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Capturing Purchase Intention: The “If”s and “When”s of B2B Lead Gen

Posted June 23rd, 2017

The dictionary definition of intention is: “An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.” In the context of B2B lead generation, we talk about intention in terms of whether – and when – a decision maker or influencer plans to purchase a specific type of technology solution. Granted, it’s hard to read people’s minds. The best we can do is ask them about their role and responsibility in the decision-making process and also their plans for making the decision as far as timeframe. In the next 6 months? In the next 6-12 months? We do this in the last field of the lead capture form they are required to complete in exchange for gaining access to the desired content asset — e.g., a Smart Decision Guide. Do people answer honestly? In our experience, the answer, in most cases, is a resounding “yes.”

Executives and others who are charged with researching, evaluating and, often, selecting a technology solution on behalf of their company are usually happy to make their information available to relevant solution providers. Because they are in the market to make a purchase decision (typically, coming to our landing pages via keyword searches), they likely want to learn about the leading solutions and ask questions of experts in the field. In fact, they may well be in the process of identifying and contacting these experts themselves.

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Our landing pages explicitly state that they should expect to be contacted: “By accessing this Smart Decision Guide, you are agreeing to be contacted by one or more company underwriters who made complimentary access to this content possible and who may be able to provide additional guidance.” People who mark “none of the above” are likely not in the market or simply don’t wish to be contacted. Their names are automatically excluded from our leads validation and distribution process.

Capturing purchase intention is critical. Basic demographic and firmographic information (name, title, contact info, etc,) tells the marketing and sales teams absolutely nothing about whether – and when – a decision maker or influencer plans to purchase the type of technology solution they offer. Without purchase intention info, there is no way for these teams to assess the quality of a new lead. Purchase intention info gives them a good sense for a prospect’s receptiveness to their message and readiness to convert. It helps them prioritize the opportunity. It helps them know where to place it in the sales pipeline and which internal resources should be assigned to pursue it.

Ultimately, having intention context is what separates qualified leads (prospects who are in the market to buy) from compiled contacts (people who downloaded the content asset but may not be in the market to buy or want to be contacted). For solution providers, that can make all the difference in the world between wasted sales resources and adding a new company to the customer roster. 

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