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We've all been the newbie at some point. Everyone starts somewhere; no shame in that.

But what if I could share a couple of tips to help you jumpstart your account-based marketing ( ABM) journey? You can skip the newbie status and learn to avoid intent data mistakes that ABM rookies make.

Here are four of them.

1. Not including context in your sales activations

One of the hardest parts of a sales professional's job is knowing where to spend your time. What accounts are actually in a buying cycle? And how do you best follow up with them?

Thankfully, intent-based sales activations can give sales teams the ability to know which accounts to go after. Sales activation tools allow you to properly alert your sales team when an account is highly engaged and to equip them with the most relevant messaging for outreach.

Insights into what accounts are hot and ready to buy are extremely valuable and can result in a closed-won deal.

Often, though, a "hot" deal is lost when full context is not provided to your sales reps. Not all data is created equal, so without providing additional context on accounts showing intent signals, your sales reps won't have the full enough picture needed to properly engage your buyer.

So, what context should you be adding to your sales activation for relevant outreach? For your reps do their job, they need to know...

  • Whom to contact
  • What to say
  • When to reach out

Providing those important elements of intent-based context will allow you to implement successful sales activations. Your sales reps will know not only what accounts are showing intent but also what messaging to use, and when the right moment to reach out is.

Areas where you should be adding that context to into your ABM sales activations:

  • Mailing list: Define recipients for sales alerts.
    • Send emails to your sales reps based on CRM ownership, audience segments, or territory.
    • Trigger notifications to sales reps based on third-party intent or increase in website engagement.

  • Accounts/audience: Determine which accounts to include in sales alerts. Based on intent signals, let your reps know which accounts to reach out to and what messaging would resonate with them.

  • Trigger/time setting: Determine whether an account is in-market, and when to reach out.
    • Let your sales reps know the right moment to reach out.
    • Reach out/trigger notifications based on the strength of an account's intent. You can weigh intent signals differently so that you're able to determine which intent signals are the most indicative that an account is ready to be contacted.

Providing context with your sales activations and equipping your reps with who, what, and when will ultimately allow your reps to engage with hot accounts and move the needle on pipeline.

Over 90% of online buyers research anonymously online, so any form of misaligned messaging will stand out. The messaging your sales reps use will be a major factor in whether or not that account decides to buy, making the intent-based context you provide them essential.

2. Not treating different intent data signals differently

Not all intent signals are created equal, so not all intent signals should be treated as equal. Failing to treat intent signals differently might waste time if you reach out to accounts not ready to buy.

The complexity and length of B2B buying cycles means the actions you take should be based on the type of intent an account is demonstrating. Treating your intent signals differently, depending on type, allows you to identify which accounts in your total addressable market (TAM) are ready to move on in their buying cycle or make a purchase.

Accounts in your TAM showing higher intent are the most indicative that an account is ready to be contacted, and they should be prioritized for outreach.

How might your prospects show intent in different ways?

  • Business activity: New product launch, hiring a new executive, press release on a key initiative
  • Consulting experts: Reading product reviews, analyst reports, business surveys, analyst conversation
  • Conversations and networking: Following a vendor on social, connecting with a sales rep, attending a tradeshow
  • Online research: Reading blogs, watching webinars

A person reading a blog and a person viewing your pricing page are both showing intent. Although both are showing intent, those signals should be weighed differently. Just because prospects read your blog does not mean they are ready to buy. But a prospect who is browsing your pricing page might be ready to be contacted.

One prospect attended your event in person and one registered for a webinar with a third party. Would you really treat those people the same way?

There are other reasons to treat signals differently. Are you dealing with a large account, or are you dealing with a small account? Is there a historical baseline? Both are important factors to take into account when deciding how to act on your gathered intent signals.

3. Failing to remember the humans behind the signals

We often forget that behind every intent signal is a human. Intent data tells us when buyers are in-market, how close they are to buying, and how to keep them engaged while they're shopping, but behind that data is a marketer looking for a solution to a problem.

People showing intent will likely have to turn around and demonstrate the value of your product. It's important to provide value that will help them demonstrate return on investment—i.e., revenue, operating expenses, and profit margins. Remembering the viewpoint of your buyer and providing this information will help your buyer and, by extension, you.

An abundance of intent does not necessarily mean the deal is in the bag. Sell with empathy: Buyers are real people with real problems that your product can help solve.

4. Ignoring your customers

Congratulations, you've won a new customer by using intent signals! But despite the awesome conversations your sales reps are having, you shouldn't forget about the accounts that are already customers. The reality is your competitors are probably trying to talk to them.

Fully 85% of marketers say ABM has significantly benefited them in retaining and expanding client relationships, Marketo found. Third-party intent signals allow you to know when your customers are looking at your competitors. Your renewal team can use that information in meetings to box out the competition, addressing areas the team might be researching elsewhere.

Use those competitive insights in your customer marketing and nurture campaigns to reinforce your competitive differentiation. Consider running ads and Web campaigns that explain how your current offerings can alleviate pain points that prospects are searching solutions for on competitors' sites.

Also, you can use signals to identify intent toward new services you might offer. Your upsell team can identify accounts researching new offerings on your site and reach out accordingly to expand the account.

* * *

Avoid the four mistakes described in this article, and you're one step closer to ABM pro status. Stop the guesswork and start targeting the real people behind intent data signals.

More Resources on Intent Data

Intent Data: What It Is and How to Get Started

The Biggest Benefits of Intent Data for B2B Marketers

How Marketers Can Generate Their Own First-Party Intent Data

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image of Margaret Grace Howard

Margaret Grace Howard is a marketing specialist at Triblio, an ABM platform that orchestrates marketing and sales campaigns at every stage of the purchase journey.

LinkedIn: Margaret Grace Howard