Nov
22

sales intelligence

As you plan for fiscal 2017, I’d like to make the case for transforming your sales and marketing processes with sales intelligence tools. These products provide a strategic advantage to your sales and marketing teams which helps them outsell your competition at prospects and expand your footprint at current accounts. So, if you are looking for actionable account intelligence, more effective prospecting and targeting, and more accurate analytics, make sure that there is a sales intelligence line item in your 2017 budget.

Sales intelligence products help sales and marketing teams manage the sales funnel and provide actionable intelligence to sales reps which assists with qualifying and account planning. Sales intelligence services also make sales more efficient and effective at prospecting, messaging, and selling deeper into organizations. Furthermore, there are also significant benefits to marketing via enriching, segmenting, targeting, and analysing the effectiveness of various campaigns and marketing assets.

 

The challenge of Buyer 2.0

Over the past decade, the work of sales reps has become much more difficult due to informed buyers that quietly research :

  • Their business needs
  • Potential solutions
  • Your company, products, and services
  • Your competitors and their offerings
  • Solution benefits and drawbacks
  • Rough pricing and implementation costs

 

What’s more, most of this research is conducted before contacting your firm (assuming they even choose to reach out to you). Buyers leverage the open web, social media, online review sites, analyst blogs, and network referrals. For over a decade, Buyer 2.0 has had an information advantage which leaves sales reps in a reactive mode. They no longer can ask open-ended solution selling questions in search of prospect pain points. Instead, buyers have identified their pressing needs and potential solutions.

Buyer 2.0 comes to initial meetings well briefed and now has an information edge. Sales Intelligence solutions help balance the scales by providing firmographic and biographic information alongside a set of sales triggers, company news, corporate family trees, and social media links.

 

Sales Intelligence to generate revenue

Sales intelligence makes revenue generating departments more efficient and effective. This dual set of benefits directly impacts the bottom line by streamlining information gathering inefficiencies and improving your understanding of clients and prospects. Efficiency gains are tied to reducing the time spent on data gathering, information entry, and account planning tasks. While information management and planning are important, they represent time taken away from the most important (and enjoyable) task – sales rep interaction with customers and prospects. Reducing busywork allows sales reps to focus attention on their value add – building relationships with customers and explaining your value proposition to customers and prospects.

 

Sales Intelligence benefits for Marketing department

Efficiency gains begin in the marketing department when new leads are enriched by sales intelligence services. By matching leads against a reference database of standardized and verified information, sales and marketing are able to leverage a richer set of leads with higher accuracy, superior fill rates, and better timeliness. These tools remove duplicates, correct data errors, fill gaps, and flag companies and contacts as inactive. There is a significant dead weight loss incurred due to bad marketing data.

And that is just the start…

Marketing is better able to segment, score, and target their campaigns based upon accurate and complete datasets. After all, you can’t target the UNKNOWN wedge in your segmentation report.

Standardization is also critical as it ensures that segments aren’t broken up due to multiple tags for the same industry, geography, or other segmentation variables. Of course, these benefits are also enjoyed by sales operations in evaluating sales performance and ensuring leads are properly routed.

Sales and marketing also enjoy efficiency and efficacy gains from prospecting against a reference dataset. Lists can be put together using the attributes of your ideal customers or by cloning the attributes of a top client. Sales intelligence vendors then provide a list of companies or contacts that meet your criteria. These lists may be uploaded to your CRM or downloaded as CSV files.

 

Reducing data entry

There are also significant gains in reduced data entry. Sales intelligence services deliver detailed company and contact information during prospecting. They also reduce the time spent entering account, contact, and lead information in CRMs. Instead of tying up sales reps with data entry tasks, the rep need only enter a few fields and select the appropriate company or person. The rest of the record is automatically updated with reference file data and the CRM is queried to ensure that duplicate records are not being created. Later, when the sales rep revisits a record, she can choose to perform a “stare and compare” update. All of these processes are much more accurate and efficient than manual keying. Furthermore, by presenting account and contact intelligence from within the CRM, sales reps spend less time searching the open web for basic company and contact information.

 

Efficacy : the biggest value

But it is efficacy where the biggest value is generated. Not only are sales reps given more time to sell, but they also are more effective at selling through sales intelligence. Sales triggers help identify companies that are more likely to be open to your company’s offerings along with providing a reason to call. Thus, cold calls are warmed up a bit. Is there anything that turns off prospects faster than uninformed sales reps that leave generic, scripted voicemails and non-specific emails that convey no knowledge of an executive, her company, or corporate needs?

While positive sales triggers provide a reason to call, negative sales triggers such as the departure of a key executive or soft earnings help flag potential obstacles to deal closure. Negative triggers afford sales reps time to identify alternate points of contact and assess whether opportunities are likely to be delayed.

What’s more, sales triggers provide non-scheduled reasons to reach out to current accounts and prospects. Customers and prospects are more likely to buy from vendors that understand their needs and monitor their company.

Buyer 2.0 has been an issue for sales and marketing teams for around a decade. Why not make 2017 the year you provide your revenue generators with information tools which help them counter the informed buyer?

 

Discover an excerpt from the white paper: “How sales intelligence is transforming B2B sales”

 

Michael Levy
About the Author
Michael R. Levy, former Manager of Strategy and Competitive Intelligence of Infogroup, is the principal of GZ Consulting, a US market research and competitive intelligence consulting firm. He focuses on information services including sales intelligence, CRM, data hygiene, and marketing automation. Michael is also the author of "2015 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors".