According to Wikipedia sales intelligence is defined as the technologies, applications and practices for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of information to help salespeople keep up to date with clients, prospect data and drive business. We would describe it more simply:
“Sales intelligence is the outcome of learning, reasoning and understanding.”
Tools, technology and data are all important but the process of learning, reasoning and understanding is key to sales intelligence. All the best sales professionals act as trusted advisors, this requires more than data and information. The more you understand about your customers, competitors and your industry the greater your competitive advantage.
The starting point for any learning is becoming familiar with the topic of interest. A salesperson needs to quickly access and understand key information about their market and their prospects. This does not just apply to new sales people. Experienced sales people have to keep up with rapidly changing markets, just look at travel with the rise of AirBnB and new travel sites. Clients also don’t stand still, there are major strategy changes, mergers and new entrants constantly entering the market.
Information can include these latest developments in the industry, the latest content published by a client, what is being shared on social media and the latest stories.
There are a myriad of information sources that sales people can check from client sites, competitor blogs to LinkedIn, business publications and social sites. However, checking multiple sources leads to overload and missed opportunities.Using multiple tools, websites and sources adds a layer of complexity which often means the learning doesn’t happen. And sales professionals don’t have the time to wade through it all. According to CSO Insights “88% of sales leaders believe they have missed opportunities due to information overload”.
Ideally the relevant information would be filtered, curated and delivered for sales teams alongside other client information in Salesforce or their CRM. Or at a minimum delivered through a single platform or feed.
Data or information is not enough on its own. Sales professionals need to form conclusions, judgments and draw inferences from this information.
This involves having a consistent stream of information over time to inform your wider view, to place the information in context. One article about big data may be interesting, seeing a constant increase in articles on big data and posts from competitors on how to use big data provides a different perspective. One article is never enough.
It is difficult to understand the world on our own. The use of discussion, debate and sharing helps us to understand. For a sales professional, discussing an issue such as big data with a client brings greater understanding of the business context and how it relates to their challenges. Understanding industry trends, company news, and competitive developments is really the baseline, great salespeople they understand the connection between these developments, the customer’s needs and their products and services.
Sharing and discussing developments with sales colleagues creates a better understanding as you can bring together and share what you have been learning. We all analyse trends in different ways, combining our views harnesses collective intelligence.
When developing our Anders Pink we felt that team sharing and discussion was one of the most important features. It is difficult to read everything so sharing the load with your colleagues helps a lot. With Anders Pink you can share, comment on and save relevant articles within one platform.
Practical steps to increase your sales intelligence
Get briefed. Use a tool to filter and curate the latest relevant articles for your sales teams to provide the maximum opportunity for them to develop sales intelligence.
You can use many different tools and our Anders Pink app is just one designed for this purpose. You can filter the whole of the web to pull out the articles that matter. For example:
- set a domain filter for your competitors to see all the new content they publish, for example recent articles on Marketo
- set a keyword filter to see all the latest articles on specific topics or clients, show only those from specific trusted industry sites if you want – for example recent articles on startups from the top 40 sites
- enter the Twitter handles of industry experts and clients to see the articles they are sharing each day, for example recent content on SEO from top Twitter experts
Stay smart. These briefings update every few hours and can be shared and customised by sales teams. In addition sales people can upvote the most relevant articles, comment on them and save them to build a key knowledgebase and enrich their knowledge, and of course share with clients and prospects to build trust and authority.
Use tools that bring these articles together whether they are from RSS feeds, keyword searches, what people are sharing on Twitter or what domains are publishing. No more having to browse across multiple sites and sources.
Add value. Share your insights based on what you’ve learned. Anyone can just flick on a link or share an article. Take the time to personalise with your comments, questions and reflections.
Building sales intelligence requires time to learn, reason and understand. But you can be more productive using tools and filters to bring the most recent relevant content to your sales team’s attention, and working as a team to make sense of latest trends and sharing to add value for your clients.