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How to Take More Successful Inbound Calls Using Customer Intent Data

4 min readDecember 17, 2013

What do most inside sales reps really know about incoming leads the moment the phone rings? Sadly, the answer is usually nothing. But there is actually a lot of data that can show reps why prospects call. B2B marketers regularly capture a wide variety of data about customers’ buying intentions in CRMs like Salesforce. And with the right tools, this customer intent data can be delivered to reps in the context of inbound calls, enabling reps to kick off each sales call with a competitive advantage.

What is Customer Intent Data, and Why is It Important?

Customer intent data is any data that offers insight into what a customer or prospect wants. However, prospects don’t always do a great job of communicating what they want, even when speaking to a sales reps. At times, they deliberately hold back specific information. The sooner sales reps know what a customer wants, the better chance they have to close the deal.

business man writing concept of customerWhen I was working as an inside sales rep, I took a lot of inbound calls from leads who had seen our ads on Google or through other marketing channels. But I never knew who was calling or what they wanted to purchase without asking them a series of questions. I look back now and wonder how much easier it would have been to close deals if, before even picking up the phone, I had a darn good idea of why a prospect was calling.

In today’s world, prospects don’t often take the time to pick up their phones unless they have a good reason. And according to Google research, 61% of the time that reason is that they want to buy something.

Anyone who has ever worked as an inside sales rep will tell you that there is little room for error. Time that you spend trying to figure out what a lead wants, time that leads are put on hold while you do research and time spent transferring calls to the right reps all adds up. But the quicker you discern a prospect’s intentions, the faster you can solve their pain points and close revenue.

Types of Customer Intent Data

Let’s explore some of the types of customer intent data and how this data can be used to help reps close more deals.

Marketing Referral Data

Imagine you’re an inside sales rep at a B2B company that offers a wide range of financial services. If you knew that a prospect was calling because she saw your number on a direct mailing about annuity buyouts, you could have a good idea of why she was calling before you even pick up the phone. Call tracking data can be shared with inside sales reps in real time the moment the phone rings. Even if you’ve never spoken to a customer before, you can know what channel, campaign or even keyword they searched for.

Communications History Data

After your company has already spoken to a lead or if a lead filled out a form, more data becomes available during inbound calls. This is known as progressive profiling. B2B sales is almost always high-touch and collaborative. And since B2B sales cycles are often long, a prospect may have had an in-depth sales conversation 6 months ago with a rep who no longer works at your company. But by accessing communications history data during inbound calls, you can quickly see whether a lead called before and what the result of that conversation was. Salesforce Chatter is a great way for reps to collaborate when closing deals. Chatter enables reps to see a lead’s communications history in moments. A wealth of other data points can also be stored in CRMs like Salesforce.com and then delivered to inside sales reps during inbound calls, such as purchase history and deal status.

Company News Data

If I knew that a prospect was calling from a company that recently received $55 million in funding, it might influence my sales strategy. I might be more inclined to up-sell or cross-sell, in order to maximize the deal size. One B2B-focused feature that we built into our sales apps is the ability to automatically view news feeds about a prospect’s company when they call.

Using Customer Intent Data to Optimize ROI

Marketers regularly use Salesforce.com, call tracking solutions, marketing automation solutions and other systems of record in order to capture prospects’ intentions and preferences. But many marketers don’t realize that this data can be delivered to sales reps in real time in order to improve sales conversations. Here are a few ways that Revenue.io can help businesses using Salesforce.com leverage intent data to optimize inbound calls.

Intelligent Call Routing

When I was part of an inside sales team, we realized that our team worked best by having each rep specialize in selling a specific product. At many companies there are sales specialists that cover a particular set of solutions or verticals. Revenue.io is able to determine a prospect’s intention through call tracking data that’s stored in Salesforce and then route the call to the most qualified rep or sales group available. This is one way that Revenue.io uses customer intent data to improve close rates. And best of all, this process happens automatically.

Delivering Marketing Referral Data

After calls are routed, reps can see the specific promotion and keyword that caused a prospect to call before picking up the phone. This helps reps prioritize leads in queues and have smarter sales conversations.

Smart Talking Points

Revenue.io can also be configured to deliver talking points, cross-selling opportunities and available promotions based on a lead’s referral source. This can help reps to have smarter conversations and close more deals than ever before.