We know that Intent Data is a white-hot buzzword in the Sales and Marketing spaces right now, especially in B2B. And why wouldn’t it be? Everyone would love to know which companies and buyers are in market for their solution. You would start selling to those people and cut out the time wasted on people who will not buy from you. Just sweep up the ones who are in market, right? That is why Intent Data providers are in the spotlight now.

The trouble is, Intent Data is not a silver bullet. It is a piece of the B2B puzzle that gives you a clear vision of which accounts you need to move towards and sell to. It’s the pair of glasses you need to see the map much clearer.

But there are a lot of Intent Data providers who all have a slightly different thesis on what counts as Intent Data and how it is collected. This is what we are seeing and hearing about from buyers and customers who are understanding and harnessing the power of true Intent Data…


This is a huge part of where you can go wrong with Intent Data. Truthfully, Intent Data is not the way to find people who are requesting proposals from vendors and are literally buying this week. It is the foot-in-the-door style method to use for spotting deals. For spotting which decision makers and accounts are now showing intent to buy, so that you can be proactive in your Sales and Marketing efforts.

Every Intent Data provider (including LeadSift) are predicting which accounts and buyers are in market for your solution. But you cannot feasibly predict who is going to buy a solution. With any kind of prediction, there is error. This is commonly done using Machine Learning or AI, which in themselves tell you about the element of prediction. Machine Learning/AI solutions mean there will be some amount of inaccuracies.

It is super important to understand the Predictive Nature of any Intent Data providers and set expectations accordingly.


This is possibly the biggest issue with Intent Data currently. This comes 99% from Intent Data providers who are using IP data to tell you that X company has been to some website and visited X pages. In theory, it sounds great. If you know Sheraton, the huge chain of hotels is looking at you 18 times within the week I’d be certain your team should reach out to them.

This actually happened to us in the early days of LeadSift. We found Sheraton had visited our site a number of times in one week, so we reached out to their team. We got nothing back from them, at all.

Why? We discussed in our Board meeting later that week, the answer was exposed. One of our Board members had been staying in a Sheraton hotel in San Francisco that week and was showing a colleague the LeadSift website via the Sheraton WiFi. We were being told by our Intent Data provider that Sheraton were showing a ton of intent to buy, when it was actually a member of our Board!

Where the inaccuracy comes from

If this can happen with members of our own team, imagine how you can pick up low level employees researching you. Interns, Apprentices, junior staff are not excluded from this data.

IP data tracks back which WiFi signal the website visitor came from. It’s possible that if you are in McDonalds on their WiFi and you come to LeadSift.com, we will see McDonalds showing intent to buy from us. This is one of the main issues with IP data. This data would be picked p on by your Intent Data provider, regardless of if you are the CEO or Intern of any company connected to McDonalds WiFi. Even on the level of having the wrong company, you may have the wrong prospect entirely as well.

Another common inaccuracy we see all the time is Universities visiting us. We know this is actually students doing research or potentially students looking for Internships.

It’s not just us who talk about this and have noticed it. Business 2 Community have written a great post about how your level of trust with Intent Data providers has to be exemplary. Because the source of the data you are given is the ultimate factor in how successful it will be for you.

Start-ups and the IP data problem

Start-ups do not always have their own office, have their own room in a co-working space their own internet service provider. If you target small businesses, you have to remember people work at home. Or in hot-desking spaces, in co-working spaces where they do not pay for the internet provider. The internet service is paid for by the co-working space, so you’ll collect data with their name on it.

Not everyone has their own building and internet service provider – meaning not everyone can be found by IP data providers.


There are a number of concerns about the legality of certain types of Intent Data from certain Intent Data providers. If your data is not publicly available, it requires the consent from the people your data reveals. It is your Intent Data provider’s job to get this consent as they are the ones providing the end user with the data – which should be legal.

There are Intent Data providers who are able to add tags to your website and re-sell that data. This is not actually consensual data that they are selling. If you are getting this data, you need the consent of the website owners to have this technology added to the site. If you have consent, you can track the interactions and visits. But if not, you cannot sell on the data without having their consent for this in writing.


Of course, in Europe there is GDPR to think about too. This is why the phrase “publicly available” is so important. If your Intent Data provider cannot show you how their data is publicly available, raise the red flag.

And publicly available data does not mean you will find useless information, or only information you can find yourself.

LeadSift for example, can crawl the internet and find signals of intent to buy from social media, forums and a number of sources. Nobody can crawl all of the social media profiles of every buyer in every account in your total addressable market. Nobody can manually keep track of who is engaging with competitors or content. It would take too long, but we can pick this data up. This is all publicly available data, because you can find it if you look for it on Twitter, LinkedIn, forums and other public sources. You’d just have to spend more time on it than most of us get in a lifetime.

So remember to ask your Intent Data provider about the sources they have and the legality of that. After all, you as the end user are the ones who will get the push back from prospects. It won’t be the tool that is asked how you have the information on the prospect, it will be you.


This requires an example. If you sell an HR solution, your Intent Data provider may tell you that AT&T shows intent to buy from you. The question in your mind should be, what did they do that shows intent?

Did they engage with us on social media? Do they engage with a competitor? Do they engage with ads on Forbes from another vendor in our market? Did they attend a webinar on an industry buzzword? Did they interact with an industry influencer or go to an event?

What exactly happened?

If you do not get a concise and clear answer, this is a major red flag.

If the source of the data is questionable, at worst case your data is 100% false or from illegal sources. This is burning your budget. Spinning the wheels of your revenue generating teams. It’s costing you success with every day that goes by.

But if you can clearly see what the signal of intent that was picked up on is, you can analyse it and move forward.


With the same thoughts in mind, WHO showed intent to buy from us? If your Intent Data provider uses IP data, they can only tell you which company may have visited your site. Never who by name or by job title.

So how do you know it’s not a Board member from your organization using their WiFi, or a junior level employee. Maybe even the mail man asking to Google something quickly when they deliver something to your “prospect’s” office. These are all possible intent signals that can be picked up by IP Intent Data providers.

So with this in mind, targeting which people or departments you care about is paramount. Why would you want to know when the Intern is researching you? They will 99.9% of the time have no buying authority and will not be researching you with the aim of purchasing.

The other scenario with this is that we saw Sheraton came to our site but we did not know which of their team looked at us. So who do we reach out to? The Sheraton team is very big, as they are a global company. They have many offices and teams of Marketing professionals we had to whittle down into a list of possible prospects.

So target your buyer personas with your Intent Data provider, at least the departments that your solution and services work in. This way you can narrow down that you want to know when buyers and decision makers relevant for your solution are in market. Not just anyone in the company regardless of what they do.

If you want to get your hands on legal data that shows you which contact specifically showed intent to buy from you, we have something to share.

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