When it comes to sales, the more information a salesperson has about a prospect, the better. But chasing down that information can be time-consuming and difficult. Moreover, purchasing decisions these days are frequently made by a committee of multiple stakeholders — not just one person.
So in order to engage a prospect and ultimately push a sale forward, sales representatives often need to connect the dots to understand the needs of multiple key stakeholders within the organization.
That’s where sales intelligence comes in.
What Is Sales Intelligence?
Before we dive into why sales intelligence is so important, let’s take a quick look at what it means.
Sales intelligence definition:
Sales intelligence refers to a broad range of technologies salespeople use to discover, monitor and analyze data and gather insight into the business operations of their existing and prospective customers.
In a nutshell, sales intelligence helps companies find and use data to optimize their sales processes and increase sales. While sales intelligence tools can generate a list of contacts, they can also provide much-needed context around those contacts.
Now that we’re on the same page about what sales intelligence is, we can get into the nitty-gritty: why it’s so important, and how you can use it to win (and convert) more leads.
Importance of Sales Intelligence
There’s a lot of data out there. In fact, the problem these days isn’t so much gathering enough data. It’s getting the right data — and, even more importantly — knowing what to do with it.
There’s an old saying we like:
“Not everything that’s important can be measured, and not everything that can be measured is important.”
Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean it will be valuable to you. Sales intelligence tools help you measure, track, and analyze the data points you need to be most effective — helping you build strategic sales processes so you can reach the right people, at the right time.
Moreover, sales intelligence platforms generally use dynamic algorithms that get even smarter over time, learning about your customers and making accurate predictions to help you find new leads.
All this adds up to perhaps the biggest benefit of a sales intelligence tool — it saves you a TON of time. By using a sales intelligence platform to do the grunt work, you get to focus on what you do best — selling.
How to Find Leads with Sales Intelligence
We’ve covered what sales intelligence tools do, now let’s look at the practical tactics you can use to generate leads using sales intelligence platforms.
Targeting starts with segmenting the types of companies you want to sell to, and building profiles around the individual decision-makers.
- Build targeted lists of highly qualified advertiser and agency contacts
- Filter prospect lists by criteria like title, territory, industry, and revenue
- Zero in on individual contacts, as well as agency partners they work with
- Find contact information for leads (no more scouring LinkedIn!)
- Connect the dots between decision-makers in an organization and other key stakeholders
- Discover new leads with qualities similar to your customers
Predictive analytics tools provide insight into buying patterns, as well as industry and organizational trends so you can reach out at the right time.
- Analyze and provide insight into buying patterns
- Track online behaviors, content consumed, and other buying signals
- Make accurate predictions about who will be ready to buy — and when
- Track events, industry, and vertical news and receive sales predictions
- Track changes and triggers like new funding, product launches, and decision-maker turnover to find sales opportunities
- Integrate the many tools (email, CRM, social media) that you use to market and communicate with prospects in one place
- Get reminders to follow up with leads so they don’t slip through the cracks
- Quickly generate emails or call scripts and plug in contact information for you
- Get alerts and recommendations for new leads and opportunities
RELATED CONTENT: 20 Ways to Generate Sales Leads for B2B Lead Generation
7 Sales Intelligence Challenges
While sales intelligence software can make your job easier, there are still some tactical challenges that sales and marketing organizations should consider. When choosing a sales intelligence software, it’s important to keep these challenges in mind and make sure your software offers the features you need to overcome them.
- Stale data – Your data needs to be continually updated and refreshed. Our research has found that 30% of contact information goes stale every 12 months. Your data should be updated every 3-6 months to keep it as accurate as possible.
- Unverified data – To be sure that your contacts and data points are accurate, sales intelligence should be human-verified. Your sales intelligence software vendor should be able to tell you how data is collected, who collects it, and how frequently it’s verified.
- Irrelevant data – Is data available for the organizations you actually want to work with, the people you want to reach, the regions you operate in? A list of contacts that aren’t interested in or don’t have the budget for you does you no good.
- Account-level data – One of the most powerful opportunities for sales intelligence is helping you to map out the relationships and structures within a company, as well as between the company, brand, and any agencies they work with. This should be detailed down to the contact level, not just the account-level, so you can identify exactly who oversees what.
- Unintuitive platforms – A tool your team can’t figure out or doesn’t want to use is as good as useless. The vendor should offer trainings and product tours to ensure your team can get up to speed.
- Few integrations – Your sales team likely has a number of other tools they use day-to-day, including your CRM, email systems, social media accounts like LinkedIn and other resources. Your sales intelligence platform should integrate seamlessly with the tools your team is already using.
- Poor ROI – Prospecting the old-fashioned way can quickly add up. Just one hour a day researching new leads costs you $72 day. Over the course of a year, that adds up to $17,280! Sales intelligence can save you a ton of time and money, provided it has the information you need.
That’s why it’s important to choose an easy-to-use tool that offers fresh, relevant, human-verified data that will do the heavy-lifting of prospecting so your team can focus on selling.
What Are the Best Sales Intelligence Platforms?
There are a range of sales intelligence platforms on the market, but not all of them will offer the features and data you need.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the highest-rated sales intelligence platforms based on verified user reviews on the website G2 Crowd.
What it is: Winmo is a predictive sales intelligence platform that helps sales teams generate leads with top-spending North American marketers. Winmo connects the dots between brands, agencies, and executives, paving a clearer path to the right decision-makers. The platform also offers forecasted sales opportunities, recommendations, and alerts, so sales teams can track known opportunities, identify new leads, and execute outreach at precisely the right time.
What users say: Winmo users praise the tool’s ease of use and setup, the support available, as well as the search, filtering, and list-building resources, and accuracy of data available. Geared toward the media and marketing industry, users also appreciate the specificity and thoroughness of the data. While some users who target regional or local data might not find Winmo as comprehensive, those targeting national advertisers find it as a critical tool in their sales and marketing stack.
Does Winmo offer a free trial? Yes. Request a complimentary trial here.
What it is: DiscoverOrg is a marketing and sales intelligence tool that provides a stream of accurate, integrated, and actionable company, contact, and buying intelligence, as well as data enrichment, that can be used to find, connect with, and sell to target buyers more effectively.
What users say: DiscoverOrg reviewers say that the tool is robust, and includes contact lists, org charts, and other resources. Some users report that contact information isn’t always accurate and that contact lists skew toward the larger end, with fewer smaller companies represented. Many reviewers also note that the tool is much more expensive than other tools.
Does DiscoverOrg offer a free trial? No. Pricing information can be requested here.
What it is: ZoomInfo is a B2B contact database providing accurate and actionable contact and business information to sales, marketing, and recruiting teams.
What users say: ZoomInfo reviewers appreciate the tool’s filtering options for targeted list building. Some users report that the data isn’t always accurate or complete enough (since they span so many industries) and that while the features are useful, it’s not robust enough to use as a primary prospecting tool.
Does ZoomInfo offer a free trial? Yes, info can be requested here.
4. LinkedIn Sales Navigator
What it is: LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a version of LinkedIn built specifically for salespeople to establish and grow relationships with prospects and customers. The tool helps users tap into the social platform’s professional network of 500 million+ members.
What users say: Users generally agree that LinkedIn’s tool is useful for finding connections and maintaining networks. However, many reviewers report that the interface is not intuitive to use, and that, while more affordable than some competitors, the value provided isn’t in keeping with the cost.
Does Linkedin Sales Navigator offer a free trial? Yes, for eligible users.
RELATED CONTENT: 5 Sales Intelligence Must-Haves to Find Decision Makers
Your time and energy is best spent actually selling, so leave the research and data to sales intelligence companies.
When researching a sales intelligence platform to add to your tech stack, keep in mind the challenges we outlined above, as well as the features you value most. The industries and verticals you work with, and organization size and revenue are also important factors to consider, as not all sales intelligence platforms offer the same data.
We also recommend reading online user reviews and taking advantage of free trials and demos to ensure you can experience the tool’s features for yourself before buying.