As a business leader today, you probably recognize that data is one of the most valuable assets your business possesses. However, data needs to be stored, managed, and processed in ways that take it from raw observations to usable insights to intelligence that enables better decision-making.
These processes can turn data into different types of intelligence that can be used to benefit different areas of the business. The differences between business vs. sales vs. other types of intelligence can be difficult to distinguish but are important to know if you want to derive the maximum value from your data.
Below, we’ll break down and discuss the relationships between various types of intelligence, particularly business intelligence (BI) and sales intelligence (SI).
The Branches of Business Intelligence
Business Intelligence, or BI, is often used as an umbrella term for various types of intelligence useful to the business. As a discipline, BI doesn’t only refer to the data itself but also to the methods and tools used for sourcing, storing, managing, processing, and using data.
Here are some of the most effective and commonly used BI methods and tools used today:
● Data mining tools: These tools use artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and statistics to mine large amounts of data for patterns or trends.
● Data preparation: Transforming and manipulating raw data to ensure its standardized, valid, and ready for analysis.
● Reporting software: Software tools that collect data that can be used to organize and filter it to display relevant or actionable data. These reports are often shared internally and externally with business stakeholders.
● Spreadsheets: Although becoming deprecated, many businesses still rely on spreadsheets to store, organize, and manipulate business data.
● Query execution: Users query data to answer specific questions or isolate subsets of data.
● Data visualization and analytics: Software that translates data into visually consumable graphical representations, like charts, graphs, etc., to offer quick insights.
● Performance metrics and benchmarking: Specialized data analysis tools to compare past and current performance to measure improvement as well as model future performance.
● Descriptive analytics: Intelligence tools that help analyze what happened to trigger or during a particular incident to understand it better.
Collecting all this data helps form a complete picture of the business, either as a whole or regarding specific operations (like sales & marketing, finance, engineering, manufacturing, strategy, human resources, etc.). By performing analysis, companies can assess their performance, make predictions or forecasts, or optimize their current processes.
All-in-all, BI exists to help decision-makers make faster, more accurate, and better decisions.
Business Intelligence for Sales and Marketing
Business intelligence is at the core of the most vital areas of businesses today. Furthermore, intelligence is essential in sales and marketing because it helps companies understand the buyer’s wants, needs, and behaviors, not to mention underlying market trends that inform every step of the sales process.
In short, sales intelligence is the information that sales and marketing people use to make informed decisions throughout the sales cycle.
While not exhaustive, this list is the kind of BI data that is most valuable to sales and marketing:
● Consumer buying patterns and consumption trends.
● Product selling performance as well as the reasons why some products perform better/worse than others.
● Data that helps identify potential selling opportunities, such as when, how, and why to attempt a sales outreach.
● Customer relations and engagement data from, e.g., your CRM (customer relationship management) system.
● Competitor data, such as their performance, consumer trends, etc.
Today, business across all fields and industries is fast-paced and highly competitive. You can rest assured that your competitors use advanced tools to identify and understand potential customers, instantly reach out to them, and provide them with tailored offerings and a personalized customer experience. This is no less than what buyers today expect, particularly in B2B sales, and they are becoming increasingly discerning about how and with who they do business.
With that being said, leveraging sales intelligence can help give you a competitive edge by:
● Defining your target demographics and engaging them
● Sifting through leads to find your most valuable prospects
● Identifying their pain points or factors that make it easier to convert leads to customers
● Streamlining outreach via buying/sales triggers and shared, on-demand access to customer info
● More accurate sales forecasting
● Make it easier to benchmark and monitor performance, even to the level of individual marketing campaigns or sales.
● Improve customer loyalty and increase your total CLV (customer lifetime value)
Why the Confusion?
The simple answer is that there is a significant overlap between conventional BI and SI, as there is with BI and most other types of business-related intelligence. The line between the two is further obscured by the fact that many businesses see sales as the final and most important aspect of the business. After all, it’s the primary driver of revenue and growth.
The first and most obvious difference is that sales intelligence is focused mainly on the subset of business intelligence related to sales, as described above.
However, another difference is that sales intelligence data is usually more concerned with historical data that helps businesses understand why something happened the way it did. For example, why a sale was lost or why you beat a competitor to convert a customer. These insights can be used to make future sales by eliminating things that don’t work and improving the ones that do.
BI, on the other hand, also uses historical “why” data. However, it’s also focused more on real-time data gathering and predictive analytics because it’s heavily invested in how the business performs.
64% of those that use BI report that it improves their efficiency and productivity. As a competitive advantage, the total BI market is expected to grow from $23.1 billion in 2020 to $33.3 billion by 2025.
Sales intelligence, on the other hand, is helping businesses generate more leads and find the most valuable prospects and sell to them more effectively. Businesses that use SI report benefits like 35% more leads and 45% higher-quality leads.
Not leveraging either BI or SI is equal to trying to find your way through a maze in the dark. Only, you’re competing against other players armed with flashlights and ropes. BI and SI can illuminate your way, particularly if sales & marketing is the pillar of your business.
Topic: Sales Intelligence