How to Use Intent Data to Achieve Your Sales Goals: 5 Practical Ways

August 26, 2022
Contributor: Sarabeth McCarthy

Use intent data with account-based marketing (ABM) to accelerate the sales cycle, improve conversion rates and fine-tune marketing efforts.

Account-based marketing (ABM) is one of the most effective ways to improve the bottom line, as it allows you to laser-focus your B2B marketing and sales efforts on high-value accounts. But what if you could take your ABM efforts to the next level and seize opportunities you didn't even know existed? Intent data helps with just that. 

With businesses needing a real-time insider view into what their target accounts are actually interested in, intent data has become every B2B marketer's go-to toolkit. Intent data signals a prospect’s interest in a product or service, helping marketers focus on the ABM strategy, shorten the sales cycles and close more leads. 

Software providers who want to boost conversions and reduce churn can combine ABM with buyer intent data to create a robust system for identifying and targeting potential customers. In this blog, we discuss five ways to use intent data throughout your sales funnel to improve the bottom line.

5 ways to use intent data throughout your sales funnel

1. Expand your list of prospects

To make the most of your marketing and sales efforts, focus on building prospect lists with companies that match your ideal customer profile (ICP). Use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track and score high-intent leads from intent sources, including your website and marketing campaigns.

Leverage B2B intent data to build an ICP-based list of companies to target, expand your coverage and reach new buyers, as well as discover contacts that are most interested in your product or service. This will allow you to focus your marketing and sales efforts where they'll have the most impact and increase the speed and accuracy of your outreach.

Real-world success story: Nonprofit management tech company identifies 90% of new leads from intent data

During the pandemic, the total addressable market (TAM) for nonprofit donor management increased considerably (around $449.6 billion in 2020). Our client, who had a new marketing team, found it confusing to figure out who to contact in the market. 

They created a list of new accounts that met their ICP by simply generating a report in their CRM. They used intent records and targeted marketing efforts on prospects with a strong intent to buy. As a result, they closed roughly a new deal each week and identified 90% of potential new consumers from intent data (Source).

2. Convert high-quality leads

Now that you've got the hang of finding and targeting prospects, it's time to convert them into high-quality leads using intent data. By understanding what content prospects are viewing and engaging with, you can score leads, tailor your outreach and improve conversions.

Analyzing behavioral data can help you identify microconversions that might not have been on your radar. For example, if a lead from a target account downloads a specific white paper or attends a webinar, it's a strong intent signal that they're interested in learning more about your product. You can also use this information to better segment your leads.

Real-world success story: HR processing tech company establishes an opportunity of $89K using intent data

Our client had a complex sales and marketing system, so it was important for their strategic sales team to use their time wisely while focusing on high-value accounts. We helped the client develop a report that alerted them when any of their top 180 customers began shopping on our network of digital marketing sites — Capterra, GetApp and Software Advice.

Later, the demand marketing director confirmed that their sales team was able to gain entry as a result of early buyer discovery and established an opportunity of $89K that was three times larger than their usual sales price (Source).

3. Create competitive plays

Like most companies, you must have a few key competitors. And if you want to win, it's crucial to understand what your competitors are up to. Use intent data to scale your acquisition and expansion strategies. Also, execute sales plays using competitive intelligence (CI) to target customers actively researching your competitors’ products or services. 

By tracking your competitors’ online activity, you can quickly identify their most popular content, what topics they're focusing on and where they're investing their resources. This will give you a good idea of what's working well for them and where you might be able to gain an edge.

Real-world success story: Online proofing company gains $125K pipeline and substantial contributions using intent data

We saw a significant boost in campaign performance for our client's sales team following the conversion of high-value leads throughout their funnel. Our client observed a considerable lift in campaign performance with free trial downloads, which have become a highly valuable source of prospects for their sales force. 

They targeted low-intent record companies based on competitive signals by increasing their use of buyer discovery intent data. This marketing activity resulted in a $125K pipeline and substantial contributions to annual recurring revenue, according to their chief marketing officer (CMO) (Source).

4. Flag customers at risk for churn

Even if you're doing a great job at acquiring new customers using ABM and intent data, keeping an eye on potential customer churn is crucial. Intent data can help you identify customers at risk for attrition and take steps to prevent it. Look for telltale signs of disinterest, such as decreased web traffic from the customer account or low content consumption.

Once you identify a customer at risk for churn, reach out and check what's going on. It could be that the customer is having problems with your product or they are considering switching to another provider. Either way, addressing the issue head-on is the best way to retain a customer.

Real-world success story: Performance management company saves $10K in yearly recurring income using intent data

Our client discovered that two of their current customers were comparing competitive products, reporting a potential risk of churn to their success managers. Proactive engagement allowed their managers to understand why their client wanted to change and how they could meet those needs. 

The CEO said they retained both clients by adding the extra features they required to their packages. The retention allowed them to stay on track with their objectives, save $10K in yearly recurring income and generate an extra $2K in revenue for the rest of their contract (Source).

5. Find upsell and cross-sell opportunities

Once you have a customer, it's important to nurture that relationship and look for opportunities to upsell or cross-sell. Intent data helps you identify customers who might be interested in additional products or services.

Look for signals that indicate a customer is researching a new product or service, such as an increase in web traffic from their account or engagement with your content. If you see that a customer is interested in a new product, reach out and see if they have any questions. This is a great opportunity to introduce them to your other offerings and find upsell opportunities.

Make intent data your go-to source

Intent data should be the go-to source for planning your marketing and sales activities. Find a reputable intent data provider that can give you the intent insights you need to make better decisions, engage your best-fit prospects with buyer discovery and drive better results for your business. Then you'll be able to focus on what you do best — running and scaling your business.

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Sarabeth McCarthy

Sarabeth McCarthy is a Senior Data Insights Client Relations Partner at Gartner Digital Markets. She helps companies gain market insights, expand prospect pools, and accelerate sales cycles through Data Insights offerings. When not at work, Sarabeth spends her time hiking around her adopted home of Washington DC and Northern Virginia. Connect with Sarabeth on LinkedIn.

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