Leaders of companies of every size struggle to select the right sales intelligence software, because it’s complicated, expensive, and hard to test well. But if you pick right, a great piece of sales intelligence software can rev up your team’s go-to-market engine faster than you ever thought possible.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the essential factors to consider in sales intelligence software, such as evaluating your needs, researching options, and checking for security features, scalability, and reporting capabilities.
Remember: sales and marketing need one another to work well, so a sales intelligence platform is important no matter what team you work on.
Sales and marketing go together like milk and cookies. Don’t get it twisted. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/5d2EG4CTTW
— Ross Simmonds (@TheCoolestCool) May 18, 2023
7 Things You Should Consider When Picking a Sales Intelligence Software
Picking a sales intelligence software can be tricky, but to save you from every potential pitfall, here are 7 essential steps to consider:
1. Evaluate Your Needs
Evaluating your needs is the crucial first step to take when you pick your sales intelligence software. You should figure out what you need and what you can afford before making a decision.
Determine the Sales Process
To evaluate your needs, start by identifying your sales process. What are the different stages, from lead generation to closing a sale? Understanding this process, whether it be visualized with the help of a numbered list or a process flow diagram, will help you identify where sales intelligence software can make the most significant impact.
Identify Key Data Points
Once you clearly understand your sales process, you should identify the key data points you need to track. This could include company size, industry, job titles, and more. It is essential to have a comprehensive view of your prospects to make informed decisions.
Define Desired Outcomes
After identifying the data points you need to track, you should define the desired outcomes. What are the specific goals you want to achieve with sales intelligence software?
Do you want to improve lead generation, boost conversion rates, or increase revenue? A clear objective will help you select a software solution that aligns with your goals.
Consider Your Budget
Don’t forget to think about what you can afford! Sales intelligence software can vary in price, so it is crucial to determine how much you can afford. Finding a solution that fits your budget, while providing the necessary features to achieve your desired outcomes, is essential.
What to Look For
When you start evaluating your needs, look for the pain points that affect your revenue most directly. These could be places where your sales and sales operations teams are wasting time on automatable processes, or places where information is hard to analyze or transfer for all teams.
For example, your sales team and sales operations team might use different tools to determine key firmographic information like a company’s revenue. If that’s the case, you can evaluate that you have a need for a single source of truth for firmographic information that both teams can pull their data from.
You can make an informed decision when selecting sales intelligence software by evaluating your needs, sales process, key data points, desired outcomes, and budget.
2. Research Your Options
Once you have evaluated your needs and identified your desired outcomes, the next step is to research your options for sales intelligence software. Many options are available in the market, and selecting the right one requires careful consideration.
Look for Reviews
Start by looking for reviews of different sales intelligence software solutions. Reading what other users have to say can provide valuable insights into the software’s performance, ease of use, and customer support. You can find reviews on popular review sites, social media platforms, and business software directories.
One especially useful tool is G2, which gathers verified reviews from a product’s users. You can see the overall scores on G2 for a few of the top sales intelligence platforms below:
Check Industry Publications
Check industry publications for recommendations on the best sales intelligence software solutions. These publications often conduct in-depth analyses of different software options and provide unbiased reviews.
Compare Pricing and Features
It’s also important to compare the pricing and features of different sales intelligence software options. Some software solutions offer more features than others, while others may have lower prices. You should compare the features you need with the pricing of each option to find the best fit.
Evaluate Customer Support
Then you’ll want to evaluate the customer support offered by each software solution. Good customer support is crucial if you have any problems or questions. Look for helpdesk software solutions that offer reliable customer support through different channels, such as email, phone, or chat.
What to Look For
Once you’ve evaluated your needs, you can look for more important factors when you research your options. For example, if you’ve evaluated that your team has trouble learning how to use their sales intelligence software, you might want to prioritize research into user experience and customer support among the different options.
If that’s the case, you can look for positive reviews of user experience, especially where the reviewer or users don’t have technical backgrounds. You can also look for reviews that mention customer support, or reach out to past reviewers to get more details about the specific factors that matter more to you.
By researching your options and looking for reviews, checking industry publications, comparing pricing and features, and evaluating customer support, you can narrow your options and make an informed decision when selecting sales intelligence software.
3. Consider Integrations
The next step in picking sales intelligence software is evaluating integrations. Even if a piece of software is amazing, it might not work for your team if it can’t integrate with your other tools, so this is a critical and often-overlooked step in the sales intelligence software selection process.
Consider the software solutions you currently use and ensure that the sales intelligence software you select is compatible. It is essential to ensure that the software integrates well with your existing tech stack to ensure smooth data flow and a streamlined process.
Check the compatibility of potential software with your current technology. If the software is incompatible, it may not be the best choice for your business. It is vital to ensure that the software you select is compatible with your existing systems, such as your CRM, marketing automation tools, or other software solutions you use.
Ensuring that your sales intelligence software is compatible with your current CRM platform and other software solutions means that your team workflow is more streamlined and easier to execute.
Also, consider the customization options provided by the software solution. Different businesses have different needs, so choosing sales intelligence software that can be customized to meet your specific requirements is essential. Look for software solutions that offer customization options, such as creating custom fields, reports, and dashboards.
What to Look For
When you look at a piece of software’s integrations, don’t just take their word that their tool integrates perfectly with every other platform on the list they give you. Instead, speak with the sales operations professionals that will be in charge of integrating the platforms.
Those professionals can evaluate how the integration works and how much time implementing it would take. For example, an integration with an API supported by years of documentation and plenty of user feedback and updates will be much more usable than a new API the company just rolled out.
By evaluating integration, compatibility, and customization options, you can ensure that the sales intelligence software you choose is an excellent fit for your business. This will help you to streamline your processes, improve your team’s productivity, and grow your business.
4. Review Security Features
Data security is a critical factor to consider when selecting any software for your business. It’s also difficult to evaluate because of its highly technical nature, but that doesn’t make it any less important.
Evaluate Encryption Protocols
The first aspect of evaluating is encryption protocols. Sales intelligence software should use secure encryption to protect sensitive data, such as customer contact information, purchase history, and financial details. Look for software solutions that use the latest encryption technologies, such as SSL, TLS, or AES, (and SSL monitoring, etc., to ensure correct functionality). In addition to encryption, consider tools such as VPN services that can help you hide your IP address, enhancing your online security and privacy.
Determine Access Control Features
Access control features are essential to ensure that only authorized personnel can access sensitive data. Sales intelligence solutions should provide features such as multi-factor or passwordless authentication, role-based access control, and IP restrictions. These features help to prevent unauthorized access to your sensitive data.
Consider Data Backup and Recovery
The last security feature to consider is data backup and recovery. The best sales intelligence tools should provide reliable data backup and recovery options. This will help to ensure that you can quickly recover lost or corrupted data in case of any unexpected events.
What to Look For
This is a conversation you’ll need your security experts for. Make sure to ask them to evaluate not just whether the software is secure, but also whether its security updates will quickly respond to new needs, not involve a lot of downtime, and consistent.
Your security needs may vary depending on your use-case. For example, if your company uses data protected by HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), you’ll want a security professional that’s trained in HIPAA data protection standards to evaluate the security of any software that you’ll connect to your network.
By reviewing the security features of different sales intelligence software solutions, you can ensure that you choose a secure, reliable solution that meets your business’s data security needs. This will help protect your business from potential data breaches, which could be costly and damage your reputation.
5. Test the Software
Once you know your sales intelligence software meets those basic requirements, it’s the right time to give it a test run to see how it acts in the real world.
Request Demos and Trials
Start by requesting demos and trials from the sales intelligence software providers. This will allow you to explore the software’s features and functionality. It is also an excellent opportunity to ask questions and better understand how the software works.
Test the Software with Your Data
Once you have completed the demos and trials, testing the software with your data is essential. This will help you to understand how the software works in real-world scenarios. Use your actual data to ensure that the software can handle your specific requirements.
Finally, evaluate the user-friendliness of the software. Is the software easy to use and understand? Can your sales team easily navigate the system and find the needed information? Is the software intuitive, or does it require extensive training? These are crucial questions to consider when evaluating the user-friendliness of the software.
What to Look For
When you test the software, what you look for will depend on who’s using the software and why they’re using it. If the team using the software is very technically proficient or won’t need many complex features, a few bugs might not be the end of the world.
On the other hand, you might have a less technically-adept team that needs robust sales intelligence software. If that’s the case, make sure that they test the software for any hiccups that could slow them down and take careful notes.
By testing the software, requesting demos and trials, testing the software with your data, and evaluating its user-friendliness, you can ensure that the software you choose is an excellent fit for your business. This will help to improve your team’s productivity and efficiency, streamline your sales processes, and increase your revenue.
6. Check For Scalability
The sales intelligence software you’re looking at might meet your needs right now, but that doesn’t mean it always will. Scalability is a key factor you should keep in mind as you decide on software.
Consider Future Growth
Start by considering your future growth plans. What are your long-term goals, and how will they impact your sales processes? This will help you to identify the scalability requirements of your sales intelligence software.
Evaluate Pricing for Scaling
When selecting a software solution, it is also essential to evaluate pricing for scaling. As your business grows, you may need to upgrade your sales intelligence software to include more features or support a larger team. Ensure that the software pricing scales reasonably with your growing business.
Check for Customization Options
Finally, check for customization options. Sales intelligence software that offers customization options allows you to tailor the software to your business needs. This flexibility is especially critical for businesses with unique requirements.
What to Look For
The type of scaling you’ll need from sales intelligence software depends on the current size of your company and your projections for future growth. For example, if you’re a startup with fewer than 100 employees that’s starting an explosive, hypergrowth phase, you’ll want software that can scale from dozens to hundreds of users quickly.
On the other hand, large enterprises predicting more modest growth should prioritize tools that can operate smoothly at a large scale, but don’t need ones that can add users as quickly.
After checking for scalability, considering future growth, evaluating pricing for scaling, and checking for customization options, you can feel secure that the sales intelligence software you select is a good fit for your business now and in the future. This will help to ensure that your sales team has the necessary tools to grow your business and achieve your long-term goals.
7. Evaluate Reporting Capabilities
Reporting is the last piece of functionality you need to be certain of when you evaluate your sales intelligence software options. It’s a critical function, but it’s one that’s hard to evaluate without first knowing the other steps.
Determine Reporting Needs
To evaluate reporting capabilities, start by determining your reporting needs. What types of reports do you need, and what data do you want to include in those reports? Ensure that the software can support the reporting needs of your business. Also, do some research into sales reporting software so you know what kinds of features are available in dedicated platforms designed for this purpose. With this info to hand you will be better able to understand your own needs and how they correlate with what kinds of tools are out there
Evaluate the Software’s Reporting Options
Next, evaluate the software’s reporting options. Does the software provide pre-built reports that meet your needs, or can you create custom reports from scratch? Look for software solutions that offer various reporting options and are easy to use.
Check for Customization Options
Finally, check for customization options. Sales intelligence software that offers customization options allows you to tailor your reports to your specific business needs. This flexibility is especially crucial for businesses with unique reporting requirements.
What to Look For
Your specific reporting needs will depend on your company’s overall strategic goals. For example, if you’re a startup that isn’t expected to reach profitability anytime soon, you might want to focus on revenue-generation and revenue attribution capabilities. In that case, you wouldn’t need especially robust features helping you find the cost of customer acquisitions.
By evaluating reporting capabilities, determining reporting needs, evaluating the software’s reporting options, and checking for customization options, you’ll be certain that the sales intelligence software you select provides the necessary reporting capabilities to measure your progress and achieve your business goals.
This will help you to make informed decisions, identify areas for improvement, and optimize your sales processes to increase your revenue.
Why You Should Choose a Good Sales Intelligence Software
A good sales intelligence software can make or break your sales process, revenue goals, and overall business success. That’s because it controls the basic information your sales and sales operations teams use to make key decisions. Beyond that, sales intelligence software can offer some key benefits to any organization.
The following are some of the reasons why selecting the right sales intelligence tool is crucial:
Improves Sales Efficiency
Sales intelligence software can help businesses streamline their sales processes, making them more efficient and productive. By automating tasks, providing insights into customer behavior, and identifying new opportunities, sales intelligence software helps you close more deals in less time.
Provides Real-Time Insights
Sales intelligence software provides real-time insights into customer behavior, allowing businesses to stay ahead of their competition. By tracking buying patterns, preferences, and pain points, you can adapt your sales strategies, optimize your processes, and increase revenue.
By providing insights into customer behavior, sales intelligence platforms help you to identify new opportunities and potential customers, leading to increased revenue. It also helps you identify the most promising leads, close deals more efficiently, and increase revenue.
Enhances Customer Experience
Sales intelligence software can provide you with a better understanding of your customer’s preferences, pain points, and buying behavior. This knowledge enables you to tailor your sales and marketing strategies to provide a better customer experience, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Provides Competitive Advantage
Sales intelligence software gives you a competitive advantage by helping you stay ahead of the competition. With these insights into market trends, customer behavior, and competitor activity, you can make informed decisions, adapt your strategies, and provide a better overall experience than the competition.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is sales intelligence needed today over and above traditional sales data?
Sales intelligence provides more detailed insights into customers’ needs, preferences, and buying habits than traditional sales data. It uses data analytics, machine learning, and AI to give businesses real-time insights to help them make better sales decisions.
How does sales intelligence work?
Sales intelligence collects data from multiple sources and analyzes it to uncover patterns and trends. This helps businesses optimize their sales processes and identify new opportunities. This software enables companies to identify areas of improvement such as sales team performance and customer acquisition strategies.
Sales intelligence software can also help companies better understand their customers, allowing them to craft more effective marketing campaigns and better target new prospects. By using this software, companies can also generate reports to track their progress in meeting goals and analyze trends in order to make accurate projections for future growth.
What are market intelligence tools?
Market intelligence tools are software solutions that monitor market trends, customer behavior, and competitor activity to provide valuable insights. These help businesses stay ahead of their competition and make informed decisions quickly.
When selecting sales intelligence software, research and careful consideration are key. Evaluate scalability options, consider future growth potential, and look at pricing plans that can scale as your business grows.
Check customization capabilities to fit your needs and review reporting features to measure progress and identify areas of improvement. With these steps taken into account during the selection process, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on the best solution for you.
But the right sales intelligence software isn’t a magic bullet to answer all of your go-to-market challenges. You’ll also need advice from sales and marketing experts on a wide range of topics. If you’re looking for carefully researched content on the top issues that market leaders face every day, look no further. Here’s a quick example of the types of content Foundation LABS produces:
That’s also what we promise with Foundation Insider and Inner Circle. Are you looking for more advice on how to make strategic sales and marketing decisions? Learn more with a Foundation Insider or Inner Circle account.