Most marketing teams have spent a lot of time and resources on their marketing automation platform and lead scoring system. Yet, many sales teams still cherry-pick through the leads Marketing hands to them.
Unfortunately, many sales reps still source their own leads because they don’t trust their Marketing team’s lead qualification or scoring methodology. Sales reps have good reasons not to trust, considering that on average, only 13% of Marketing Qualified Leads convert to Sales Qualified Leads.
The reality is that many in-market buyers are invisible to today’s marketing automation systems. B2B buyers today are turning to third-party validated research, B2B content communities and social media for education on problems and products. Only a small portion of them are coming to your site. And to make things worse, the majority of your website visitors aren’t filling out forms or sharing their email addresses.
As a result, today’s marketing automation systems are blind to the vast majority of in-market buyers in your space. Traditional lead scoring models that only track engagements on your owned digital properties are overlooking buying signals that unknown, anonymous prospects are leaving on your websites and elsewhere.
Instead of waiting for your audience to fill out a form on your website so that you can begin to understand their intentions, you can leverage third-party intent data to figure out who is in-market and start to influence prospects earlier in the buying cycle.
Third party intent data is information on what leads are reading, searching for, and talking about outside of your owned digital properties. When you provide this data to your sales team at the right time, they can get a complete picture of their prospects and answer these critical questions:
How do I know which accounts and contacts are ready to make a purchase?
What do my target prospects care about?
How do I know which prospects to focus on first?
Here are two use cases for intent data that can help accelerate the sales process.
By collecting intent data through social media, you can get real-time insights on each specific prospect. These types of social actions are indicators that someone is showing interest in your space:
Following and/or engaging with key influencers in your space
Talking about relevant topics in your space
Talking about relevant, upcoming industry conferences
Joining certain professional groups or B2B communities
Following and/or engaging with your competitors
Last year, our marketing team expanded the types of intent data we incorporate into our lead scoring model.
Prior to making the change, we scored first party activities collected by our marketing automation system, such as website visits and email clicks. But only about 20% of our database had ever taken one of these types of actions, and less than 10% on a monthly basis.
Fortunately, a significant portion of our leads have taken actions on social media, such as tweeting about relevant topics and conferences/events in our space. These social media activities gave us an additional layer of insights on how to contact each person.
We found that over a 30-day period, a lead took an average of 6.4 social actions, but only opened 1.4 emails and visited 3 pages of our website.
Once we incorporated real-time intent data from social media activities into our lead scoring model, we were able to pass more Marketing Qualified Leads to our Sales Development Reps (SDR) team. In the last 90 days, 24% of all Marketing Qualified Leads delivered to our SDRs came from real-time social media actions.
In addition, we’ve found that MQLs from social actions converted into Sales Qualified Leads at an equal rate as leads who consumed content from our emails and blog.
Getting the timing and context aligned to close a sale can be a tall order. According to Gleanster Research, 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy. Of course, when they finally are ready, 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first.
Most sales reps understand the importance of context and timing to winning a deal and will do some degree of social research before engaging with a prospect. However, as deals can often take months to come together, reps would need to comb through months of social updates and engagement to find the information most relevant to them.
Instead, you can bring intent data directly into the sales reps’ natural habit in an organized fashion to give your reps the intelligence they need to customize their message and reach out at the right time.
Here at Socedo, for each lead we send to our sales reps, we provide additional context on the lead including their social media activities as an Interesting moment in Salesforce. When a rep sees that a lead just posted a relevant tweet, he sends out a personalized message right away. Here is one example where one of our reps was able to create an Opportunity because email was highly relevant and came at the right time.
Waiting around for your leads to reach out to you to indicate their readiness is a dangerous game. Most leads will convey their needs and intentions via social media long before they fill out a web form or respond to an email. Being able to collect and interpret these social media cues – in real-time – can make all the difference.
What have been your experiences using intent data, either first- or third-party? Does your sales team use social media to prospect, lead score or provide context during the sales process? Now could be the time to start.
Jingcong Zhao is currently leading Content Marketing at Socedo. Socedo has created a platform that helps B2B marketers reach their target audiences by leveraging intent data from the social web. Learn more at www.socedo.com