Guest post by Kyle Porter, CEO, of SalesLoft, an innovative Sales Intelligence Software company.
Almost every industry has been disrupted as the internet has connected us all over the last twenty years. Telecommunications, energy, entertainment, finance, whatever the industry, the internet has likely improved it. The way we stay in touch with our friends and family has even changed. Instead of a phone call or letter, we’ll send a text or tweet. Every industry is going through a transformation and B2B Sales is seeing it’s most significant disruption begin right now.
Compared to other industries such as music or publishing, the sales industry is a late-comer to innovation: technology just can’t replace building authentic relationships or understanding a customer’s need. Sales intelligence will never substitute what makes a sales rep great, however, sales intelligence will make a sales rep greater.
Countless information exists on how to be a better sales rep. However, other than altering your pitch, work load, or delivery, how do you become a better sales rep? The answer is simple: data.
McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) came out with a study on big data exploring “large pools of data that can be captured, communicated, aggregated, stored, and analyzed and how it’s now part of every sector and function of the global economy.” This big data movement is making it’s way to sales, and “sales intelligence” is the term industry thoughts leaders use to describe this shift.
Prospects are sharing information which is valuable to sales reps everyday. A blog post about a new product line, a tweet about their businesses needs, or a promotion posted on LinkedIn are valuable data for a sales rep. The problem is that it is impossible to manually stay informed on all this valuable information available on our targets.
The MGI study addresses 5 ways big data creates value:
1) Creating transparency
2) Enabling experimentation to discover needs, expose variability, and improve performance
3) Segmenting populations to customize actions
4) Replacing/supporting human decision making with automated algorithms
5) Innovating new business models, products, and services
Sales is experiencing parallel value-add because of sales intelligence. Below we take a look at the way the sales industry is being transformed:
- Creating transparency: Large amounts of data are available on your prospects providing information never known before.
- Improving performance: The sales cycle has sped up with the help of big data. Targeted information, delivered in a easily consumable way is saving sales reps valuable time and prioritizing their resources more efficiently.
- Segmenting populations: More data offers opportunity to segment your prospects in every stage of the sales cycle.
- Replacing human decisions: Hunches and gut feel will always be valuable to sales reps, now data helps them decide on who’s important and where to spend time.
- New business models: New companies have started in the sales intelligence industry. Look no further than SalesLoft.
In the enterprise SAAS eco-system, sales intelligence is just beginning to grow roots. The global CRM marketplace is estimated to have reached over $18 billion in annual revenue. Enterprises place significant priority on sales, and rightfully so. But CRM and sales force automation (SFA) tools just aren’t enough.
While migrating toward a commodity offering, these products have neglected to provide much value beyond storing and presenting information generated from manual input. And sales reps have grown dissatisfied with a tool that was built for management and not for production.
Amazon, Pandora, Ebay and Facebook have led innovation in suggestive selling and recommendation engines, but what about the millions of sales reps around the world? These professionals seek knowledge and an edge so they can get ahead of the game and generate more revenue.
Sales intelligence is in it’s primitive stages. Right now, job changes alerts, technology scraping, knowing a company’s SEM/marketing spend, and targeted keyword searches (keyword operators) are just the beginning.
Sales intelligence can gather data from a host of sources on both the global internet and internal systems. Imagine a system that could fully analyze your entire CRM and uncover defining characteristics of companies more likely to buy your product. Every day, new data is captured and more sources of information hit the open web. Target, the major retailer, was able to identify that a teen female was pregnant before ever her father knew.
B2B sales intelligence is following in the path laid out by the big retailers and B2C organizations who have led the way before us. Just think, at the rate the web is growing, what are the chances that some of this new data can be helpful to B2B sales?
It’s a great time to be in sales and as history proves time and time again, the people who leverage technology today will reap the benefit tomorrow.
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