Sometimes, it is interesting to try to classify different areas of research and intelligence to see how certain specialties have originated, evolved and grown into their own species, so to speak. This study of sales intelligence can provide intelligence practitioners with the ability to see how their efforts might support or interrelate with other disciplines.
Where does Sales Intelligence Sit?
So, lets define the top rung as general market research. The purpose of market research is to answer any question that might be of interest to a company. This is very broad and probably doesn’t do justice to all of the value a skilled market research director or data scientist can provide. But, the umbrella of market research covers the entire gamut of information collection.
A subset of general market research is competitive intelligence. Again, this can be a pretty broad area and it is concerned with gathering information and answering questions that are influenced by the presence of competitive forces.
A sibling to competitive intelligence is market intelligence. This specialty works to understand the market, value proposition, opportunity and forces in play against your company and product which are not influenced by the competition.
Sales Intelligence sounds like it should be a sibling to competitive and market intelligence. It could be defined as the information that is used to help sales win more deals. This should include things like win loss analysis and predictive analytics. However, the definition of SI seems to be evolving to refer to mainly CRM technology and functions. If you limit this type of information to sales data, contact information, pipeline dashboards, etc., you could say that’s true. But, on the broader spectrum, is that really the right approach? Instead, the definition of sales intelligence could be:
Gathering insights (competitive or otherwise) that can and will be used by a sales individual or team to increase the chances of winning a qualified sales opportunity.
Overall, sales intelligence seems less like a specific discipline and more like a purpose. In other words, bits of competitive intelligence, market intelligence, general market research, (branding, pricing, value, etc) can all be included in sales intelligence. If the information can be used to help sales people sell more, we think it can properly be classified as sales intelligence.
If a business exists to make money as efficiently as possible, and the role of sales is to create the revenue streams as effectively as possible, then isn’t sales intelligence potentially the most important information a company can possess?
There are so many research initiatives that clamor for budget. When deciding which efforts to support, give the proper amount of gravity to those projects that will have a direct effect on a company’s ability to sell more effectively in a market against the competitive landscape. Your company will likely benefit from this approach.