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Leveraging Intent Data in Business Development

As technology continues to evolve, so does the buyer’s journey. Prospective customers have access to more information than ever, are more educated, and are therefore more prepared to make purchasing decisions without sales rep intervention. This paradigm shift in the way companies make decisions, on the surface, can seem like a major obstacle for salespeople. In reality, this trend helps foster a healthy and competitive marketplace where consumers are empowered to make purchasing decisions with confidence. As sales professionals, it's our job not to fight this, but rather to work to understand and embrace our new role in the buyer's journey.

This shift, in my opinion, can be most felt by my peers in business development. Any enterprise purchasing an enterprise solution will always need to meet with consultants and sales engineers to understand the complexities of the benefits, costs, impact, and integration of a potential solution. This is a textbook definition of an account executive or sales engineer role. The problem for those of us in "top-of-funnel" roles is that we deliver value by identifying latent business opportunities, which is often in direct competition with the ever-informed buyer’s ideal purchasing journey. So, the question is - how do we continue to deliver value to prospects without infringing on their preferred process? If you know me or have listened to any podcasts I’ve contributed to, you probably know what I’m going to say next...

The short answer: Data.

Considering the modern buyer’s predilection for independent research, our role as business development professionals has become less about education and more about timing. We’ve all heard statistics like “over 50% of the purchasing decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier” – and even if that number isn’t completely accurate, I’m sure we can agree that a meaningful portion of a decision is being made independently. This means we need to have a process that not only identifies which companies our solution can help, but also which companies have already begun their purchasing journey.

The best way to identify those companies that have already embarked on the buyer’s journey is with data, more specifically purchase intent data. This may be a new term for the salespeople out there, but I’m sure it’s nothing new to any marketers reading this. For the un-initiated, intent data is data that indicates which companies are in the engagement of the buyer’s journey. This data is collected from 1st party and 3rd party sources, often in the form of website traffic, white paper downloads, page views, article sharing, etc.

As buyers continue to have access to an increasing amount of information at their fingertips, it will become increasingly more important for salespeople to dive into the data so they can synchronize outbound activity with purchase intent.

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