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A Guide to Sales Intelligence and Sales Intelligence Tools
Success in business is all about adaptation. Markets and prospect needs and behaviors are constantly in flux. To remain competitive and profitable, companies must be able to adjust quickly to prepare for new trends and challenges.
But how do businesses know what to expect? How do they decide which initiatives and strategies to deploy and which projects to fund? Most importantly, how do they determine who their target demographics are and how best to advertise to them?
The answer to all these questions lies in sales intelligence. A term which once describes gut feelings, acute perception, and wells of experience, sales intelligence is now synonymous with big data, cutting-edge software, and complex analytic algorithms. The way businesses remain competitive in the market is now inextricably tied to the monitoring of all accessible data regarding sales. Knowing what to expect depends on fully knowing and understanding what’s going on right now. For all enterprises, regardless of size, business model, clientele, or product offerings, sales intelligence tools are now virtually indispensable.
All companies should understand these tools and the benefits they can offer. In this article we will explain what sales intelligence is and what it comprises. We’ll take a closer look at exactly what kinds of data are important and how they are measured. We’ll talk about what the different kinds of sales intelligence tools are, which ones are most important for running a business, what they do, and how they can improve B2B dealings.
We’ll look at the position of sales manager and talk about what they do. We’ll also analyze some of the best sales intelligence software on the market and explain what sets them apart from the rest. Finally, we’ll look at B2B prospecting, how it works, and why it’s important for the success of your enterprise.
What Is Sales Intelligence?
Sales intelligence is vital to creating and maintaining an effective sales strategy. The market, prospects, competitors, and partners are all dynamic factors, and understanding their behavior is the key to achieving success.
This may seem self-evident, but the question “what is sales intelligence itself?” is actually somewhat difficult to answer.
To put it most simply, sales intelligence refers to all collectable or predictable data pertinent to sales. It includes external factors like the behaviors of clients and prospects, the strategies and sales figures of competitors, and the health and character of the market itself. Internal data comprising things like sales team performance, pipeline efficiency, conversion times, and operational expenses are also crucial. Forecasting makes up a large part of sales intelligence, too, as information about probable future data trends and trajectories is especially valuable.
Sales intelligence helps a company determine which of its projects and tactics are working and which can be improved or replaced. Sales intelligence is also invaluable in helping prepare for the future. Strategies can be adjusted in accordance with predicted market trajectories and changes in target demographics. Future challenges can be foreseen so that companies have time to restructure and adapt or even work to avoid them altogether.
Sales Intelligence Data
What kinds of sales intelligence data are most important and valuable for keeping a business successful?
A large portion of sales data will pertain to the demand side of an enterprise. Data will be collected measuring a variety of metrics, including things like how many sales were made in a previous year, how many new prospects were converted, how much money they were willing to pay on services, which demographics and market segments were the most responsive to ad campaigns, and client loyalty.
The sales side of things will also be scrutinized to determine how to optimize sales teams and pipelines. Funnelling statistics, salesperson and sales team efficiency, conversion cycle length, operational expenses, return on investments, conversational transcriptions, and new leads are a few of the most relevant kinds of data. Information like this is crucial because internal aspects of a business are far more amenable to change and restructuring than the market itself.
Competitor behavior is also tracked as part of intelligence initiatives. Competitor market share and revenue, number of competing products, reach and efficacy of rival ad campaigns, and number of prospects lost to other organizations are all things necessary for a business to track in order to remain competitive.
B2B Sales Intelligence Tools
Sales intelligence data can be obtained from numerous sources. The most effective means of measuring and consolidating large quantities of relevant data, however, is using dedicated b2b sales intelligence tools.
A CRM is perhaps the most comprehensive and simple way of obtaining basic sales data. CRM’s are software suites which specialize in collecting, storing, and analyzing different kinds of data relating to prospects and clients. A CRM can tell you what kind of products and solutions a client is looking for, what sales strategies have been successful in dealings with them in the past, average conversion time, and other key metrics and sales data. These data can also be easily visualized with dashboards and other in-built graphic tools.
An accounting tool is another vital part of a sales intelligence toolkit. Fiscal programs can tell you about your average revenue per client, operational expenses, collection cycles for subscription-based services, trends in competitor profits and product pricing, and multitudes of other statistics. Keeping track of all the resources you expend to make sales ensures you stay in the black.
Forecasting is perhaps the most central part of sales intelligence. Knowing what trends and challenges are likely to appear in the future is the best protection against disaster and the perfect way to take maximum advantage of new dynamics. Forecasting software exists to track all kinds of data trajectories on any timeline. The main point is to make sure you’re looking at the future as well as the present.
The Sales Intelligence Manager
Collecting all this data is primarily the work of software programs. Decoding it and determining what to do with it, however, is the job of the sales intelligence manager.
Data is usually first entered automatically into sales analytics programs. A sales intelligence analyst or analysis team then works to determine how best to measure, compile, and consolidate data into meaningful metrics and statistics. That information is then fed into visualization software and dashboards which the intelligence manager monitors constantly.
The sales intelligence manager will generate reports based on the trends they see. If a particular ad campaign has been costing the company money without drawing in new prospects, they will recommend its retirement. If a new set of conversational techniques implemented by the sales team is decreasing conversion times and fostering loyalty, they will make a case for making that training mandatory. If it appears that a forthcoming rival product will decrease market share, they will help to formulate a strategy to better differentiate and market their product.
This requires the intelligence manager to work with many different departments and levels of management. They will focus especially on the sales team itself, but also serve as a conduit to the C-suite, informing them of issues and future challenges and collaborating with them to formulate and deploy new initiatives and strategies. As such, an intelligence manager should be a fast worker, a creative thinker, and have a mastery of public speaking.
What Is the Best Sales Intelligence Software?
The sales intelligence market is saturated with different software offerings which tend to focus on individual aspects of sales intelligence. There are free sales intelligence tools and simple barebones options like Google Sheets and Excel, as well as subscription based services which charge a premium.
What the best sales intelligence software is will depend on the kind of business you run. However, it is worth mentioning some of the most comprehensive and powerful suites which are used by some of the most successful companies in the world.
For example, Salesforce is an all-in-one business management platform which offers coaching, analytics support, growth solutions, and more. They also provide a number of intelligence programs including a versatile and comprehensive CRM and a large selection of visualization tools to make data analysis and decision-making easier.
For a truly dedicated intelligence suite, however, the answer is Canopy.io. Unlike other providers of business solutions, Canopy’s primary focus is analytics and intelligence. The result is an industry-leading software arsenal centered around sales diagnostics, revenue analytics, forecasting, and visualization which is guaranteed to revolutionize data-driven decision making for your business and supercharge sales performance.
B2B Prospecting Tools
The last, and perhaps the most important and difficult aspect of sales intelligence is prospect intelligence. This helps businesses locate new prospect to whom to market their service.
For many companies whose operations are solely or primarily B2B, it can be hard to sustain positive growth over a long period. Some services may be subscription- or commission-based, but others may only require a one-time purchase. To offset revenue stagnation, it is imperative that businesses are always trying to break into new markets or introduce products/services which cater to different audiences.
Among b2b prospecting tools, demand forecasting software plays an important part. Forecasting helps predict the ways in which your prospect base will grow and shrink in the future and determine why. Competitor monitoring is also essential, as any market segment they are seeing success with can be targeted by your business as well.
Tracking engagement with ad campaigns and releasing surveys are other ways to plumb for untapped markets and are more effective the wider and more densely they are distributed.
Prospecting is both the first and last sales step for companies. Once a business has a solid prospect base, however, it is sales intelligence and informed decision-making that will determine how competitive and successful your enterprise can be.
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