Sales Intelligence – A revenue marketer’s secret weapon for 2014 (pt. 3)

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Jeff Ramminger

SVP, Field Marketing & Client Consulting

In Part I and Part II of this series, I gave you my perspective on how significantly buyer behavior has changed in the last several years. Our research at TechTarget (as well as that of folks like Sirius Decisions) has helped marketing and sales leaders understand how much farther the buyer is going in their research process before being interested in, or willing to, engage with sales. Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the potential that sales intelligence represents – in the form of both predictive and behavioral (activity) intelligence about the buyer and their research – to help marketing and sales leaders create more successful and comprehensive engagements with a prospective buyer.

At TechTarget we’re excited about both predictive and activity driven intelligence capabilities, but we clearly think that activity intelligence offers the best potential for sales leverage. It’s simple really – it’s not a prediction of potential, but the real world demonstration that potential exists. If a prospective buyer is researching a topic and solutions, they’re doing that because of an impending or current project. So all we need to do is have sales tap into that intelligence to create great sales potential, right? If only it were as easy…

Surrounding the account

Remember that IT decisions are made by buying teams – not just a single individual. While we all know there is likely to be an ultimate “decision maker” , it’s clear that the buying team will strongly influence the ultimate decision and for an enterprise-class decision you’re trying to reach a team that averages 10 people in size. Interesting, the same activity intelligence that fuels our marketing and sales intelligence opportunity also helps solve that challenge. By looking at the activity of all of the engaged users from an enterprise on a particular topic, we can give sales a perspective on “account” level intelligence. The immediate benefit of that is the ability for sales to have more than one contact available to reach out to – something almost every sales professional would tell you is a welcome opportunity.

So we have activity intelligence about the prospective buyer(s), and can build a profile of the account overall. Great stuff. But just like the TV guy that yells “but wait, there’s more!” – I’ve saved one of the coolest developments for last…

Capturing all available intelligence for your sales teams

sales intelligencePredictive and activity intelligence solutions will help marketing and sales leaders identify projects and deals even if that prospect company has not engaged with any of your content. In the case of predictive intelligence platforms, their algorithms crunch 1st and 3rd party data to develop a profile on accounts that are “likely” to be buying a solution. In our case with Activity Intelligenceâ„¢, we simply capture all of the intelligence for a particular segment or topic – which gives us clear evidence of intent to buy – whether your company is engaged with the buying team or not. It’s a sales leader’s dream scenario: show me where the deals are happening so that I can make sure my team is – or will get – engaged. For deals that they already have in the CRM system, predictive and activity intelligence create a much more in-depth understanding of what’s going on. Through activity intelligence we can share things like which vendors the buying team is researching, where the buying team is located, and if their activity is increasing or decreasing – all valuable signals that sales can exploit to drive the opportunity forward.

Unlocking the power of sales intelligence

All of this may leave you wondering “what should I do now?” There are five simple things you should consider on your path to unlocking the power of sales intelligence:

1) Research – It’s important to understand the sales intelligence “space” and get a solid sense of the potential, the players, and what sort of solution(s) may best fit your company’s needs. Some things to consider are the type of, and accuracy of, the intelligence delivered; how “lightweight” the implementation is – will it require major changes to your sales process and systems; how straight-forward it will be for your sales team to use it; whether or not you want to leverage just one form of sales intelligence or both predictive and activity intelligence; and ultimately what will it cost – and what will the ultimate price / performance balance look like.

2) Relationships – if you’re a marketer, you need to focus on building and maintaining excellent relationships with your sales partners. The same goes for sales – as the sales team needs for the marketing team to succeed at influencing the buyer with high quality content all along their research journey. Sales intelligence is powerful – but not powerful enough to overcome your prospect not having strong knowledge of your solutions. Sales intelligence success, and ultimately pipeline and revenue, will be driven by the partnership between sales and marketing.

3) Realism Regardless of the type of sales intelligence solution you select, you should be realistic about the adoption and use of any new platform or capability like this. Sales is a very difficult job. Salespeople tend to develop approaches and habits – and the injection of new intelligence into their day-to-day activity will take time, training, and re-training. It will also help if you have successes quickly that you can share with the broader team to help motivate their change.  A great reason to consider the next item: Pilot.

4) Pilot – The roll-out of sales intelligence within your organization will get a huge boost from a successful pilot. You should pick a small number of your sales leaders and work with them to develop a pilot – and then listen carefully to their feedback and needs. As you succeed, you’ll have great input for case studies to share with the rest of your team as you roll out sales intelligence to your broader sales team.

5) Feedback – I think this is the MOST critical thing in our list. Change is hard, and in many organizations sales and marketing are “suspicious” of each other. If you’re a marketing or sales leader, give your sales team a very clear avenue for feedback on how things are going and what needs to change. For marketing, it will underwrite your credibility and desire to see sales succeed, and for sales leadership, it will show that you’re listening and responsive to the needs of your team.

I’ll leave you where I started – 2014 will be year of incredible change in revenue marketing and sales. And a major driver of that change will be the application of sales intelligence. We’re past the pilots and “what ifs” – it’s time to rock and roll – ultimately driving your pipeline and revenue and exceeding your targets for 2014!

This is part of a three-part post on sales intelligence and revenue marketing. Here’s where to see Part 1 and Part 2.

account marketing, activity intelligence, marketing and sales alignment, predictive analytics, project identification, sales enablement, sales intelligence

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