All articles

3 ways sales reps can use sales intelligence to find and win new business

Dusty Martin|Updated Nov 3, 2023
Person looking at sales data

Some of us are old enough to remember a time when sales was purely a numbers game. Willy Loman-style: knock enough doors, make enough calls, and that sale will come.

Over time technology has changed the game to a degree barely imaginable even five years ago - especially with this year’s advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and how that is being applied.

The power of today’s sales intelligence software, with its analytics, insights, and automations, shines a light where we previously groped around in the dark. B2B sales has evolved to become a fusion of art and science, with tools there to support us at every step of the sales cycle, helping to sculpt data into deals.

Of course, a tool is only as powerful as the hand that wields it. This article has three strategies that sales teams can utilize to strengthen workflows and fortify pipeline, provide more reliable forecasting, and close more deals.

What is “sales intelligence”?

Sales intelligence data is something that has historically been utilized by sales enablement and revenue operations teams.

Gartner puts it neatly, as always:

"Sales intelligence is the information that salespeople use to make informed decisions in the selling cycle. It includes the tools, techniques, and practices that facilitate data collection, tracking, and analysis. Sales intelligence provides data insights into customer prospects and leads."

Quite simply, B2B sales intelligence gives sales reps practical and actionable data-driven insights that help generate quality leads, build sales pipeline, and close deals more efficiently. It enables understanding the demographics, personas and pain points of potential customers, and target them in more efficient ways that drive more consistent results.

So to some extent, it is still that numbers game. But the numbers stack up a lot nicer from this side of the fence.

What are sales intelligence tools?

A better, faster, more efficient, and (whisper it) easier way to hit quota. That’s the name of the game.

B2B sales intelligence tools sit within the sales tech stack and offer a plethora of benefits to sales teams. Insights into potential leads, customer behaviors, and market trends, enable reps to approach their prospects with more precision and less guess-work. By streamlining the process of gathering and analyzing data, sales intelligence tools save valuable time, allowing salespeople to focus more on relationship-building and less on manual research.

Common sales intelligence platforms and tools include:

  • CRM System: The holy grail of most sales workflows encompass a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. It’s where leads and contacts are stored, tracking every interaction, keeping records of customer data and sales conversations throughout the customer lifecycle. Hubspot and Salesforce are two of the market leaders here- Hubspot for small businesses; Salesforce the more enterprise-level option.
  • Lead Scoring Platforms: These tools assign values to potential clients based on various behavioral and demographic attributes, helping sales reps prioritize prospects most likely to convert.
  • Data Enrichment Tools: They provide comprehensive information about leads by pulling data points from various sources, ensuring that sales teams have a full picture of their potential clients.
  • Email Tracking and Engagement Tools: These monitor when emails are opened, links are clicked, and attachments are viewed, offering insights into the level of interest and engagement from the recipient.
  • Sales Analytics and Forecasting Platforms: They analyze past sales data to predict future sales, inventory needs, or trends, allowing sales teams to make informed decisions.
  • Competitive Intelligence Tools: These gather, analyze, and present information about competitors, allowing sales teams to identify opportunities and threats in the market.
  • Social Selling Platforms: Tools that leverage social media to identify, engage with, and sell to potential customers by tapping into the power of social networks.
  • Call Analytics and Recording Software: These tools track and record sales calls, providing insights into customer interactions, objections, and the overall effectiveness of sales pitches.

You don’t need to invest in every sales intelligence platform or tool on the market to get access to actionable data. Let’s dive into three simple strategies that sales teams can adopt in the early stages of the sales process - prospecting, research, and outreach.

1. Sales prospecting with precision

One of the easiest ways to apply sales intelligence is by identifying new leads to target. Your CRM is packed with valuable insights into your existing customer base that can help you identify markets with a higher propensity to buy. Then, referring to the decision-makers on previous deals, you can begin crafting your ICPs.

How to pinpoint those prized accounts:

Step 1: Reflect on your success stories

  • Pull a report from your CRM on closed-won deals over the past 12 months. Dissect the report to understand the common threads (see this blog to understand how ChatGPT can help to do that) and perhaps review sales call recordings to validate your findings. Consider industry, organization size, location, revenue, tech stack, use cases, or challenges faced.
  • Highlight victories, discerning why your solution clicked (this is helpful to create targeted messaging later).
  • Understand the roles of the decision-makers involved.

Step 2: Construct Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs)

  • Use these insights to create your ICPs, so you have a clear picture of the parameters of the organizations you want to target.
    • At an organizational level (which accounts to target)
    • At an individual level (which leads to target)

Step 3: Find and build your prospect list

  • Use good old manual research, or data enrichment tools to find accounts that mirror your ICPs for targeted lead generation.

Tool tips:

  • At an account level, tools likeZoomInfo and Apollo (our favorite!) supply a treasure trove of contact information and account insights, ensuring your ICPs are not merely theoretical but data-driven.
  • At an individual level, a subscription to LinkedIn Sales Navigator will go a long way to helping you to identify and target quality leads within your chosen accounts.
  • If you don’t have access to this type of tooling, ChatGPT can decipher and analyze data, saving hours of manual work to define your ICP. You can also feed ChatGPT your ICPs and utilize its natural language capabilities to craft impactful messaging for your audience. To understand more about the capabilities of artificial intelligence in sales, see 3 practical ways sales reps can use AI to increase selling time.

2. Research - decoding buying signals for strategic outreach

Once you have your qualified accounts, it's time to establish the need and ensure your outreach doesn’t merely land but genuinely resonates. The old “spray and pray” can’t compete in today’s digital arena - taking a proactive approach means considering what intent and buying signals the customer displays. You can get insights from both publicly available and private data to help determine a prospect’s intent to purchase.

Public data: Public data available on the web - news articles, press releases, industry reports and social media - can provide insights into business strategy and objectives. For example, if a prospect is going through an acquisition, will they have a greater need for your product/service? Is their industry impacted by any significant events? You’re looking for any event that might increase the need for your products and/or services.

Internal data: What prior interactions has the prospect had with your sales and marketing team? Your CRM should be ripe with data on past sales conversations, decision-makers, and more. It’s also worth checking to see if your prospect has engaged with any of your recent marketing campaigns. Are there any topics they are showing specific interest in? Both of these sources can give you a working list of their areas of interest.

External or 3rd party data: There are also sales intelligence tools that track prospects’ research behavior and engagement with your industry. Look for signals in how they engage with industry content, for example- are they consuming or engaging with your competitor’s content? Are they asking questions in forums about the products/services you offer? Even better, have they left reviews or comments on competitor's products about likes or dislikes? These can all provide crucial clues as to their buying intent.

Tool tips:

  • Social Listening: Platforms like Sprout Social and Meltwater alert you when your prospect talks, or better yet, when they’re talked about, in the boundless realm of social media.
  • Intent Data Providers: Providers that accumulate intent data, delivering insights into prospect behavior and engagement. Cognism andZoomInfo are both powerful and popular solutions here.
  • News Alerts: Tools that send you a nudge when a qualified account makes the headlines. Google Alerts or Talkwalker might just become your new best friends.

A walkthrough to tactical outreach:

1. Understand & Prioritize Signals: Identify which signals align closely with your offering and prioritize accounts emitting them.

2. Use Tools to Streamline Information: Employ data providers and alerts to keep a pulse on your accounts’ activities and challenges.

3. Craft Tailored Communication: Use insights to design messages that speak directly to the prospect’s current context and potential needs.

4. Timely Engagement: Engage when the signal is fresh, ensuring your solution is tabled while the need is still top of mind.

Transitioning from ‘just another sales pitch’ to ‘the right solution at the right time’ is fundamental to how your outreach is received. Our mission here is not just to communicate but to step into the prospect’s current narrative, becoming a relevant, timely solution.

3. Gaining a competitive edge with data-driven outreach

Now you have your qualified prospects and understand what they are interested in, it’s time to start your outreach. An account-based sales approach can be helpful on larger deals where you have multiple leads to reach out to, or in cases where you’re unsure of the decision maker.

With virtual sales becoming the norm, sales reps spend less time with their buyers and might not even get to meet them at all. So, using what you’ve discovered in your research is crucial to maintain engagement and momentum.

Email is the obvious port of call and benefits such as email tracking and monitoring can help to maximize your follow-up, but don’t underestimate channels like Slack (or even text messages) for a less formal, lower-pressure approach. These are ideal for quick questions or prompts, and can keep the momentum flowing, though it’s best to double-check you’re not overstepping any boundaries here first. Personalized video calls or Loom messages can also reinforce relationships and address any nuanced queries.

But, while these are useful tools to keep the ball in the air, ideally you want insights into what your customer is thinking and doing when you are not in the room. And that’s where Qwilr can help.

Empowering Your Outreach with Qwilr:

Instead of wondering how your prospects are engaging with your sales materials, Qwilr’s analytics tell you who looked at what, when, and for how long.

  • Instant Feedback Loop: Receive real-time notifications when your proposals are viewed or accepted, allowing you to gauge immediate interest and act promptly.
  • Deep Dive into Engagement: Discover not just if, but who and how your prospects are engaging with your content. From which sections capture the most attention to the specific elements they click on, Qwilr offers detailed insights into your buyer's journey.
  • Stay On Top of Your Pipeline: Qwilr's reporting gives you a bird's eye view of the engagement of each proposal, contract or any material you create. Know where the bottlenecks are and proactively engage with buyers.

Steps to Master Insights-Driven Outreach:

1. Initiate with Impact: Use Qwilr to craft tailored proposals that resonate with your target accounts.

2. Stay Agile with Real-time Feedback: As soon as you receive a notification, gauge the appropriate follow-up action. A viewed proposal could be an opportune moment for a check-in call, while an accepted one might warrant a thank you note or the next steps.

3. Analyze to Adapt: Regularly review engagement data to refine your outreach strategies. If a particular section of your proposal consistently piques interest, perhaps that’s a value proposition worth highlighting more in initial conversations.

4. Optimize Your Sales Cycle: Use the insights from Qwilr to understand where deals might be slowing down, and proactively address any hurdles or concerns.

Final thoughts

By seamlessly blending the intelligence offered by Qwilr with proactive and tailored communication, you can get these sales strategies- and all the knowledge we now have at our fingertips- working for you.

Have a look at our short demo video to discover what else Qwilr can do for you and your sales team. You may soon be wondering how you ever did without us!

About the author

Dusty Martin, Revenue Operations Manager, Qwilr

Dusty Martin|Revenue Operations Manager, Qwilr

Dusty is Qwilr's Revenue Operations Manager, working with a distributed sales team to drive revenue in the most efficient way possible.