Buyer Intent: Supercharge Your Sales With It

Sales techniques8 mins
Oct 27, 2020
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Have you ever wished you could read your pet’s mind? I know I have. How much easier would that make life?

Since our communication is limited, we have to try and infer their needs from different cues. Over time, you tend to get pretty in-tune with what different signals mean. Maybe they scratch at the door, or bring you their bowl. But what if you could get those lines of understanding set up sooner?

In sales, there’s a similar dilemma. It’s hard to know exactly what a prospect is thinking at any given moment. There’s the information they tell you, but, inevitably, there’s going to be things that are left out. Intentional or otherwise.

Surprising no one, 75% of companies say that closing more deals is the most important thing for their business. Conversely, only 46% of sales reps believe they have access to the data they need to personalize the sales experience—specifically, they require information about buyer intent.

What is buyer intent data?

Buyer intent data is information about your prospects’ or clients' actions online with your content, product, competitors, any live events, and influencers or social media follows, that indicate where they are in the buyer journey.

It also uncovers information about which competitors they’re considering, their price threshold, and any other behavioral considerations you should have in mind.

There are two types of intent data that you should consider:

  • Internal: internal intent data is any data you already own. It’s first-party data where the prospect is contacting you to ask more about your product. So, information from your contact form, CRM, or marketing data (like white paper downloads) are considered an internal intent data source.
  • External: external intent data is information that can be purchased or hired from third-party sources. For instance, some larger companies collect data from various websites at the IP level or via shared cookies.

External intent data is useful because it allows you to see how many times they download a specific white paper, how many videos they watched, or how frequently they requested a particular search term.

Also, external intent data isn’t limited to the information you can aggregate on your site, and can be used to understand what prospects are doing with your competitors too.

Why intent data is valuable

If your sales team doesn't understand what their leads are doing online, they might be wasting time trying to engage people who just aren't engageable.

For instance, if someone’s already doing in-depth research into your competitors, you'd take a significantly different approach than you would if they were in the early awareness stage of their buyer’s journey.

Using intent data, especially the info from third-parties, your team is able to;

  • Learn what people care about during the research process.
  • Gain insight into who is responsible for doing the research and buying and find your decision maker.
  • Understand which companies are interested in your product or competitors.
  • Know when prospects are shifting towards a more serious phase of buying.

With that information, your team can be more effective with their time and boost win-rates. Your leads and prospects will feel better supported by your sales team when all of your communication is custom-fit to their needs and wants. Here's how to do it.

How to win more business by using intent data

1. Create content for each different stage

There are three different stages in the average buyer's journey:

  • Awareness stage, where buyers are figuring out the problems they are trying to solve and discovering how others are solving them.
  • Consideration stage, where buyers understand the issues they are trying to solve and are nailing down the solutions they can use to help them.
  • Decision stage, where buyers select the product they are going to use and make the purchase, or commit to the subscription.

Each of these different stages has varying interests and needs. Write content for each step to drive viewers to your site and product organically. For instance, for the awareness stage, generalized "how-to" blog posts will be helpful, whereas in-depth case studies may be more useful for people in the decision stage.

Try to keep your content focused on your buyer's goals or pain points, rather than your product or brand. It's not helpful if you come across as overly salesy!

2. Prioritize your accounts

When you go grocery shopping, it's more comfortable with a list. The same is true for when you're working leads and prospects—knowing who you should be reaching out to makes for quicker and more efficient work.

Use buyer intent data to understand what products and services your leads are looking at. For example, using a tracking pixel, or something similar, can be a great way to see their online behavior.

What they’re doing online can clue your reps into what consideration stage someone is in. Use this data to reduce the collective noise that your potential customers are hearing in your market. Reach out to the people who are most open to your marketing and are in the right position in their purchasing journey to see value in your product.

The average cold email campaign gets less than a 1% response rate. If you reach out too early, the customer will ignore you. If you reach out too late, they'll already be in deep with another sales team. Make your reach outs relevant and proactive. Speak to the things they've been researching and care about, and custom-fit it to where they are at in the journey.

Don't fall into the trap of seeing sales as something best done with volume. Using intent data, sales teams can understand who is shopping around within their market with up to 91% accuracy. Don't reach out to everyone when you could just reach out to the most valuable and interested people.

3. Determine your buying triggers

Using intent data, you’re able to identify which actions your prospects or customers take that indicate they are ready to buy. You can use these to trigger automations for your sales team that let them know that they need to up the ante on selling.

Some examples of buying triggers are:

  • Visits to your website, such as visiting pricing pages, adding something to their cart and abandoning it, or a lot of visits within a specific timeframe.
  • Downloads of your content, like whitepapers or case studies.
  • Being introduced to the decision maker or someone with purchasing power. For instance, entry-level employees are often not going to have the power to do the buying.
  • If they've submitted lead information, like giving a phone number and asking for a callback.
  • Your proposal or quote email being opened or forwarded to other people.
  • Time spent on your website.
  • Registration for and attendance of your events.

These will be different for each company, so evaluate what makes the most sense for your buyers and their journey.

4. Offer help at the right time

Proactive customer support and sales assistance are some of the best ways to insert your team into the buying process. The customer is looking for help, and your team is right there to catch them. One of the most common ways to do this is by using a chat service or a product guidance tool to surface documentation on critical pages.

The benefit of implementing a chat service is that it allows you to act on intent data while simultaneously gathering additional intent data about what people are doing on your site.

With chat, you could opt to have a human on your support or sales team run it, or you could automate the process. Automation in chat can be super helpful. It allows you to welcome all users, instead of just some.

Ask critical questions to uncover a bit more about the user, identify what they're looking for, and ultimately route the user to your sales team if they indicate being ready to purchase.

You can implement chat or proactive support on pages like pricing pages, comparison pages, or any of the bottom of the funnel pages that you identified as a buying trigger earlier on.

Don't overcomplicate it

None of us can read minds. However, we can keep an eye out for buying signals to better inform the choices we make. Intent data offers unique insights into what a buyer is thinking and can be incredibly valuable to make the most of your interactions.

Often, when we receive a whole ton of new data about our customers, we want to revamp everything. Instead of creating a ton of new processes, use your intent data to refine what you’re currently doing.

Hone your focus in on the people that are going to be the most valuable. Use your intent data to understand what people want and need from you to serve and present your product even more meaningfully.