(Part two of a two-part series)

Sales intelligence, in concept and in practice, has experienced a significant evolution (see part one of this blog series). Today’s sales intelligence providers give insight into buyer behaviors and provide data to salespeople. This helps sales professionals identify, analyze, present, and utilize data to increase win rates for acquisition, retention, cross-sell, and upsell opportunities.

These providers have incrementally increased their ability to provide these insights, mainly driven by three market trends:

  • Expanding buying groups. Based on Forrester’s 2021 B2B Buying Survey, 60% of purchases have four or more people involved vs. just 47% in 2017. The ability to “see” the entire buying group and serve this information to the sales team will continue to be important.
  • An increasing number of buying interactions. The average number of buying interactions in a purchase journey jumped by 10, based on Forrester’s 2021 B2B Buying Survey. This jump reflects an increased level of due diligence from the buying group and an increasing desire to engage with sellers, albeit later within the sales process (so that these conversations carry more weight).
  • Merging tech stacks. The difference between marketing technologies, sales technologies, and customer success technologies continues to blur. Not only are capabilities blurring, but who owns these technologies within the organization is becoming a more prevalent conversation.

Based on these market drivers, what do sales intelligence providers need to do to support the future of selling?

  • Leverage AI to mine big data and provide just-in-time, context-sensitive, role-specific guidance for sellers. This will help sales reps reduce time spent on unqualified accounts and prospects while increasing focus on real buyers within high-potential accounts. Providers are incorporating “next best action” recommendations that are not rules-driven but based on continuously updated AI analysis. Demonstrable AI decisioning will become the most critical criterion for provider selection and value.
  • Present connected data about accounts, prospects, buyers, and customers across the enterprise. Providers struggle to capture, consolidate, and manage data from multiple sources to deliver a clear, complete picture of buying behaviors and activity. Reliance on third-party data about contacts is being challenged by evolving privacy regulations and restrictions imposed by other providers. Providers struggle to maintain relevancy and adoption by sales reps when inaccurate or incomplete information is presented.
  • Evolve capabilities to support a defined value proposition. Competing providers with similar capabilities and use cases will make it difficult for buyers to evaluate and select the best provider for their environment. Consolidation in this market category will be driven by reduced funding, acquisitions, and a movement by end users away from point solutions and toward fewer providers to simplify tech stack maintenance, integration costs, and complexity.