How to Spot Buying Signals – with Intent Data

If you’ve ever bought a house, you know the drill: Location, location, location!

But in the world of B2B sales? It’s timing, timing, timing!

Bad timing is the worst objection you can get!” says DiscoverOrg’s Manager of Sales, Brandon Battey. “It’s a true reason. You just have to move on.”

Unfortunately, it’s also the most common objection salespeople get.

Intent Data is information about buying signals: That is, event or behavioral data  that statistically suggests a purchase will happen soon.

It’s a lot easier to prioritize your sales outreach when you know who’s ready to buy, right?

Buckle up, because predictive data is here to stay, and early adopters have a serious competitive advantage.

Here are the buying triggers – Intent Data – that you should be looking for.

What is Intent Data?

Let’s put this another way: If your dishwasher stops working, would you:

  1. Immediately call a repair company
  2. Randomly disconnect water pipes to see which one is clogged
  3. Google “how to unclog a dishwasher”

You’d go with C, right? Searching online for a solution to a problem is the go-to answer for most modern buyers.

ThinkWithGoogle says 89% of buyers do online research to support their decision before making a purchase. And 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep, according to Demand Gen Report.

Intent Data is implicit signals that indicate a buyer has a pain point that they’re trying to solve – before they engage with a company.

Intent Data lets salespeople get in the door sooner.  And 78% of the time, the first person in the door wins the biz.

What are Intent Data points?

So what kind of data are we talking about? Here’s a list of standard Intent Data points:

  • Visiting review sites or performing competitive comparisons
  • Time on website pages related to industry topics
  • Online subscriptions to newsletters and updates
  • Spikes in content consumption on a relevant or related topic

When buyers have a problem, they frequently rack up a significant digital footprint trying to solve it, before engaging a salesperson.

But remember, we’re not talking about downloads of your whitepapers, website visits, etc. (This problem-plagued prospect doesn’t know you exist – yet.) These are digital footprints on third-party sites.

Because this describes online activities on other websites, it can be difficult to source yourself. DiscoverOrg incorporates Intent Data from Bombora, plus 40+ proprietary data collection tools, to provide this insight to customers. The Big Willow and IDG are other Intent Data providers.

Read it: How to Use Intent Data Without Creeping Out Your Prospect

But even if you don’t have access to this kind of data, don’t worry! There are lots of other trigger events that you can find yourself with a Google search that predict a purchase.

Other DIY signals of intent

To identify buyer intent using your own data, you just have to travel a little further down the sales funnel: Has anyone at your target accounts engaged with your brand?

Engagement with your brand

Look for people from your target accounts who have:

  • Visited your website: Look for referring domains of target accounts. Give special attention to pages like case studies, product information, and pricing or demo pages.
  • Engaged with your brand on social media: Did the VP of Sales like a couple of your blogs? Or maybe someone in the marketing department of your target account shared or tagged a colleague in one of your posts?
  • Attended one of your webinars: Registration likely requires a name and contact information. Gold!

This type of engagement with your brand signals intent, too. At the very least, the prospect knows who you are and is looking for more information.

But hold on. Don’t pick up the phone or send an email just yet.

Lead scoring

Have you ever registered for a webinar – and the all thanks you got was a ton of spammy sales emails?


DO be the company who makes sure prospects are actually interested before giving them a call.

A lead scoring model is very helpful here.

Together, sales and marketing teams should establish a criteria for what is considered a sales lead or MQL. (The keyword here is together. Alignment on lead qualification is critical.)

A lead scoring model is usually a point system where prospects rack up points for engagement. When the prospect hits a certain point threshold, they’ve demonstrated sufficient interest to be considered a lead … and sales gets the green light.

Is a “qualified lead” someone who reads one of your blogs? How about if they read five blogs? What if they attended a webinar, or download an ebook? Or both?

There’s no one right answer. But whatever the answer is, sales and marketing has to agree.

The lead score is another great tool for identifying buyer intent and timing sales outreach.

After all, “No sales team can touch every single account in their addressable market at once,” says Battey. “You’re usually touching a very small fraction at a time, and doing your best. Optimizing who you’re touching – and when – is a big deal, because that’s the only chance you’re going to get.”

This week’s post is by guest author, DeAnn Poe, VP of Marketing for DiscoverOrg, a sales and marketing intelligence tool that provides a constant stream of accurate and actionable company, contact, and buying intelligence that can be used to find, connect with, and sell to target buyers more effectively.