The true magic of selling usually happens in conversation. But to have a good conversation, you need good information at your fingertips.
That’s where sales intelligence comes in. According to CSO Insights, there’s a difference between sales data and sales intelligence. Sales data might be a name, a phone number, or title but none of this information necessarily opens up a chance to have a conversation that will lead to a sale. True sales intelligence gives your reps information they need to advance a conversation that potentially leads to a close. (For example: Why might this prospect want to buy from you? What problems or challenges is this prospect having that you might be able to solve?)
What holds salespeople back from using sales intelligence? When it comes to researching a prospect or company, the Internet can be seen as a great advantage for sales professionals. Nowadays, a simple Google search is an easy and fast way to find information about almost anything. But a proliferation of data is not necessarily enough; the Internet holds a lot of data, but it’s not well organized or focused on the needs of a sales professional who’s about to walk into a meeting with a client.
A similar problem often exists within the internal corporate structure. Although companies have a great wealth of information, it’s not accessible to the members of the sales team in the way they need it. “Typically, there is a lot of knowledge out there,” says John Aiello, CEO of SAVO, in a video interview with Selling Power magazine publisher Gerhard Gschwandtner. “The gap is that people can’t find it.”
Ease of discovery is a key metric for sales-intelligence success. Unless the information sales professionals need is easy to find, it will probably go untapped. In an Accenture study of more than 1,000 managers in the United States and the United Kingdom, nearly 60 percent have to go to numerous sources to compile the information they need to do their jobs well. About the same number reported that information as poorly distributed across the organization. Many sales organizations have created a portal or intranet system to house information that could be key to closing deals. It’s a good step, but most good sales reps don’t have time to weed through a long report or hundreds of links to find what they need. Instead, they’re likely to make a quick phone call to get the answer they’re looking for. “For sellers, it’s, I need it when I need it,” Aiello says. “And [they] need it right now.”
Do your sales-intelligence efforts make your sales reps more effective overall? Ron Sathoff, director of senior analysts at Primary Intelligence, outlines the following tips:
Make sure your sales intelligence answers specific issues that your sales teams encounter. Where are the obstacles that your sales teams run into when they talk with customers and prospects? At what point in the sales process do they need intelligence to talk to their customers?
Make sure what you provide them is targeted to those specific issues. If they need to know about X, Y, or Z, provide just that information.
Make it accessible. Don’t require reps to do extensive searches or read through long reports.
Remember that most successful sales professionals are more than happy to make use of sales intelligence as long as they get it in the format that’s most accessible and useful to them. Meet them halfway, and everyone will be one step closer to closing more sales.