May
17

Converting a lead into a customer is a long, slow, complex process – especially in the B2B sector. Perhaps that sounds familiar to you?

According to B2B Magazine, 43% of B2B marketers say their sales cycles have slowed down over recent years. And when the sales cycle is slow, so is growth in turnover: a fact you probably know only too well!

If companies want to keep their sales pipelines busy (which requires two things: qualified prospects and sales opportunities), they need to have access to the right tools, and to the right information about their prospects.

This is a much more rewarding strategy than buying in lists of generic contacts and making strings of cold calls.

Even an inbound marketing strategy is insufficient on its own to gather the information you need on your leads. If you want to give your business a real competitive advantage, you need… an extra trick up your sleeve.

More than just knowing who your potential customers are, you need to know what they’re looking for. What’s their situation? What motivates them? What are their needs? What are their intentions, their issues, and their goals?

The answer to all these questions – and to many more – can be found in Sales Intelligence. It’s a sort of Holy Grail for the B2B salesperson!

What is Sales Intelligence?

Perhaps you think Sales Intelligence is something to do with a CRM or database vendors? Or maybe you believe Sales Intelligence comes down to a list of prospects who are ready to be sold to.
In actual fact, Sales Intelligence is much more than just a list of prospects you can sell to. Sales Intelligence is a combination of a potential customer AND all the contextual information about that customer, such as:

  • Business sector, company size, structure,
  • Turnover, financial health, economic performance,
  • Business relationships: partners, suppliers, customers, etc.
  • The company’s digital presence and its stakeholders on social and professional networks,
  • And many other business signals (a funding round, a product launch, a recruitment campaign, a new CEO, etc.), helping you score a customer better and sell more efficiently!

Great, but how exactly does this enhance the B2B salesperson?

Simply put, this information helps salespeople to target their conversations better, educate leads to improve conversion, and accelerate business by detecting additional needs and using add-on sales techniques (upselling and cross-selling).

Most Sales Intelligence information is gathered during the marketing phase, long before a lead becomes a sale.

That’s because Sales Intelligence serves an analytical purpose, and its main asset is that it enables intelligent decision making at the right time, stimulating the company’s net growth.

As everyone knows, the more information you have about your prospects, the better you can sell to them. Obvious, right?

With Sales Intelligence, you can go even further.

How does Sales Intelligence work?

Although Sales Intelligence tools come in various shapes and sizes, they all have a shared goal: to increase the quantity and quality of leads

  • the “quantity” part is achieved by remaining constantly alert for company information and directories of new leads,
  • the “quality” part requires segmenting these leads using data profiling and suggesting follow-up actions.

Michael Berger (Product Marketing Director at Marketo) believes a good Sales Intelligence tool should address the “3 P’s”:

  • Provide intelligence about genuine prospects
  • Prioritise follow-up actions
  • Present the prospect’s interests to the salesperson

Sales Intelligence is more than just a tool. It’s a generalised approach covering a range of data systems.

For example, a lead’s profile is recorded and followed up using an automated marketing platform, delivered to the salesperson’s CRM system, and analysed using business intelligence.

Or in its simplest form, Sales Intelligence can look like a function built into the CRM software. CRM can take the form of social integrations or other types of connectivity aimed at gathering information and providing a 360° view of each lead.

In other cases, a company may make use of a business intelligence application to convert the information about the prospect into data that can be used for the sale.

In short, all options are open at this point… depending on your goals and resources.

The 5 benefits of Sales Intelligence for the B2B salesperson

Sales Intelligence in all its forms is designed to help your sales team to be more effective. This can take several practical forms:

  • Improved productivity: Your sales team can use Sales Intelligence to automatically sort follow-ups and leads into various groups according to their value or quality. This will free them up from carrying out tedious manual analysis and wasting unnecessary energy following up unqualified, low- potential leads, thus saving them considerable time.
  • More fruitful conversations: you’re probably all too familiar with what it’s like to talk to a seller who doesn’t understand your needs. The conversation generally revolves around the product rather than our own preferences, aspirations, questions, etc. Sales Intelligence gives salespeople key information about their leads’ backgrounds, ensuring they can direct the conversation the right way. This raises the level of the discussion, and gives more value to the sales pitch.
  • Shorter sales cycles: As Jeff Thull, the author of Mastering the Complex Sale, says, “Customers don’t create long sales cycles – salespeople do.” Salespeople often target the wrong prospects and push them for a sale at a very early stage in the buying process… causing the value of the prospect to decline accordingly. The relevant information supplied by Sales Intelligence enables salespeople to identify contacts who are ready to buy and clarifies the decision-making process, considerably reducing the average time it takes to convert a lead into a customer.
  • More intelligent sales strategies: From an analytical point of view, Sales Intelligence enables decision makers (financial director, marketing director, etc.) to distil hard information from the labyrinthine processes and databases which are so ubiquitous in their line of work. Armed with this information, sales managers can implement effective strategies to improve prospects’ engagement and increase the prospect-to- lead conversion rate, generating greater turnover.

What’s stopping you from switching to Sales Intelligence ?

Slowly (but surely), Sales Intelligence is becoming an essential ingredient at each stage of the sales/marketing process. However, the transition isn’t always easy to initiate, implement and incorporate into everyday practice for your sales team.

Because, as you already know… a Sales Intelligence solution worthy of the name can do so much more than just give you a list of prospects for cold market prospecting!

It can literally accompany you through every stage of the sales funnel, providing you with qualified leads which meet your requirements, as well as solid tools to help you convert them. See the subtle difference?

Ask for a demo of PREDICT by Sparklane and you’ll quickly find out how you can help your sales team to close more sales – and do it faster – using Sales Intelligence!

Victor Cabrera
About the Author
Victor Cabrera is a French consultant and expert in sales efficiency training. The author of ‘Sale techniques: step-by-step winning strategies’ (published in French: ‘Sales techniques: les stratégies gagnantes étape par étape’) and ‘The key to effective negotiation’ (published in French: ‘Les clés de la négociation efficace’), he is also a blogger and runs the Technique-de-vente.com website.

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