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What is sales intelligence?

Sales intelligence is the term given to the range of tech solutions that provide data to salespeople and marketers in the B2B space. It helps sales and marketing teams discover, analyze, present, and make use of data relating to their potential customers.

Scroll or use the menu below to discover more about the benefits of sales intelligence, the software and data that powers it, and the best platforms on the market. 👇

Sales intelligence benefits | Sales intelligence software | Sales intelligence data | Sales intelligence and the sales process | Sales intelligence and salespeople | Sales intelligence and the customer experience | Sales intelligence vs business intelligence | Sales intelligence and your CRM | Best sales intelligence platforms | Cognism's sales intelligence 

B2B Sales Intelligence

What are the benefits of sales intelligence?

Sales intelligence delivers massive benefits to your sales and marketing teams - and your wider organization. It brings you the data you need in an easily understandable way.

See the infographic below for every sales intelligence benefit 👇

sales-intelligence-infographic

How does sales intelligence software work?

Sales intelligence software works by continuously crawling millions of publicly available websites, gathering relevant data, and matching it to profiles in its database. Simple to use platforms allow salespeople to search, analyze and evaluate the data. 

Different sales intelligence platforms work in different ways, but many will work alongside your CRM or sales acceleration software. 

When you bring sales intelligence into your B2B sales team, it helps you deliver numerous tasks more effectively, such as:

Generating sales and marketing leads

With sales intelligence software, you can use data to create lists of individuals that match your ideal customer profile (ICP). You can also create lists of profiles that are similar to your existing customer base. It’s lead generation gold.

Setting up sales trigger alerts

Sales intelligence provides real-time data on your prospects. If an event happens that you need to know about, it'll notify you.

Enriching and cleaning your existing customer data

Sales intelligence keeps your historical customer data updated and fills in any missing gaps.

Personalizing your sales strategy

The more you know about a prospect, the more you can tailor the way you sell to them. Personalized sales approaches often yield higher-quality leads and more conversions.

Conducting market research and gaining insights

When you know how many potential leads are out there, you can forecast and allocate resources more accurately. You can also keep an eye on your competitors.

Sales intelligence data 101

Sales intelligence platforms gather business data on a vast number of individuals and organizations.

Where does sales intelligence data come from? 

From millions of public and private sources.

The best platforms present data in a way that’s simple to understand. The data is already available, but sales intelligence software saves time by bringing it together in one place.

What can revenue teams do with this data?

Armed with this data, B2B sales and marketing teams can be more effective at identifying prospects and reaching them at the right time with the correct personalized approach.

What are the key data points in sales intelligence?

Depending on the sales intelligence platform you choose, you can find information on potential customers, including name, job title, email address, telephone number, and more.

The best platforms will also show you real-time data that indicates that they might be interested in making a purchase, such as financial figures, new funding rounds, and new appointments.

They will also provide insights into the buying intentions of your leads. This type of data, called intent data, is invaluable for salespeople who want to know exactly when a prospect is looking to purchase your solution or that of a competitor.

How do these data points help on a practical level?

Teams can build lists of leads to target with content, or give to salespeople to cold call

Sales intelligence brings massive benefits to sales and marketing teams, helping them gain a competitive edge. The teams that have the highest-quality data presented most effectively will have a huge advantage over their rivals.

Why is data vital to sales intelligence?

Data is the fuel for sales intelligence.

If you want to get the best results from your sales intelligence platform, you need the best data available – rich, accurate, and up-to-date.

Make sure you choose a sales intelligence platform that gives you the most detailed picture of your prospects.

With the right data, you can get so much more than simply a contact’s name and job title. You can access their work email address, mobile phone number (which is invaluable now many prospects work remotely), and more. At an organizational level, you can even discover what sales tech solutions they use.

Your data should be as accurate as possible. Incorrect data will only waste your salespeople’s time and make them less effective. Choose a data provider that prioritizes self-entered data, as this is more likely to be accurate. The best data providers use artificial intelligence (AI) to gather and check the reliability of their data.

Having data that is as recent as possible boosts its accuracy. Real-time data will help your sales reps to contact the best prospects at the right time.

How does sales intelligence boost the B2B sales process?

Sales intelligence brings benefits throughout your sales process and helps you deliver a buying experience prospects love.

In particular, sales intelligence makes these 3 areas of your sales process more effective:

1 - Creating 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 to make it work. By analysing your current customer base, you can use sales intelligence tools to find commonalities, then create lists of target companies and individuals that fit your ICP.

For example, if your ICP is VPs of Marketing in EMEA-based companies with less than 50 people, sales intelligence will create a list of people that fit the bill exactly. What’s more, it will also give you their mobile numbers, email addresses, and any other relevant piece of information. Then, your marketing team will be able to warm them up with relevant, personalised content.

2 - 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.

Sales intelligence tools can monitor your prospects’ responses, such as opening an email, reading it to the end or downloading additional content. They can then assign each prospect a score, which shows your marketers which pieces of content are working best and your salespeople they should be reaching out to. When you have this kind of B2B data at your fingertips, it takes the guesswork out of the sales process.

3 - 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.

The first task is for your SDRs to call the prospect, begin the conversation and qualify them in or out of the process. B2B sales intelligence tools ensure 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 that 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.

Finally, sales intelligence tools can perform another valuable task - making sure salespeople reach out at the moment when the prospect is at their most receptive. 

Sales intelligence tools monitor millions of data points to identify sales triggers, such as a company raising a new funding round or appointing a new CEO, which signals that a prospect may be interested in buying. Once your sales team discovers these sales triggers, they can launch into action.

How does sales intelligence help salespeople perform?

Sales intelligence can make the difference at different stages of the sales process, but it also has an overall effect on sales performance.

Boosting productivity

Because sales intelligence instantly gives salespeople the correct contact details for their prospects and customers, they can have more sales conversations across the day.

Better connections

Sales intelligence helps salespeople understand when a prospect is most likely to be interested in what they have to say. Then, when they’re speaking with the prospect, sales intelligence helps them craft a message that resonates.

Shorter sales cycles

Rather than wasting time contacting buyers when they're not in a position to buy, sales intelligence leverages data to alert the salesperson to that all-important moment when they have an intent to purchase.

This means the time between first contact and winning the deal is much shorter.

Cleaner customer data

Sales intelligence ensures you always have the most up-to-date information on your customers, even after they’ve signed up with you. This information is essential when it’s time to renew.

Identifying areas to improve

Sales intelligence produces data on the effectiveness of sales and marketing strategies. This means that business leaders can quickly determine what is or isn’t working, and then experiment with ways to improve future performance.

How does sales intelligence improve the customer experience?

Today's B2B buyers don’t always want to be forced to engage with salespeople in a certain way, such as being qualified on the phone by SDRs.

Instead, they want to do their own research, then be met where they are by the company they want to engage with. It’s why today’s B2B salespeople need to be just as good with video, email and social media as they are on the phone. As a result, companies that provide the best B2B customer experience often win the deals over their competitors.

Sales intelligence can help you meet your prospects’ expectations and lead them to become customers. The more you know about your prospect, the easier it is to craft a message that resonates with them - and sales intelligence gives you all the information you need to connect with them on a meaningful level.

With sales triggers and intent data, sales intelligence helps you pick the moment where the prospect may actually be grateful that you called. Then, all you have to do is demonstrate that you can solve their problem.

Sales intelligence vs business intelligence: what’s the difference?

There are connections between sales intelligence and business intelligence; even some areas where the two may overlap, but there are also clear dividing lines.

Definitions

Business intelligence is a term covering software and other tools that companies use to gather, store and analyse data on their business and their industry. Companies can use business intelligence to make better short and long-term business decisions. 

Examples of BI applications are tools that take data, process it, and make it presentable via dashboards, reports and charts. 

Sales intelligence is defined as the range of tech solutions that provide data to salespeople and marketers in the B2B space only. 

SI tools help sales and marketing teams make the best use of data relating to prospects and customers. A good example would be a B2B data platform like Cognism, which provides up-to-date contact data for prospects, that marketers can target with relevant content and salespeople can call to convert.

The differences

There are five big differences between sales intelligence and business intelligence:

  • SI tends to be only used by sales and marketing teams. BI may be used throughout the organisation, although it’s primarily for enterprise analysts.
  • BI covers information on the marketplace, such as news, research and financial data. SI relates to data on prospects, customers and events.
  • SI can work in real-time, while BI is mainly concerned with historical data.
  • If BI is more about the “what” and the “how” a business event took place, SI is more about the “why”.
  • BI software helps companies understand often complex data and use it to identify new opportunities, such as new markets, demand for new products and the impact of their marketing. SI helps sales leaders make forecasts for the future, which also affects how the organisation operates.

Similarities

While there are significant differences between sales intelligence and business intelligence, there are also some connections and overlaps, which leads to confusion between the two terms. 

Firstly, SI and BI both deal with data, just different types of data. Your organisation’s overarching data strategy should cover SI and BI. Leadership teams will use both to make decisions that have far-reaching effects across the business.

Next, on a strategic level, SI and BI support each other – and vice versa. BI tools give you data that shows how your business is performing (good or bad). When you analyse it correctly and combine it with SI data that shows you why your business is performing the way it is, you can make forecasts for the future and act on them in the right way.

Finally, when you get SI and BI working together on a tactical level, you make more sales and your business performs better. For example, if you find out that a company that could be a good fit for your product has just raised a new funding round (BI), your sales team can grab the contact details for the CMO (SI), make contact and start a relationship. 

Making use of SI and BI

Data is just words and numbers unless you follow the signals and take action. Here are more ways you can combine SI and BI:

  • Creating content - act on business intelligence to create relevant content that resonates with your ideal customer profile. Analyse responses such as open rates and shares to decide what content to develop in the future.
  • Lead gen - The data in your business helps you create an ideal customer profile (ICP), while your SI tools help you find out where they are, reach them with the right message and judge responses.
  • Getting the timing right - BI tools can help you identify sales triggers events (e.g. raising a new round of funding) that can tell you when a prospect may be interested in hearing from you. SI helps you reach them where they are.
  • Converting prospects - Combine BI and SI to ensure your reps have all the information they need at their fingertips when talking to a prospect. The more you know about a prospect, the easier it is to locate their pain point and position your product as the solution.
  • Predicting the future - No one has a crystal ball, but using BI and SI together can help you see events such as shifts in customer demand before they happen.

How does sales intelligence work with your CRM?

Your customer relationship management (CRM) system plays a valuable role in maximizing the value of your sales intelligence software. To get the most from the detailed, accurate data that sales intelligence solutions produce, you need somewhere to store it.

Once it’s stored and available for you to access and manipulate, you can use it to identify new business and reach your prospects at a time they’re ready to buy. Your CRM is the digital filing cabinet that makes it possible.

Now, we’ll look deeper at the role of CRM in sales intelligence. We’ll also clear up the differences between sales intelligence, business intelligence and CRM.

What's the difference between sales intelligence and CRM?

Whereas Customer Relationship Management (CRM) helps businesses log and administrate interactions with customers, sales intelligence helps sales and marketing teams discover, analyze, and utilize data relating to prospects and customers. So while the two work hand in hand, they are distinct from one another. 

The role of CRM

To get the most value, make sure the sales intelligence solution you choose can integrate with your CRM.

In an ideal situation, your sales intelligence and CRM will work together without friction, with no need to manually synchronize the two programs. Even better, your sales intelligence may work as a plug-in inside your CRM, with no need to switch windows.

Integrating your sales intelligence tool and your CRM will save time and work, allowing you to maximize the benefits of sales intelligence.

Once your sales intelligence software and CRM are talking to each other, you should be able to import and locate the new data in your CRM. For example, you could use sales intelligence to create a list of leads that match your ICP in a particular sector, then transfer it to your CRM.

The data points that your CRM will display varies depending on the sales intelligence solution you select. You’ll find the basic information:

  • Name and contact info
  • Job title and level of seniority
  • Company information (size, location)

However, your sales intelligence solution can show you better, more helpful information, including:

  • Sales triggers – has something happened showing they may be ready to buy?
  • Intent data – what have they been searching for that could show interest in your product?

Armed with this kind of information in your CRM, you can go to these prospects with a message that will resonate.

Using sales intelligence with your CRM

With data gathered from sales intelligence in your CRM, you get 4 key benefits.

1) You get complete visibility of your sales intelligence data

Then, using your CRM’s filtering features, you can manipulate the data to find new opportunities.

2) You can use your CRM’s analytics to create reports that bring the data to life.

The more you know about a prospect or customer, the better you can position your product as the solution to their pain. Combining sales intelligence with your CRM gives you the ultimate in customer insight, giving you an accurate picture of your prospect’s past, present, and future.

3) By automating processes in your sales intelligence and CRM, you can save time and improve the accuracy of your outreach.

For example, if a contact in your CRM displays intent to buy in your sector, you can alert your salespeople. They can then swing into action, running outreach cadences to contact the prospect and promote your product as the answer to their problems.

4) Integrating your sales intelligence solution and CRM ensures you have only the most up-to-date data in your CRM.

Data deteriorates quickly as customers change jobs and companies change ownership. Bad data can derail marketing campaigns and cause salespeople to waste time chasing prospects that don’t exist. Sales intelligence eliminates this problem in your CRM, automatically enriching your data to ensure it’s as accurate as possible.

Quite simply, with sales intelligence in your CRM, you close more deals, faster.

The 8 best sales intelligence platforms

In a crowded market, choosing a sales intelligence tool that works for your business can be challenging. Below, we've included 8 of the best on the market, each of which you can compare directly with Cognism. 

Cognism

Cognism is a European go-to-market data specialist, helping revenue teams pinpoint the best B2B prospects with GDPR-compliant, up-to-date contact data. With powerful filtering of its 400 million-strong profile database, you can create narrow Ideal Customer Profiles and contact lists that your marketers can target and your salespeople can reach with ease.

The Cognism platform also allows you to automate real-time sales trigger alerts, so you can reach your ideal prospects at a time when they want to hear from you. This is why over 1k RevOps teams across the globe rely on Cognism to solve their sales intelligence challenges.

ZoomInfo

ZoomInfo makes sure you always have the correct numbers and addresses, whether it's new leads or long-standing existing customers. This helps reps find the people they want to contact, without wasting time on former employees.

With ZoomInfo, marketers can use filtering to segment contact information, allowing them to create ICPs and target them with messaging that speaks to their pain points. For salespeople, ZoomInfo offers visibility into real-time events, such as new hires and funding rounds. 

Compare Cognism with ZoomInfo

Lusha

Lusha offers revenue teams contact data for more than 100 million profiles, including direct-dial phone numbers, with an accuracy rate of 81% .

There’s a browser extension to extract contact details as you comb LinkedIn, as well as CRM integration for time-saving, instant data transfer. Lusha will also enrich your existing customer lists to mitigate data deterioration while complying with GDPR and CCPA.

Compare Cognism with Lusha

Clearbit

Clearbit helps revenue teams pinpoint the right accounts to target and grab up-to-date contact details, as well as update existing leads in your CRM. With this data, you can understand more about your customers, identify new prospects and reach out to them efficiently with the most effective messaging.

Some of the company data Clearbit can provide for you includes headcount and technologies used - ideal for SaaS vendors. You can also get real-time information, such as when a contact changes roles.

Compare Cognism with Clearbit

LeadIQ

LeadIQ gives your revenue teams up-to-date contact information for prospects and customers. Because it’s a plug-in rather than a standalone platform, it allows you to see information while you browse LinkedIn or other sites.

LeadIQ connects to your CRM, enabling you to transfer its data into your CRM as you browse online. 

Compare Cognism with LeadIQ

SalesIntel

SalesIntel data is verified by human beings rather than AI, claiming 95% accuracy for direct dial telephone numbers and mobile numbers. Accuracy is the watchword in everything it does, with the aim to save time for revenue teams, which they can then spend with prospects.

Contact data provided by SalesIntel is verified every 90 days by its team, which isn’t real-time, but still allows for high accuracy. 

Compare Cognism with SalesIntel

Apollo.io

Apollo.io aims to help salespeople land their dream customers by providing the correct data, fast. It excels at extracting up-to-date email addresses and contact numbers while you browse LinkedIn. What’s more, it allows you to see when they open your emails – handy when you’re prospecting.

With more than 200+ data points that you can filter, Apollo is an excellent list-builder. AI-powered updates give you signals about a contact’s receptiveness. Apollo can also enrich the contact details for your existing leads and customers, ensuring your database remains current. 

Compare Cognism with Apollo.io

Seamless.AI

Seamless.AI's 10-step AI research engine offers verification of your contact data in real-time, so revenue teams can be confident their aiming at the right target.

It’s also a great list-builder, where you can set criteria including industry, size and location, and it will do the rest. A Google Chrome extension helps you locate contact details as you browse LinkedIn and the web while the platform integrates with 1500+ apps.

Compare Cognism with Seamless.AI

Cognism: the real sales intelligence solution

Trusted by over 1k revenue teams worldwide, Cognism is the perfect choice to solve your sales intelligence challenges.

Sign up with us and you will:

  • Prospect predictably with better data - spend less time on manual prospecting and more time on engaging, qualifying and nurturing your ideal prospects.
  • Find key decision-makers in best-fit accounts - filter through Cognism’s globally compliant database to identify the people and companies you need to target.
  • Identify who is ready to buy and when they’re ready to buy - track the online behaviour of your target accounts and when they enter buying mode.
  • Benefit from working with a world leader in B2B compliance - ensure your data complies with the letter of the law, wherever you operate.

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