My first two blog posts in this series focused on productivity drivers that improve sales efficiencies:  Consolidation of disparate data sources into one clearly delivers significant time savings for sales reps as does the delivery of this information at the point of need – directly within a reps’ workflow.  Now I’d like to dive into sales productivity drivers that improve sales effectiveness, those that make reps not just faster but also better! [tweetmeme source= “insideview” only_single=false]

The preponderance of business and social data on customers poses both an opportunity and a challenge for today’s sales professionals.  Given changing customer behaviors and demands, engaging today’s socially-savvy customer – Customer 2.0 – requires a lot more than a grasp of the basic facts and figures about their companies.  It requires relevance at the time of engagement.  Reps need a 360 degree view into their prospects that incorporates recent business events, social conversations and social relationships.   Fortunately opportunities to gather both business and social data are abundant, and data consolidation certainly simplifies this process.  However, the challenge is extracting the salient points from such information for the purpose of increasing sales.  Sales reps need to be able to make sense out of this ubiquitous and sometimes conflicting mountain of data and turn it into actionable insights to engage the prospect.

While identifying the right people to talk to takes effort, determining a compelling reason for the prospect to respond to you can prove even more difficult, not to mention the challenges of identifying the right time and venue to conduct an initial outreach.  Independent research supports how intelligence trumps data in driving sales productivity: According to a recent CSO Insights study, sales intelligence users have much higher success with lead conversion rates.  The table below shows the percentage of firms reporting lead to first discussion conversion rates great than 50%.

Lead to First Discussion Conversions as Related to Type of SI Solution Used Lead Conversion  Rate >50%
Sales Data Users 35.4%
Sales Intelligence Users 45.7%

Cases in point:

Trinet, a successful and fast growing HR services firm delivering payroll HR compliance to small to mid size businesses supports the CSO Insights findings:  Tapping into intelligence to achieve relevance with their prospects, the sales development team has an incredible 70% rate for conversion-to-appointment from initial calls!

Phil Rowlinson, former VP of Global Sales Operations for IntraLinks also agrees: “Today, the success of a CRM solution requires more than just quality data and detailed reporting.  Intelligence solutions like InsideView give sales a critical advantage as they quickly and intelligently connect with decision makers through direct-to-desktop account information and integration with social/professional networking solutions.”

Given the growing impact of intelligence on sales productivity, next week I will explore how sales reps can leverage an emerging intelligence source, namely social intelligence to improve the relevance of their engagements.    In the meantime, I look forward to any success stories or challenges you may have experienced in transitioning to an intelligence-driven sales organization…or hear about your plans to do so.

“Pelin Thorogood, principal at Schulman+Thorogood Group. Helping B2B companies drive ROI through creative go-to-market planning and focused marketing optimization”