Not All Intent is Intentional

Demand Generation
Intent Data
Sales Enablement
March 25, 2024

Remember “predictive analytics” … now more commonly referred to in B2B marketing and sales circles as “intent”?Well, that space has matured, and today there are more than a handful of companies touting intent capabilities.But not all intent is actually intentional when it comes to real interest in your solution.Yes – there are plenty of signals that each of these vendors collects that COULD indicate real interest – but ask any sales person if content interest is enough and you’ll hear that interest needs to be accompanied with fit and opportunity.Intent signals emanate from many sources including viewed content, job postings, press releases, earning statements, funding rounds, etc. But they are what they are … signals.  Each signal needs to be understood. If an intent vendor tells you a company has high intent to purchase your solution, you need to know what that really means. If you don’t, you’re buying a black box.

Third Party Content Signals

Navigating the complex landscape of content-based signals in marketing requires a nuanced understanding far beyond simple engagement metrics. When we delve into the realm of third-party content consumption as a signal for potential customer interest, the depth and specificity of the information we gather are paramount. It’s not merely about identifying that a piece of content was viewed; it’s crucial to comprehend the exact nature of that content. Was it a general overview appealing to a broad audience, or was it a detailed, technical piece relevant to a niche segment? Understanding whether the vendor has bucketed this content into a broad category or provided a direct link to the specific content can significantly alter its value as a signal.

Further refining this understanding involves analyzing the consumption patterns: whether the content was viewed by multiple individuals within a company or repeatedly by a single person, and importantly, whether the viewer(s) hold positions influential in the purchasing decisions. This level of detail helps discern whether the interest is organizational or personal, fleeting or enduring.

Moreover, when notified of such content consumption, the context of where the prospect company stands in the buying cycle is invaluable. Are they in the initial stages of recognizing a need, or are they actively comparing solutions? Misinterpreting these signals can lead to misguided efforts, where sales teams might be chasing leads that, despite showing high intent, do not align with the product’s ideal customer profile in terms of fit, opportunity, or timing.

For instance, consider targeting large enterprises with an AI-powered data solution intended for data scientists. If the criteria set for content interest are broad categories like “AI,” “data science,” or “business intelligence,” the resulting signals could be misleading. The content consumption might relate to how data science accelerates drug discovery or the application of AI in crime reduction—topics far removed from an immediate need for your specific solution. This scenario underscores the importance of granularity. Just as my weekend reading on email marketing best practices doesn’t necessarily indicate a readiness to purchase a new email solution, content signals need to be evaluated within the full context of the buyer’s journey and specific interest areas.

Therefore, relying solely on content consumption as a signal is insufficient. It needs to be complemented by other indicators such as engagement with specific product pages, participation in webinars, or downloading technical whitepapers. This multi-signal approach ensures a more accurate assessment of potential customers' readiness and relevance, preventing the sales team from pursuing leads without a genuine fit or timely interest. It's about creating a symphony of signals, each adding depth and clarity to the prospect profile, thereby enabling a more strategic, targeted, and ultimately successful sales outreach.

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Technology Signals

In the rapidly evolving landscape of B2B sales and marketing, technology signals hold significant promise as indicators of a prospective customer's needs and potential alignment with your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). The presence of specific technologies within a target company's tech stack can indeed provide actionable insights, suggesting a preliminary fit that warrants further exploration. However, the reliance on these signals necessitates a critical evaluation of their source and accuracy.

The method most commonly employed to ascertain a company's tech stack—web scraping—carries inherent limitations. This process typically involves automated tools that scan a company's website to identify embedded code from various technologies. However, this method often fails to account for whether these technologies are actively in use or have simply become digital vestiges of past implementations. Reflect on your organization's web presence; it's likely that traces of outdated technologies remain, misleading observers about your current tech environment.

Moreover, the mere use of a specific technology doesn't automatically denote satisfaction or success with that tool. Technology adoption within firms is a dynamic process, influenced by shifting organizational needs, strategic priorities, and changes in leadership or key personnel responsible for tech decisions. These factors contribute to a fluid tech environment, where today's essential tools may become tomorrow's abandoned solutions.

Given these considerations, while technology signals are undoubtedly valuable, their utility is contingent upon the reliability of the data. For sales and marketing professionals targeting prospects based on their tech stack, a high degree of confidence in the accuracy of this information is paramount. Without this confidence, there's a risk of misdirected efforts, where sales teams might chase leads under false pretenses or misaligned assumptions.

To mitigate these risks, an ideal approach involves supplementing web-scraped data with human validation. This process could entail direct inquiries during initial sales conversations, leveraging third-party verification services, or utilizing platforms that offer updated, verified tech stack information. Such a hybrid strategy ensures that the technology signals used to identify and prioritize prospects are not only based on the most current data but are also reflective of the prospect's actual technology usage and satisfaction levels.

Incorporating technology signals into your ICP and intent criteria is a strategic move, provided the data is approached with discernment. Accurate, validated tech stack information can illuminate opportunities for highly targeted, personalized outreach, enabling sales teams to engage prospects with precision and relevance. By acknowledging the limitations of technology signals and employing strategies to verify these insights, businesses can enhance the effectiveness of their sales efforts, ensuring they're not just chasing leads, but engaging with potential customers for whom their solution is genuinely suited.

First Party Hand-raising Signals

When your organization employs a sophisticated marketing automation tool such as Marketo, HubSpot, or Act-On, you're stepping into a realm of nuanced engagement tracking and lead management that's fundamentally different from the broad-strokes approach often associated with external intent data providers. These platforms offer a granular view into how individual leads interact with your brand across various digital touchpoints, from website visits to webinar attendance, email open rates, and whitepaper downloads. This direct line of sight into engagement behaviors is invaluable, enabling you to discern not just any interaction, but meaningful interactions that signal genuine interest.

The capability of these tools to pinpoint who is engaging with your content is a game-changer, especially when bolstered by lead scoring mechanisms. Lead scoring, a feature integral to these marketing automation solutions, systematically evaluates and ranks prospects based on their engagement level and perceived fit for your product or service. This process is crucial for identifying which leads are most likely to convert, allowing your sales and marketing teams to focus their efforts more effectively.

However, the complexity of enterprise sales, characterized by lengthy sales cycles and decisions made by committees rather than individuals, necessitates a broader lens. It's not enough to know that a single individual is engaging with your content; in the context of B2B sales, the breadth of engagement across an organization can be equally, if not more, indicative of a real opportunity. Herein lies the significance of solutions like, Qualified, and Leadfeeder, which excel in aggregating engagement data at the account level. These tools are designed to track and compile interactions from multiple stakeholders within a target account, offering a holistic view of how the entire account—not just isolated individuals—is interacting with your brand.

This aggregated account-level engagement data is a cornerstone of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategies, where the goal is to tailor marketing and sales efforts to specific target accounts based on a collective profile of interest and fit. By identifying not only who within a company is engaging but also the extent and intensity of this engagement across the account, ABM and visitor discovery solutions empower businesses to gauge unified interest. This, in turn, facilitates a more strategic, personalized approach to nurturing and converting these accounts.

Understanding whether engagement stems from one enthusiastic individual or is reflective of broader interest within the company can significantly influence your outreach strategy. In the case of the former, efforts might be focused on deepening engagement with that individual and identifying others within the account who might be champions or influencers. In the latter scenario, where multiple stakeholders are engaging, the strategy might shift towards addressing the collective needs and concerns of the decision-making unit, leveraging insights from across the account to tailor communications and proposals.

In summary, while marketing automation solutions provide the critical capability to track individual lead interactions, the integration of ABM and visitor discovery tools to assess account-wide engagement adds a necessary dimension to effectively targeting and converting high-value enterprise accounts. This dual approach, harnessing both individual and account-level insights, is essential for navigating the complexities of enterprise sales and maximizing the ROI of your marketing and sales initiatives.

ABM and Visitor discovery solutions like, Qualified and Leadfeeder can aggregate engagement at the account level to measure unified interest at the account level.

What about data decay?

Data decay represents a critical challenge in the dynamic environment of B2B sales, where the accuracy and freshness of information can significantly impact the success of your outreach efforts. The question of how swiftly you can act on the signals you receive is not trivial; it's fundamental to leveraging opportunities and optimizing timing, both of which are pivotal elements in the sales process. In a domain where the alignment of fit, intent, and timing can spell the difference between a closed deal and a missed opportunity, the agility of your response to these signals becomes a key determinant of success.

At LeadGenius, our experience working alongside forward-thinking B2B firms has underscored the effectiveness of promptly acting on a composite of signals drawn from a variety of sources, including intent providers, marketing automation systems, and Account-Based Marketing (ABM) platforms. This multifaceted approach not only broadens the scope of potential leads but also enriches the context around each prospect, enabling more targeted and timely engagements.

Among the myriad signals we monitor, website engagement stands out as a particularly strong indicator of intent. A prospect's active exploration of your website often signifies a level of interest that, when properly nurtured, can accelerate the journey from curiosity to conversion. However, the real challenge transcends simply identifying those who visit your site. The crux of the matter lies in efficiently capturing additional key information about these prospects—such as their titles and roles within their organizations—and integrating this data into your CRM and marketing automation systems without delay.

The significance of this cannot be overstated. Data decay begins the moment contact information is captured. Job roles change, individuals move between companies, and organizational needs evolve, all of which can render your carefully curated data obsolete if not regularly updated and acted upon. The ability to quickly input and utilize new information about website visitors and other engaged prospects into your CRM and marketing automation platforms is crucial. It enables your sales and marketing teams to initiate tailored nurturing campaigns and outreach strategies that resonate with the current needs and interests of these prospects.

Moreover, the integration of this fresh, actionable data into your systems facilitates a more agile and responsive marketing and sales operation. It allows for the automation of timely, personalized follow-ups that can significantly enhance the prospect's experience and your company's chances of converting interest into tangible business outcomes.

In summary, combating data decay and capitalizing on the window of opportunity presented by high-intent signals necessitate a proactive and rapid response strategy. By effectively harnessing and acting on the insights gathered from multiple sources—and ensuring these insights are promptly reflected in your operational tools—you position your company to not just keep pace with the fluidity of the B2B sales landscape but to stay a step ahead, turning potential into profit.

Rapid Account Coverage is Key

LeadGenius customers know that the sales team should be having sales conversations  – not sourcing additional contacts when that can be done more efficiently with outsourced resources.  When accounts meeting specific firmographic and intent criteria reach a defined threshold of awareness, LeadGenius researches are alerted to find additional key titles at target firms.  The automated flow of records being added to the CRM enables marketing automation to nurture and raise awareness in a way that is immediate, scalable and measurable. Think about it. If visitors are on your website, you have to assume they are checking out your competitor’s website as well.  So systematically and quickly getting coverage within target accounts is vital to shaping buying criteria and sales discussions.

Introducing LeadGenius Website Visitor ID

This automated process has worked so well over the last year that we’ve built a solution for it called LeadGenius Website Visitor ID.  It essentially enables you to define your firmographic and on-site behavior criteria, as well as key titles you are interested in connecting with.  As anonymous visitors check out your website, targeted contacts are quickly added to your CRM on a net new basis. This enables you to automatically gain the account coverage you need to penetrate interested accounts faster than your competition.

"What if I already use a content-based intent vendor?"

That’s great. However third party content intent is not the same as the intent of a filtered website visitor. With filtered website visitors, you can get closer to identifying fit. And from our work with many clients, we see that the majority of website visitors actually don’t appear on the radar of content-based intent vendors. Even if that vendor also measures website engagement, you still need to get additional contacts added to your CRM. That’s where rules-based alerts to LeadGenius researchers come into play.LeadGenius partners with a number of content-based intent providers to blend content engagement with website engagement. With so many different types of intent and nuances to consider, it pays to chat with folks who have seen intent data leveraged many different ways. Consider connecting with us here to see how LeadGenius can either augment your solution or put a process in place ensuring you automatically get the targeted account coverage you need.

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