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Cracking the Code: How to See (and Use) Purchase Intent

Cracking the Code: How to See (and Use) Purchase Intent

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Intent signals are not what you think they are.

Someone browsing on your website or looking at your G2 profile doesn’t mean they’re going to buy. Even someone on your pricing page — often considered the gold standard of purchase intent — isn’t true intent.

It’s useful information, sure. It can dramatically help your prospecting and marketing efforts.

But at the end of the day, it’s just indicating curiosity. Not actual purchase intent.

Unless you have an extremely transactional sales process, the intent signals that matter most come mid-sales-cycle.

Most B2B sales cycles last months and involve dozens of influencers, a demanding buying committee, and a lengthy negotiation and closing process.

But in all those interactions lies a wealth of intent data that is invaluable. Not just for that single deal. But it can tell you all sorts of things about your buyers, your sales process, and your unique recipe for success.

Capturing that sales data and mining it for insights is extremely difficult, but it can make all the difference. Let’s dive into the tools and strategies for cracking the code of purchase intent.

Differentiating Pre-Sales and Mid-Sales Intent Signals

To fully harness the power of purchase intent, let’s differentiate between pre-sales and mid-sales intent signals. These two types of signals offer different insights and require different approaches in how they’re used in the B2B sales process.

Pre-Sales Intent Signals

Pre-sales intent signals are activities or actions that potential customers take before they enter the sales funnel. These signals might include browsing your website, downloading a whitepaper or other content, or signing up for a newsletter. These actions indicate a general interest in your business or product, but they do not necessarily show a clear intent to purchase. These can be tracked using various analytical tools and software, helping your business identify and utilize these important early signals.

Value of Pre-Sales Intent Signals

Though they lack the definitive buying indicator found in mid-sales signals, pre-sales signals are invaluable for lead generation and engagement. They allow you to identify potential prospects, build relationships, and provide valuable content that can guide them towards the start of the sales journey.

Additional Examples of Pre-Sales Intent Signals

Signals could also include customers liking or sharing your company's posts on social media, participating in a webinar or online event hosted by your company, or reading about your product or business in industry publications. Each of these actions demonstrates some level of interest in your business or products, indicating potential purchase intent down the line. As with other pre-sales signals, these actions can be monitored using analytic tools, allowing you to engage these potential customers with content that further nurtures their interest in your offerings.

Mid-Sales Intent Signals

Mid-sales intent signals, on the other hand, are actions indicating that a prospect is moving closer to making a purchase decision. Like placing a product in a cart in B2C, these activities are much closer to actual revenue. But in B2B, those signals are a little more complicated. They’re often locked in sales tools like Outreach and Gong, or they’re buried in emails and meeting transcripts. You can dig for them, but to get insights at scale takes some degree of automation.

Value of Mid-Sales Intent Signals

The value of mid-sales intent signals lies in their ability to offer clear indications of potential sales. By monitoring these signals, sales teams can get hyper-targeted in their sales approach. Every deal can be worked according to the specific signals that have been detected in it. Sales leaders can guide reps on individual opportunities, or look at purchase intent across their book of business to provide better coaching.

Looking at the account level, you can also perform more accurate churn analysis, or do much more precise deal analysis according to your preferred methodology, like MEDDIC or MEDDPICC.

And if you want to duplicate your top performers, you can look for the intent signals that are most common across closed-won deals. You can set up your sales activity tracking and deal alerts accordingly to keep sales on track across the board. This approach — sometimes known as Signal-Based Selling — grants you more effective reps who build more pipeline and work deals smarter, faster, and more efficiently.

Additional Examples of Mid-Sales Intent Signals

  • Having VP+ contact attending a meeting, particularly if pricing or procurement is discussed
  • Getting multithreaded into a new department (gaining a contact in Finance, for instance)
  • Finding a Champion or other sponsor before a certain stage (not having one is also a signal)
  • Being introduced to the decision-maker
  • Receiving an email about pricing from the Economic Buyer
  • Booking a demo with a key persona
  • Discussing a pain point on a demo call that your product is especially good at solving

These actions demonstrate the prospect's ongoing interest and active engagement with your offerings.

Setting up notifications for these signals can be particularly valuable. It lets sales leaders coach reps accordingly, and it enables reps to get just-in-time insights that helps them keep deals on track.

Note that not all signals are positive. In fact, many of the most valuable signals are deal alerts that indicate an opportunity at risk. Maybe a particular signal hasn’t been achieved by a certain stage. Or, a negative buying signal is triggered on a high-value deal. These are just as important, if not more so, than the positive intent signals.

Leveraging Mid-Sales Intent Signals for B2B Sales Success

The next step in capitalizing on purchase intent is to leverage mid-sales intent signals towards B2B sales success. This involves identifying these signals and transforming them into actionable insights, leading to more strategic and effective sales interventions.

Strategies for Identifying Mid-Sales Intent Signals

You can’t use mid-sales intent signals without first being able to identify them. To do this, one must become attuned to various customer actions and behaviors that signify stronger buying intent. In turn, that requires good data hygiene. All the better if that data is centralized in your CRM with a strong writeback solution. That lets you do better Salesforce reporting and sales activity tracking directly in your source of truth. Keep in mind that dedicated sales tracking software might be valuable and so is worth considering.

The most powerful AI sales tools do sales data capture from across the GTM tech stack. So, data that was locked in Gong, Outreach, and other sales tools is available to you, regardless of whether it’s in the CRM. That means no manual data entry. No time-consuming CRM data cleansing. Just smart, signal-based selling.

Once the data is captured, you still have to identify it. This is a clear-cut use case for machine learning in sales. If you’re able to use ChatGPT for sales to deliver these insights in natural language, they become that much more powerful. Sales AI is your best bet for finding signals. Traditional tools are built for surface-level analysis, and manual detection is unreliable and time-consuming.

Actionable Insights from Mid-Sales Intent Signals

Once these mid-sales intent signals are identified, the focus shifts to converting these signals into actionable insights. This means interpreting the data and using it to fine-tune your sales approach.

Again, AI can help. In addition to using signals to help with reporting via things like pipeline analysis and deal analysis, AI can get sales to do the right actions. AI can send notifications to the right people at the right time. It can provide recommendations and next steps to help reps keep deals moving forward. Or, it can send insights to managers to help them coach reps before their performance takes a hit. 

Real-time sales performance analysis like that is extremely valuable. It keeps reps on track without interfering with their standard workflow. So, reps can keep selling and managers can keep improving their sales team. Ops, meanwhile, can use these insights to adjust their sales process and introduce new best practices.

Implementing Mid-Sales Intent Signal Strategies

At this juncture, mid-sales intent signal strategies are not standalone tactics. They need to be integrated into an overarching sales and marketing narrative. This means building intent signal tracking and response into your sales processes.

There is enormous potential in aligning these strategies with your existing marketing activities. For instance, mid-sales signals can influence the creation of targeted marketing content. If patterns show customers frequently leave the sales funnel after trialing a product, marketing content could be created to specifically address this—maybe a case study addressing popular concerns or FAQs, or a detailed comparison with competitors.

Training and Alignment with Sales Teams

However, implementing mid-sales intent signal strategies is not just about integrating processes. It also requires aligning your sales teams with these strategies. It's crucial to impart the ability to recognize crucial signals and understand the appropriate responses. An efficient way to ensure this is by conducting focused training about the role of intent signals in the sales process.

Go beyond signal identification and train staff to proactively use these insights. AI sales enablement can help here, but it will never replace quality sales enablement. Stay aligned with your product marketing team here will be invaluable.

Remember that the ultimate goal here is to convert intent into sales. The more your team is aligned with that goal, the higher the chances of success.

Measurement and Optimization

Finally, it comes time to measure the results. Evaluate business performance and continuously optimize your strategies to ensure success.

Key Metrics for Evaluating Mid-Sales Intent Signals

A variety of metrics should be used to evaluate the success of your mid-sales intent strategies. These might include conversion rates (the percentage of potential customers who turn into actual customers), time spent in the sales funnel, or even customer satisfaction. Churn analysis can also show how it’s impacting your ability to renew and expand your accounts. Sales teams can also review the volume of signals received and track them back to specific marketing activities or sales engagements.

Continuous Improvement and Adaptation

Above all, it’s crucial to remember that sales is a dynamic environment. As such, your mid-sales intent strategies should be marked by continuous improvement and adaptation. Use the data from your key metrics to improve your understanding of your customers. This should be a consistent feedback loop where the insights from mid-sales signals constantly refine your sales and marketing strategies.

The goal is to consistently improve the ability to identify and respond to mid-sales intent signals, thereby leading to more successful sales outcomes and a healthier bottom line.

Use Purchase Intent Insights to Better Your Business

Cracking the code to see purchase intent is an integral part of achieving B2B sales success. Understanding and differentiating pre-sales and mid-sales intent signals helps address potential customers at various stages of their buyer's journey.

Mid-sales intent signals, in particular, provide valuable insights into a customer's movement towards a purchase decision. It's more than just knowing if a client is interested or not; it's about understanding their behavior, predicting their actions, and applying the right strategy to keep deals moving forward.

Recognizing and responding to mid-sales intent signals is not just an added advantage; it is a requirement for success in the current competitive B2B market. Sales teams who rely on external intent signals will fall behind their peers who combine them with internal purchase intent. Learn to become attuned to the customer's journey, understand their needs at various stages, and proactively respond to their buying signals in a manner that drives value for both the customer and the business. With the right strategies in place, sales teams can tap into this gold mine of insights to capitalize on opportunities and convert intent into actual sales.

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