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A Guide to Virtual Prospecting With Intent Data

In B2B sales, it’s easier to take a relationship with existing customers to video than to create one virtually with new prospects.

It’s simple—

Many companies transitioning to remote work deepen their relationship with trusted suppliers. For sellers, the virtual-only connection makes approaching prospective customers challenging.

Want to know how to pass the first checkpoint? 

Long story short—

The trick to virtual prospecting is using intent data. 

 This article offers tips on how to do that.

What is virtual prospecting and intent data?

Virtual prospecting is identifying potential buyers and outreaching to them through outbound sales activities. The aim is to qualify them in our out without ever meeting them face-to-face. 

In virtual prospecting, intent data provides businesses with actionable insight into the online behavior of key decision-makers.

The virtual breadcrumb trail they leave, i.e. web pages they visit or product reviews they read, helps B2B companies determine prospects’ intent to take specific actions and engage those close to making a buying decision.

Sales development reps can also use information about customers’ observed online behavior, to understand the lifecycle of the buying process. It helps them better design virtual prospecting strategies and improves conversion rates.

What role does intent data play in prospecting virtually?

A recent CSO Insights study found that 45% of prospects evaluate their needs and actively look for solutions themselves, before contacting any salesperson.

It may seem like salespeople are no longer in the picture but that’s simply not true! 

For example, research shows that 60% of buyers want to get in touch with a sales rep during the consideration stage (after shortlisting their options). That’s a great moment for initiating the first contact.

Companies can also use the digital footprint buyers leave on their way to purchase to recognize where customers are in the buying process. That way they can get to ideal prospects ahead of their competition.

Get intent data to discover SQLs

How does intent data help to prospect in a virtual setting?

In virtual prospecting, intent data not only helps you pass the first checkpoint to book a sales demo. It also helps you overcome common challenges involved in this type of prospecting and prepare for the call. 

Intent data facilitates discovering buyers’ needs and buying criteria. Based on prospects' previous interactions you can draw conclusions about their possible pain points and address them straight away instead of discovering them during the call. 

It also reveals decision-making processes in your target organizations that are difficult to understand while prospecting remotely. It is especially important if sales cycles are long or complex and when you have to overcome virtual barriers to entry.

In B2B virtual prospecting, intent signals also help you personalize the sales pitch and connect with the prospect on a much deeper level. And winning the buyer’s trust is key to closing high-stake deals.

Using buyer intent data at this stage of the buying process lets you broaden your prospect pool. You can start doing business with better-qualified sales leads because your opportunities are not limited geographically.

💡 Listen to Cognism's CMO Alice de Courcy chatting with VP of Revenue Marketing at G2, Robin Izsak-Tseng. They talk about intent data marketing and G2's approach to it.

There are different types of intent data, so let’s see how each can improve your remote prospecting.

Where does intent data for remote prospecting come from?

You can collect first-party data from your website (e.g. your visitors’ IP addresses), social media, or CRM system. But if you want to up your virtual prospecting game, you can buy intent data from external providers.

Third-part vendors collect and sell strong intent data based on the content buyers interact with. It can come from three sources:

  • Individual websites selling their data with users’ consent
  • Bidstream location data obtained through ad exchanges
  • Publisher co-ops aggregating their data into larger sets (e.g. Bombora)

What is the best type of intent data for virtual prospecting?

Co-op data is considered the best type of intent data for virtual prospecting. For example, Bombora, Cognism’s partner, offers data collected from a highly trafficked network of B2B sites, user groups, and product review websites. What’s more important they record visitors’ behavior with their consent. 

💡Learn the difference between co-op and bidstream data.

How does it work?

Let’s take Bombora as an example—

It sets a historical baseline of how much a company typically cares about a given topic. It then looks for research spikes on the topic which indicates stronger intent.

Unlike bidstream data that tracks keywords, Bombora tracks topics. It helps determine the intent behind a website visit and assigns it a relevance score based on factors like:

  • Average time on page
  • Scrolling speed
  • Reaching the end of the page

The deep behavioral data helps you understand prospects' struggles and provide a meaningful solution that leads to sales.

Virtual prospecting with intent data on Cognism platform

You can combine Bombora’s behavioral data with Cognism’s sales intelligence to improve prospecting in the virtual landscape. Here’s how—

When you notice intent influences from your target audience, Cognism can help you get their account information and identify the decision-makers. You’ll get up-to-date data that includes human-verified direct dials and email addresses. 

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That extra dimension offers many benefits to your business. For example, you can:

Ways of using intent data for virtual prospecting

Intent data gives you a lot more context before jumping on a virtual discovery call with prospects. It’s essential for designing effective go-to-market strategies and targeting the right decision-makers. Here are a few use cases to support that claim.

Virtual prospecting with intent data.

1. Reach prospects early in the buying process

In prospecting virtually, intent data helps you reach out to new clients at the right stage of their buyers' journey. It helps to get a proactive approach and get in front of buyers before they start considering your competitors.

You can also find prospects who aren’t aware of their problem and offer your product or service as their solution. 

💡Find out how to use video prospecting for outreach and stand out amongst your competitors.

2. Prioritize prospects close to reaching a purchasing decision

If you get many contacts through outbound lead generation, sales reps will likely struggle to reach out to all of them. This is where intent signals can help design lead scoring models that prioritize hot leads.

It’s a lead generation game-changer—it lets you virtually prospect to those who have the strongest buying intent.

3. Increase your market awareness to customize a sales pitch

Knowing the virtual prospects' intent to buy and which solutions they are considering (possibly your competitors’) gives you an advantage you can use during the sales pitch. For example, you can address the reasons that make your product or service a better option. 

It also means that you start the cold call knowing the pain points instead of finding them out. You can then personalize your outreach and prepare relevant resources.

4. Upsell and retain customers

Intent data helps businesses find opportunities for upselling extra features in your offer or even introducing ones that your client base is actively looking for. Prospecting virtually with an offer updated based on customer needs allows you to keep clients for longer. 

You can dig into the data collected in your CRM system. It is a great source of first-party intent data for virtual prospecting. You can revisit older accounts and see if leads disqualified in the past can work out now. They may have not been sales-ready in the past, but may be now!

5. Build targeted social media campaigns

Intent data is key for B2B virtual prospecting on LinkedIn. You will be able to build a targeted account list that matches your ideal customer profile. The aim is to increase the effectiveness of ad campaigns to reduce lead gen costs

You’ll be running account-based marketing campaigns in front of a receptive audience that already indicated buying intent.

6. Improve your messaging

To keep your remote prospecting highly relevant, it’s good to know if the account you’re contacting needs to be persuaded with a sales demo or is ready for closing the deal.

Intent data gives you all the information about topics and solutions that the prospect is interested in. All you need to do is match whatever stage the prospect is at.

Key takeaways

  • Intent data is key to challenges arising during virtual prospecting.
  • Combining different types of intent data (firmographic, technographic) is the most effective way of converting more prospects into customers. 
  • Using intent with sales intelligence solutions adds an extra accuracy layer that helps you discover a perfect business match.
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