Although Sales Intelligence (SI) tools are becoming a critical element in companies worldwide, the global SI market is still highly disorganised
An average buying process involves almost seven people. Though you would think it’s not a big deal. Most salespeople agree that being driven by several decision-making groups, a modern sales cycle is long and complicated. For a smooth buying process, the sales team has to be proactive with every touchpoint. But, in a technology-driven world, they handle the tough job with a little bit of advanced help.
Innovative intelligence tools to improve business revenue have become a necessary addition to a sales technology stack. Salespeople have started to realise the impact of Sales Intelligence (SI).
A few years back, Forrester research stated that organisations supporting their sales department empowered with sales intelligence tools would witness 35 per cent more leads in their sales funnel. The numbers have only soared since then.
According to a recent Reportlinker report, the global SI market is set to hit the $4 billion mark by 2027. Meanwhile, another report indicates that Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East’s SI market are predicted to grow at over 16 per cent by 2025. However, experts believe that the SI vertical is still new and undefined.
Some companies consider SI only to include vendors providing contact information of prospective clients. Run a Google search for the term and pages of list-building, and B2B data wholesalers will fill the screen. But in fact, SI encompasses much more than phone numbers and email IDs. It provides contextual information, including purchase history, business objectives, and digital footprints. After all, the SI market deals with both company data and contact data. With a combination of all company insights and an organised CRM, it can create a seamless sales funnel and help increase scalability.
SI should not be considered just a tool but rather a ubiquitous approach impacting several data systems. In its most basic form, SI could be a measurable build-in feature within the CRM software package. For instance, Nimble utilises social integrations and other connectors to derive data and provide a holistic viewpoint of every prospective lead. Alternatively, an application like LiveHive or Tableau interprets prospective data into sales insights. Other SI applications such as Zoominfo and InsideView focus on managing a detailed database of sales-ready contacts, and LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator outperforms traditional platforms by being the new source of lead data much before a business comes up with a good plan to leverage it.
One of the most useful features of SI is alerts. Sales executives can define alerts for every action that a buyer could take, set a marker of important events and trend changes to be ready for immediate implementation. While some tools like Winmo offer specialised depth of contact and company data in a specific vertical, experts advise B2B companies to invest in a SI tool that offers depth and accuracy.
What is the depth measurement of the database? How fresh is the data?
The sales technology experts reckon that coverage and data accuracies are both the strength and a challenge of a SI tool. Around 30 per cent of data goes to waste every year. Every company has to regularly update their database as one chunk of stale data can ruin the buying process. Account-level relationship structures are important to verify GTM. Experts recommend the use of org charts to map key decision-makers.
Brands should choose a solution that integrates well with CRM and engagement platforms. After integration, IT can update the system with lead information and drive effective email engagement campaigns for prospective clients. Experts recommend tools such as Apollo.io, Growbots, Autoklose for SMBs to begin their SI journey.
While the potential of SI technology is clear, the software market is highly disorganised. Vendors have been contesting for marketing dominance amongst each other, but they are yet to establish a standard definition of the technology they offer. Global vendors address different SI verticals and offer different solutions. As a result, it gets difficult for customers to compare solutions offered by different vendors and make the most beneficial business decision. Experts depict four SI categories.
Some SI solutions focus on enhancing data and create better maintenance solutions. The CRM database is the most crucial tool for every company, and many SI vendors offer services to clean a brand’s lead data or upgrade the contacts. The vendors use different definitions, and the prices vary, too. Some of the leading vendors are Reachforce, Datanyze, Netprospex, and Experian. With data enrichment and maintenance solutions, brands can decrease wasted sales efforts by focusing on the highest potential buyers by purging unqualified leads from the business program.
Another type of solutions package offered by vendors includes sales reporting and forecasting, where the focus dampens prospective leads data and increases high-level insights. Like Business Intelligence (BI) vendors that provide dashboards and analytical tools, some SI vendors, including SAS, Sisense, Dome, Tableau, and Spotfire, have developed entire platforms for monitoring and reporting sales data. While BI mines raw data to derive actionable insights, SI does the same, but with a distinct focus on sales. Some of the most common features in this SI category are CRM integration, pre-built reports, performance management, data mining, predictive analytics, and sales forecasting.
Letting SI tools focus on the best lead opportunities or the ones close to the churn table is best addressed by pipeline management offered by vendors such as Pipeliner, Close.io, and InsightSquared. It does not mean companies will have better opportunities to close leads, the tools will only help them maintain their churn rates and avoid a dip in the graph. Helping the sales team stay organised and efficient, this SI category prioritises developmental activities based on the attributes of each lead. Experts recommend companies choose a vendor that provides customisation options because if the solution does not align with the existing sales workflows, it could only further complicate the process. Some features of pipeline management include lead tracking, timelines, CRM integration, custom workflows, and goal setting.
Additionally, keeping track of customers, leads, and prospects to identify better opportunities at an increased speed is taken care of by behavioural analytics. At the heart of behavioural SI is a marketing automation suite that allows behavioural data logging during the nurturing process. Software vendors including Yesware, LiveHive, Act-On, and Marketo leverage various firmographics and behavioural data to evaluate a lead’s upsell and cross-sell potentials. Much of this SI category is collected during the marketing phase of the buyer’s journey, but it is considered to be important for the salespeople as well to drive better sales conversations. Other features included in this category are call tracking, engagement analytics, lead scoring, and scheduling and task management.
Though the SI software is generally considered a sales team’s treasured jewel, there are a few other departments that garner several use cases. The marketing department is the most obvious team that benefits from SI software. They use it mainly for lead data enrichment, segmentation and targeting to improve conversion rates. Recruiters also use SI tools to identify prospective employees and filter them according to the required business criteria. With sales practically the most critical factor across industries, every company can pull an SI tool out of a sales technology stack.