Do You Really Understand Sales Intelligence?

Your sales team needs to be smart to identify prospects, pursue leads and close deals – but that’s not what sales intelligence is. Even if you think you understand the sales process well, you might not have a complete grasp of sales intelligence tactics and tools. Sales intelligence can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your sales team, so if you can admit you don’t know everything about sales intelligence, you need to read this post.

Sales Intelligence 101

You (hopefully) already know that intelligence is the accumulation and application of knowledge and skill. Sales intelligence, therefore, is the use of sales-specific knowledge and skill. More accurately, sales intelligence is applying the right data to the right sales techniques to drive more and better-quality conversions.

What is the right data? This should be your first question – and it is a good one. In the era of Big Data, most businesses are desperate to capture any and every kind of data they can. However, doing this will only drown your sales team in useless numbers and facts. The right data (and the only data important to sales) includes:

  • Basic identification information. Company names, contact names and contact information, like email addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses.
  • Current position and challenges. What problems customers need addressed and where customers are in their buying cycle and journey.
  • Buying characteristics. What triggers a purchase, how customers make buying decisions and what influences purchases.
  • Market characteristics. Competitors’ names, product information, price points, unique selling propositions, etc.

Once you have captured this data – through client surveys, interactions and other methods – you need to transform it into usable information. The best way to do this is through sales intelligence software. Tools like this help with the development of sales opportunities as well as marketing strategies, to improve prospecting, lead generation, customer management and more.

Using Sales Intelligence Effectively

Is this your sales team’s responsibility? This is another good question, and one that concerns many sales managers and associates. Your sales team is likely already working hard communicating with potential and established clients, and they might not have the training to collect and analyze data. Sales intelligence truly sits under the umbrella of computer market research, which is a task reserved for business leaders – i.e. you. Though your sales team can contribute some useful information, like client identification data and communications, you should be crunching the numbers, comprehending the conclusions and mandating changes that will facilitate bigger and better sales.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should be doing it alone. If you are intimidated by this task – if you lack sufficient experience in business analytics – you can always hire data professionals to work alongside you in this endeavor. Whether you do or don’t add to your team in this way, there are a few ways to make sales intelligence efforts more effective, such as:

Acquire data through a variety of intelligence sources. You can’t ask your customers for all the information you need for proper sales intelligence. For instance, a client won’t be able to accurately identify what triggered their most recent related purchase. They won’t be able to catalogue your competitors. You should be gathering data from clients, but you should also look to visitor data. Your business website can offer follower data from social media and sales data from your own records. This will give you a bigger, fuller picture of how your prospects, leads and clients behave, so your sales teams can act with more precision.

Organize data so you and your sales team can use it. Sales associates can do little with a list of client names and some scattered facts about buying behavior. You need to aggregate your findings in a known and helpful place, so your sales team can make use of it when they need to. Sales intelligence software should be able to help significantly with this.

Make data available as quickly as possible. Sales intelligence is only useful when it is in combination with real-time marketing. Because sales happen slow and then fast, with the first rep to contact a prospect most often winning the deal, it is imperative that your sales team has data-driven insights to make the right decisions at the right times.

If there is one lesson you learn about sales intelligence from this post, it should be this: You need it. If you aren’t using data to drive your sales, you will be left behind, so the sooner you get smart with sales intelligence, the better.

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