This week I begin a series of posts on what I refer to as High Quality Sales Intelligence, otherwise referred to as in-depth sales intelligence. I will examine what it is, why it is so important, and how it differs from most other types of sales intelligence promoted these days.
The purpose of these posts is not to demean the other types of sales intelligence, but to highlight why High Quality Sales Intelligence complements those other types and gives the salesperson a unique and compelling advantage in their marketplace.
Aberdeen Group defines Sales intelligence as the "various sources of information used by organizations to improve the effectiveness of their sales force, enrich the leads in the sales pipeline, and educate on competitive products and offerings". They go on to say "organizations that leverage sales intelligence within the sales department are better suited to understand the specific business challenges of prospects, map products and services to those business challenges, and speak intelligently about competitive differentiators during the sales process."
Let's take a look at the types of sales intelligence defined in their December, 2009 report, Inside Sales Enablement: "Let Them Drink Coffee!". They listed six types of sales intelligence deployed by 92% of sales teams from a universe of 528 respondents. They are listed below with the percentage used by type:
1. 39%: Basic "business card" information - name, title, address, phone, etc.
2. 33%: Company heirarchy - executives, org charts, divisions
3. 29%: Basic company information - location, financials, headcount, industry
4. 27%: Competitive intelligence - products, leadership changes, significant news
5. 20%: "Ideal prospects" segmented contacts by geography, business model, revenue
6. 17% Trigger events - relevant competitors' announcements
Which of these types of sales intelligence are most valuable for helping salespeople understand the specific business challenges of their prospects & map products and services to those business challenges? While numbers 4,5 & 6 are more valuable than 1,2 or 3, I am hard pressed to pick any of the six types. Why? Because none of them drill down into the specific business challenges of individual prospects within an account.
In order to uncover these business challenges, it is necessary to investigate things such as:
- Annual Reports & 10Ks
- Presentations given by the prospect to investors, stockholders, analysts, and to attendees at conferences
- Quarterly reports, especially earnings call transcripts where significant business issues and business challenges are talked about
- Interviews given by the prospect online and in magazines
- Profiles found in Forbes, Business Week, etc.
- Articles in the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, etc.
- Local newspapers in the area where the prospect lives
There are many more sources for collecting valuable information on individual prospects. I should say in these cases, I am referring to prospects as senior executives with the budget and authority to buy in your target accounts. These are the decision makers who you need to build relationships with if you want to win business.
Have you found success with this type of sales intelligence? Have you been able to obtain meetings and use it in those meetings with senior executives to gain their interest & attention?
Let me hear from you.