Around 70% of B2B technology vendors now use intent data for prospecting, and a bevy of companies now promise to harvest that information and transform it into viable insights for enterprise GTM teams. Intent data solutions from market leaders like Bombora, Intentsify, Leadsift, and others have allowed marketing teams to rapidly evolve their ABM programs from mass ‘spray and pray’ tactics to more targeted, personalized outreach campaigns. While sales and marketing teams have used intent data to focus and accelerate their prospecting efforts, many of these organizations still struggle to get the most out of their intent data investments.
If the intent data is identifying in-market accounts, why aren’t all organizations using intent data for outbound efforts seeing huge jumps in responses? Why are at least 45% of organizations, as reported by DemandScience, challenged with converting intent leads to actual revenue? Why does DemandScience’s study also show that 77% of organizations using intent data experience intent data anxiety and feel overwhelmed using intent data to capture high-intent, high-quality leads?
Kristina Jaramillo, President of Personal ABM shares the challenges that companies have with Bombora, Intentsify, DemandScience, and other intent data providers.
Here Are the 5 Problems Kristina Jaramillo Says GTM Teams Face with Intent Data:
Problem #1: Intent data in isolation is meaningless. During the ABM Done Right Podcast with David Crane, he mentioned that the Intentsify platform gets 50+ billion intent signals per month and 4.2M identified in-market accounts per month. So there’s lots of intent data for sales and marketing leaders to act on. Yet, GTM teams using Bombora, Intentsify, and others continue to treat all intent data equally. They’re challenged to uncover what they should be acting on and how they should be selecting in-market accounts to target.
In truth, when intent data platforms pick up on a ‘surge’ in activity, that could mean a potential customer is in-market and preparing to buy — or it could mean someone far removed from the company’s purchasing committee is doing research on competitors or industry trends. Understanding who is generating each engagement and where and within what environment that engagement is happening is essential in evaluating whether there is ‘true intent’.
Problem #2: Most of the intent is from director levels and below – not VPs and the C-suite that influence or make the buying decisions. Because GTM teams are just reacting to the intent data itself (the what) vs. aligning with the strategic priorities (the why), the teams are challenged to go up the food chain and drive strategic conversations.
As David Crane, VP of Marketing at Intentsify has said many times:
“Intent data has two general values: it identifies the accounts you should focus on, and tells you what they care about, so you can provide each of them with the specific info they need. Unfortunately, most intent users only focus on the first value, while they neglect the second.”
Kristina likes to say by neglecting the 2nd value – they do not look for why there is intent, and the “why” is what should guide your communications so you can be relevant to the decision-makers and influencers that are not yet showing intent.
Problem #3: Intent data is not predictive. Intent data is backward looking. It poses significant latency as a marketing trigger, and it involves a lot more than a subscription with a single vendor, as a single vendor does not tell the full story. While intent data can help identify accounts and score a topic’s resonance, it can’t predict the account’s propensity to buy. In addition, many intent data solutions fail to distinguish between implied and explicit intent — a distinction that can be critical to identifying in-market accounts. Measuring success by delivering content to accounts that display implied intent, at best, will only drive awareness or provide the wrong level of content to prospects who could be in-market for a different solution that you have.
You need intent data from multiple sources (both 3rd party and 1st party data sources), predictive analytics, and a true understanding of target accounts. We need to enhance the data with context and greater account intelligence to close the gap from signal to action.
Problem #4: Many teams lack an effective strategy for using intent signals in their prospecting and nurturing efforts. Intentsify’s “B2B Marketer’s State of Intent Report” supports this as well. Their study shows that the top challenges organizations face with intent data include:
- Creating a strategy for intent’s use;
- Measuring its impact;
- Converting data into insights; and
- Effectively acting on these intent insights.
It’s not surprising that the latter three of these four challenges all result from the first, primary challenge: creating a holistic strategy for the use of intent data. This is why teams are still using a “spray and pray” approach but now with a targeted list of in-market accounts. They are still too focused on “scaling” marketing, nurturing, and prospecting as we try to reach as many in-market accounts as possible with digital ads, retargeted ads, email campaigns, LinkedIn messaging, and phone calls.
As they scale for reach, they lose the intimacy that’s needed to open, engage and close tier 1 accounts as the focus is not on the interactions they need to have and the experiences they need to deliver to those accounts needing their solutions. In many cases, there is no strategy on how we will get in-market, intent-identified accounts to revenue. There is no thought about how to use the intent signals to select the content, messaging, and stories that will be needed to build the business case, teach for differentiation, and to influence selling conversations.
In fact, 86% of content and messaging do not support a comprehensive ABM strategy. As a result, intent-driven nurturing sales efforts often have little commercial impact on buyers. We just have a bunch of the same tactics that sales and marketing are to complete. They’re taking the leads and running them through email/phone campaigns, and treating all leads the same without any segmentation/prioritization. But, because they’re focused on in-market accounts, sales and marketing teams expect the results to be astronomically better.
Like ABM, you need a strategy for intent data, and you’ll want to develop a phased strategy for rollout.
Problem #5: Sales and marketing are not aligned on how they use intent data. It’s vital marketing and sales teams are aligned before you implement intent data, as they are typically the main users of the tool (customer success teams are arguably just as important). But research shows there’s still work to be done. For example, an Ascend2 report found the top three complaints from BDRs/sellers regarding intent data’s use are all consequences of poor sales-marketing alignment—with “lack of message alignment with marketing” (42%) being the second contender. A DemandScience report shows that 55% of organizations are not aligned on what constitutes intent data and how intent data should be acted on.
Though general alignment is improving, many organizations continue to expect tools like intent data to magically solve alignment problems for them. However, most new tools — including intent solutions — can only facilitate existing alignment rather than create alignment between teams and departments. Consequently, many B2B organizations are missing out on a great deal of potential customers and revenue. We need to start filling the gaps and change how sales and marketing teams are using intent data.
Additional Relevant Resources to Help You Better Leverage Intent Data and ABM