Intent Data Is Not Enough to Turn Opportunities into Revenue

Intent data platforms like Bombora, ZoomInfo, True Influence, 6sense, LeadSift, Intentsify, and many others are enabling sales and marketing teams to rapidly evolve their programs from mass spray and pray tactics, to more targeted, personalized outreach campaigns.  While sales and marketing teams have accelerated their prospecting efforts, more than 50% of organizations using intent data are not seeing significant business impact. In fact, LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report shows that 44% of organizations are seeing huge drops in responsiveness to phone, email, and social outreach. A Challenger study shows that the biggest challenge for 50% of sales and marketing teams is getting a response from buyers.

While many will blame the delivered intent data – the problem is not the data!

We’ve been talking to leadership, sales, marketing, and customer success teams within a number of intent data platforms that have clients like VMware, Brainshark, Tipalti, InsightSquared, Vidyard, and hundreds of SMB and enterprise companies. We had the intent data experts on our ABM Done Right Podcasts (link to the podcast with Intentsify). We learned that most sales and marketing teams across the board do not have an effective process to prospect and nurture intent leads. In fact, a “B2B Marketer’s State of Intent Report” by Intentsify shows that organizations are challenged to efficiently convert data into insights and effectively act on intent signals.


How most sales and marketing teams ineffectively GTM using intent data – The need for an ABM strategy.

The problem is that sales and marketing teams still engage in a “spray and pray” approach but now with a targeted list of in-market accounts. We are still too focused on “scaling” marketing, nurturing, and prospecting efforts as we try to reach as many in-market accounts as possible with digital ads, retargeted ads, email campaigns, and LinkedIn messaging. As we scale for reach, we lose the intimacy that’s needed to open, engage, and close tier 1 accounts, as the focus is not on the interactions we need to have and the experiences we need to deliver.

In many cases, there is no strategy on how we will get in-market accounts to revenue. There is no thought about the content, messaging and stories that will be needed to build the business case, teach for differentiation, and to influence selling conversations. In fact, we find that 86% of content and messaging do not support ABM or sales nor have any commercial impact on buyers.

In most cases, there is just a bunch of 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. There is no differentiation in their approach for an account that would be tier 1 to an account that would be tier 2 and 3. Why would you treat an account that can provide you with the greatest revenue growth the same as an account that would be just nice to have?

The video below shows how most GTM teams do not have an ABM strategy.


The need for a different approach – Buyers need more personal relevance

When you treat all “in-market opportunities” the same and just create buyer journeys based on what prospects are searching for, you work off general assumptions about company and persona needs and pain points. This is the same information that your competitors are responding to so there is no real differentiation from others using intent data platforms. At Personal ABM, we find that organizations become unresponsive, get “stuck” or “leave the funnel” because value propositions presented by sales and marketing didn’t identify with their specific needs or there was a lack of competitive differentiation.

As Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson mention in their book, “The Challenger Sale”, in most cases buyer unresponsiveness is not because you failed to make a logical argument – it’s because you failed to make an emotional connection. It’s not that buyers didn’t believe your story – it’s because they didn’t see it as “their” story. This identifies a clear need for B2B marketers and sellers to have an account plan and speak with tier 1 accounts and individual buyers vs. simply speaking at accounts.

Click here to learn more about the account-based intelligence that teams need to get more relevant.

The need to go beyond personalization and take a personal account-based approach with tier 1 accounts

When sales and marketing teams simply respond to “intent data” and “pain points”, they are automatically putting themselves in the “nice to have” category which the prospect may get to once they take care of their list of priorities. The most successful GTM teams using intent data from Bombora, ZoomInfo, 6Sense, Intentsify and others are using intent data as a springboard vs. just responding to it. They are uncovering:

  • Why there is intent in the first place so they can show the role they’d play in achieving the business vision.
  • What is the prospect’s million-dollar headache, on both an account and personal level?
  • What’s going on within the organization and the different divisions that can impact operational excellence, customers, and P&L?
  • What are the account-specific or competitor-focused gaps that are not being considered and the personal impacts which may be under-estimated?

When you align with the business vision and show your relevance, you become a “must-have” solution. But this requires teams to go beyond campaigns and focus on 1-to-1 interactions where GTM teams can create personal relevance. It requires teams to truly understand the account they are targeting, including how the buyers think, what are the reframes that need to happen before a deal can be closed and what are the specific use cases.

Click here to learn more about our personal account-based approach.

The need to deliver personal relevance along the complete buying journey

Aligning with the prospect’s business vision is especially important if you want to create a buying consensus with in-market leads. This is a key challenge for many teams as the managers and directors within larger firms are the ones showing intent – not the budget holders (VPs and the C-Suite!) This is according to studies from LeadSift and Intentsify. This is why we need to work together as one team to penetrate ranks and divisions. We need to enable our “champions” – the ones showing intent – to have the right conversations with decision-makers. And, we need to influence the internal conversations that sales teams are not invited to – and the only way we can do that is with content that is meant to shift the team’s thinking.

Click here to read our case study on how CNBS Software used ABM to influence internal buying conversations and create a buying consensus.

Even though there is a huge gap between intent-driven pipeline numbers and revenue created with intent-leads, the focus remains on getting intent leads into the pipeline. There is little focus on how we will influence buying decisions along the complete buyer’s journey. My “primary” marketing metrics poll on LinkedIn shows that most marketing teams (60%) are only focused at the beginning of the journey as they look at pipeline KPIs and marketing-sourced revenue.

However, within the poll discussion Vijai Shankar (VP of Product Marketing at Uniphore and an ABM Done Right Podcast guest) mentioned in the poll comments:

“Marketing sourced revenue is a very narrow focus view on marketing and doesn’t really bring into account a cohesive view that revenue is everyone’s metric and not just sales. I think marketing should look at marketing-sourced revenue as well as marketing-influenced revenue. This will ensure that no matter who prospects, marketing is involved to help accelerate the deal thru the pipeline and contribute to a closed win.”

Sangram Vajre – co-founder of Terminus mentioned:

“If you are in B2B, there is no reason why marketing and sales have any conversation of sourcing…. 100% of the accounts can be sourced through ZoomInfo, Crunchbase and intent data companies. Modern B2B leaders talk about engagement in the target accounts, their GTM strategy, and ways to win the deals as one team.”

If we’re going to influence the complete buying journey to ensure intent-driven opportunities actually convert to revenue then we need stories, messaging and content and specific approaches for the middle and bottom of the funnel. Our article on the PathFactory blog shows how marketing can better support ABM and sales throughout the complete journey. Click here to read the article.

In conclusion, intent data alone will not provide GTM teams with maximum revenue growth potential…

As I’ve shown throughout this article, it’s not enough to identify the 3 – 10% of the market that is looking at or is open to buying. You need to have the right ABM strategy, the right account plan, and the right interactions across all touchpoints. One communication misfire and one wrong interaction will result in unresponsiveness and inaction. You would lose the competitive advantage of knowing who’s in-market.

You may also want to check out this video on how teams can get greater returns from ABM and intent data:


If you liked this intent data video, click here to get even more.

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During our call we’ll discuss we’ll discuss…

  • 9Your business goals.
  • 9Your revenue challenges.
  • 9Your ABM readiness – and the steps you need to take.
  • 9Our personal account-based approach that drives stage progression, improving win rates and increasing deal sizes for clients.
  • 9How you can accelerate existing ABM programs and scale it in a way that drive business outcomes versus just pipeline growth.