3 Easy Ways To Identify Buying Intent

By: Masha Finkelstein

If you are like me and probably every other sales or marketing professional, you most likely ask yourself, your colleagues, your friends, and the internet this question everyday: how do I know if and when the accounts we are targeting are on the market for a solution like ours?

Let me share what has worked well for me over the years at various startups for identifying intent signals among our prospect accounts.

Intent signal #1: they are on your website.

You may not know the exact person or their email address (yet), but what you can identify is what company they are from when they come to your site. There are numerous solutions out there for this starting with your basic marketing automation systems (i.e. Marketo), ending with more complex platform tools that have this feature as part of their overall ABM functionality (like DemandBase, Leady.com, and many others). This is as easy as 1–2–3:

  1. Find the tool that is right for you (reverse IP lookup based, for example)
  2. Set up the Google Analytics integration for that tool, and
  3. Enable alerts for your sales team whenever the companies from your target account list are on your site.

Intent signal #2: they are searching for your keywords.

This is a powerful one. What if you knew that your named accounts are looking for solutions to the pain points you are solving right when they did it? Well, there is a way. There are companies out there that can tell you when your prospects are indeed searching for the keywords you identify. My favorite one is Bombora — we start by giving them a list of our named high fit accounts that we target, then we get a list of companies every week that “surge” on our keywords within a few topic areas that we identified. We then flag these prospects in Salesforce for our inside sales team to outbound to and also add them to account based marketing top of the funnel campaigns. Guess what? Companies that surge on our keywords tend to convert better for us. 😉

Intent signal #3: they are asking their peers for help.

How do you know when they are asking for your peers for help? It really depends on your target audience, but it could be anywhere from Quora, LinkedIn groups, social media, to product specific user communities. For example, whenever I have a marketing question I like going to places like Marketing Nation community, FlipMyFunnel.org, Salesforce Trailblazer community, and other similar type places where like-minded super smart peers of mine hang out. I then post my question there. So why aren’t you monitoring user groups where your target audience would be questions that you could help them with yet??

There are more ways to identify buying intent among your target accounts than just these three, and it really depends on where your prospects like to spend their time. I can tell you how I personally display intent of buying a solution to solve a current problem…

I usually start with good ol’ Google. Usually that gives me some ideas and gets me thinking in a direction that may end up being relevant. I then ping my marketing friends to see if they have faced a similar problem in the past. Sometimes they have and are willing to share how they solved it, other times not. If not, I go to peer communities and look for threads where people discussed similar type problems in the past. If I don’t find any pre-existing relevant threads I usually start my own by describing my problem in detail and asking for ideas on a solution. I also tend to go to industry events where I talk to technology vendors and peers alike. If I have a question at hand that I’m trying to solve I usually bring it up in those conversations. I go to sessions that sound like they may be helpful in finding the answer (think: when signing up for event sponsorship try to get detailed information on session attendance as well as part of your sponsor package). Once I get a few ideas for solutions to check out I research review sites, consume a ton of content about those solutions, and schedule in depth demos with the top few. By the way, the amount of content consumed could also be a great intent signal. Check out PathFactory for that.

See? There are so many indicators along the way that I am looking for a solution… I’m sure when you try to get into the mind of your target audience and think how they think you’ll find many opportunities for surfacing ways you could help them at the right time and in the right place.