The Cost of Not Investing in Sales Intelligence

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It always amazes me that more organizations don’t recognize the cost of not investing in sales intelligence. I think I should start by defining what I mean by the phrase “sales intelligence”. Sales intelligence refers to any information, knowledge, or experiences that can be used to educate, enrich and enable the sales force to be more effective and productive.

I believe that sales intelligence goes beyond simple contact information about a company, who the contact names and titles are. I believe that some of the real sales intelligence comes from past experiences and the tribal knowledge gained in successfully, or unsuccessfully, selling to your target customer base. Sometimes there is greater insight and intelligence gained in a lost opportunity than one that was won.

I think that sales intelligence is gained through validation of who your target market actually is, from the type of business, targeted companies which represent that business and, finally, who in the business we should target to sell to. If we don’t have the market and sales intelligence about the markets and people we are attempting to sell to, what their pains and problems are, and how we solve those pains and problems, then we simply waste a lot of time and efforts and usually lose an opportunity to make a sale.

Part of the sales intelligence equation also includes information about who our competitors are, what they have to offer, what our key differentiators are and what our value proposition is over them.

In a recent article by a prominent research group, they found that those companies that actively incorporated sales intelligence as part of their sales process achieved a 92% above average customer retention rate compared to only 31% for those companies that didn’t.  Those same companies showed a 28.4% average year-over-year increase in total revenue, while those companies that didn’t have a sales intelligence initiative had a 9% decrease in revenue! If this isn’t proof enough for organizations to take a more serious look at the value of investing in a sales intelligence initiative, then I believe that we are doomed to struggle, losing both market share and revenue.

It is clear that it’s not the lack of information that sales people suffer from. On the contrary, the flood of information/data has created a watershed of too much information. This in turn creates a problem of people wasting valuable time trying to find what they need, when they need it. I’m afraid that with the whole new advent of social media sites, we have added even more overhead in time wasted searching for the right information.

I see a silver lining as more and more companies are implementing Sales Enablement positions to deal with this whole area. The Sales Enablement role understands the need for better sales intelligence and is looking for more and better tools that will capture and deliver that type of intelligence.

To be honest, I believe that most companies that haven’t explored this haven’t done so because they think that it: (#1) isn’t a problem for them, and (#2) isn’t a priority. These are the companies that simply don’t understand the true cost of not investing in sales intelligence.

That’s the way I see it, what about you?

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