The modern B2B customer journey has transformed into one that is extensively driven by data-centric decision-making. With an endless number of online resources and platforms that help aid modern B2B buying decisions, it may come as no surprise that most B2B buyers today have made up their mind before they even get on a call with you.
Food for thought: 57% of a B2B buyer’s decision is already made even before they begin engaging with a sales rep.
This means the later you reach a B2B buyer, the lower the chance your sales rep is able to influence their decision. The solution? Catch your B2B buyer in the act! But to do this we need to better understand what buying intent is and this is the perfect place to start.
The act of determining buying or purchase intent and segmenting prospects into different “intent buckets” isn’t a new concept. However, what’s changed over the recent past is the way in which we capture data to deliver these insights.
Modern software tools allow us to track almost every phase of a prospect’s purchase journey or a company’s software requirements. This makes it easy for Sales and Marketing teams to reach out to buyers that have a higher propensity to purchase their product or service, and scale revenue or sales numbers rapidly.
It is important to realize how a prospect’s buyer journey works in order to use buying intent information to its fullest potential. Let’s look at the illustration below about the five stages a prospect typically goes through prior to making a new purchase.
The Prospect’s Purchase Journey
Buyer looks for other solutions from companies that are already in their ecosystem. Example: A user of Atlassian’s Jira looking to buy Atlassian’s Bitbucket.
Buyer realizes that products from companies within their ecosystem don’t meet their requirements. As a result, the buyer will look out for a new solution in the market.
Buyer looks out for the best vendors in the category through references, word-of-mouth recommendations, and online research. This takes between a few hours to several weeks.
Buyer books a demo or subscribes to a free trial to evaluate the product. Online reviews, reference checks, and internal discussions are performed during this phase.
Buyer makes the decision to purchase a product/service and moves on to negotiating pricing, setup, onboarding, and other specifics with the vendor.
Now, how does the buyer’s purchase intent change at every phase of this journey? And how can your company use this buying intent information to make a successful sale? To understand this, we’ll need to first talk about the fundamentals of buying intent. Let’s start by defining the basics.
Buying intent or purchase intent is the measure of a prospect’s inclination to buy a product or a service. In simpler words, purchase intent can be defined as a buyer’s readiness to purchase your product or service at any given instant of time.
The buying intent of a decision maker or a company can be typically recognized using signals that they exhibit, or by uncovering insights based on other passive indicators of intent. We can break it down further as follows.
Active High-Intent Prospects
An active high-intent prospect is someone who is currently looking for a product or service to service their individual, team, or company requirements. For example, someone who’s actively searching for wrist watches on catalogues, e-commerce sites, and social media channels has a higher probability of purchasing a watch online over the next few days or weeks than someone who hasn’t performed any of these actions. The user in this example would be an active high-intent prospect for a watch brand.
In the context of B2B buyers, the sales cycle is much more complex unlike that of B2C products that can be bought on an impulse. Some B2B tech buying signals that active prospective buyers could exhibit include reading blogs, downloading product collaterals, comparing products on G2, and booking product demos.
Passive High-Intent Prospects
On the other hand, a passive high-intent prospect is a user that might have an inherent need for a product, but isn’t actively performing any actions that might indicate that they have a requirement for it at all. These prospects might have an immediate need for the solution, or might need it sometime in the near future.
Examples of such prospects would be ones that have an upcoming contract renewal for a software they’re not particularly satisfied with, or a team that has made internal changes and may purchase a specific software shortly.
In some cases, passive prospects might not even realize that a software or a solution might make a significant positive impact to their current modus operandi, and would be ready to purchase a product or service as soon as they become aware of it. In a case like this, the piece of the puzzle that’s missing is not the requirement, but the awareness about such a solution.
For example, someone who’s using Excel sheets to manage their team’s tasks might not realize that there are dedicated project management software that can help them immensely. A prospect like this one would be readily interested to buy such a product as soon as they’re made aware of the fact that said product exists.
In most cases than not, passive buying intent indicators precede active buying intent indicators, and tracking them will help companies keep an eye on prospects that are likely to purchase their product or service from an early stage.
We might have defined buying intent and high-intent prospects successfully, but the real question you might have here is, “Why is tracking buying intent important for my company?”. And this brings us to the next section of this post.
Tracking your target prospects’ buying intent can have several advantages and benefits. Here are some of them:
Optimizing Expenses & Resources
Knowing who’s more likely to purchase your product can help you optimize your ad spends and allocate sales resources wisely. Uncovering high-intent prospects can guide your Sales Development Representatives to target the right kind of clients from the get-to instead of “spraying and praying”. Similarly, it can help you pump more money into display and retargeting ads for prospects that are closer to the bottom of the funnel instead of leads that just aren’t there yet.
Increasing Conversion Rates
As you’ve probably experienced already, reaching out to prospects, getting on demos, and doing so much more just to hear a flat “No” at the end of the day can be time consuming and wasteful. Understanding your prospect’s intent to purchase your product can help you target them in a timely manner, and close more successful deals, thus improving your team’s overall lead-to-deal conversion rate.
Knowing your prospects’ level of buying intent allows you to segment them based on their propensity to purchase your product. This helps you run ads and marketing campaigns that will appeal to each segment better and work on moving them down the funnel to eventually convert them into customers.
For Sales and Marketing, the best way to depict the importance of buying intent is by drawing a comparison to a target board. Trying to make outbound sales without buying intent insights is like shooting in the dark. You’re not sure where the target is, and you’re hoping that the arrows hit the mark, and as a result of that, you’re going to soon run out of arrows in your quiver. And the worst part? When the lights come on, you may eventually realize that you never hit the target even once.
On the other hand, using buying intent insights is like shooting arrows at a target board in broad daylight. Not all of them are going to hit the bullseye, but you know what you are aiming for, and this helps you save your resources and hit the mark with that much more efficiency.
Without Buying Intent Data
With Buying Intent Data
Adding Relevance to Your Interactions
Relevance is key for modern businesses especially with the level of interconnectedness that we live in. It has become so hard to even start a (meaningful) conversation or grab a hold of someone's attention these days. This can prove to be a major stumbling block for a lot of sales and marketing teams out there.
With intent data insights, your conversations, interactions and messaging become much more personalized and tailored towards your prospects and audiences. Imagine going into every conversation with a new prospect having a ton of context and background information that will instantly get their attention. This is what intent data equips you with -- all the data you need to have those meaningful conversations that lead to conversions.
With all that being said, we can now move on to the different kinds of intent data.
There are three kinds of intent data that businesses get to choose from. They are:
All intent data that is obtained first-hand, via sources within your business’ direct control, can be termed as first-party intent. This can include:
Collecting first-party intent is an incredibly efficient way to capture high-intent prospects that are actively interested in your product. Ensuring your website and campaigns are well set-up to facilitate the collection of this data allows you to nurture these prospects into a buy. You can do this through various marketing automation tools that help you collect this data.
Second-party intent is the intent data that you can buy or avail from external sources such as review sites and other such platforms that collect intent data first-hand. This collected first-hand intent data may include contact information and other interaction data recorded on the second-party’s platform with users’ consent.
The problem with first and second-party intent data is that it is only limited to the data that a single website/group of websites can gather first-hand by itself. This means that you’d be relying only on a limited number of sources that can only take you so far.
But in the world of intent data there exists a quantum leap—third-party intent.
The internet is a whole universe where billions upon billions of data points live. Every single user interaction across every digital touchpoint on the World Wide Web amounts to some form of intent or the other. And to condense these billions of digital footprints and intent data points into actionable buyer intent data that businesses can use to predict their next customer is the job of third-party intent.
With the evolution of big data, its applications continue to grow and help businesses perform at their optimal best. Intent-laden digital footprints help discern customer buying patterns derived using tools such as technographics, firmographics, thematic analyses and other AI and machine learning algorithms help extrapolate the buying intent of decision makers with extreme precision.
Another advantage of third-party intent is that it’s the only one that offers passive intent data. First and second-party intent solutions can only provide active intent data. Passive-intent can only be tracked using third-party intent solutions.
Food for thought: Some intent indicators are fact-based. Others aren’t. Some of them are extremely accurate, others are very unreliable. Want to pick wisely? Check out our in-depth interactive simulation on buyer intent data.
Content consumption can be a great indicator of purchase intent to help you find active high-intent buyers for your company. As we discussed earlier, downloading ebooks, reading reviews, comparing products, and doing online research are all actions typically performed by prospects that are actively looking out for a product.
A company’s buying patterns can also indicate buying intent, and this is typically uncovered by looking at their technology stack, upcoming contract renewals, or funding information. For instance, the software ecosystem a company is using might give you insights about how much budget they are able to allocate for products purchased by different teams. You can also track down prospects that are currently using your competitor’s product, but have a renewal that’s due three months from now. Play your cards right, and they might be signing up with you instead of renewing with your competitors a few weeks down the line.
Some prospects will innately have a higher inclination to buy your product or service over others, and that’s where the psychographics indicator comes into the picture. You can analyze your prospects' activities, interests, opinions, and values by using psychographic insights you have on your prospects.
For example, you might realize that some of your prospects' values already align perfectly with the values of your company by studying their psychographic profile, and this might encourage you to prioritize conversations with them over other prospects or message your outreach differently.
As you can see here, there are a variety of pros and cons that come with tracking different types of buying intent. The ideal approach should be to keep an eye on all of these things, and if you can’t do that due to budget limitations, you could still track prospects using two of the three methods portrayed above.
To summarize the previous section, let’s assume the universe is made out of pure intent data. In that case, first-party intent is planet earth, where you reside. Second party intent is a nearby friendly alien planet or planetary system. And third-party intent would be the whole universe of intent data extrapolated into bite-sized, relevant insights. So let us dive into what the different kinds of intent data entail.
There are several different ways to determine a prospect’s propensity to purchase your product or service. This is usually accomplished by analyzing certain signals for transactional intent from a prospect.
As we mentioned earlier, first-party, second-party and third-party data is collected using different methods. Here’s how it’s done:
First-party data is one of the most explicit ways where users exhibit buying intent directly towards your product through their interactions with your website/platform. This may include actions such as signing up for a free trial, downloading collateral or filling up book-a-demo forms on websites.
There are many ways through which you can collect first-party intent data on your website:
1. Lead Capture Forms
You can use marketing automation tools like HubSpot to create automated lead capture forms to gate various resources and CTAs on your website. To bypass this gate the user will be required to submit their contact details. Book a demo CTAs, free trial CTAs, gated resources, webinar registrations, and newsletter subscriptions serve as great opportunities for capturing leads using these forms.
2. Chatbots and Conversational Marketing Tools
3. Social Media Tools
Social media, especially LinkedIn, is a great channel that’s directly under your control, from which a lot of relevant leads can be captured. You can make use of various social media tools that help you track and collect leads that interact with your social media content.
4. Website Cookies
Cookies can tell you a lot about the visitors on your website including valuable information such as their IP address, location, personal information such as name, location and phone numbers. This not just allows you to collect lead data but also allows you to do things such as running retargeting ad campaigns.
You can track cookies on your website by adding Google Tag Manager to the headers on your site and adding a tracking pixel or tag.
When you go about collecting any first-party intent data, you also need to make sure that you obtain prior and explicit consent from the user in order to align with GDPR and CCPA statutory requirements. This is best done using interstitial pop-ups or plugins that allow users to opt in/out.
Food for thought: compliance, while being a mandate within the EU, is binding even if you’re a non-EU company that employs or deals with individuals from the union. So, when choosing an intent data provider, you want to pick one that’s GDPR and CCPA compliant like Slintel.
Second-party intent data is collected every time a user on the internet signs up to a platform or service, writes a review, or partakes in any activity that requires them to input their data under the conditions of a user agreement policy that gives them the ownership to the data.
Co-operatives are a group of websites or publishers that collect this data from users with their consent and add it to a common repository. This information is then used by data providers and other companies to derive insights or create profiles with contact information.
To access this data, you’ll need to buy it from a second-party intent vendor that is specific to the use case of your product and customers. For example, if you’re a B2B SaaS business, you can avail this data from a review site like G2. Review sites like G2 track users on their platform that are going through or submitting reviews for your product or a product like yours, which they then sell to you. There are a lot of second-party intent data vendors that you can choose from, depending on the market you serve.
Third-party intent, as we discussed earlier, is a much more comprehensive, actionable and all-encompassing solution that derives intent on a macro level. Here are some of the main ways using which active and passive third-party intent is tracked:
1. Technology Stacks
Technology stacks or tech stacks are the chain of tools and software that a company uses to automate or improve its daily operations. Inspecting and tracking technology stack data can be a valuable purchase intent signal, since it allows Marketing and Sales specialists to understand a prospect’s historical purchase behavior, software requirements, and also spot gaps in the technology stack that can be filled by your company’s offering.
In addition to that, it also allows you to find companies that are using one of your competitors’ products, or companies that are using software with which your product integrates.
Check out our in-depth technographics guide to learn more about how it can be a powerful tool for your business functions.
Funding history, EBIDTA information, quarterly targets, and other such financial information can also act as purchase intent signals and influence buying decisions. Here’s an in-depth guide to firmographics and how it can be a powerful intent indicator.
3. Company News & Updates
Along with the firmographic signals we covered in the previous section, news around a company’s acquisition, investment, funding, growth, or hiring can also act as an intent signal.
Food for thought: Information around a company’s growth or recent hires can also be a great conversation starter when you’re talking to prospects from within the firms.
4. Analyzing Buyer Themes & Objectives
Broad and narrow thematic scopes exist for any product or service that is sold by a business. You can pinpoint high intent prospects by analyzing and segmenting prospects on the basis of these thematic scopes that fall within your product’s offering.
To identify themes, one must first recognize connotative and contextual identifiers within your business model that can be used to identify prospects that show signs of a use-case for your product. Keywords form the crux of thematic intent indicators as they help you identify prospects that align with your product’s use-cases.
For example, if you’re a checkout/payment gateway service or plugin, you’d want to find a keyword that best resonates with your ICP’s use case that is actively being showcased. In such a case, finding businesses that use a keyword like “Add to Cart” on their website would be a great way to find prospects that have a use for your product.
5. Competitor Insights and Contract Expiry/Renewal Information
Tracking your competitors’ customers and gaining deep insights into their behavior is a great way to find high-intent buyers. Insights such as technographics, firmographics, psychographics, and contract renewals of your competitors’ products are extremely precise indicators of buying intent that will help you win your competitors' customers.
6. Reverse IP Lookups
Reverse IP lookup or reverse DNS lookup is a method using which you can find out the approximate location and/or the organization from which a person is visiting your website. In a nutshell, this method uses the Internet Protocol (IP) address of a person’s digital device, like a computer or a mobile phone, to see the location of the website visitor. You can then use this to uncover the office phone number or some other similar such information about your website visitor, which you can then use to contact them.
Reverse IP lookups give a rough idea of who could be looking at your website, but does not give accurate information when the user is, for instance, working from home, or accessing your website from a place other than their office.
So, you now know what buying intent is, what the different indicators of buying intent are, and how you can track and collect buying intent data. Now, how do you use this data to improve your sales or marketing and supercharge your growth?
Buying Intent, especially the third-party kind, is so comprehensive and actionable that it can be used across multiple functions in your organization. Here are some of the ways in which your organization can make use of such a resource:
Buying intent is a boon for any sales function. However successful your sales function may be, be assured that your reps are spending way too much time prospecting and chasing dead-end leads (unless, of course, you use a buying intent solution).
Integrating buying intent into your sales functions help you bring data-driven precision into your sales and prospecting efforts making it a whole lot more productive and saving your reps an eternity worth of time.
With buying intent, sales teams can reach high-intent customers at just the right moment and ensure they stop wasting time on prospects that do not have a strong enough intent to buy your product. With third-party intent, businesses can easily get access to customers that are actively and passively looking to buy their product. As a result, your team can focus on closing a lot more deals.
Buying intent also serves as an arsenal of data and actionable insights that help sales teams say the exact words customers are waiting to hear. By providing a ton of context before a single word has been spoken, buying intent helps make conversations and demos a lot more relevant and impactful by ensuring that your reps are always overprepared and well-equipped.
With billions of data points and intent indicators that help identify these high-intent prospects, third-party intent providers offer sales teams all they’ll ever need. Dynamic lists of high intent prospects, contact information and all the insights needed to win a deal, all from the convenience of a single platform.
Unproductive sales pipelines suck. The solution? A solid demand gen strategy. No successful demand generation strategy is complete without the right data. Buying intent is the most effective demand gen solution that enables marketing teams to successfully nurture leads and consistently provide relevance and value to them.
If your pipeline isn’t doing you much good then understanding your audience and creating an effective go-to-market strategy is the first step to reverse this cul-de-sac.
Buyer intent data first helps you segment and prioritize your audience appropriately based on in-depth data driven insights. It then provides you with all the data you need to tailor your messaging towards each segment, helping you create effective nurture campaigns that drive value and nudge your leads into conversion at each step of the sales cycle.
Scaling your business is a much easier task when your marketing and sales functions are in perfect synchronization with each other. One of the key reasons the marketing-sales alignment is off in an organization is the lack of a proper ABM system in place.
Intent data can help you identify and prioritize key accounts based on their level of intent and ensure your sales team strikes the iron when it's hot. Firmographics, technographics, behavioral data and other intent indicators are extremely effective at helping you accurately prioritize key accounts.
Intent based ABM further ensures that each account is aligned with the right strategies that provide value, engagement and relevance in a tailored manner. Intent driven ABM also helps get your prospects quickly familiarized with your product through appropriate nurture campaigns and value-driven content. This helps reduce the length of your sales cycles and increase the long-term value of your customers.
Indicators such as technographics, firmographics, and psychographics allow you to find out buying patterns, prospects that use similar or competitors’ products, which industries they come from, who makes their buying decisions, how much they spend, and a lot more.
Intent data first helps you arrive at the right ideal customer profile (ICP) for your product and then gives you the basis to structure your content around. Segmenting your prospects based on buying intent indicators is a great way to see where your product’s strong suit really lies.
Indicators such as technographics, firmographics, psychographics, and thematic analyses allow you to find out buying patterns, prospects that use similar or competitors’ products, which industries they come from, who makes their buying decisions, how much they spend, and a lot more. Pair this with the data of your existing customers and you have a solid base to determine your ICP.
Every ICP is unique and requires tailored messaging that individually caters to each of them. This helps you address the pain points and offer the right solutions in a manner that resonates with each ICP, helping you weaponize your content.
Third-party buyer intent is jam-packed with a ton of insights that give you the inside view into each ICPs behaviors and preferences. This helps you create powerful conversion-optimized content that will help drive your business’ revenue.
Keeping your customers happy and ensuring it stays that way is much harder today considering the number of options available to them. The first step to keeping your customers happy is getting to know them.
Third-party intent data helps you stay up-to-date with your customers’ behaviors, interests, movements and preferences through indicators including technographics, firmographics,and psychographics. This can offer you the context you need and help you make your interactions with them more worthwhile.
For example, with technographics you can get to know when a customer signs up for a trial of an alternative product. This way, you’re in the know and have more time to put out the fire before it gets too big.
With firmographics, you can get insights into how your customers’ business is performing and identify personnel changes in their decision making hierarchy that can potentially lead to churn.
With psychographics you could thoroughly personalize your interactions with customers. For example, if one of your customers loves watching/playing tennis, then you can add relevant tennis references in your messaging to make it ultra personalized.
There’s a lot you can do to incorporate more buying intent data into your business processes. Segmenting your customers based on their level of intent is the best way to go about this. We’ve got some great tools that can help you out in this process.
1. Technographic insights are a crucial intent indicator that can determine whether a prospect is worth pursuing or not. This free resource will help you obtain actionable technographic intent data. Slintel’s free technographic tool can also come in handy when segmenting your prospects.
3. See how our own reps manage to destroy their quota month in, month out, using these free intent-driven LinkedIn prospecting hacks
An intent-driven sales intelligence tool like Slintel delivers AI and ML assisted predictive dynamic lists that analyze over 100 billion data points and over 60+ intent indicators across the internet to detect customers that are willing to buy your product right now.
Slintel also offers a rich variety of over 60+ intent insights including technographic, firmographic and psychographic intent, competitor and contract insights, along with live company updates, all from the convenience of a single platform. What’s better is you can download all this data right into your CRM or database. Talk to us to learn how you can begin harnessing the power of intent data today.
Buying intent tools come in all shapes and sizes. You may be left confused when looking at the large number of options available, from first to third party-intent tools, to the wide variety of indicators that each tool delivers.
Here are some attributes that you must consider when picking the right buying intent tool for your business:
First, second and third-party tools offer varied scopes of buying intent. First-party buying intent tools offer intent data that’s within the scope of your own website. Second party intent tools offer intent data that’s within the scope of a singular website or a network of sites. Third-party intent tools offer data that’s within the scope of most technological interaction. This includes a whole world of passive intent buyers that other solutions cannot track.
Solutions that offer third-party intent are a no-brainer as they allow you to take a macroscopic approach, allowing you to capitalize on the vast number of tiny windows of active and passive opportunities across the internet.
When you buy any tool, you want it to do exactly what it was advertised to do. Inaccurate data, unfortunately, is a huge issue with most buying intent tools. Third-party intent indicators that use a wide variety of indicators driven by AI and machine learning can give you upwards of 90% in data accuracy.
The more the number of intent indicators, technologies and data points tracked and analyzed by a product, the better its ability to predict high-intent customers, and the more insights you get to help add relevance to your interactions.
Reaching the right person via the right medium is crucial for modern businesses. The best third-party buying intent tools show you which decision makers to target in an organization based on their authority and provide contact information that will help you reach out to them and have those ultra relevant conversations.
Finding a buying intent solution that caters to customer needs is crucial. For example, at Slintel, we treat our customers as partners and grow our product and database in accordance with each customers’ needs. We get on weekly calls with our customers to evaluate success metrics, using which we scale our data in accordance with our customers’ needs.
Slintel is by far the most accurate, comprehensive, and actionable buying intent solution in the industry with unparalleled customer success rates. You can hop on a call with our team and explore how Slintel can help your organization use buying intent to optimize your processes and generate more revenue.
Food for thought: Despite having the largest B2B contact database, Slintel’s takes things a step further with the Insta Reveal feature. Users can now find contacts that are outside our own database, in real-time!
And that brings to the end of this post! Well, almost. We spoke about what’s possible at this point in time, but what does the future hold for the world of buying intent?
We live in a world where contact data is easily accessible and simply not actionable or valuable anymore. Personalized and targeted insights derived from raw data is the game changer today, and buying intent prediction software does a great job of doing just that.
Buying intent is already gaining more popularity, and this trend is only going to continue over the next couple of decades. Intent is currently one of the fastest growing categories in SalesTech, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Over the next few years, we can also expect to see inbound lead scoring and other such Marketing Operations practices gain more mainstream adoption.
New ways to determine buying intent insights are still emerging, and there is no doubt that the accuracy with which companies can predict prospect requirements and intent is going to improve. It’s an exciting world we live in, and only time will tell how this will evolve. The dream is to get to a world where buyers and vendors can both know exactly whom to reach out to when there is a requirement without any friction whatsoever. Let’s hope we get there soon!