Wringing the Most Revenue and Productivity Out of Sales Intelligence

Selling teams continue searching for ways to reduce the amount of time sales representatives spend uncovering relevant company or contact information before following up with the leads introduced to them within the pipeline.

In December 2009 and January 2010, Aberdeen surveyed more than 500 executives from a variety of industries to learn about their sales intelligence deployments. Analysis of the results showed that financial services companies are outperforming companies in other industries in terms of their improvement of annual corporate revenue, yet productivity of their sales teams is lagging behind companies in other industries, yielding warning signs for potential negative impact on their overall performance.

This Aberdeen article observes the endeavors of financial services companies when it comes to sales intelligence and compares them to peers in other industries that achieve higher productivity and performance across the board.

Business Context

Aberdeen’s February 2010 research, “Sales Intelligence: Preparing for Smarter Selling,” shows that financial services companies deploying sales intelligence tools achieved year-over-year improvement in annual corporate revenue compared to a decline for companies in other industries.

However, this advantage in revenue is coming at a cost of productivity. Research shows that companies in other industries significantly outperformed financial services companies when reporting the average time spent by sales reps searching for relevant client/prospect data. In addition, the average sales cycle time reported in this sector was longer than other sectors. Performance of companies in other industries demonstrates that the ability to provide timely and relevant information to sales reps is key to productivity of sales teams.

Even though revenue is one of the most well-known measures of sales effectiveness, there are other crucial metrics that assess sales effectiveness and impact the overall financial health and growth potential of businesses. Productivity measures, for example, reflect the operational performance of sales teams to drive increased sales effectiveness. Leveraging certain capabilities and technologies enables companies to achieve higher performance in these areas. Some of these key differentiating factors are outlined below:

Having a sales-focused, centralized repository of account, contact and sales opportunity information is an ingredient of successful deployments of sales intelligence initiatives. It facilitates sharing of sales intelligence for every member of the sales team. The power of being able to tap into this wealth of knowledge provides the sales reps with the ammunition to have more relevant, timely and precise sales conversations with prospects that eventually improves the sales process for the organization. Aberdeen found that financial services companies are less likely than their counterparts to have this capability in place.

Lead management solutions are deployed by two-thirds of Best-in-Class organizations, reflecting their role in supporting top-performing sales intelligence initiatives. Having an adoption rate that is almost the same as Best-in-Class organizations, companies outside the financial sector are more likely to understand the benefits of and thus, more likely to leverage lead management technology than financial services companies. These tools enable sales teams to better manage the lead lifecycle from prospect, to customer, to repeat customer and hence have a positive impact on the sales performance.

In Conclusion

Financial services companies are already reaping the benefits of their deployment of sales intelligence in increased revenue. Comparison of their performance gains in regards to companies in other industries, however, adds further context.

Specifically, they still have significant potential for improvement and reducing sales cycle time. The actions highlighted in the related Aberdeen research article will help financial services companies improve their performance.

Omer Minkara is a research associate in customer management technologies at the Aberdeen Group.

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