12/13/06

09:35:00 am, Categories: Sales & Marketing, Business Trends, Web 2.0  

Numerous sales intelligence tools are touting their wares in the market today. Some provide news feeds on specific accounts, others provide industry reports and yet others scour the Internet using crawlers to put together massive information repositories. Sales reps are just as impacted by information overload as the rest of us are.

Ray Lane, in his article on the new software landscape talks about how Web 2.0 vendors are providing personalized services to niche markets. I believe some of the “laws” that Ray describes could very well be adapted to the sales intelligence market.

What are some of the issues in sales intelligence today? CRM / SFA tools are of very little value. Industry reports give sales reps buy-side knowledge, when what they really need is sell-side insights. And the tools out there tend to be sector oriented (2 – 3 digits of the SAIC / NAICS), and thus too generic.

Assume that your sales rep has generated his lead, made the cold call, secured the appointment and is sitting in front of the decision maker. Now what? How does he build credibility, identify the customer’s pain points, and position his solution? All of the above need one crucial component – relevant, contextual industry and business knowledge. The sales rep needs to know the top 3 business issues that the customer is facing today that he has some prayer of addressing with his offerings. He needs to know the trends in the customer’s industry that the guy he is sitting across from is worried about. He needs to have a well-thought out value proposition that helps him position his wares with each of the decision makers influencing the deal.

Getting to this level of sophisticated sales intelligence will take about half a day’s worth of research, for each call, which probably explains why most sales reps don’t go prepared to sales calls! My contention is that this type of sales intelligence is not unique to a sales rep, company or industry. Given the product that a sales rep is attempting to sell and the customer’s industry (4 – 5 digits of the SAIC / NAICS, a bit more granular), delivering the type of sales intelligence described above as a personalized service is very viable and will take a sales rep about 80% of the way to becoming a sophisticated “solution” sales rep. Sure there are other dimensions (customer’s org structure / politics, relationships, competition, budget cycles, customer’s specific travails) that will impact the outcome of the deal. But I will pick 90% over 0% any day …

Sampath

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