Investing in buyer intent data is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself — now, more than ever.
The COVID-19 pandemic has practically pressured all businesses to go digital, or at least expand their virtual footprint.
Companies that were unable to make the switch have suffered. And those that have adapted, now grapple with stronger competition and shifting buyer behavior.
As we move into 2021, buyer intent data will help you gain ground on competitors and connect with prospects.
The remote sales landscape is getting stuffy
Research by McKinsey confirms that today’s decision-makers will, in their ideal post-pandemic world, continue to research and make purchase decisions remotely.
Not only are buyers favoring virtual interactions, but they are also now more than happy to make large purchases online. Seventy percent of respondents reported being comfortable with making remote purchases in excess of $50,000.
Across the table (or buffering screen on Zoom), sellers are embracing digital sales and prospecting. With more leads online than ever before, the opportunity is significant, and so is the competition.
How to Use Buyer Intent Data for Differentiation
Ahead, you’ll find three ways in which buyer intent will help level the playing field for both sales and marketing teams competing in a hyper-competitive environment.
1. Improving account-based targeting
Account-based sales is effective because it focuses on targeting a group of qualified prospects with personalized campaigns instead of offering a generic message to a vague audience.
With the more companies implementing account-based strategies, you’d expect a fair few to bolster their campaigns with buyer intent data; while the numbers are rising, this isn’t the case.
In a 2017 Openprise survey, only half of the respondents reported using third-party data to identify new accounts. Surprisingly, even fewer said they were using third-party B2B intent data to support account-based sales initiatives.
Fast-forward to 2020 and over 70 percent of B2B marketers are predicted to use third-party intent data to target prospects or engage groups of buyers by the end of 2022.
Buyer intent data improves your account-based sales because it gives you valuable data that are otherwise hidden, or hard to find.
For example, with a G2 + Hubspot integration, you can see which leads engage with your G2 profile (first-party), and what other products/categories they are browsing (third-party).
This gives your marketing and sales teams access to real-time signals designed to fill your pipeline and close deals. It also supports your retention, remarketing, and lead scoring efforts because you’re able to factor in how many times a buyer has viewed your profile or category on G2.
You can also filter your intent data down by category, competitor, and number of views to create targeted workflows and lists for high-value accounts.
For prospecting and outreach, if you know that a qualified lead from a targeted account landed on a review site and looked at your competitors, a rep can improve messaging by reaching out in real-time and mentioning specific USPs and case studies in their message.
2. Catching leads early in the buyer journey
Speaking of research, buyers will not skimp on it. They’ll “spend the equivalent of a full-time workweek” making comparisons, engaging with multiple reps, consulting colleagues, seeking referrals, and researching content from third-party sources.
But what if you could identify the specific solutions that your prospects are researching? What if you could identify exactly when they entered the research phase?
Buyer intent data tools allow you to identify when prospects begin – or progress through – their buyer journey and what specific solutions/products they’re searching for.
For example, let’s say your organization sells analytics software to other businesses. Thanks to social listening (third-party), you’re able to monitor conversations about analytics software across different social media platforms.
After noticing that some of these profiles match your ideal buyer persona are complaining about a competitor’s feature or asking questions related to your product/service, you can refer them to your sales team, who can then reach out to warm leads before they get picked up by a competitor.
Speaking of beating competitors to the punch, third-party intent data-focused brands like Bombora also provide strong features for account-based targeting. For example, their Company Surge feature triggers a high-priority notification alerting you to discernable expressions of intent and the specific types of content that an account is engaging with.
3. Hyper-personalizing sales messages
In the “next normal” of sales, outreach and outbound lead generation is still critical. As discussed in my post on selling with empathy, sales reps need to go out of their way to eliminate anything that signals a buyer is a number on a list.
Selling from behind a screen has gotten a whole lot harder for those stuck in the “old ways,” this is largely due to the rise of fake-empathy, opportunistic marketing, and an increase in digital competitors.
Fortunately, the right buyer intent data makes it easier to stand out.
With the right data, sales reps are equipped with the specific insights needed to tailor messaging to decision-makers that have different priorities or are scattered throughout various stages in the sales funnel.
OZMO, a cloud communications provider, used first-party intent data to find “the most relevant starting point” in their sales process. Their data revealed which companies visited their site and the specific pages that visitors engaged with.
When OZMO’s sales reps found that an account spent significant time browsing their landing pages for custom-built CRM/ERP integrations, they used this insight to personalize their outreach and “strike while the iron is hot”.
“If it’s a call center, we emphasize the importance of efficient routing for incoming calls – and the solution we have for this.”
The opportunities presented by buyer intent data for personalization are aplenty, and in essence, enable reps to continue the conversation in a prospect’s head.
To help convert freemium users into paying customers, they worked with a third-party vendor to create targeted and personalized educational in-app messages, onsite ads, and CTAs to warm leads already using and freemium products.
This had a significant impact on sales:
- Registrations increased by 15 percent
- Free trial sign-ups (for the enterprise product) increased by 150 percent
- Over $1.1 million in sales pipeline growth
Succeeding in a digital-first sales landscape
The new digital and remote-first world of business is here to stay. And right now, your competitors are investing heavily in digital sales and marketing to grab their slice of the pie. With this spike in competition and noise, it’s no longer enough to run mediocre account-based marketing and generic sales campaigns.
You need to identify and meet leads at an earlier point in their buyer journey, discover gaps in engagement with existing leads, and personalize your approach to your target accounts. Investing in buyer intent is how you can make that happen.