9 minutes
March 28, 2024

Using intent data for better B2B outbound results

Got the cold outreach blues? Find out how you can use intent data and B2B buying signals to double down on warm outreach activities.
Jacob Rouser
Director of Demand Generation, LeadIQ
Table of Contents

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In modern B2B sales, intent data and buying signals have become invaluable tools for understanding customer behavior and identifying sales opportunities.

In case you’re unfamiliar, B2B intent data refers to the digital footprints individuals and companies leave behind as they research products and services online. These signals indicate a potential interest or need, providing valuable insights into where prospects are in the buying journey.

Having and tracking intent data is not enough. Putting your intent data into action that drives pipeline requires strong alignment between sales and marketing teams. By working together, these teams can leverage data analytics and predictive modeling to identify relevant signals and prioritize outreach efforts accordingly. Sales teams can then create targeted outbound sequences tailored to the specific needs and interests of prospects who are demonstrably interested in their organization’s products and services, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

At LeadIQ, we’re firm believers in this maxim: Cold outreach is dead. Long live warm outreach!

In today’s increasingly competitive landscape, warm outreach strategies — focusing on building relationships and delivering value to prospects through personalized, relevant communication — is taking on more prominence.

Keep reading to learn more about what B2B intent data is, how to interpret buying signals, and the easiest way to incorporate both into your outbound sequences.

What is B2B intent data? Understanding the basics

B2B intent data encompasses behavioral signals and online activities that indicate a potential interest or need for a product or service within a business context. Examples of intent data include website visits, content downloads, keyword searches, social media interactions, and participation in industry forums or events.

For example, a marketing manager researching email marketing software solutions and downloading whitepapers on email automation may indicate that the individual is interested in investing in an email marketing platform.

While related to intent data, buying signals are actions prospects take that directly indicate their interest in making a purchase. These signals are more direct in nature — think requesting a demo, submitting a form on a pricing page, or attending a webinar on a specific product or solution. As such, buying signals provide deeper insights into a prospect’s stage in the buying journey and their level of engagement, making it easier to identify high-value leads.

How is intent data collected?

Intent data is collected through various channels, including first-, second-, and third-party sources.

  • First-party data is directly gathered through a company’s own channels, including website interactions, email engagement, CRM data, and product usage metrics. An easy way to think of this is all of the data your company owns. Any time a prospect fills out a form and you generate a cookie, that’s first-party intent data.
  • Second-party data is obtained from partner websites, co-marketing initiatives, and platforms like G2 and TrustRadius, providing additional context about a broader audience. Because of the nature of the source — first-party data from another source — we like to call this “borrowed intent.”
  • Third-party data or “searched intent” is sourced externally through searches and aggregated data providers, offering a more comprehensive view of market trends and industry activity. Some of the bigger players in third-party intent data include Demandbase, Bombora, and 6sense and often include a layer of AI that tries to score and understand where potential buyers are in the buying cycle. 

By leveraging a combination of these data sources, businesses can gain valuable insights into customer intent, preferences, and purchasing behavior — and adjust their sales strategies accordingly.

When sales teams are equipped with sales engagement platforms that integrate with first-, second-, and third-party intent providers, they’re able to aggregate and analyze data in one spot, which streamlines their workflows and makes it easier to surface insights and recommendations about which accounts to target first.

For example, LeadIQ integrates with Gong Engage. As a result, you can incorporate contact data and job change signals from LeadIQ directly into Gong Engage and combine that with other sources of intent data, making it easier for reps to see the big picture. 

Learn more about LeadIQ’s integration with Gong and our partnership.

What types of intent data are there?

There are four main types of B2B buyer intent data:

  • Search intent data, which provides insights into the specific questions and keywords prospects are searching for online, indicating their interests, needs, and potential purchase intent.
  • Engagement data, which tracks interactions with various marketing channels — like website visits, email opens, clicks, and content downloads — offering valuable insights into prospect engagement levels and interests. Using Gong Engage, you can also surface insights from past conversations in sales calls to figure out what prospects are most interested in and what their business priorities are.
  • Technographic data, which illuminates a business’ technology and software preferences, enabling marketers and sales teams to tailor their messaging and offerings based on compatibility with existing tools and systems. 
  • Firmographic data, which focuses on demographic attributes specific to businesses, like industry, company size, location, and revenue, which teams can use to target their ideal customer profiles more effectively.

How to interpret B2B buying signals

There are two different kinds of B2B buying signals: explicit signals (i.e., hand-raise intent) and implicit signals (i.e., passive intent).

Explicit B2B buying signals

Explicit buying signals are clear, direct indicators that a prospect is interested in potentially purchasing products and services. These include direct inquiries, requests for demos or proposals, signing up for a trial of a SaaS product, or downloading high-value relevant content (e.g., a gated whitepaper). 

Implicit B2B buying signals

Implicit buying signals are more subtle, requiring interpretation. These include web behavior, content engagement, and interactions on social media. While implicit signals could indicate a prospect is interested in doing business with you, they could also mean the individual simply sees something they like or is curious about a certain topic.

How can marketing and sales teams work together to capture and interpret intent?

By aligning on shared goals, leveraging data-driven insights, and fostering open communication, marketing and sales can work together to capture and correctly interpret intent data.

Marketing plays a critical role in capturing intent through various channels — like social media, website interactions, email engagement, and content consumption metrics. Sales teams, on the other hand, provide valuable insights from direct customer interactions and feedback.

By sharing data and observations, both teams can gain a holistic understanding of customer intent and behavior. Regular meetings and feedback sessions can help teams facilitate discussions about emerging trends, refining target audience profiles, and optimizing messaging strategies.

Additionally, implementing a robust tech stack that enables seamless data integration and tracking can make it easier for teams to identify and prioritize high-intent leads for personalized outreach and conversion.

Creating alignment between sales and marketing is paramount to ensure the success of leveraging your intent — and at large starts most companies on their journey to account-based marketing. 

Here are some concrete steps you can take to get your sales and marketing teams aligned:

  1. Establish common goals. Having the same goal for your sales and marketing team is the easiest way to ensure alignment. At LeadIQ, we have the saying, “Same pipeline. Same team.” Knowing that we’re all mutually accountable to our pipeline goal minimizes the situations of “who gets credit” for the various opportunities we generate.
  1. Understand what intent data is available. Knowing your tech stack and understanding what data is being generated and captured is the next step of success. It is vastly unhelpful if your marketing team is capturing search terms that the sales team isn’t aware of. Similarly, if your sales team is generating insights from past calls and not sharing that insight back, your marketing team’s messaging could start to drift and become less relevant to your prospects.
  1. Prioritize and categorize your intent. Knowing that each signal carries a different weight is important in helping your team know where to invest their time. For example, an inbound lead should be treated with a higher priority than someone searching a related term on Google. By bucketing your intent signals into categories, it makes it easier to create SLAs and priorities for your sellers.
  1. Create resources for each category. Having sequences and supporting resources for the various categories of intent you established empowers sellers to know which messaging to use and when. While this requires more effort upfront, once deployed, sellers can work accounts faster and spend more time on personalization and research.
  1. Enable and support your sellers. There is only so much time any individual has to sell. That’s why effective training and support is so critical. Make sure that each seller knows which systems generate which insights and that those systems align with their actual workflows. At the same time, ensure that sellers know where to look for resources. 
  1. Continually test and refine. This process should not be thought of as a “build-it-once” project. Not only should your messaging and sequences be continually reworked and refined, but you should also continually evaluate the quality of your intent data. Ask yourself and your sellers if you're tracking the right keywords and activities and assess if the insights are generating meaning.

How can you incorporate intent data and B2B buying signals into your outbound prospecting efforts?

It’s no secret today’s B2B landscape is hypercompetitive. By incorporating B2B buyer intent data and buying signals into their outbound efforts, sales teams can gain an edge, targeting leads more effectively to drive better results. 

Here’s how to do that:

  • Create targeted, relevant messaging. With access to intent data, sales teams can personalize their messaging to address the specific pain points and interests of their prospects, increasing the chances of engagement and conversion. Using a sales intelligence tool like LeadIQ, teams can collect even deeper account insights and research prospects more thoroughly, using that information to make messaging that much stronger.
  • Set service-level agreements (SLAs) for different signals. Establishing SLAs for various buying signals allows reps to prioritize their outreach efforts based on the level of prospect intent, ensuring optimal resource allocation and maximizing efficiency.
  • Improving lead scoring. By incorporating intent data into lead scoring models, sales teams can identify and prioritize high-value prospects, focusing their efforts on the most promising opportunities for conversion.
  • Reduce churn and capitalize on upselling opportunities. Intent data enables sales teams to proactively identify potential churn risks and upselling opportunities, empowering customer success managers to intervene with targeted solutions at the right time. This, in turn, increases retention and can drive more revenue.
  • Launch account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns. Leveraging intent data in ABM campaigns allows sales teams to tailor their outreach efforts to specific accounts or segments, increasing the relevance and effectiveness of their marketing initiatives and driving higher engagement and conversion rates.

Say goodbye to cold outreach. The era of warm outreach is here!

In today’s busy business climate, sales teams can cut through the noise by leveraging intent data and buying signals and using them to engage prospects with relevant messaging at the most opportune times.

Ready to see how LeadIQ can help you move beyond cold outreach and find warm pipeline faster and more efficiently? Take our prospecting platform for a test drive today or schedule a demo with our prospecting experts.