edge martech tools. The transparency offered by such a model gives a clear picture of the return on investment.

Operationalizing intent data does come with its sets of challenges, but personalized marketing is the present and the future. To bring a customized approach in your marketing strategy, you need intent data. How you use intent data will determine your success. Leverage these five steps to make the best use of intent data, and if you have any trouble doing that, just get in touch with us. 

And to learn more about adding intent to your revenue strategies, we suggest this article: “Intent Data Use Cases: Try These 10 Popular Applications for Intent.”

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