More Effective Targeting With Intent Data in SDR's Workflow

Using Intent Data to Drive Meetings and Sales

The following article was originally written by Lattice Engines which was acquired by Dun & Bradstreet in 2019.

Intent data has been used in marketing for decades, but lately sales organizations, especially Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) have been buzzing about it.

The SDR team here at Dun & Bradstreet is no exception.

We’re not just excited about intent data, though — we’re actively using it to drive a dramatic increase in sales conversions.

In fact, we’ve found that companies with high intent signals were more likely to respond to our cold calls, and we are more likely to close opportunities with prospects showing higher intent signals.

In this article, we’ll describe what intent data is and how we are using it to speak more effectively with our prospects about their pains, concerns, and needs — and drive more meetings and sales as a result.

What Is Intent Data?

In a nutshell, intent data is information collected about an organization’s online activities and behaviors that determines the level of interest in purchasing a solution.

We can break intent data down into two categories: first-party and third-party.

First-party Intent Data

First-party intent data has been used by marketers since the dawn of websites. Also commonly referred to as engagement data, first-party data comes from tracking website visits.

Website visits can be anonymous or known. Anonymous first-party intent data comes from visits to your own website where there is no name attached to the visitor record. Known first-party data typically results from a form fill where the visitor has offered their information voluntarily. This could come from the visitor providing their contact information in exchange for content downloads, registering for events, etc.

Today, however, there are tools available (such as  D&B Visitor Intelligence) that can provide a deeper profile of your digital traffic.  This is actually the secret behind remarketing and retargeting campaigns!

Third-party Intent Data

Third-party intent is the new data commodity piquing the interest of SDRs and marketers alike.

While most companies have marketing automation platforms (e.g. Marketo or Eloqua) collecting data from their own websites for first-party intent, there are analytics companies and vendors that also track behavior and activities on other sites and then sell that data to companies.

With this third-party data, you can see which companies are actively searching for specific topics on the open web, based on keywords or topics related to the products and services you or your competitors sell.

How Our SDRs Use Intent Data to Generate Meetings

To use intent data in your sales processes, you’ll need a solution that can aggregate various sources of data for a more complete, holistic view of customer and prospect activities.

There are two primary ways our SDRs leverage third-party intent data:

1. Prioritize Outreach

Using intent data, our SDRs prioritize their outreach to focus on accounts showing signals for being “in-market” or actively researching our products or competitors.

Our operations team has set up for intent data to flow into our Salesforce instance on the account layout page. The SDR team also receives an alert report of accounts surging on various intent topics. Shown below is an example of the  D&B Lattice strength indicator for each topic and account that is tracked. From here we filter by topics ranging in strength from high to low.

For example, during weekly 1:1’s with sales directors, we may preview a report in Salesforce containing third-party intent aggregated by D&B Lattice containing all our named accounts surging in “high intent” for a set of pre-selected topics. These topics may include Account Based Marketing (ABM). predictive analytics, and a list of our top competitors.

From that report we look for accounts surging in the greatest number of relevant topics. These are the accounts we actively prospect and reach out to for that week.

Another way we prioritize our outreach is through tracking intent activity on G2 Crowd. G2 Crowd sends an alert when a named account has been comparing our solution to our competition’s solution (pictured below). In our experience a product comparison is a very strong intent signal which has resulted in some very profitable meetings.

2. Personalize Messaging

We also use intent data to personalize messaging — and this has been a game changer for our SDR team.

However, since third party intent data is tracked at the account level, we’ve found it more effective to not be overly specific or personalized in our messaging. We won’t always know if our intended prospect was the person in their company who was doing the researching, for example, but if intent activities are “high,” it’s safe to assume more than one person in their organization has been actively researching that specific intent topic. So instead of using direct statements like “I noticed you were researching X,” it’s better to be more general with, “If your company is looking for X.”

How Intent Correlates with Conversion

Intent data is the golden ticket to grasping a prospect’s or customer’s attention, earlier in the sales funnel.  When used correctly, intent data can dramatically increase engagement, more meetings being scheduled and sales conversions. It’s been compared to “reading your prospect’s minds!” And isn’t that every sales rep’s dream?