What Is Sales Intelligence And Why Is It Important?

You probably haven’t missed the term sales intelligence. But just because most people have heard about it doesn’t mean that most sales professionals use enough sales intelligence tools. Most don’t, and those who do often don't use sales intelligence from enough resources.

So why is sales intelligence so important? Because it provides you with lots of information about your current customers and customers-to-be. Sun Tzu once said, "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles." Obviously, your customers and customers-to-be aren't your enemies, but besides that minor detail, the idea behind the quote fits quite nicely: Your outcomes depend on your knowledge of the different agents involved in a given situation. Sales intelligence helps improve that knowledge.

Buyers today expect personalized, relevant interactions at every touchpoint. Therefore, when you interact with prospects, every bit of information about their company helps give you an advantage over your competitors and increases your chances of closing the deal. It’s just this type of information that sales intelligence tools can provide salespeople with.

In this article, we aim to help you understand what sales intelligence really is and how you can and should use it to win more deals.

What is sales intelligence?

Sales intelligence refers to a wide range of technologies that help salespeople find, monitor and understand data that provides insights into prospects' and existing clients' daily business. These insights help the salesperson stay on top of changes in target organizations.

Time is always of the essence for modern salespeople. No one has time to scour the web and printed media outlets to find all the information nuggets about every account they work on. Neither can any person map out all key stakeholders within their prospect organizations and understand each person's needs and desires.

By indexing real-time company information from millions of open and public data sources every day, sales intelligence tools know companies‘ basic information along with their more hidden traits, such as what type of website technologies they use, what buying signals they've sent out recently or what interests they appear to have.

What is the difference between sales intelligence and business intelligence?

If you've heard of sales intelligence and business intelligence, a question that might arise in your mind is, what is the difference between the two?

To avoid getting bogged down in the details, here's the short answer: Sales intelligence is a subset of business intelligence that specifically focuses on improving sales processes and outcomes. In contrast to that, business intelligence has a broader scope and supports strategic decision-making across the entire organization.

Sales Intelligence for sales prospecting

Sales intelligence platforms for sales prospecting help you find the right companies for your business based on a wide range of characteristics and track important changes in your target companies.

Generally, sales intelligence software lets you filter companies that fit your ideal customer profile and have recently sent out a buying signal, giving you a reason to contact them now.

By knowing these types of things about a company, you can ask the right questions, highlight the right features in your offer for this particular use case and create urgency for the right decision makers. You can do this by telling them how your solution can a) help them solve their problems or b) help them seize a great opportunity.

Sales intelligence helps salespeople surface accounts who are the most receptive to their outreach and gives them the right time and reason to reach out.
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Define your ideal customer profile if you haven’t already

If you don’t already know how your dream customer walks and talks, then it’s time you define your ideal customer profile. The most straightforward way to do this is to look for shared features within your happiest customers. 

No matter how skilled in pitching your workforce is, it’s very tough to close sales, nurture leads and move leads along the sales funnel if they are talking to the wrong customers.

Real-time data with sales intelligence

One lovely thing with technology is that it can work around the clock. There’s no need for snack breaks or a short power nap. Thanks to the amazing work ethic of web indexing technology, salespeople today have a constant access to real-time, enriched company data. This not only saves you from making embarrassing phone calls where your pitch is totally off as a result of you only having outdated information about the company, but it also allows you to track and act on companies’ buying signals. In many cases, the first salesperson who contacts a prospect when a new need has occurred is the one who wins the deal.

The Ultimate Guide to Sales Prospecting | Vainu

You should understand both companies and people

The importance of doing your homework on every company you try to sell to should never be underestimated. But, it’s important to remember that, in the end, you always have to be able to interact with—and create urgency for—individuals within these companies to win a sale. While we can argue that having enough information at hand helps you do so, there’s also technology that aims to help you get to know stakeholders within your target accounts better.

The majority of sales intelligence platforms for business-to-business sales professionals, Vainu included, focus on providing enriched company data rather than data about individuals within these accounts, so-called intent data. Intent data is behavioral information collected about an individual's online activities, combining both topic (information about a person's interest areas) and context data (data about who a person taking a certain action is, which can help you understand better why he or she is expressing interest in a topic).

Sales intelligence helps salespeople capture what everyone strives for in business: something of a sixth-sense; a Jedi insight into the deep reach of overwhelming data and information.

How to keep track of all sales intelligence data?

Getting access to sales intelligence data shouldn't interrupt a salesperson's day. Therefore, having a solid platform to manage the customer engagement process from end to end can yield real dividends for sales teams. To the gain full value of sales intelligence, the data provided to salespeople have to be systematically organized for context and accessibility.

To drive meaningful actions, sales intelligence should be integrated into a sales engagement platform or CRM. See what features your existing tools within this category have if you are currently using an engagement platform or CRM. If you don’t find the features you’re searching for there, download our Sales Tools Guide and see which of the listed CRM systems that can meet your needs.

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Win More Leads with Sales Intelligence | Vainu Erika Granath

Vainu's Content Marketing Manager. Grew up next to Sweden's largest cookie factory. Love cookies (of course), ping pong tournaments and word jokes.