Once upon a time, “How to use sales intelligence” meant using your brainpower! Don’t get me wrong, you still should use your brainpower, but today, “sales intelligence” means something additional. I’ve been talking for several months now about the need for you to adopt and use technology into your sales skill set in order to maximize your time with your customers. I’ve mostly been talking about AI tools, with some CRM and social media sprinkled in, but let’s take a step back and talk about another aspect of sales technology.
“Sales intelligence,” in today’s world, means using tech tools to learn more about your customers, your prospects, your competitors, and even your own company, in real time. Today, I’m going to talk about a couple of the most common – and important – tech tools you can use. One is free, one costs – but you’re happy to invest in your career, right? Let’s dive in.
Before we talk about these specific tools, what you should know is this: These tools keep you abreast of change. When change happens, money is made (or lost). For example, let’s say that there’s a prospect company that you’ve targeted, but you can’t get in to save your life – your contact is stonewalling you. That isn’t fun, and I’ve been there. BUT – then you get an alert that your contact has changed jobs! That’s change, and it represents opportunity. To take advantage of these opportunities, you need to be abreast of change. That’s where these tools come in.
First, we’ll talk about the one that costs. Full disclosure – I didn’t adopt this one early, but I have adopted it and I use the heck out of it. LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a pretty powerful tool that lets you learn more about your customers and prospects, as well as connect with them. By leveraging its features, you can gain deeper insights into their targets, thus cultivating more personalized and impactful interactions, connections, and relationships.
With LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you can (and should) track key updates and activities of their connections and prospects. This includes monitoring job changes, company updates, and shared content, which can offer talking points for initial outreach or follow-up conversations. Additionally, Navigator’s advanced search capabilities enable you to identify potential leads based on specific criteria such as industry, location, job title, and company size. With this info, you can create a database for targeted marketing and sales outreach, as well as stay on top of future developments.
Sales Navigator’s “Lead Recommendations” feature further assists by suggesting potential leads that align with the salesperson’s existing network and preferences. By providing these curated suggestions, the tool streamlines the prospecting process and expands the scope of potential connections. Yes, I use it, and for that reason. I’ve scored some wins that way and you can, too.
Moreover, the “InMail” messaging functionality enables direct communication with prospects outside of one’s immediate network, providing an opportunity to start dialogues and create relationships. HOWEVER – be careful with this one. People get carpet-bombed with InMails on LinkedIn. If you’re going to use this, do it carefully and make sure that the messages are PERSONALIZED.
Sales professionals can also monitor company pages to stay on top of company developments and industry trends. This awareness allows you to tailor your pitch to address specific needs or business challenges that the prospect’s company might be facing. Again – change represents opportunity. And this can be opportunities to win or to lose. If your contact is leaving, they can refer you to someone different. Oh – and you ARE following your competitors’ pages, right?
To take it to another level, LinkedIn Sales Navigator helps you fulfill the “high, wide, and deep” relationship-building that should be at the core of every sales effort you make. People change jobs a lot these days, and your approach should be to never be left without a contact when someone does change.
This is one of the oldest intelligence tools, but Google News Alerts remains a valuable intelligence tool for salespeople seeking to stay informed about their customers, prospects, and industry trends. By setting up customized alerts, you can receive timely updates that enable them to tailor your sales strategies effectively.
You can create Google News Alerts using specific keywords related to their industry, target companies, or even individual prospects. This proactive approach ensures that they receive notifications whenever relevant news articles, press releases, or mentions are published online.
Let’s say that you are targeting a specific company. You can set up an alert for the company’s name. This way, you’ll receive real-time updates on any developments, mergers, acquisitions, or product launches related to the company. This information provides you with conversation starters and helps you align yourself with the prospect’s current needs or challenges. Admittedly, this approach works better as your prospects get bigger (because bigger companies will have more press releases and news articles), but don’t overlook it for prospects at any level.
Additionally, by monitoring industry trends and news, you can demonstrate you expertise, relevance, and value to prospects. You can engage in conversations based on recent news articles or reports, showcasing your understanding of the market and your ability to provide solutions that address emerging issues. This works very well if you’re starting to penetrate a new market or vertical, or even if you’re working the same market you’ve been working for years.
Here are a few other tools that I think you should check out. Some I’ve used, some I’m just learning about, but you should at least know about them:
- HubSpot CRM: HubSpot offers a free CRM that’s intuitive and simple to use. This is the one that I use, and if you don’t have a CRM – get this one and get started with it. It allows you to manage contacts, track interactions, and log important details about prospects and customers. The CRM also offers email tracking, which notifies you when an email is opened, providing insights into prospect engagement. Confession time – I’ve personally used this feature to win deals. There’s nothing like seeing an alert that a contact has opened an email of mine and then sending them an email saying, “Hey, I was just thinking about you.” Once, this feature revitalized a project that had been in my dead proposal file for three years!
- Crystal Knows: Crystal Knows is a personality assessment tool that analyzes public data to predict someone’s personality and communication style. It’s a useful tool for tailoring communication strategies and building rapport with prospects. I haven’t used this – but you can bet that I’m going to learn more about it and give it a shot. I’m intrigued.
- Nimble: Nimble is a social CRM that gathers information from social media platforms and other sources to provide you with a comprehensive view of your contacts’ online activity and interests. Again, this isn’t one that I’ve used yet. But the intriguing feature is the social media integration. Look for more info on this one in a future Navigator.
- Feedly: Feedly is an RSS feed reader that helps salespeople stay updated on industry blogs, news, and thought leadership articles. It’s an efficient way to keep a finger on the pulse of relevant information. I’ve used this one a little bit, and I like what I’ve seen. Again, this is really useful if you’re trying to penetrate a new industry.
- Hootsuite: While primarily known for social media management, Hootsuite can also help salespeople monitor social media activity related to their prospects and industry, enabling timely engagement. I’ve used this one off and on over the years, but the feature that I’ve used the most is the ability to pre-schedule social media posts. As platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have added post scheduling, this app has gotten a little less useful for me – but the social media monitoring is useful and deserves a second look.
I know I’ve gone down the tech alley quite a bit lately, but that’s because it’s important and relevant. I was asked the other day whether salespeople should use technology or develop their sales skills – and my answer was, “Yes.” It’s not an either/or situation. You need to do both. Salespeople who know how to use sales intelligence tools will have an edge on salespeople who don’t – and if they continually develop and update their skills, they’ll be stronger still.
Next week, we’ll talk about a pure selling skill that you should incorporate into your approach.