Lead management: Using intent data to accelerate your sales pipeline
Sales is a numbers game, and seeing momentum build up in our sales pipeline can make us all go 🤑
But this doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a lot that goes into keeping your sales engine running efficiently—effort, strategy, good management, and a little bit of luck as well.
To keep driving results, you need to optimize your sales processes for better outcomes. One way to do that is by managing your leads effectively. And in 2021, managing your leads without using intent data is just (there’s no other way to say it) inefficient.
In this post, we will be talking about how intent data can help manage your leads better and fuel your sales pipeline.
But before that, what’s intent data, and how can it change your lead management tactics?
What is intent data?
Intent data can be defined as a prospect’s or organization’s likelihood to purchase a product or service. An entity's intent can be inferred by examining and evaluating behavior such as webpage visits, media consumption, requests, collateral downloads, event participation, and form completions.
Believe it or not:
According to Forrester, a prospect is already 67% of the way through the purchase journey before they get in touch with you.
Do you know what this means?
You have to work for that remaining 33%. This 33% is where intent data could be a differentiator between you and your rival. It’s all about how you can utilize intent data to flesh out your pipeline with high-value leads.
Before we dive into how intent data can help manage your sales pipeline and leads, let’s have a brief look at the types of intent data.
Intent data can be further broken down into:
- Active Intent Data
- Passive Intent Data
Active intent data
When users are outwardly looking for a product or service, their intent signals are categorized as active intent data. These data sources can be:
- Informational intent: During this stage, the buyer would be interested in reading your blog, guides, downloading eBooks, and more from your business’s website.
- Navigational intent: These are navigational signals that indicate that the customer is actively ready to take action. For example, signing up for a trial for your product is a navigational intent.
- Transactional intent: Transactional intent involves acting in a way that indicates the possible chance of purchase. Some examples include visiting the pricing page, searching for a specific use-case, or adding the product to their cart.
Passive intent data
Passive intent is defined as the unrealized need for a product that people possess. At times, buyers with passive intent don’t even realize they have a problem that a product or service can solve.
Passive intent requires the right nurturing to be realized and turned into active intent. As a result, marketing and sales teams have to focus on nurturing their prospects to tap into these hidden opportunities.
Passive buying intent data is the hidden gold mine that could uncover valuable leads for your sales pipeline. This is because these leads aren’t yet actively looking for a solution when you touch base with them, so you have the power to decide the entire narrative.
There are various datasets that we can leverage to gauge if a prospect has a passive intent, and these are:
- Technographic data: Technographics is the profiling of organizations based on their current software stack, technology usage behavior, and software adoption/rejection.
In essence, technographic data gives you information about the software and tools used by your target accounts. This information allows you to infer insights around which accounts are most likely to convert into your customers based on the knowledge of their current technology stack, past technology stack, and software usage.
- Demographic data: Demographics are attributes like age, gender, income, occupation, and other information about people that can help you profile and segment them into discrete groups.
- Firmographic data: Firmographics refers to attributes such as company size, funding information, industries served, total revenue, market share, and other information that can help you profile companies.
Active and passive intent can be further classified into:
- First-party data: Data collected from your digital real estate. These include interfaces you control like your website, CRM, chatbots, among others.
- Second-party data: This is the information explicitly collected as a function of a business. It usually includes data collected with the consent of a visiting user, such as cookie data and reviews on websites and forums. G2, Capterra, etc., are a few examples of businesses that collect intent data as a business model.
- Third-party data: Third-party data is the intent data available from every nook and corner of the internet. I know all data eventually is valuable, but this type of data exists beyond your website and other technology you don’t own or control. Think of big data that encompasses everything on social media, public forums, source codes, and other areas across the internet that might have such data available.
So now that we have a clear picture of intent data, let’s look at why it could be the missing piece to a super-efficient sales pipeline.
How to use intent data for lead management and pipeline acceleration
1. Prioritize prospects and accounts
Usually, sales have to rely on the marketing team to bring in leads. These leads are scored based on a given set of criteria. Once they satisfy the criteria, they are passed on to the sales team as MQL (marketing qualified leads).
That’s the usual approach and probably an ineffective tactic in this day and age.
In contrast, when marketing uses high-quality intent data to prioritize specific accounts and prospects, sales can focus on leads with higher purchasing propensity.
For example, a sales rep can benefit from intent data such as:
- Technographic data: Technographic data helps you gauge if the product fits into a prospective company’s current stack, whether they have the buying power, how easy the integration of the product being sold is with their stack, and more.
- Navigational data: Did the customer sign up for a trial account, check a page with relevant use-case to their business, etc. These signals will help the rep create a better pitch for the prospect.
- Firmographic data: If the company has recently raised funding, bolstered its revenue, or has been wildly successful in the recent months, chances are they might be able to afford the new product.
2. Enrich your first party lead management platforms
One of the most valuable qualities of intent data is that it gives your first-party data sources a lot more context for more efficient lead prioritization.
Intent data can be used to collect data about your prospect and enrich your data sources such as your CRM, lead management platforms, ESP, and marketing platforms.
Next time your reps will not have to go hunting on LinkedIn before calling prospects that registered a day before. Intent data platforms such as Slintel enable sales teams to integrate intent data directly into the world’s most popular CRMs, ESPs, and marketing platforms.
3. Segment your leads
With precise intent data collection in place, you will be able to identify which prospect needs to be tended to immediately, and which ones, say, needs to be nurtured.
For example, a prospect that has signed up for a trial, has been checking your competitor’s reviews and has been recently funded is probably a prospect you should speak to immediately.
And with intent data, these prospects can be automatically segmented as qualified leads.
4. Overcome objections and threats
Losing your leads through pipeline filters is a natural process. There is nothing wrong with it.
But losing leads because of irrelevant and unpersonalized nurture campaigns and interactions due to a lack of insights can be frustrating.
Intent data helps marketing and sales teams gain valuable insights, such as thematic analysis, key use-cases, and features requirements.
The additional data enables you to alter your sales process to counter any objections or threats with factual data and personalized pitches.
5. Accelerate sales outreach
With precise buying signals, intent data will help you craft the best outreach strategy, and this deployment can vary based on the journey stages, buyer persona, and qualification scores.
You can create personalized outreach campaigns with relevant battle cards, product pitches, product decks, and more with the correct information.
Suppose, for example, you identify a high-value lead in your sales pipeline, and your intent data tells you that the prospect is already using a competitor. In that case, you can cleverly reach out to the prospect where your sales pitch substantiates how your product is better than the competitor based on their movements and personalized insights.
Rather than just doing cold outreach, you now have the ability to know your prospect inside-out and what they exactly need!
6. Use content as a sales pipeline acceleration tool
Content is everything. As a content marketer, I am sick of hearing this. But it is true! Content is one of the pillars of sales and marketing. And intent data might just be the newest way to reinvigorate your content strategy.
Intent data are signals that tell you what your audience is thinking, what are their most common queries, what pages are they visiting, what objections are they posing?
Intent data spotlights customer queries. That’s the juicy bit.
Now you know the queries, so go ahead create the right set of content to answer them. Creating content relevant to your intent signals reduces the effort a customer has to put into researching solutions and gaining trust towards it.
Intent data helps with better lead and sales pipeline management
When you focus on your prospects’ activities and interests, you are literally in your customers’ shoes and, therefore, can create highly focused sales and marketing plans and campaigns.
Intent data is beneficial from the start (ensuring your content catches the attention of your leads early on during the discovery phase) to closing a deal (being ready for their competitor-based objections) because you already know what they might throw at you from the beginning.
Most importantly, intent data enables your sales team to focus on leads that matter, the ones who are more likely to convert and impact your revenue. Becoming an early adopter of intent data is by far one of the best investments you can make right now.
Yash Vardhan is a B2B Sales Content Marketer by profession. Would be seen fragging 30-bombs in CS:GO and Valorant when not working. Also, fond of burgers and beers.