Probably you haven’t missed the term sales intelligence. But, just because most of the people have heard and are somewhat familiar with it, doesn’t mean that most sales representatives are using sales intelligence enough. Actually, most sales representative don’t, and those reps that do use it, usually they don’t use sales intelligence from enough resources.
The modern buyers today expect more relevant and personalized interaction at every touch-point. Hence, when you interact with your prospects, every information, yet small about their company gives you an advantage over your competitors and significantly improves your chances of closing the deal. It just this kind of data that sales intelligence tools can offer to sales representatives.
And just looking at how the market of business software is shaping up, it’s probably that large chunk is composed of specialized tools for marketing, HR management, finance, and other strategy-centric departments.
So, for the sales teams, however, the surge of available technology is a quite recent development. On the other hand, two decades after the CRM, sales software is still not that widely adopted.
Irrespective of how skilled your workforce is at pitching, it’s quite hard to nurture leads, move leads along the sales funnel, and close the deal if your sales representatives are talking to the wrong customers.
Finding the right customers is one of the most overlooked processes in selling a product or service or solution. You might think that you have got all the personas pinned down but without the use of data and analytics to back it up, there’s nothing to tell if you are way off the mark.
While you are talking to a lead, every bit of information helps. But unfortunately, the sales reps rarely have the time or resources to scour the web and find all the critical information pieces that are valuable to the deal. In addition, the modern buying decision is commonly made by a buying committee, so the sales reps need to the extra work of filtering out the key stakeholders within a company and understanding the requirement of each of the stakeholders to drive a deal forward.
But, thanks to the rapid innovations in information processing, now sales representatives can easily access real-time actionable insights on the prospects they sell to. And to make this data truly actionable and useful for the sales reps, the sales intelligence have to meet three criteria namely 1) Uses a Variety of Sources, 2) Organized for context and accessibility, and 3) Available in real-time which will be discussed later in this article.
Business leaders now understand that data is the heart of company growth and expansion. It is the genesis of millions of actions and thousands of downstream processes.
And it’s not that hard to find data, like a prospects name and phone number, revenue, employee count, email address, direct dials, job titles. But the B2B sales cycles are long, complicated and need more than just the names and phone numbers of your prospects.
The sales and marketing data are very dynamic that is to say frequently updated. This data includes context like organizational reporting structure, decision makers, budgets, financials, personnel moves, company initiatives, year-over-year growth, installed technologies, and predictive features; all in near real-time.
This is also data. But, sales intelligence is getting even more intelligent each day passing by, in addition to just growing the database.
And in this article, we will help you to better understand sales intelligence and how you can and should use it to close more deals.
What Is Sales Intelligence?
Sales intelligence refers to a broad range of technology that enables a sales representative to understand, find, and monitors data that gives insight into prospect and existing customer daily business. These insights enable the sales representative to stay on top of changes within the target accounts.
Time is always a critical factor for a savvy sales representative. No one has the time to browse through the printed media outlets and web to find the information pieces about every account they work on. Neither can anyone map out all the key stakeholders inside their prospect’s company and truly understand each person’s desires and needs.
And just by indexing real-time company data from millions of open public data sources every day, the sales intelligence tools know about company’s basic information along with their hidden traits like what interests they appear to have, what buying signals they’ve sent out recently or what type of website technologies they use.
Sales Intelligence Criteria
1). Uses a Variety of Sources:
Most of the sales companies are familiar with intent data. A sales representative may look at a lead’s activity log to see which web pages a lead has visited on the seller’s company website to see what stage of the buying cycle that lead is in. And the engagement data from actions taken with your marketing emails or on your website is known as first-party data.
Sadly, most of the sales representatives are not using sales intelligence enough. Meanwhile, their sales intelligence isn’t coming from enough sources.
Buying signals can come from many places online and offline:
The new software automatically collects data from several sources and then delivers the buying signals to a sales representative, without disrupting their day-to-day routine.
There are many data enrichment companies that enable sales companies to find which accounts may be good targets and what topics they are showing interest in. There are two ways of collecting data;
- Analyzing the content consumption patterns of people on certain websites
- Crawling and social networks and websites to find key events that may indicate buying interest from certain companies.
Example; some data companies can easily crawl news sources like financial filings, news website, and public pages on social media networks, to search for buying signals like rounds of funding, new offices, product launches, and executive hires.
The companies that could be good targets will be flagged automatically, and their relevant updates will be shown in a feed.
It helps sales representatives surface accounts that may be receptive to their outreach and offer them reasons to reach out. And some of these solutions can also find new contacts within each account that fit the seller’s buyer personas.
Other data providers can simply deliver a list of accounts that are showing a surging interest in a sales representative’s product category. Meanwhile, these data providers use tags on devices or cookie data on websites to find which devices or IP addresses are hitting specific web pages. They scan the content of the web pages to identify the core topic of each piece of content and use the reverse-IP lookup to identify the organization a given IP address belongs to.
On the other hand, these data providers have developed algorithms to determine when an organization is showing a greater than normal interest in a specific product category or topic.
However, while the account level insights can smoothen the wheels of the sales process, the sales representatives still need to engage with contacts within these accounts. This is where contact-level intent data comes into play.
Contact-level intent data can come from three main sources:
- A website that requires visitors to register to view in-depth content on a certain technology or business topics. TechTarget and BrightTalk are websites that fit this category. These places can offer very strong buying signals, the volume tends to be low as visitors must come to these websites and register.
- The prospects that engage with your company directly by visiting your website, opening your emails, or downloading your content. Although, most of the buyers are not finding themselves or submitting their contact information during the early stages of a buying cycle.
- The social networking websites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Quora, where the buyers engage with brands, share content from industry influencers and talk about professional events and conferences.
The benefit of getting intent data from social networking websites is twofold; This data is public and you can collect buying signals on a much broader set of people. There are about 2.1 billion search queries daily just on twitter.
The technologies available today can easily analyze activities on social media in real-time, offer real-time insights, and connect people’s social profiles to their professional identities, and connect people’s social profiles to their professional identities.
The actions are taken on social media that shine a light on a prospect’s pain points and interests include:
- Hashtags for upcoming conferences in your industry
- Mentions of specific topics or pain points
- Follow, mentions, and replies to your competition
- Engagement or mentions of influencers or complementary companies
- Follows, mentions and replies to the Twitter handles of your company, executives, or salespeople
2) Organized for context and accessibility
And at this point, just 34% of the sales leader can seamlessly prioritize the seller’s engagement activities in a more data-driven way.
In order to drive meaningful actions, sales intelligence should be integrated into the sales engagement platform. While just 25% of sales leaders use a sales engagement platform now, 77% see significant value in having a single platform for prioritizing activities, surfacing insights, automating communication, and capturing data.
One of the other critical aspects of making sales intelligence highly useful for sales representatives is to provide its context. Intent data should be categorized by the stage of the buyer’s journey it maps to. And the sales representative should also be provided with the resources or script to engage with prospects irrespective of what actions they take.
3) Available in real-time
In many scenarios, the first sales representative that contacts a lead is the one that actually wins the deal. Most of the sales representatives also know that the company needs can change in a moment, a lead can go for several months without needing anything then suddenly begin to shop for a solution to solve an immediate problem.
This means that the data needs to be in real-time in order for sales intelligence to be useful.
The buying signals received from social networking websites tend to be extremely timely. And by integrating the intent based insights from social networks into a CRM solution or sales engagement platform, your sales representatives can take actions right away and also reach their leads much sooner.
Sales take time. And while your sales representative will be working with different leads daily, following up with them over multiple weeks or months, your sales intelligence tool should never stop collecting insights and surfacing relevant signals that can help your sales representatives find new opportunities and drive sales forward.
So, by gathering data from the broader social networks and web and surfacing insights to your sales representatives at the correct time, you will significantly improve their productivity and help them to engage with the right people and close more deals.
When teamed with technology
Combining sales intelligence with advanced technologies provides companies with more in-depth visibility into their sales cycle and helps in refining the entire sales process. It aids in gathering and organizing the prospects data as well as ameliorates the quantity and quality of the data for better sales opportunities. The core goal of such tools is to rapidly move leads from all the stages of the sales pipeline to turn them into paying customers.
The sales intelligence software familiarizes the sales representative with the prospects’ interest and helps in prioritizing the follow-up activities. It offers valuable analytics and revenue centric view of sales opportunities for increasing conversions and streamlining the sales process.
According to a study, users of the sales intelligence solution have experienced 56% better conversion rates compared to the non-users and the same study also found that 46% of the sales representative that used the solution completed their sales quota versus 26% who did not use the solution.
How is Sales Intelligence helpful for your small business?
The revenue of your company is based on the sales generated by the sales teams and to improve their performance and sales process, a sales intelligence solution is required in the competitive sales landscape.
Let’s see how sales intelligence can be helpful;
The sales representatives spend their time in swapping between disparate data sources and administrative tasks. And with sales intelligence, your sales team can easily organize and pull-in data, segment deals into a qualification or value-based groups and effortlessly prioritize follow-ups. It improves their productivity and at the same saves time that was getting wasted on following low-interest deals.
Enhances communication with prospects
The prospects find it exasperating when the sales representatives don’t really understand their need and keep on circling around their product and business goals. The sales representatives are expected to have significant knowledge about the prospects for offering them a solution. Although most of the sales representatives are not even prepared, as a result, they are not able to personalize the conversation. Sales intelligence enables sales representatives to identify the areas where the prospects will be most responsive. It helps a sales representative in finding the correct talking points for having a valuable conversation with the potential prospect.
Reduces deal to close time
The total length of a sales cycle is based on the sales representatives, when they follow the wrong leads they will obviously have to face a long sales cycle. And with sales intelligence data, the sales representatives can find which leads are more likely to make a purchase and are truly interested in your offering. It offers a better understanding of the lead so that the sales representatives can identify the deals having high possibilities of closing in much less time.
Better sales decisions
Sales intelligence helps you to drill into details to take smarter sales decisions more quickly. And with the necessary data at your reach, you can strategize your sales and take the correct action that will improve your conversion ratio.
These things get much better when sales technology like CRM has an in-built sales intelligence feature.
Sales Intelligence- an in-built feature of your CRM
A sales intelligence solution doesn’t necessarily have to be an individual tool; it can also be an in-built feature of a CRM. A CRM that has sales intelligence feature can be an additional benefit for your sales team.
And by using the sales intelligence feature, you can get a 360-degree view of each sales deal and focus more on high-profit leads.
Let’s explore how a CRM with in-built sales intelligence feature can power your sales;
The sales intelligence feature of a CRM enables you to develop insightful reports for viewing the status of the sales cycle and scrutinizing data. A sales pipeline report helps in tracking the movement of the deals in the sales process. It offers clear visibility of the sales pipeline showing how many deals are in movement, which ones are stalled and how long will a sales deal take to close. Leveraging the reports, you can easily predict the business revenue and understand the strength and weakness of the sales pipeline.
It helps informed sales forecasting to anticipate future business opportunities. And depending on the past interaction with the prospects, it offers you a tentative idea about the closing possibilities of
a certain sales deal. It also enables you to identify the weak areas along with the areas of growth opportunities in the sales pipeline. So, with accurate data, it is quite simple to be prepared and plan the activities for getting positive results.
Practical steps to increase your sales intelligence
Use a tool to curate and filter the latest relevant articles for your sales teams to give the maximum opportunity for them to build sales intelligence.
You can use several tools for this purpose and you can filter the entire web to pull out the articles that are relevant. Example;
- Set a keyword filter to see all the latest articles on certain clients or topics, show only those from certain trusted industry websites you want. Example; latest articles on startups from the top 40 sites.
- Set a domain filter for your competitors to see all the new content they publish. Example; recent articles on Marketo.
- Enter the Twitter handles of clients and industry experts to see the articles they are sharing daily. Example; recent content on SEO from top Twitter experts.
Share your insight depending on what you have learned so far. Anyone can share an article or just click on a link. Take sufficient time to personalize it with your questions, comments, and reflections.
Developing sales intelligence needs time to learn, understand, and reason. But, you can be even more productive using filters and tools to bring the latest relevant content to your sales team’s attention, and working as a team to make more sense of sharing and latest trends to add more value for your customers.
Sales Intelligence is the smart way to sell; it shortens the sales cycle and gives the sales rep access to insightful data for rapidly driving the deal to the closing stage. Things get even easier for the sales representatives when their sales CRM have an in-built sales intelligence feature that helps them to focus on more selling. It cuts down their additional tasks and provides them with a better understanding of the leads for creating a better relationship and increasing their sales. There are some other similar excellent sales software solutions in the market.