SalesTech Star

Why Sales Should Rely On Intent Data, Not MQLs

By Ernest Owusu, Sr. Director of Sales Development at 6sense

Customer expectations are always evolving and, today, they’re higher than ever. As salespeople, the way we engage with our customers must also adapt if we hope to meet their growing expectations. And it starts with ensuring that our customers are at the heart of everything we do. Our goal is to create a customer-centric experience, one that is consistent throughout the entire buying journey.

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Buyers today are increasingly savvy. They have more information readily available than ever before, which means they’re doing more research on their own and spending less time interacting with sales teams. To be successful in this new world of B2B buying, sellers have to empower prospects throughout their journey — not just when they’re ready to buy. That’s why sales teams need to stop relying on MQLs to get the job done.

MQLs = Guessing

The biggest hurdle for most sales teams is knowing exactly what your prospect wants. Historically, we’ve used marketing-qualified leads to help us navigate our prospects’ needs. But, unfortunately, MQLs don’t provide us with the opportunity to empower buyers before they make themselves known — they only provide a small snapshot of the prospect’s needs after they’ve filled out a form or joined our newsletter.

Last March, 6sense conducted a study on predictable revenue growth which uncovered that 80% of account-driven companies failed to exceed revenue goals the year before when focusing their strategies on metrics like MQLs. In the Age of the Customer, MQLs cannot provide sales teams with everything they need to empower their prospects.

Because MQLs are stagnant, sales teams using them risk showing up either too early or too late. They have no insight into the full picture. However, when sales teams rely on intent data, they’re able to uncover where a buyer is in their process so they can reach out at exactly the right time. Armed with insight from their entire buyer journey, we can know their specific pain points and provide value from our very first touchpoint.

Intent Data = Knowing

With buyer intent data, sales teams have full visibility into our prospects’ activity at every stage of the buying journey. Intent data is a combination of all the research and website activity our buyers are conducting across the web — even before they engage with our team. The 6sense team has named this place where buyers are anonymously browsing the web the Dark Funnel™.

In short, intent data shines a light on the activity your prospects were previously doing “in the dark.” This insight is a game-changer for modern sales teams. It allows us to really know our prospects so we can create the most valuable, customer-centric experience possible. Not only that, but it also helps us pinpoint where they are in their buying journey so we don’t risk losing a deal because we reached out at the wrong time. After all, timing is everything in sales. Instead of chasing down every lead, hoping to catch one at the right time, we can focus on those accounts actively looking for a solution.

Modern sellers have to be fully prepared with information on what buyers are looking for right out of the gate or they’ll go running straight to the competition. The best way to drive revenue in the Age of the Customer is by swapping outdated metrics like MQLs for real-time insights powered by intent data. Sales teams can create an ultra-personalized, customer-centric experience that delivers the kind of value that converts.

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