For a long time, sales was driven by intuition. Salespeople went with their gut—their first impression of what the customer needed. This is how they determined how they were going to close the sale. But that was at a time when customers were also more likely to try a product or service simply because they liked the salesperson.
Today, though, customers are more informed and cautious. They need to see a return on investment. They need proof that they’re making the right decision. What’s more, there are often multiple decision makers involved, and the buying process has become longer and more complex. Intuition isn’t enough anymore.
The customer is now in the driver’s seat, and, as a result, data needs to be at the heart of sales. The right data will give salespeople the edge they need to not only get the prospect’s attention but also give them the proof of performance they need to close. This is exactly what sales intelligence is all about.
What is sales intelligence?
It’s not hard to find information on your prospects these days. A quick Google or LinkedIn search can give you their name, title, and email address, as well as their company address and phone number, among other things.
Is that really enough information to allow you to determine whether someone is a best-fit customer? Is it enough to impress leads and get them to take notice of you? Probably not.
Sales intelligence, on the other hand, gives salespeople a wealth of valuable and actionable data about their prospects they can actually use to close deals. It’s the process of using sales intelligence tools and software to gather in-depth customer data in near real time—information like organizational reporting structure, financials, yearly growth, and tech stacks. It can even go so far as to provide insights on personnel moves, company initiatives, and the brand’s online presence.
What comprises sales intelligence?
Sales intelligence tools and software gather data using a variety of online sources. They scour the web to find the valuable information salespeople need to qualify their leads, understand intent, and close more deals.
These tools look at website data, browser cookies, and social media sites, among other channels. During the data-gathering process, they uncover a wealth of information, such as:
- Contact information
- Company size
- Funding, valuation, and investors
- Recent IPO
- Tech stack
- Hiring and layoff activity
- Online presence
Why gather sales intelligence data?
With more information about leads and prospects, salespeople can improve the sales process for all involved. Here’s how:
Generate qualified leads
There’s no sense spending time with prospects who are never going to buy. That’s why generating qualified leads is so important. Sales intelligence software can provide the company data salespeople need to qualify leads, such as industry, company size, territory, financial profile, and more. This allows them to spend more time with the right type of prospects who match your ideal customer profile (ICP) and are more likely to buy.
Buyers may complete up to 90 percent of the buying process before they engage a salesperson (Forrester). They do their research, consume content, and compare products or services. Intent data provides information on customer buying signals. Software scans a target buyer’s marketing activity, social media activity, and news reports to determine whether they might be interested in what you’re selling.
Armed with this information, they can get ahead of the process and make their case earlier in the buying journey. They can better determine who is nearly ready to buy and be the first to make their pitch.
Identify the right time to pitch
A company might be the right fit for your product, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right time to pitch to them. However, opportunity signals, like leadership changes, acquisitions, or new funding, can give you the sign you need to know it’s the right time to pursue the lead.
Meet the prospect’s needs
Customers today expect more from the sales process. They expect a seamless experience where their needs are anticipated and their pains are acknowledged and solved.
Automated sales intelligence gives sales reps a truly in-depth understanding of their prospects and their needs. It allows them to understand the context, pain points, preferences, and needs of prospective buyers. This, in turn, can help them become more valuable consultants who are focused on helping buyers achieve their goals.
Enhance the sales conversation
When a salesperson understands a prospect’s pain points, preferences, and goals, this naturally enhances the sales conversation. The right data can get prospects interested in what the salesperson has to say and it can also help move negotiations forward, as the sales rep has the information they need to anticipate objections and solve problems every step of the way.
Close more deals
What happens when sales reps can generate more qualified leads and determine intent and opportunity? What happens when they can better meet the prospect’s needs and have more meaningful conversations? They can close more deals, of course.
How to gather sales intelligence
Sales intelligence can be gathered manually or automatically:
Salespeople can find a lot of the information they need by researching their leads and prospects online.
- They can monitor their social media accounts for signs of new hires, layoffs, leadership changes, funding, acquisitions, etc.
- They can monitor competitors and their key accounts for signs of dissatisfied customers or gaps in service.
- They can create news alerts on certain target accounts and read news articles identifying key events that might result in increased interest in your product.
However, salespeople don’t necessarily have to spend endless hours researching leads to determine whether they’re a fit and willing to purchase.
Sales intelligence software and tools have automated the data-gathering process. These tools provide up-to-date results in near real time. With the research completed for them, salespeople can spend more time meeting prospects’ needs and closing more deals.
Sales intelligence tools save time and effort. They gather data from multiple sources by analyzing online information for sellers. They crawl social media sites and websites, use cookie data, and use proprietary algorithms to determine when a prospect may be showing intent to buy.
How to leverage sales intelligence to help close more deals
Companies that implement a sales intelligence platform report having 35 percent more leads and 45 percent high-quality leads (Forrester). Consider the revenue potential of these statistics. With more leads (and better quality leads), you are ultimately more likely to close more deals and make more revenue.
That said, simply having this data isn’t enough. Salespeople must leverage it. Here are some tips to leverage this data throughout the sales process:
Find and prioritize qualified leads
Leverage sales intelligence at the beginning of the sales process by finding and prioritizing the right prospects—the ones who meet your ideal customer profile and are willing and able to buy soon.
Your ideal customers likely fit into certain industries and have a specific company size or annual revenue range. More than that though, they have a reason to buy what your reps are selling and have the means to purchase it.
Personalize the outreach
During the initial stages of outreach, sales reps can then leverage sales intelligence to personalize their conversations.
Take Vendasta’s Snapshot Report, for instance. This sales intelligence tool quickly and easily gathers data on a prospect’s online presence. All you have to do is type in the business you want to learn more about in Vendasta’s agency management software platform and create an account for them. The insight machine will automatically start auto-populating data from varied online sources and provide insights that the customers may not even have themselves.
The machine looks at a company’s online presence and provides an overall score or grade for several categories:
- Listings grade: is a reflection of the business’s online listings
- Reviews grade: is a reflection of the business’s online review performance
- Social grade: is a reflection of the business’s social media presence
- Website grade: scores a website’s user experience and speed
- Ecommerce grade: provides details on whether their business is optimized to sell online
- Advertising grade: is a reflection of the business’s online campaign performance
- SEO grade: details a company’s SEO visibility
During the initial outreach, this curated content can be used to show a lead where the gaps are in their online marketing strategy. The seller can then recommend products or services to fill in those gaps. This is personalized, curated content that will be sure to make their pitch stand out.
Sellers may even want to create sales email templates for common gaps seen in sales intelligence reports, so they can save time on writing emails and initiate conversations with more leads.
Reach out earlier
Sales intelligence tools are especially valuable because they gather data in near real time. To truly leverage this data, sales reps must engage quickly and reach out before the competition does.
Even once a sale has closed, sales intelligence has a place in the sales process. If your company sells a wide variety of products and services, gathering sales intelligence on your existing clients can help you identify opportunities for cross-selling. Sales intelligence may indicate that these clients are researching other types of products or services that you also offer.
Sales data can help identify existing clients who are researching competitors and may be at risk of churning. Your company can continue to monitor your clients’ online activity and behaviors for signs of dissatisfaction, so you can act quickly to improve customer satisfaction.
Sales intelligence can be gathered using a variety of tools and software programs. It can come from a variety of sources and be used during each stage of the sales process. At the end of the day, however, it has one goal: to help salespeople close more deals.