Sales are the driving force that helps companies achieve greater growth and profitability. However, without the proper technology and processes in place, sales can be an extremely inefficient process. In fact, sales reps spend up to 64% of their working hours on non-revenue generating tasks.
To make things even more challenging, prospects seem harder to please than ever before. Consumers today expect timely, relevant, personalized, and impact-driven outreach from start to finish.
So, it’s no wonder businesses continually look for ways to make sales work smarter, not harder. And that’s exactly what sales intelligence is for.
Sales Intelligence 101
Sales intelligence is the process of using data, research, finding new prospects, and converting them into customers. Sales intelligence is used in both B2B and B2C contexts. Today, sales intelligence is mainly used with the tools and solutions that sales teams use.
However, it’s as much about the process of finding, qualifying, and converting customers as it is about technology. Sales intelligence tools automate prospect research and ensure data is organized and easy to access. They find and compile prospect data from various sources to produce a database of customer profiles with sales-driven data points.
Salespeople can use these profiles to qualify and engage with leads. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can also analyze leads and provide actionable insights. This enables sales teams to spend more time closing deals and less time doing mundane, time-consuming tasks like researching prospects and qualifying leads.
Using this information, sales reps can:
● Identify and engage with qualified leads
● Personalize customer outreach
● Tailor offers and sales strategies according to detailed customer profiles
● Quickly identify and react to a prospect’s needs and pain points
● Track the progress of individual sales as well as overall sales campaigns
Many businesses use sales intelligence tools to improve sales and streamline the process. Some of the most widely used sales intelligence tools today include:
● LinkedIn Sales Navigator
● HubSpot Sales Hub
Account-based vs Lead-based Sales Intelligence
So, now we have a solid understanding of what sales intelligence is and how it works. However, there are two different ways in which sales data can be organized:
● By account-level information, or
● By lead-level information
The majority of the benefits of sales intelligence will still apply, regardless of which model you use. However, the subtle but important differences between these two approaches will still have a tangible impact on how your team uses sales intelligence. So, you must choose the right option to optimize sales for your unique situation.
Lead-based sales, or lead generation, is the OG sales marketing strategy, while account-based management (ABM) is a relatively new approach. Lead information consists of records of individual contacts, while ABM creates profiles based on company-level information.
There are many more possible leads than “accounts.” So, lead-based sales tend to focus more on operating at scale, while account-based sales focus on putting maximum effort into fewer high-value prospects. If lead-based sales are fishing with a net, then account-based sales are fishing with a speargun.
To better understand the distinction, let’s look at the main difference between lead and account-based sales:
Quality vs Quantity
With leads, on the other hand, volume is the name of the game. Out of necessity, you can put only so much time and effort into nurturing each lead. So, lead-based sales are better at targeting self-directed buyers with clearer intent. Think mass-market products or services.
With a much smaller number of leads, you can take a more personalized, high-effort approach with accounts. Typically, a sales rep would develop a relationship with a specific account, increasing your chance of a conversion.
Small sales vs Big deals
Businesses usually have larger budgets which means bigger deals, justifying the timesink. There are also more opportunities to sell add-on products or services, such as support contracts, custom solutions, etc. Not to mention developing a long-term, mutually-beneficial partnership.
Remember that businesses or organizations have multiple decision-makers to satisfy instead of just one. That’s why additional time is needed to foster relationships, negotiate on an individual level, and develop targeted messaging.
By necessity, you can’t give each lead the same A-lister treatment. You’re aiming for a higher volume of smaller sales. The cost of entry for lead-based tools sales intelligence systems is also usually lower than that of ABM tools.
Alignment vs Silos
Generally speaking, there needs to be a much stronger alignment between marketing and sales when taking the ABM approach. The messaging needs to be consistent from the very get-go and the marketing and sales need to work together as two sides of the same coin to nurture leads throughout the sales lifecycle.
When taking a lead-based approach, businesses can certainly benefit from cross-team alignment. However, marketing and sales can also operate efficiently while being mostly independent. That’s because generating leads and then selling to them can be thought of as two separate processes.
Vanity Metrics vs Target Account Influence
Due to their differences, it should be no surprise that success is measured differently for lead and account-based sales.
Lead-based sales tend to focus on metrics like click-through rates, page views, conversions, and the number of leads. Sure, bigger numbers look impressive, but they don’t necessarily correlate to higher profits or better ROI.
For example, you may have 1 million leads. But, if you spend $25 nurturing each lead, only convert 1%, and each sale is only worth $30, then that’s not a lot of profit.
On the other hand, ABM is concerned with more seemingly abstract metrics, such as coverage, awareness, engagement, reach, and influence. They measure the impact that your marketing and sales efforts have on prospects and how they experience your brand. And are used to optimize your sales approach for future high-value accounts continually.
At its core, sales intelligence empowers salespeople to do what they do best: sell products and services. And less time carrying out low-level, back-office tasks like creating lead databases and qualifying leads. Thanks to automation and data accessibility, it also streamlines the entire process, making it easier to personalize communications and nurture leads efficiently.
However, sales intelligence is not a one-size-fits-all solution. You must carefully consider which approach best serves your sales team and customers. Do that, and sales intelligence can be the most effective weapon in your arsenal to boost sales and improve your marketing ROI.
Topic: Sales Intelligence Platforms