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What is Sales Intelligence?

 Sales intelligence is more than just a way to find clients and their emails or phone numbers.

Sales intelligence is all the information that salespeople use to inform their decisions throughout the selling cycle. Vendors like Cognism collect that information from different sources, process it, and turn it into actionable insights.

Sales intelligence data is a unique combination of real-time contextual insights with up-to-date contact details. It enables sales and revenue teams to identify sales leads, discover growth opportunities, and move deals forward faster.

For example, with sales intelligence data, you’ll know when a high-value account is searching for a solution like yours. Then, your salespeople will be able to identify the company’s decision-makers and start multithreading at the right time to make a deal happen.

Where to gather sales intelligence from?

You can get sales intelligence from various internal and external sources. For example, your prospects can provide valuable insights about your competitors during sales calls. Also, all customer interactions logged and administrated in your CRM serve as internal sales intelligence and may inform your sales strategy.

Sales intelligence platforms automatically enhance your internal data in a scalable way. They crawl millions of public and private sources to gather external sales intelligence data. Then, process and clean it before making the data available to other companies.

Reputable sales intelligence databases keep their data fresh, comply with applicable data privacy laws, and facilitate data synchronisation with your existing workflows and tools.

However, third-party sales intelligence data comes with different levels of accuracy, completeness, and compliance. It depends on suppliers' access to advanced data processing technology and resources to ensure continuous sales intelligence quality.

It’s important to screen the provider of choice and evaluate its competitors before making the purchasing decision.

Test Cognism's sales intelligence data:

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What are the key sales intelligence data points?

B2B data is the fuel for sales intelligence. To get the most detailed picture of your prospects, you need to combine different data points at personal and organizational levels. You'll be able to build targeted lead lists and warm up cold calls.

Here are must-have sales intelligence data types for effective sales.

1. Accurate contact data

You'll need a source of accurate contact data to keep up with prospects in a dynamic business landscape. As they get promoted and switch jobs, you can use a sales intelligence database with real-time updates to get in touch with the prospects on your list.

2. Company and account data

Firmographics sales intelligence is helpful for researching companies, segmenting audiences, and evaluating the total addressable market. Successful sales teams use insights about company's industry, revenue, or the number of employees to allocate their resources.

A combination of account and contact sales intelligence gives sales leaders the ability to forecast more accurately, formulate more effective strategies, and drive more growth.

3. Intent data

Intent data is a game-changer when it comes to sales intelligence. It shows when an account is actively in-market by analysing the content they consume. It informs sales teams when prospects are most receptive to their pitch and enables reps to slide into buyers' inboxes before competitors do.

Bombora is a leading intent data provider and gathers consent-based sales intelligence data from sites where B2B buyers do research. Cognism partnered with Bombora to enable our customers to engage with the right prospects at the right time.

Once you identify your ICP in Cognism, you can prioritise companies with the highest intent score for your selected topic. An IT and services company, Ultima, was able to shorten the initial time to engagement by 4-6 months and achieve ROI in 6 weeks thanks to the unique combination of Cognism's contact data and Bombora's intent signals.

Here's how you can get sales intelligence insights form Cognism's platform. 👇

4. Technographic intelligence

Technographic data intelligence informs you about the technology a target company or a prospect uses. It provides insights about current workflows and how your solution can improve them. This type of sales intelligence is particularly useful if your solution resolves a pinpoint your competitors don't. 

5. Sales events triggers

Sales triggers are a type of sales intelligence that alert you about changes that affect your target companies and prospects over time. B2B sales triggers, like buying intent signals, provide contextual data, highlighting events that may result in a sales opportunity. For example, when your target account appoints new leadership or a company is acquired or lists shares on the stock market.

Combining different sales intelligence insights helps sales and marketing teams gain a competitive edge. The teams with the highest-quality data will have a considerable advantage over their rivals.

Cognism defeated all the other lead generation providers by a huge amount. Its database had an 80% accuracy rate and the highest coverage of mobile numbers
Michael Iannuzzi, Director of Marketing & Sales Development
data accuracy
leads enriched

How does sales intelligence work with CRMs?

Sales intelligence maximises the value of your CRM data. Contact and account data in your CRM decays quickly as buyers change companies and roles and businesses get acquired or branch out to other regions.

To keep it usable, you must keep it up-to-date. By regularly enriching contact data you've collected and filling in the gaps in your CRM records, you ensure the sales process is efficient, and reps don't waste time on chasing dead leads.

When choosing a sales intelligence solution, ensure it integrates with your CRM. You shouldn’t need to synchronise the two programs manually. Your sales intelligence may work as a plug-in inside your CRM without switching windows.

Seamless integrations with your tech stack

For example, Cognism has an advanced integration with Salesforce, allowing you to import your Salesforce data to Cognism and access search filters specific to your Salesforce CRM.

You can also use Cognism's accurate data to enrich new leads, contacts or accounts that enter your CRM.

💡 Cognism does not use, process, or share the data for any purpose other than to provide this specific functionality, and we do not use this data to enrich our database. 

Integrating sales intelligence with CRMs and sales tools
Having been in sales for years, I used to spend hours of my life formatting and importing excel spreadsheets to the CRM. Cognism’s automatic integration with Salesforce means I no longer spend time manually inserting leads to our CRM. It has completely transformed the way sales operate on a daily basis. It merits 5 stars!
Filipa Enes, Sales Administrator
mof opportunities in DACH
meetings booked by October 2022

How to leverage B2B sales intelligence data?

Sales intelligence makes these three areas of your sales process more effective:

1. Create an ideal customer profile

No B2B company can succeed by being all things to everyone. Companies must begin by targeting a narrow niche (the narrower, the better) and dominating that space until they can use it as a base to expand.

Sales and marketing teams should work together to create an ideal customer profile (ICP), leveraging sales intelligence data to make it work. By analysing your current customer base, you can use a sales intelligence database to find companies and individuals that fit your ICP.

For example, if you're targeting HR executives in EMEA-based companies with less than 50 people, use sales intelligence to create an accurate email list of HR managers and directors that fit the bill. Then, your marketing team will be able to warm them up with relevant, personalised content.

2. Clean customer data

The more you know about a prospect, the easier it is to sell to them. Detailed information can help you find the right angle to craft a message that resonates with their pain points. However, it's difficult to manually keep CRM records up to date with complete and accurate data. B2B is constantly changing. People get new jobs, and companies merge and change ownership.

Some sales intelligence platforms offer data enrichment functionality that ensures your existing sales data as well as new data that flows into your systems is fresh and you don't waste time on talking to dead leads. It means no more duplications, better organisation and less time spent on manual, repetitive tasks. 

By integrating sales intelligence into your CRM, you can automatically refresh exsisting data. It also gives you a new dimension of information, including financial insights, such as funding rounds and company news. So your sales team can grab new opportunities to get in contact and sell.

3. Lead scoring

Once you’re at the stage where you’re engaging with your prospects with personalised content, sales intelligence can help you determine who is genuinely interested and who has you on ignore.

You can monitor relevant sales event triggers and gauge their buying intent by the content they consume online. Or if you're main sales strategy is cold calling, you can score leads based on the availability of other contact details, i.e. verified mobile numbers. Then, assign each prospect a score, indicating who your salespeople should be reaching out to first. 

Having this kind of data intelligence at your fingertips takes the guesswork out of the sales process.

4. Qualification, messaging and outreach

Once your leads are sufficiently warmed up, it’s time for the sales team to take control - with sales intelligence to help them.

Your SDR's first task is to call the prospect, begin the conversation and qualify them in or out of the process. Real-time sales intelligence ensures they have the correct contact data, so they’re not wasting their time trying to get hold of prospects who have long since moved on.

In addition, because sales intelligence discovered these prospects when working with the ICP, salespeople know they’re calling similar prospects who face similar challenges. It’s suddenly easier for salespeople to get their messaging right and truly position your product as the answer to your prospects’ pain.

5. Accelerate sales cycles 

Sales intelligence gives you everything you need to make fewer calls, contact the most relevant people, and hit quota faster. Accurate contract details allow them to skip gatekeepers and reach straight to decision-makers because you give your team all the knowledge they need before engaging with customers.

It's especially important if you're selling to enterprise clients and your deals require a sign-off from multiple stakeholders. The more intelligence you gather about them, the faster you can start multithreading.

6. Make sales more predictable

Sales intelligence insights also make prospecting more predictable. Successful sales teams plan for the future and allocate their resources in a way that maximises revenue. Sales intelligence data is an integral part of this, not a nice-to-have solution. By giving sales leaders the ability to forecast more accurately, formulate more effective strategies and drive more growth.

Sales intelligence excels in helping sales leaders better understand their prospects and customers, who they are, and how and why they buy. It provides the data that allows sales leaders to shorten the sales cycle and close more deals.



How to evaluate sales intelligence providers?

There’s a wide range of sales intelligence products in the marketplace, with Cognism and ZoomInfo being the major players. Here’s a mini guide to help you choose the right solution. 👇

1. Define what areas for improvement

The first thing to do is assess what you want to achieve. Different solutions work slightly differently, so it helps to know which features will bring you the most essential benefits. Some possible considerations are:

  • Improving lead generation by creating accurate lists of possible future customers.

  • Better targeting and sales qualification by identifying the prospects most likely to buy.

  • Updating existing customer records in your CRM and enriching data that enters your workflows.

  • Identifying the right time to contact prospects who are most likely buy from you.

When you define the desired outcomes, you can choose a tool to help you deliver them.

2. Investigate the market

You’ve learned what functionalities you need from your sales intelligence tool, you can narrow down your choices with three simple steps.

  • Look at software review sites, such as G2, Capterra and TrustRadius.

G2 lets you filter the entire sales tech market by function - so you can easily find a list of every sales intelligence tool available. You can rank that list by price, popularity and, perhaps most importantly, customer review score.

Then, go deeper and read what real customers thought of each product, what works well for them and what doesn’t.

  • Visit company websites and social media.

Get a feel for the product by learning how they promote their solutions and how they position themselves against competition. Check if your preferred provider has a YouTube channel - an excellent resource for quickly uncovering information.

  • Talk to your network.

Remember the B2B sales adage - "people buy from people."

Ask your contacts in the industry about the tools they use and if they like them. You’re more likely to get an honest opinion from a friend or colleague.

3. Get a demo and test the data

Once you've narrowed down your shortlist to two or three solutions, it’s time to start engaging with sales teams. Don't hesitate to take their sales intelligence platform for a spin, test their data, and ask questions based on the outcomes you want to achieve. Here are seven questions to ask:

  • How accurate is your sales intelligence?

The more accurate the insights, the more effective your sales. Sales data deteriorates quickly. Ask how they source their data and how often it gets refreshed.

  • What insights can your data give me?

If discovering sales triggers or gauging intent is a priority, ensure your sales intelligence tool can provide the necessary information.

  • How complete is your data?

How in-depth will your data provider go? For example, some tools may tell you what sales tech a company uses; this can be dynamite information in B2B. But not all tools may give you that level of detail.

  • Is your data compliant?

Ensure the sales intelligence database complies with data privacy regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA. The penalties for non-compliance can be severe.

  • How much does it cost?

Sales intelligence is an investment, so work out possible returns. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Avoid going for the cheapest option; when it comes to B2B tech, benefits, features, and ROI are most important.

  • On average, how soon do your customers see ROI?

When buying new tech for your team, you'll want to ensure it will give you the swiftest possible return. Asking this question will allow you to judge based on the only thing that matters in B2B - the bottom line.

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