A Guide to Sales Intelligence Tools [Benefits, Types & Top 7 Software]

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Question for you:

How are you and your sales reps gathering intel on your prospective buyers?

Where are they?

Source

No, we’re not talking about hanging around outside your customer’s office trying to find out which of your competitors’ products they’re already using.

We’re talking about sales intelligence: details on your prospects like purchase intent signals, firmographic data, and yeah, a little bit of tech stack intel.

Most reps are going blind; they know very little about the person on the other end of the phone (or Zoom call, or LinkedIn InMail thread), short of what that customer has told them.

So, ready to get the upper hand?

This article will discuss how sales intelligence can boost sales cycle speeds, improve needs identification, and help you find the right buyers faster.

What Is Sales Intelligence?

Okay, let’s start at the highest level here: What even is sales intelligence?

Sales intelligence is basically a subset of sales software tools that helps teams gather insights on their customers beyond what they’ve submitted in a lead generation form. The most basic example is firmographic (like how many employees a customer has or how much revenue they make).

Let’s walk through an example.

Your sales team receives a new B2B lead. The lead form your prospective customer has filled in includes the following information:

  • Company name
  • Company industry
  • Key contact name
  • Contact phone number and email address
  • The product/service they’re interested in

A good start, sure, but not enough to hold a robust sales conversation about the customer's needs and challenges, and how your product or service can help service said needs and challenges.

Yes, much of this you’ll need to uncover during the sales process, but sales intelligence can give you a headstart.

For example, your automated sales intelligence software tool might offer the following insights:

  • How many employees the customer has
  • How much revenue the customer generates annually
  • The software tools the customer is already using
  • Whether there are any active purchase intent signals (for example, the key decision maker posting on social media about an issue you solve)

Now, your rep can open the conversation with a lot more data at hand, putting them in a more advantageous position to close that deal.

Benefits of Sales Intelligence Software

Benefits of sales intelligence software

Okay, so we know how this thing works, but what’s the point?

Sales intelligence solutions offer five key benefits:

  1. Stronger data
  2. More predictable sales prospecting
  3. Faster sales cycles
  4. Better identification of deal customer fit
  5. Buyer intent filtering

Let’s explore how.

1. Stronger data

Stronger data is kind of the overarching benefit of sales intelligence tools.

By bolstering your data with sales intel, you’re putting more knowledge at the hands of your sales reps, and you know what they say about knowledge.

Knowledge is power

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2. More predictable sales prospecting

We get it; sales prospecting is hard.

Finding buyers who fit your ideal customer profile can be challenging – sometimes, it’s impossible to determine until you start the conversation.

You think a given prospect could be a fit, but once your sales development rep starts talking to them, they realize they don’t have a large enough team to benefit from your tool and to see a decent return on investment.

These tools give reps more sales intelligence data, enhancing the prospecting process and making things a whole lot more predictable.

3. Faster sales cycles

We all want a faster sale. Faster sales cycles mean a lower customer acquisition cost (because reps take less time for each deal) and a better ROI (because that CAC is so, so low, baby).

Sales intelligence helps boost sales cycle speeds by eliminating some of the exploratory needs identification process (because reps have access to that data right away).

Plus, sales agents are better able to disqualify leads that aren’t a good fit, meaning they don’t waste time on dead opportunities, which tend to drag out the average sales cycle length.

4. Better identification of deal customer fit

More data makes it easier to identify whether a customer is a good fit or not. In reality, that’s what the whole prospecting and qualification process is all about; figuring out whether our two companies will work together nicely.

With the additional information that sales intelligence tools provide at hand, reps can make these decisions more rapidly.

5. Buyer intent filtering

The best sales intelligence tools identify purchase intent signals and allow teams to separate leads based on need.

For instance, high-intent leads can go straight through to a sales rep, while low-intent leads might be directed to a marketing lead nurture email sequence first.

Types of Sales Intelligence Tools

Types of sales intelligence tools

Like most software categories, there is more than one type of sales intelligence platform out there.

Actually, there are three main ones:

  1. Prospecting and outreach
  2. Firmographic data enrichment
  3. Purchase intent intelligence

Let’s take a look at each in a little more detail.

1. Prospecting and outreach

Prospecting and outreach tools and platforms like LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

You’ll gain access to important information like roles and positions, as well as key changes.

For instance, if you’re selling a tool that helps digital marketers, you might get a notification if a target account gets a new VP of Marketing.

2. Firmographic data enrichment

Firmographic data refers to aspects like annual revenue, headcount, and ownership.

For example, your ICP might require customers to have a revenue of over $5m+. If they don’t, you’re not a fit, and firmographic data can help you ascertain this.

3. Purchase intent intelligence

Purchase intent intelligence is a little more complex. It’s especially valuable for teams taking an account-based marketing (ABM) approach.

Let’s say you’re targeting a specific account. Let’s call them Company A.

You tell your sales intelligence tool they’re a target account. A few weeks later, that tool sends you a notification:

Person B at Company A has been searching product reviews (in your category) on Capterra. That’s a purchase intent signal, meaning it’s a good time for your sales representative to get involved.

To summarize:

Types of sales intelligence tools

Information delivered

Prospecting and outreach

Hiring and changes in roles and positions

Firmographic data enrichment

Annual revenue, headcount, and company ownership

Purchase intent intelligence

Real-time buying intent signals

How To Choose Software Sales Tools

How to choose software sales tools

Convinced now that sales intelligence is a must-have for your team, but you’re not exactly sure how to determine the tool that you need?

There are six key considerations to bear in mind when assessing different options:

  1. Robustness of prospect intelligence
  2. Integration with your current sales software
  3. Pricing model
  4. Tech stack data
  5. Real-time updates and alerts
  6. Purchase intent data

Now, we’ll explore each of these six facets in more depth.

1. Robustness of prospect intelligence

Makes sense, right?

If you’re going to be accessing prospect data, you want it to be up to date and accurate. Otherwise, what’s the point? Actually, scratch that. You’re worse off with incorrect data than you would be without any.

So, your first port of call should be to ask about where the sales data is coming from, and how reliable it is.

2. Integration with your current sales software

Your sales intelligence tool isn’t going to be the only software platform you’re playing with.

You’re probably already using:

  • A CRM
  • An email marketing tool
  • A marketing automation platform
  • A sales conferencing tool

And that’s just a minimum; the average company uses as many as 10 tools in their sales tech stack.

To make life easy, you want all of your tools to play nicely together.

So, when eyeing up a sales intelligence platform, ask: does it have a native integration with the other sales tools I’m already using?

3. Pricing model

Here, we’re talking about two things:

  1. How much does the sales intelligence platform cost?
  2. How is the company charging for it?

Obviously, it needs to be affordable for you.

Just as important, however, is the pricing model used. Ask:

  • Do you need to pay on a monthly or annual basis?
  • Does the company charge for particular data access?
  • Are there any overage fees?
  • Does support cost any extra?

4. Tech stack data

This is an easy question: does the sales intelligence software tool that you’re assessing offer tech stack data?

The reason this is a crucial question is that many tools focus more on firmographic data, so if you’re in need of tech stack data, specify this in your sales conversations.

5. Real-time updates and alerts

In the B2B sales world, speed is everything.

Okay, to be fair, accuracy is more important than speed, but speed is a pretty close second.

When working with sales intelligence, you not only want the right data but the most up-to-date data.

That means you need real-time alerts and updates from your tool. Let’s say you sell to CMOs. If a target account hires a new CMO, you need to know immediately.

That new CMO will be hungry to make an impact, and maybe your product or service can help them do it.

6. Purchase intent data

Similar to real-time information is the need for purchase intent data.

Put simply, does the sales intelligence software tool you’re looking at offer this, or not? If not, it might still be a good fit, but you won’t receive the kinds of alerts you need for ABM-style sales approaches.

Top 7 Sales Intelligence Platforms

So, now it’s time to choose an actual sales intelligence platform to access all of those helpful insights.

But which one? Here, we’ll look at the top seven software tools so you can choose the best option for your needs.

Platform

Pricing*

Key Features

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

From $99 per month

  • AI-powered recommendations
  • Advanced search
  • Buyer intent updates

ZoomInfo

Unspecified

  • Firmographic and technographic data
  • KDM contact info
  • Buyer intent alerts

Apollo.io

From $49 per month

  • AI-powered insights firmographic data
  • Most accurate database (self proclaimed)

Outreach

Unspecified

  • Automated sales sequences
  • AI-powered prospect insights
  • Real-time conversation intelligence
  • Recommendations for best practice action plans

Groove

Unspecified

  • Conversation intelligence
  • Workflow management
  • Campaign automation
  • Revenue intelligence
  • Online meeting scheduler

6sense

Unspecified

  • Alerts on accounts searching for a solution similar to your offering
  • Firmographic data enrichment
  • A patented buying prediction algorithm

Lusha

From $29 per user/month

  • Seven-step data verification
  • Web extension
  • List-building platform

*Pricing accurate as of 20 August 2022.

1. LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is all about prospecting and gathering high-level firmographic insights.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

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It’s basically LinkedIn on steroids, giving you access to a tonne of data you don’t get with the free version.

We’re talking stuff like:

  • Advanced search functions to look for leads and find companies
  • AI-powered suggestions for potential leads, based on history and search parameters
  • Integration with your sales CRM so lead data can be plumbed straight in
  • The ability to add notes and tags to leads for future reminders
  • Real-time updates on important intent signals like job changes
  • A more in-depth list of people who’ve viewed your profile (for the last 90 days)

LinkedIn Sales Navigator costs from $99 per month, depending on the plan you choose.

Pricing is accurate as of 20 August 2022.

2. ZoomInfo

Technically speaking, ZoomInfo is a company that offers a bunch of different sales and marketing tools, divided into four platforms:

  • SalesOS: sales automation, conversation intelligence, and company search
  • MarketingOS: buyer intent insights, cross-channel advertising, and web forms
  • OperationsOS: data management and enrichment, APIs, and webhooks
  • TalentOS: candidate outreach, talent search, and ATS integrations

As you can probably tell, there is a bit of overlap in these products, especially the first three.

ZoomInfo tool

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From a sales intelligence and data perspective, OperationsOS is the most robust. With this software platform, ZoomInfo provides information like:

  • Comprehensive company data including firmographics, technographics, and company hierarchy information
  • Contact information like KDM direct dials and email addresses
  • Buyer intent data

Unfortunately, ZoomInfo doesn’t share pricing for their OperationsOS product.

Pricing is accurate as of 20 August 2022.

3. Apollo.io

Apollo.io is a sales intelligence and engagement platform wrapped into one offering.

For this review, we’ll focus mostly on the prospecting and intelligence aspects.Apollo.io sales intelligence tool

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Apollo.io has a database of more than 220 million prospects (impressive), and claims it one of the most robust and accurate data sources around.

This includes information like:

  • Job updates and hiring data
  • Alexa rankings
  • New funding grants

Each of Apollo.io’s prospects includes more than 200 attributes attached, and to make data handling easy, it integrates with pretty much all of the popular sales CRMs.

If you want to get super nerdy, you can use Apollo.io’s Persona Lookalike functionality to build an ideal customer, then access AI-powered recommendations.

The platform does have a free version, but you’ll need to pay $49 or $99 per user per month (depending on the plan you choose) to access the most important features and to up your monthly limits.

Pricing is accurate as of 20 August 2022.

4. Outreach

Outreach is most commonly known as a sales engagement and automation platform. However, as their product offering has grown and developed, it's also included some pretty helpful sales intelligence tools.

This collection of tools is branded as Outreach Guide.

Outreach plateform

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With Outreach Guide, your team can take advantage of:

  • Automated sales sequences
  • AI-powered prospect insights
  • Real-time conversation intelligence
  • Recommendations for best practice action plans

As a result, Outreach claims some impressive results: 30% better rep productivity and 15% higher deal close rates.

It’s worth noting that Outreach’s intelligence offering is built more around its engagement offering than the typical data enrichment platform.

As a result, you might not get the same depth of data, but you’ll also gain access to features like a centralized resource library, enablement-focused content cards, and call recording and transcription.

Outreach pricing isn’t made public, so you’ll need to speak with a sales rep to access that information.

Pricing is accurate as of 20 August 2022.

5. Groove

Technically speaking, Groove is a sales productivity platform.

That said, part of being productive is having access to robust customer data, so there’s a reasonable overlap here.

Groove tool

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As you might expect, Groove offers a tonne of features to help speed up your sales processes, like:

  • Conversation intelligence
  • Workflow management
  • Campaign automation
  • Revenue intelligence
  • Online meeting scheduler

It also has deep integrations with both LinkedIn and Salesforce, two very popular software sales tools.

On the intelligence front, Groove’s offering focuses mostly on the revenue side of things, giving you AI-powered insights into performance so you can improve targeting and spend time on the right conversations.

Groove doesn't openly discuss pricing, but some reports say pricing starts at around $12 per user, per month.

Pricing accurate as of 20 August 2022.

6. 6sense

6sense brands itself as a revenue AI platform, which is more or less the trendy new name for sales intelligence software.

6sense AI plateform

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The platform is popular among account-based marketing teams, offering features like:

  • Alerts on accounts searching for a solution similar to your offering
  • Firmographic data enrichment
  • A patented buying prediction algorithm

6sense doesn’t communicate pricing publicly, probably because their platform is quite complex and you can pick and choose certain features

Pricing accurate as of 20 August 2022.

7. Lusha

Lush is a straightforward B2B database, offering in-depth data on the companies you’re targeting and providing data enrichment plumbed right into your CRM.

Lusha database

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Lusha can be used as a web extension for capturing prospect data in real-time, but also as a list-building platform for B2B sales reps. They boast a seven-step data authentication and verification system too, so you can be confident that the data Lusha provides is correct and ready to work with.

Oh, and there’s an enterprise version for large companies with complex sales team makeups.

You can access a free version of Lusha, but if you really want to ramp things up, you’ll need to pay either $29 per user per month for the Solo plan or $51 for the Team plan.

Pricing is accurate as of 20 August 2022.

FAQs

"What is a sales intelligence tool?"

A sales intelligence tool is a special kind of software platform that gathers data on your customers. Sales intelligence tools support your business in three key areas:

  1. Prospecting and outreach
  2. Firmographic data enrichment
  3. Purchase intent intelligence

"What is the importance of intelligence in sales strategy?"

Sales intelligence is not mission critical for all sales teams, but it's super helpful for:

  • Speeding up sales cycles
  • Holding more robust and personalized sales conversations
  • Capitalizing on purchase intent alerts to speak with customers when the need is more urgent

"What is an Analytical CRM?"

An analytical CRM is a specific kind of CRM tool that collects customer data and then provides insights and recommendations designed to improve the customer experience and boost customer satisfaction.

Conclusion: Leverage Your Sales Intelligence With a CRM

By now, you should be intimately familiar with the details of sales intelligence software tools, the most popular options out there, and of course, how to choose the right platform for you.

But here’s the thing:

Most of these aren’t standalone tools, and they can’t support your team throughout the entire sales process.

For that, you’ll need a robust CRM platform that allows you to integrate your sales intelligence tool and store all of that important customer data in one place.

But you’ve done enough choosing for one day, so once you’ve signed up for a sales intelligence platform, check out Ringy, then book a demo with our team and supercharge your sales outreach process.