How to Sell Smarter: Sales Intelligence Benefits, Use Cases, and Recommended Tools

How to Sell Smarter: Sales Intelligence Benefits, Use Cases, and Recommended Tools

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With plenty of headlines about economic slowdowns and recessions doing the rounds, more than a few businesses are rethinking the way they make sales. To stay ahead of the competition and maintain a consistent pipeline, sales teams need every advantage they can get. It’s no longer enough to work harder, treating sales purely as a numbers game. 

You have to work smarter. 

That’s where sales intelligence comes in. In this article, we’ll take a look at exactly what sales intelligence is, why it’s so important and how you can start using sales intelligence software to boost your sales performance.

What is sales intelligence?

Sales intelligence is the process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data to help salespeople make better decisions. 

This encompasses different categories of data, including lead and customer information, competitor details, and sales team performance. Sales intelligence also covers the specific tools and techniques used to uncover and evaluate that data. 

All of this information can be used to get insights that are valuable throughout the sales process. For example, sales intelligence can help you understand what your customers want or need, predict market trends and improve customer service.

Sales intelligence is closely linked with buyer intent, where behavioral signals can be used to spot signs that a potential customer is ready to buy.

The benefits of sales intelligence

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the better informed your sales team is, the better they’ll be able to do their job. Companies are more focused on data-driven decisions and so they need to have an effective way of gathering accurate data. Sales intelligence solves that challenge, making it a valuable resource for any sales organization. Some of the main benefits include: 

1. Reach out to the right customers

Experienced salespeople know that not everyone is going to become a customer. You need to find the prospects who will benefit the most from your product or service and are willing to pay for it. As a result, sales teams will spend considerable time working on ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and buyer personas

Ideal Customer Profile and Buyer Personas Workbook (+ Templates)

 

If you’re looking to build or update your ICP and create spot-on buyer personas, grab a copy of this workbook packed with handy tips and ready-to-use templates.

Sales intelligence can quickly reveal a potential client’s key criteria, whether that’s demographic, firmographic, technographic, or any other type of information used to identify your potential customers. As a result, you can spend less time talking to people who were never going to buy and more time with high-value prospects.

You can also use sales intelligence to ensure that you’re talking to the actual decision-makers within your target company, reaching out to them using their direct contact details. 

2. Connect at the perfect time

Timing is key to a successful sale — even a dream customer who loves you and your product isn’t going to buy if the time isn’t right. This could be because they’ve already used up all of their allocated budget for the year, or they simply might not see any urgency in making a purchase. 

Instead of trying to convince a prospective customer that now is the right time to buy, it’s far more efficient to look for people who are already actively looking for a solution like yours. When you use sales intelligence to see who’s showing buyer intent, your sales pitch will be welcomed rather than ignored. 

This could be as simple as tracking company changes, such as keeping an eye on their social media profiles, setting up a Google alert for news items that mention your prospect’s company, or using a company database to monitor important details. Then, when there’s a change relevant to your solution, you can reach out and introduce your services. 

Similarly, you can use behavioral analytics to identify website visitors and their activity. For example, someone who spends a lot of time on your product pages, reading case studies, and checking out reviews may be comparing potential solutions. By taking the initiative to contact them, you could get an edge over your competitors.

3. More personalized messaging

The more you know about your prospects, the better you can tailor your outreach. This means more than just using their first name and mentioning their company name. Rather than sending out generic and vague messages, you can use the insights from your sales intelligence to address their biggest concerns and add genuine value. 

For example, if you know that a prospective customer is opening a new location, you can reference this in your email and highlight how your solution could aid the process. If a lead arrives on your site after searching for information on how to solve a particular problem, you can share some relevant resources to help them achieve their goal. 

When combined with a targeted outreach campaign delivered at the right time, the effect of a personalized message can be extremely powerful. This isn’t just limited to sales though; from marketing to customer success, different teams can use these insights to add a personal touch that will stand out from the competition. 

4. Shorter sales cycles

Having the right information on hand can speed up virtually every aspect of the sales process. For example, rather than spending hours researching every potential lead and their business, sales intelligence platforms do all that work for you. Not only can you focus more on creating compelling and relevant messaging, but you can also do it far quicker. 

Rather than reaching out to potential customers and then going into a long nurture sequence while you wait for everything to align, you can save time by talking to prospects who are ready to buy right now. 

This can also help with inbound leads. While inquiry emails or forms may provide you with little more than a name and an email address, sales intelligence tools can enrich that information with additional insights that you can use to qualify inbound leads and respond effectively. The result is more productive reps making more sales in less time. 

5. Accurate data

Sales intelligence isn’t just about hoarding as much data as possible. Instead, you need to collect relevant and actionable information. To be useful, the information must be accurate and up to date. After all, even the best sales pitch will fail if you’re using the wrong name. 

This can be a real challenge; contacts may get promoted and move to a different department or a different company altogether. A company’s internal (and often invisible) decisions might end up dramatically changing its priorities overnight, making all the data and “insights” you previously uncovered practically useless. 

The best sales intelligence software solves this by providing real-time updates to your data, aggregating information from multiple sources into one central location, so you can be confident you’re always talking to the right person with relevant information. 

All of this contributes to an improved customer experience, higher-performing sales teams, and better close rates. In short, sales intelligence is a key part of sales enablement and ensuring your sales team can perform at their very best. 

Getting started with sales intelligence

While it’s clear that sales intelligence is a strong asset for sales teams and their organizations, it can also be confusing. With such a wide range of processes, techniques, and types of data involved, many find it difficult to know where to begin. 

However, by keeping it simple and following these steps, you can start using sales intelligence to optimize your process.

1. Decide on your key objectives

With so much data out there, it’s easy to get carried away and try to capture as much information as you can, without any thought to how it will be actually used. To avoid this, the first step is to pick the right objectives. 

Sales intelligence objectives are specific goals that an organization would like to achieve as a result of implementing sales intelligence. For example, some objectives may be:

  • Increase the number of qualified leads by 20%
  • Increase pipeline by 10%
  • Increase conversion rates by 15%

Once you have clear objectives you’ll be able to prioritize the data you collect, saving time and resources. While you may choose more than one objective and expand your sales intelligence program over time, starting with specific goals in mind will make it easier to get up and running. 

2. Pick the right data sources

“Garbage in, garbage out” is a principle commonly used in computing. Basically, if you have rubbish input, you’re going to have rubbish output. It’s the same with sales intelligence; your results are only going to be as good as the data you collect. 

There are many different types of data sources that can be used for sales intelligence. These can broadly be divided into: 

  • First-party data collected directly from your customers
  • Second-party data collected by other companies from a single source
  • Third-party data aggregated by another company from multiple sources

For example, first-party data could include your website analytics, purchase history, and customer surveys. Second-party data could include similar data collected by a company with a complementary service. Companies like Crunchbase act as third-party providers, collecting data from their community, publicly available sources, and other data sources. 

The data sources can vary in terms of their level of accuracy, the time it takes to process them, and the cost. Consider using a mix of different data sources for your sales intelligence strategy while focusing on the data that will move you closer to your objectives. 

3.  Choose the right sales intelligence software

While multiple data sources are needed to get a complete picture of your leads and customers, dealing with them can get complicated. It often requires a lot of time and resources to collect all the data from different sources. 

That’s where picking the right tools becomes essential. The best sales intelligence software is designed to help companies manage their information in one place, with a central dashboard to track your leads, manage your contacts, perform lead scoring, generate reports, and more.

Sales intelligence platforms are made up of three main components: data, analytics, and visualizations. Data is the backbone of any good sales intelligence platform. It helps you understand your customers and prospects better by showing you who they are and what they need. Analytics helps you make sense of all this data by providing insights into your customers’ behavior, while visualizations help you present this information in a way that is easy to digest and understand for everyone in your company.

Recommended sales intelligence tools include:

  • ZoomInfo - B2B database for companies and business individuals
  • Crunchbase - Business information for private and public companies
  • Ladfeeder - Website visitor identification software
  • Mention - Social media monitoring and management
  • Cognism - International sales intelligence data provider
  • People.ai - AI-powered sales insights and revenue intelligence

When picking a solution, it’s important to check that it will integrate with all your data sources and sales tools. Many choose to use their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software as their “single source of truth”. Even if different tools are used to collect the data, being able to sync up information saves time from switching between different applications. You can also use this platform to share the data with your team members so they can access it from any device.

4. Act on your sales intelligence 

Finally, you’ll only get the full benefits of your sales intelligence if you use it to make changes to your sales. Go back to your original objectives and see how the data you’ve collected can help you reach those goals. 

Maybe you’ve uncovered new leads that match your ICP or who are showing buyer intent. You might have found that your target market responds better to a particular type of message. That’s all useful information, but only if you act on it. Start reaching out to those new leads. Adjust your outreach campaign to include your new messaging. Then, use the results to further improve your sales intelligence. 

Final thoughts

For years, we’ve had access to more data than we know what to do with. However, it’s only recently that analytical tools have become sufficiently prevalent and easy to use. Today, the majority of companies can collect and analyze a wide variety of data and use it to get valuable sales intelligence.

Businesses and sales teams that invest in sales intelligence can reach more of their best-fit customers, provide them with a better experience and close more deals. By continuing to invest in sales intelligence, you can get a strong advantage over your competitors both now and in the future.

Want to use sales intelligence to optimize your sales process? Reply integrates with all of your favorite sales tools, including email finders, contact enrichment, and visitor tracking. You’ll always have access to the information you need with Reply. Try it out for free today.

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