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Sales Intelligence: An In-Depth Look for Faster Prospecting and a Fatter Pipeline

Thanks to AI, selling has become more efficient and less pushy, generating higher revenues than ever before.

Sales intelligence enabled businesses to gain insights into their market’s buying behaviors — a deeper understanding that was previously impossible to obtain.

Look at this:

According to research, the global sales intelligence market reached USD 5.60 Billion. And its growth is largely influenced by the rise of Al-based solutions such as chatbots, tools for customer targeting, and data enrichment solutions.

Marketing automation platforms like Encharge let marketers automate their lead scoring and nurturing. Sellers should leverage sales information to bring their closing game up a notch.

Interested in the how?

Let’s take a closer look at what sales intelligence is. 

And, while we’re at it, we’ll help you dig into the best sales intelligence tools available today. They’re great to use even when you’re just getting started.

First things first, though. A little clarification: 

Sales intelligence ≠ business intelligence

So before we go on talking, let’s clarify one thing —  sales intelligence may sound similar to business intelligence, but the two terms are different. 

Here’s how.

Sales intelligence is all about gathering and using B2B customer data to identify your best prospects, drive the sales conversation in the right direction and improve your sales cycles. It’s used by sales development reps, lead generation specialists, and revenue ops teams.

Meanwhile, business intelligence is more general in nature. They’re big data the CEO and the executive team use to make high-level business decisions  —  from improving operational efficiency to making strategic decisions about new markets to expand to. 

It also covers:

  • data about a company’s internal processes
  • financials
  • inventory
  • market trends
  • employee performance

In simple terms, while sales intelligence can be a valuable sales tool, it’s only one piece of the puzzle with regards to business intelligence. 

And in this post, we’ll talk about the data specific to the sales pipeline.

What is sales intelligence?

Sales intelligence is a term used to describe gathering and analyzing data to improve sales performance. It includes technologies that enable sales teams to deeply understand their customers, the market, and the competition.

The data used can come from a variety of sources like:

  • customer profiles
  • buying patterns
  • customer surveys
  • financial reports
  • intent data
  • competitive analysis
  • social media monitoring

Its ultimate goal is to provide salespeople insights like buying signals so they can prospect better, close more deals and boost their pipeline value.

5 benefits of sales intelligence

The competition in every market grows fiercer by the day, so it’s more important than ever to have a strong sales team. Sales intelligence gives your team the edge they need to succeed. 

Here are its five benefits to your sales team: 

  1. Improved access to customer insights: Analyzing sales data helps the team understand their customers’ needs and pain points better. Toward the end of the funnel, they can use the insights to adapt their sales pitch and hit their quota.
  2. Better customer prospecting: Do your salespeople focus too much on the wrong people? Sales intelligence lets your team prospect better by recommending new prospects who fit your ideal customer criteria. 
  3. Increased close rates: Having access to accurate and up-to-date information about your customers helps your sales reps snag more opportunities. 
  4. Boosted team efficiency: Sales intelligence streamlines your sales process by collating all the relevant data in your accounts for all SDRs to access.
  5. Saved time: Insights to sales free up your team’s time by automating repetitive sales tasks such as data entry and lead tracking. Doing so lets them focus on more important things, like building customer relationships and following hot leads closely.

Overall, sales intelligence helps you achieve every business goal — understanding your customer base better, so you build more targeted campaigns, leading to more sales.

Sales intelligence software tools: How do they work?

Sales data is a huge help to salespeople versus them relying on their own judgment (that someone will buy). 

And the tool that gives the insights is called sales intelligence software. 

Here’s how they work…

The AI-powered software gathers data from different public sources. They are websites, social media, business directories, and market research reports. These data are then organized and analyzed in a repository that salespeople can access and get a better overview of. 

They include:

  • who their target customers are (like B2B stakeholders/decision makers)
  • what they need
  • how best to reach them
  • what their buying signals are

To put it simply, sales intelligence software enables salespeople to research their potential customers and better understand their needs before actual engagement. This will help them personalize their sales approaches and allow them to forecast the number of possible opportunities. 

Here are a few sales tools in the market today:

Bombora

According to their website, Bombora is the only intent data co-op in the digital marketing sector. They use intent data to determine hot leads so you’ll know who to give utmost priority to.

ZoomInfo [SalesOS]

ZoomInfo is a comprehensive sales software for finding quality prospects. You can expect a reduction in the sales cycle given how it gives in-depth information about your prospect’s profile.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

If you need a solution for lead searching, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a good platform. It also gives detailed insights into your prospect’s company data like their decision makers. 

Outreach

Outreach is the tool that promises to close the sales execution gap  —  a company’s potential revenue versus its actual revenue. Effective lead and deal management results in more sales for their users. 

It’s important to note this: Startups with limited resources don’t have to feel bad if this tool isn’t your priority. You can go for a marketing automation platform that doubles as a sales accelerator.

Take Encharge, for instance, it’s not only useful for marketers but for any digital business revenue team that intends to automate some critical marketing and sales tasks. The ending is predictable — lower acquisition costs and better conversion rates.

Sales intelligence software and your CRM

You probably often heard Sales intelligence and CRM mentioned in the same discussion. These tools are both used to monitor customer data and improve sales performance but aren’t interchangeable.

While CRM software is mainly used to manage customer relationships, sales intelligence software takes things a step further by giving insights into buying patterns, trends, sales triggers, and buying intent data. 

Let me explain these two highlighted words.

What is a Sales Trigger?

A sales trigger is an event or action that leads to a sale. This can be internal (like a change in the budget), or external (like a competitive threat). Proactive sales reps use them to identify opportunities and prioritize their prospects. 

The image below shows some sales triggers:

What is buying intent?

When a customer considers making a purchase, they go through a process of evaluating their options and making a decision — that’s the customer journey. And it consists of three steps: awareness, consideration, and decision.

The buying intent is what helps to drive sales. It’s what motivates a buyer to keep moving through the journey until they’re ready to make a purchase. 

Most often than not, sales intelligence software can be integrated with CRM systems giving sales teams even greater visibility into their pipeline.

So, what’s an ideal sales intelligence solution?

There’s no doubt that the more you know about your potential customers, the better equipped you’ll be to make a sale — something that sales intelligence tools can do.

So here are things an ideal solution can do for you:

  1. Segment target customers – An ideal sales intelligence solution will help you group prospects so you can tailor your sales pitches accordingly and improve your chances of closing a deal. 
  2. Provide real-time insight – Another important thing sales intelligence should do is provide real-time insights into what’s happening with your target (and even existing) customers. It’ll help you adjust your sales strategy on the fly and optimize your chances of success. Timely insights also allow you to connect to ideal accounts fast.
  3. Give visibility into the sales pipeline – A good sales intelligence tool will provide visibility into the sales pipeline so that sales managers can see where deals are at in the process and make necessary adjustments. With a clear view of the pipeline, salespeople can give forecasts based on effective approaches used and buying signals collected. 

How is sales intelligence used in the B2B sales operation?

If you’re in the B2B sales world, sales intelligence is so important. The following actions show you how you can use it in your sales operations. 

Foundation of an ideal customer profile (ICP)

Data points like demographic and firmographic information, purchase habits/history, and intent data are only a few that sales intelligence software can capture. Use these data to further figure out what your super users, a.k.a big spenders of your product, look like.

This information can be used to create an improved version of your ICP — one that is more accurate (better than your imaginary buyer?) and grounded in data. Now that lets your salespeople do better prospecting. The matches of this ICP are a greater part of your total addressable market.

Total addressable market (TAM) is a measure of the potential revenue that a company can generate from its current customer base.

Determine sales triggers

A good thing to remember is that sales intelligence includes intent data —  insights into when customers are likely to be in the market for a particular product or service. In sales, this data can be extremely useful for figuring out sales triggers or when customers are more likely to buy.

By keeping tabs on company websites, media outlets, social networks, and other online channels, sales intelligence tools can spot signs that prospects are interested. For example, if a prospect’s company website undergoes a major redesign, it could signal that the company is preparing for growth and may be open to new products or services.

Score leads 

Sales intelligence gives you data that can be used to rank leads and prioritize sales efforts. By tracking the behavior of potential customers, such as the pages they visit and the keywords they search for, businesses can identify when someone is showing interest in their products or services. 

This data can then be used to score leads, with higher scores indicating a greater likelihood of conversion. This helps sales teams to focus their efforts on the most promising prospects and identify cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

But SI tools aren’t the only platform that supports lead scoring. Take Encharge, for instance. The marketing automation platform is built primarily for startups. You can delegate sales tasks to your sales reps as quickly as possible based on your lead’s product fit.

Sales outreach

SI helps understand the interests and needs of prospects. This information can be used to create targeted sales outreach that is more likely to result in a sale. 

Sales tools can provide information on a company’s size and industry, and even identify key decision makers within a company with their contact information — helpful in crafting customized pitch letters and emails that are more likely to be read.

If you like a more targeted approach, try sending them behavior-based emails. Our example, Encharge can do this. Behavior-based email campaigns increase sales because they appear more personalized and relevant.

Moreover, Encharge lets you send automated email follow-ups that keep the prospect engaged with the salesperson and the product or service that is being offered. They can also provide a way to remind customers about products they have shown interest in and persuade them to make a purchase.

Identifying opportunities for improvement

Identify areas that are for improvement using sales intelligence. The insights you get from this sales tool give you a peek into how well your marketing and sales strategies are working. This means you can quickly see what works and then experiment with ways to improve future performance. 

For example, if sales intelligence shows that a certain campaign is not producing results, leaders can adjust it or try a new approach. Likewise, if sales are lower than expected, leaders can investigate the reasons why and make changes to increase sales. 

Will AI replace salespeople?

We’ll start by looking at the 2017 survey results about how artificial intelligence is expected to impact software sales jobs over the next decade:

In the survey, most people thought that AI would make work easier, but let’s also consider the 6% that think AI will leave them jobless.

So what can we take from it?

That sales is a complex process, yet AI-powered tools like chatbots and software for automated lead generation can lessen the burden of manually doing the task. So yeah, some sales tasks can be handled by machines. But in the end, sales requires both human skills and knowledge. 

So here’s our take on this — while AI can provide some assistance with sales tasks, it’s unlikely to replace salespeople entirely. Instead, salespeople will need to learn to work with AI to be more productive and efficient.

Before heading to our conclusion, let us share some noteworthy trends in the sales intelligence market.

The sales practice point to more personalized and targeted sales strategies versus traditional sales approaches based on broad assumptions about customers. Here are other big observations:

Increased focus on account-based selling: 

It’s far from impossible for sales teams to target entire accounts rather than individual contacts. This shift will require sales intelligence tools that will provide information on entire account landscapes, including key decision-makers, budget restrictions, and company trends.

Better integration with artificial intelligence and machine learning: 

Sales intelligence tools will need to become more connected with AI to keep up with the competition. This integration will allow sales teams to automate repetitive tasks, such as lead generation and market research so that they can focus on more important aspects of the sale.

Extensive use of data visualization: 

Data visualization is an essential tool for sales success. It allows sales teams to quickly comprehend large amounts of data and identify patterns and trends. In the future, sales intelligence tools will need to be even better at data visualization to help sales teams make sense of the ever-increasing amount of data available.

Making sales intelligence work for you

Regardless of the industry, businesses today face greater pressure to close deals and drive revenue. And sales team empowered by sales intelligence almost always leads to success. It’s  all about turning sales data into insights that can help you close more deals. 

The best SI tools will help your sales professionals organize the information, track customer behavior, and find new opportunities. 

But if you’re a startup and you just can’t invest with them yet — no need to feel bad. There’s a marketing automation tool that can also help you accelerate the sales process. Encharge can do it for you — lead scoring, lead nurturing, sending behavior based-email — all at a minimal cost.

Give our tool a try, and use Encharge for free.

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Camille Richon
Founder Payfacile
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