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“Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced. I guarantee you $100 right now: Public relations.” 

I’m on a call with Bryan Tunick, a ZoomInfo sales team lead, and he is trying (admirably, but without much luck) to explain to me how our ZoomInfo Intent works. 

He pops open the business section of the New York Times and clicks on the first article he finds: Bill and Melinda Gates Are Divorcing After 27 Years of Marriage. Then he switches to ZoomInfo, opens up Intent, and runs a search on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Yep,” he says, pointing to the screen. “They’ve been spiking on public relations for months.”

ZoomInfo Intent, Tunick explains, houses data on what companies are actively researching online, which is why it showed a significant increase from the Gates Foundation in activity for the topic of “public relations” months before the story broke.

Well, that seems lucky, I think.

Then — as if he can sense my skepticism — he repeats this process three more times, using three other random articles.

Over the next hour, Tunick explains how ZoomInfo Intent works; how he, as a sales rep, uses it for his job; and most importantly, why what had initially seemed like luck to me was actually just data — really good data alongside tech sophisticated enough to wield it.


What is ZoomInfo Intent?

ZoomInfo Intent allows you to discover companies researching problems that you can solve. It tracks companies doing more online research for topics related to your business on third-party websites so you can reach them earlier in the buyer journey.

“Intent allows you to see which companies are doing more research on particular products or services that are relevant to what you do so that you can prioritize those accounts,” Tunick says. “It’s all about focusing on the right accounts at the right time.”

Tunick begins by telling me how he doesn’t sell Intent: He avoids overpromising.

“A lot of companies are out there selling their version of intent as the perfect-fit deal every time, but that’s never the case,” he says. “It’s not like, ‘Now I always know exactly who wants my service.’ But what you do know is which accounts are consuming a large amount of content relevant to what you do… it will lift your numbers long-term.”

The results, Tunick says, are big picture. When ZoomInfo’s sales teams started using Intent themselves, they saw a 32% increase in their close rate within those accounts.

“What would it mean,” he asks, “if, every single week, your team woke up knowing the 20 to 30 accounts consuming content most relevant to what you do?”

Customers can also connect intent data to Salesforce. From there, they can set up alerts for when companies are researching topics at above-average rates. Such activity provides an opportunity to cross-sell, upsell, or prevent churn — all of which Tunick has seen happen firsthand.


Intent Use Cases

1. Preventing Churn

One day, Tunick was demoing Intent for a prospect. The customer was in the transportation management industry, so he pulled up an account that was a freight and logistics provider.

“Oh, that’s actually one of our customers,” the prospect said.

“Then you’re going to want to call them ASAP,” replied Tunick. According to Intent, the account was researching other vendors.

The prospect followed Tunick’s advice and confirmed that yes, it was true: The customer was thinking about switching providers, but was willing to consider renewal at a slightly lower price.

“They needed to take a little bit of a haircut, but ultimately, they saved the deal.”

2. Prospecting Smarter

When it comes to his own sales job, Tunick relies heavily on Intent. 

Before a call, he checks to see if prospects have recently consumed more content around sales leads, since that might signify a stronger opportunity to sell ZoomInfo to them.

“What you don’t care about is when they’re consuming their baseline amount of research,” he explains. “You want to know when they’re consuming two or three or four times their typical research on the product. That’s when you want to be engaged.”

On the other hand, if Tunick notices that the prospect has been looking into competitors, that’s also helpful because — while he won’t mention it explicitly — he will use that information to personalize the conversation.

“It’s subtle, because what I’m not going to do is say, ‘Hey, saw you’re talking to this other vendor.’ I wouldn’t trash the market in a call. I would just convey the reality that we are the market leader, and that the market has spoken.”

3. Targeting Niche Customers

“Here’s the beautiful thing: You can create topics,” Tunick says.

Custom Intent allows customers selling niche or specialized products to more closely monitor prospects researching those services.

He pulls up an example of Custom Intent that he recently sold:

Topic: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) access control

Keywords: RFID ticket, RFID hangtag, RFID credentials

“Look at how specific these topics are,” he chuckles. “This is about RFID parking.”

To sell this, all Tunick had to do was take a screenshot of it in Salesforce and include it in the proposal. Anyone who buys Intent, he insists, should buy custom Intent.

If I wanted to use Intent, the first step, I now understand, would be to: 1) identify the companies I’m most interested in and 2) choose the topics I want to see research activity on.


How It Works

By browsing millions of websites, Tunick explains, ZoomInfo ingests keywords on those websites and matches them to my topics of interest to determine whether or not there’s a significant connection. It then matches the IP addresses of those web pages to specific companies and flags any above-average amount of research as an Intent update within the platform.

To get these updates in real-time, I can set up Intent signals daily, weekly, or monthly so that I can know exactly when my target accounts are spiking on my topics of interest, helping me stay informed and ahead of competition.


It May Look Like Luck, but It’s Just Good Data.

So is it lucky that ZoomInfo Intent can help a customer sell RFID products — or even pitch public relations services before a high-profile divorce?

No, it’s not luck. It’s simply data, and showing sales teams how to use it effectively.

“I run test cases on it just for fun,” Tunick says. “I’m a true believer.” 

About the author

Stephanie Tonneson

Stephanie Tonneson is a Content Marketing Coordinator at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact database and sales intelligence solution for go-to-market teams.

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