Building for the Intent 2.0 era

We're entering a new era of GTM - Intent 2.0. So what does that mean for GTM leaders in 2024? How is Pocus building for this new future?

Alexa Grabell
December 12, 2023
Building for the Intent 2.0 era

Two and a half years ago, when we started Pocus, we noticed a change in how software companies did sales. 

Increasingly, companies were (and still are!) taking a PLG approach, where customers can sign up for the product without ever talking to a human. The best of these companies figure out how to use this to their advantage. 

By making the product self-serve, PLG companies now had a whole funnel of users familiar with their product, who, with the right nudges, could become a high-value paying customer. These companies layered in sales and customer success teams to capitalize on an engaged product user base to drive revenue. This is what we have since coined as Product-Led Sales, a go-to-market motion that uses product intent data to inform reps which customers are ripe for conversion, upsell, or expansion. 

We’re now noticing another shift in the go-to-market landscape. The economic downturn, the emergence of generative AI, and major shifts in platforms (email, advertising, organic search) are making it difficult for even the best companies to reliably generate pipeline. 

In this blog, we dive into the evolution of go-to-market motions and how we’re thinking about the future of GTM and Pocus. 

Evolution of go-to-market

There always seems to be a hot new thing every few years in go-to-market. SaaS GTM eras if you will (Taylor’s version). 

GTM 1.0: The hot new thing was flashy billboards and slick sales executives. Getting your buyer's attention was directly related to how well your sales teams could schmooze and how much marketing was willing to spend on media buys. 

GTM 2.0: We all learned about this thing called inbound marketing. Everyone was creating search engine optimized content to drive website traffic that could be converted into marketing-qualified leads for sales. 

GTM 3.0: Predictable revenue was minted as the new gold standard for GTM. It was all about creating a scientific process for reaching thousands of potential customers with an army of well-trained SDRs. 

In the GTM 3.0 era, the use of third-party intent data took off to power the army of SDRs. This was primarily driven by the emergence of Account Based Marketing and the products that shaped this category(eg. 6sense and Demandbase). This intent data was mostly account-level firmographic data that tried to approximate the readiness or buying appetite of the account. This data would then inform how sales territories are planned and  marketing campaign audiences refined. 

GTM 4.0: PLG and more recently Product-Led Sales (PLS) has become the dominant go-to-market motion for companies that prioritize creating delightful self-serve user experiences in their products. In this era, marketing drove demand,the product acted as the first touchpoint to acquire and close customers, and sales parsed through data to find high lifetime value customers The PLS era put go-to-market in the driver seat, using product usage signals and other customer data to build hyper-targeted sales playbooks. 

GTM 4.0 has been buoyed by low-interest rates and VC markets flush with cash. The result was a proliferation of point solutions that unbundled and improved on the monolithic apps of the decade before. In the PLG era, end users were spoiled for choice and could trial new tools with ease.

Each of these eras drove a new crop of tools to enable each evolution of the go-to-market motion. Each era prioritized a new data set in hopes of getting closer to creating a predictable playbook for creating and capturing demand. But, no matter the hot new strategy, the goal of the go-to-market team has always been simple: 

  • Find the right buyers (using whatever data is available) 
  • Convince them to use your product (again using whatever data is available to build the use case)
  • Get them to pay for that product
  • Delight them enough to stick around

Beneath all of the tactics, channels, and motions, this is the simple truth. But, our go-to-market tools, process, and tactics have convoluted and complicated the above. Sales leaders have access to a myriad of tools, each executing a narrow slide of the revenue generation workflow; they are overwhelmed by data signals but lack clarity on which signals matter. It’s no wonder many still struggle to build pipeline and hit growth targets.

So, what’s really going on with go-to-market? 

RIP good times 

The title of Sequoia Capital’s famous deck has come back to haunt us once again. Everyone in SaaS is struggling this year because of the economic downturn… but that’s not the whole story. 

Sales teams are desperate to find new sources of pipeline, but many of the tried and true tactics have diminishing returns. More emails are getting sent, but conversion rates have never been lower. In response, companies are wasting money by hiring more sellers to create more volume with the same result - missing pipeline targets and cost-efficient growth. 

There are 2 mains reasons for this that we’ve tracked over the last year: 

#1 Lack of precision (e.g. high-volume spammy outbound!)

The predictable revenue playbook is dead. The old way of generating pipeline was about volume-motivated reps who would spray and pray. When times are good, you could pick 1000 accounts, send outreach indiscriminately, and still generate pipeline reliably. That is no longer the case. 

This approach has been fueled by the proliferation of sales engagement tools (eg. Outreach, Salesloft, Apollo) that made it too easy to blanket thousands of contacts with generic messaging blindly. The result has been all-time low performance on cold outbound campaigns and the opposite of predictable revenue.

#2 Lack of humanness in outreach

Another symptom of our collective overreliance on the predictable revenue model has been the total disappearance of humanness in our sales approach. Stretched thin across too many accounts, sellers cannot focus on building deeper relationships. Instead, buyers get the bare minimum personalization. 

It’s time to sharpen our spears, not cast a wide net. 

So if you’re a sales or marketing leader reading this and thinking: I have all of these problems - What does that mean for 2024?

We’re entering, you guessed it, a new era of go-to-market. This new era consolidates many all the eras before it to create the ultimate data-driven go-to-market approach.  

Introducing Intent 2.0

In 2024, GTM teams must work smarter, be more data-driven, and hold everyone to a higher bar. We’re calling this era Intent 2.0 

What is Intent 2.0? 

In the last decade, intent has come to mean 3rd party buying signals, usually at the account-level, popularized by tools like 6sense and Demandbase. Intent 1.0 ignores the rich buying signals that exist within your own 1st party data. But, with the rise of Product-Led Sales, GTM teams realized the power of using their own product data to uncover buying intent. 

Intent 2.0 combines 1st and 3rd party data about both accounts and users to create powerful buying signals to uplevel pipeline generation.

Intent 2.0 uses AI to unlock new data and signals to power sales workflows while also making sales teams themselves more efficient. 

Imagine you’re a sales leader responsible for building pipeline. Now, with Intent 2.0, it’s easy. You have every possible intent signal at your disposal - you have your own data sources (product usage and customer data), third-party firmographics AND  data scraped from the internet(10Ks, review sites, anything else you can think up). 

With access to precise buying signals, your sales team can stop wasting time flipping through dozens of tools to research an account and then sending thousands of emails to the wrong buyers. 

Now, your sales team sends personalized emails to the right user, at the right time, with the right message - without flipping through dozens of tools.

The result? More efficient workflows and unlimited sources of pipeline.

What trends are fuelling this new era?

Teams with the best grasp on intent win

The best teams will arm sales and marketing with the right account and contact lists built from real buying signals (not your team’s best guess). This is a thoughtful approach to prospecting that focuses on precision - the right contact, message, and timing - rather than blasting hundreds of emails to an account. 

AI to make your reps more human

You heard that right! Reps will rely on AI to tell them what their buyers care about. Building a relationship is about showing your buyer you understand their needs and can add value in every interaction. 

Prescriptive workflows > wild west prospecting

Leadership will create more prescriptive workflows for the go-to-market team that streamlines their prospecting and account research process, so reps can focus on building relationships (not digging for information). 

Pocus’ vision for the intent 2.0 era

Pocus is leading the charge for this new era of go-to-market. Since day 1, Pocus’ mission has been to help go-to-market teams turn their data into revenue.  We’re excited for the next chapter of this mission, where we help GTM teams access new buying signals and improve efficiency through AI.

Stay tuned for more on this next week! 


Alexa Grabell
Co-Founder & CEO at Pocus
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