Looking at how the field of business software is shaping up, it’s apparent that a huge chunk is composed of specialized tools for finance, human resource management, marketing and other strategy-centric departments.
For sales teams, however, the surge of available tech is a very recent development. Two decades after the CRM, sales software is still not that widely adopted.
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.
Identifying the right customers is one of the most overlooked steps in selling a product or service. You may think you’ve got the personas pinned down but without the use of data and analytics to back it up, there’s nothing to tell you if you’re way off the mark.
What is sales intelligence?
Sales intelligence is the array of technologies, practices and applications that allow the presentation, integration, evaluation, collation and analysis of customer data.
Sales intelligence gives sales organizations pertinent information and better insight into who their campaigns are reaching, the prospects they are selling to, and, from there, come up with solutions and adjustments that will result in better performance of sales teams.
One of the main struggles sales intelligence faces is the sheer amount of content that is generated by sales organizations.
The data present and continuously created is rarely useful in actual selling –especially because the “data” is usually just a name and an email address. Is that a lead? No.
Sales intelligence is useful when it delivers what it says it will. Sales organizations need good sales intelligence.
How would better sales intelligence be attained through content?
Many companies do not take advantage of key functions in sales intelligence software: knowing which pieces of content are performing the best with which customers. This information is extremely helpful in equipping salespeople to make them more successful. But, sadly, this information isn’t utilized well.
So much so that in fact, according to a study by SiriusDecisions, up to 70 percent of content created by B2B marketers do not get used. Why? Well, there is no definitive answer but according to the International Data Corporation, sales organizations ignore most content that marketing departments produce–even those made particularly for sales enablement. How much of it? 80 percent.
Here are some reasons why this is the case.
In some organizations, sales teams are not even made aware that the content exists and was created for them. Either that or they don’t take time to look for it when they need it. In some cases, there is simply too much content at their disposal that they choose not to bother with it at all since it’s cumbersome to search for what they need them.
A probably major contributing factor in this underutilization of resources is that the content does not provide sales staffs something that can be of use to them.
Given these issues, sales teams and content marketing professionals within a company need to work together to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of content.
Power up sales intelligence through content
At the very least, detailed content should improve the performance of sales organizations. But this works the other way as well.
Content marketers need to use sales intelligence gathered from sales operations to create content that will provide useful material to the sales force. This way they create content that takes into consideration the views of customers. In effect, they boost sales intelligence as well by making content that addresses sales needs.
When sales teams and content marketers collaborate on boosting sales intelligence, these processes are improved:
When a company has a comprehensive and strategic content marketing plan in place, sales teams benefit from content that customers appreciate–content that moves them along the sales process. This way, salespeople can implement sales best practices. This also allows both departments to learn from past mistakes, optimizing new efforts. Fewer leads are wasted. Less leads exit the sales pipeline,
Targeting is one of the biggest hurdles that keep marketing and sales departments from the audience they should be reaching. When sales intelligence is boosted, marketers can sit at ease that their content reach the right people, at the right places, at the right time. In turn, this feeds sales intelligence data that improves the overall cycle.
This way, you attract leads that have issues that are highly matched with the problems that you’re solving. When you use sales intelligence to feed your lead generation efforts, you’d find that the leads you’re attracting are closer to being sales-ready that when you don’t use SI.
Cross- and upselling
After conversion, the sales process does not stop. There is the opportunity to spark more buying activity in customers. This works when personalized content is served to customers right when they need it. Customers’ concerns are addressed and acknowledged, leading sales teams to offer the right products that meet their needs.
But all these won’t work if sales intelligence is not detailed enough.
Is the information about customers detailed enough for sales staff to glean actionable data from it?
This is a big challenge for sales organizations and marketing departments alike.
There’s the basic but big issue of people not willing to disclose personal information on privacy and security concerns. More often, though, these are the same people who clamor for personalized and custom content that addresses their particular needs–to have an online experience that’s enhanced. Good thing that this is a surmountable obstacle.
But there are a lot of opportunities that’s missed when sales staff is not tenacious enough to explicitly ask customers for this information. It doesn’t have to be in a direct conversation. Tools like feedback forms and landing pages could be used to gather data in exchange for something like content updates and promotions. Another level is to provide them with content that’s custom for them, bringing about detailed sales intelligence.
Work smarter and get better sales intelligence
Use sales intelligence for prospecting
The sales process begins with prospecting. Sales organizations spend a lot of resources to find prospects that are relevant to their products and services. There are sales intelligence tools that help get the right information to build on a prospecting list that a company can glean prospects from. Taking advantage of available software saves time that can now be spent on other sales tasks.
Segment your prospects based on data
When putting together a list of prospects, take as much detail as possible so you can prioritize based on the categories they fall under. Collect information on the following:
- Company’s financial situation
- Business requirements
- Market position (startup, enterprise or industry leader)
- Performance over a period
- Requirements for growth
- opportunities for support
- opportunities for partnership
Based on the information you’ve gathered, make a detailed list that groups together companies with similar profiles. This information allows salespeople to prioritize and allocate the appropriate energy depending on the prospect.
Craft with the “10 second” approach in mind
Based on the list of prospects and their segmentation, create an introduction that pulls in the prospect.
From there, form a pitch that’s thoughtful of the company’s profile. Here’s the list of elements you initial pitch should include:
- Company introduction
- Quick walkthrough of what your product can offer their business
- Focus on product benefits
- Interaction cues like questions, affirmations and pauses
Ensure that there’s interaction happening during the call. Otherwise, it’s just a monologue asking for a hung up phone.
Gather information in-call
During all client interaction, ask the prospect a lot of probing questions about their business that not only reveal more information about them and their needs but also make them feel important. Relate their responses and re-affirm them based on what you’ve found from your research. This way you gather more information at each interaction.
Realize the importance of follow-ups
The place of follow-ups in sales is so crucial because customers are fickle. They may not like your service today, they might not be in the mood to take a sales call today, or they may be in the mood of solving all their business problems today that a single phone call from a software rep with the right features can mean a closed sale.
The reality is no matter how much data you gather, you’ll never really know. However, persistent follow-up also allow you to add to sales intelligence. Each call, you have to practice having a single, even if small, goal. It may be unlocking more information regarding a business issue or you may want the prospect to clue you in on who influences their buying decisions.
Sales intelligence puts sales teams in the best position to succeed
According to a survey CSO Insights, only 9.7 percent of companies equip through reps with sales intelligence programs whereas 90.3 percent admitted that there’s a level of effort required from the side of salespeople in order to have access to sales intelligence.
The number of companies that don’t support salespeople in terms of preparing to create and strike up meaningful conversations with prospects is appalling. The usual situation is that sales leaders expect sales teams to be at their best when they call out, they even require and make them do it. However, there is often not enough information available to the reps to make this happen.
Sales reps need access to sales intelligence to make calls and connections that move leads to a sale. Sales intelligence, including tools and practices that go with it, is a necessary investment for a company that expects and anticipates sales success.
What’s in your sales intelligence program? What tools and practices do you use and implement?
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