Data, precious data. It’s the lifeblood of many a sales organization. That’s because data provides companies with essential insights into customer behavior, market competition, and opportunities for future growth. For B2B businesses especially, the category of intent data has emerged as an indispensable asset to strategic prospecting and lead generation, which helps scale sales efforts across the board.
But how do today’s B2B companies get their hands on such valuable intent data? And how can these companies trust intent data to offer the right kind of insights that drive optimal growth? At DemandScience we often wonder the same thing, so we figured, why not ask?
Intent Data Sourcing Insights
We surveyed over 600 sales and marketing professionals across the United States, asking them how they go about sourcing intent data and the number of those sources they use regularly throughout their organization.
According to respondents, a majority of B2B sales organizations rely on several external sources (a.k.a. third-party sources) to gather intent data.
The breakdown is as follows:
- 33% of respondents said they rely on, at most, two external sources of intent data.
- 56% of respondents said they leverage at least three, but no more than seven external sources of intent data.
- And 11% of respondents said they use eight or more external sources of intent data.
However, a lot of B2B companies also leverage both external and internal intent data sources (a.k.a. first-party sources) to develop a more holistic understanding of their customer journey. We asked respondents whether they make use of these combined sources, and here’s what they had to say:
- 29% of respondents said they rely on, at most, two sources of external and internal intent data.
- 60% of respondents said they leverage at least three, but no more than seven combined sources of intent data.
- And 11% of respondents said they use eight or more sources of both external and internal intent data.
Though these percentages shift only slightly, they do highlight several important take-aways:
- For one, the 11% data point on both charts speaks to the difficulty many B2B sales and marketing teams face when leveraging too many intent data sources at once.
- Secondly, the 12% difference between companies using a maximum of two external sources (33%) and those using a maximum of two combined sources (29%) indicates a decreasing reliance on external intent data sources alone.
- Third, the percentages of companies using at least three, but no more than seven sources of intent data, regardless of type, suggest that range as the optimal number of intent data sources for B2B sales organizations.
- And finally, the 7% jump between companies using at least three, but no more than seven external intent data sources (56%) and those using at least three, but no more than seven combined intent data sources (60%) points to the latter as being the more effective intent data sourcing strategy. So, let’s unpack this a bit more!
Combining External and Internal Intent Data Sources: The Winning Strategy
Think of external and internal intent data sources as the yin and yang of strategic lead generation. By leveraging only one half of the complementary duo, B2B sales and marketing teams deprive themselves of a complete, holistic view of target audiences’ purchase intent, behaviors, research, and other online activities. Consequently, teams lack the precise kind of intel that allows them to make actionable decisions that turn prospects into happy customers. While both individual sources provide critical information to help optimize B2B sales cycles, it’s the combination of the two that really drives results.
While internal intent data sources collect behavioral signals of target customers within the digital properties of a particular company (i.e., the company’s own website, marketing automation platform, analytics tools, etc.), external intent data sources glean behavioral insights from ideal customer profiles outside that in-house network, giving visibility into customer behavior apart from the organization. External data providers often employ the use of website cookies, public IP addresses, and data co-ops to source key third-party intent.
By combing both types of intent data sources, B2B teams can build a much clearer picture of their customers’ sales journeys, plus those of potential customers as well. With this information in hand, sales and marketing teams can determine how, when, and where to meet them on that path.
Intent data has risen in the ranks to become the fastest-growing data category for B2B businesses, and it’s easy to see why. With in-market competition nipping at companies’ heels, intent data uncovers those missing pieces that help speed sales cycles, increase conversions, and drive valuable revenue for the entire organization. In combining both external and internal intent data sources, sales and marketing teams can supercharge their lead generation strategy and pinpoint exact opportunities for engagement, nurturing, and ultimately, conversion.
Want more insights about intent data from today’s sales and marketing professionals? Download our benchmark report, “Intent Data Trends Survey: 2022 Edition.”