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First Steps With Intent Data? Start With Sales

  • Written by Mike Burton, Bombora
  • Published in Demanding Views

1mikeburtonMarketing and sales are now firmly data-driven practices, pushing leaders to find data sources and insights that can give them an edge and grow their revenue. As a result, intent data — which measures the interest of a prospect in a product or service — is growing in popularity, especially in B2B circles.

It feels that any time you log onto LinkedIn, someone is sharing an anecdote or blog post about how they used intent data to drive content creation, prioritize emails and personalize site content.

While there are almost limitless ways to use intent data effectively, there’s really only one place you should start: Sales. The sales organization is the best place to get intent data up and operational at speed, to showcase the value that it provides and to begin spreading it across the rest of an organization.

Manual Adoption Is OK

To get very specific, we’re talking about outbound sales, most prominently within an SDR/BDR team. The primary reason that sales is the logical starting point for intent data is the ease with which it can be adopted throughout the department. While the word “data” may conjure ideas of technology integrations, implementing intent data can be as simple as handing a list of accounts to the sales reps.

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This doesn’t have to be a brand-new list either. It can be a list of accounts that an outbound sales team already plans on calling, only now they are scored with intent data, allowing for easy prioritization. This can be done manually, using the data to identify which target accounts have strong interest signals and then using those insights to update and rank the list of targets.

See The Results Almost Immediately

The benefit of this use case is that the feedback is almost instant. When teams prioritize accounts with intent data, they can immediately see how the intent data is contributing to the pipeline and deals that close. In fact, they’ll probably immediately see high engagement when they pick up the phone to call a target account because intent data helps cut through the noise of the normal sales process.

Companies are bombarded with so many emails and so much outreach, much of it unnecessary or irrelevant. Sellers are competing with thousands of others of sellers that are emailing, cold calling and social stalking their prospects. Intent data, by its nature, increases the likelihood that these teams will have a relevant message delivered to an in-market prospect at a time of likely engagement.

Deals closed by a sales organization are a very clear example of ROI because all of those deals are tied to revenue. This is the key difference between starting with sales and other departments, like marketing.

After Sales, It’s Easy To Expand

While there are many ways to get value out of intent data, they aren’t all linked to revenue in the same cut-and-dry manner of sales. But by starting with this clear view, it becomes much easier to sell the value of intent data throughout the rest of the organization, leveraging the insights for these other uses.

Intent data can help with email marketing, but no one is going to high five because of a higher open rate on an email campaign. But if there is evidence that intent data is driving revenue, then everyone gets excited. It creates a groundswell within the organization, resulting in top-down adoption for all of the activities that will touch prospects.

Intent data is clearly valuable for marketing efforts, but it might not be worth the cost by itself. If sourced by marketing, intent data must tie marketing to revenue performance. If the ads, emails and content are tied to intent, there may be demonstrable growth in marketing metrics. These accelerated leads can drive revenue, but only when follow-up is optimized for the inbound leads, which require integrations and automation. In other words, it’s not as manual as the sales process.

It’s clear that anyone interested in bringing intent data into their organization should start with sales. The sales team represents the easiest way to manually incorporate data and insights manually, without a big change to workflow or the processes within the organization. It provides a clear tie to revenue and is a logical place to begin building wider internal buy-in for usage across the organization.


Mike Burton has been working with AdTech start-ups since 2002. Currently, he is responsible for driving the adoption of Bombora’s offerings across email marketing, analytics, programmatic display, predictive analytics and lead scoring, and countless other applications. Mike took on an integral role in building B2B’s first Intent data co-operative, helping Bombora to consolidate over 9.3 billion monthly B2B behavioral interactions. Prior to Bombora, Burton worked with Madison Logic as Head of Platform Sales.