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What Is Sales Intelligence?

By Jan Fletcher
Updated May 17, 2024
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Sales Intelligence is a strategic, systematic approach that gathers and uses customer metrics to formulate an analysis of real-time data on historical and current sales activity. The emphasis is not on directly increasing sales, but on increasing the efficiency and overall productivity of the sales department. Customer data and prospect data are gathered at numerous touch-points and stored in a database. A touch-point occurs when customers come within the sphere of a brand. These data may be extensively analyzed and correlated with previous and current sales campaigns to reveal information on both demographic and individual purchasing behaviors.

A sales manager may use the gathered data to link historical customer behavior with products or services that customers have purchased. The information gathered is then intensively analyzed, usually on an ongoing basis. Patterns of customer behavior thus revealed are used to increase the productivity of the sales department. For example, the sales intelligence gathered may reveal that those customers who bought product A are more likely to buy product B within a six-month period. Prescreening prospective sales opportunities through real-time data increases efficiency.

Sales personnel may also generate lists of customers whose purchasing activity has declined within a certain historical window of time. This information would then be passed to sales department personnel, who would subsequently query the customer through a telephone call, an email, or a survey. By increasing contact opportunities with previous customers, existing channels may be reactivated. A sales channel is a segment of prospects or customers who share certain demographic or historical behavior. At the same time, new channels may be discovered through an analysis of past sales, which reveals linkage within the data that may point to new prospects.

Real-time streaming data may be used in sales intelligence. Using real-time data enables sales personnel to identify and respond quickly to emerging opportunities to cross-sell or to upsell. These automated sales processes in sales intelligence are also used in customer relationship management and channel management.

Sales intelligence is one aspect of integrated business planning. Other business intelligence gathering concerns data pertinent to market analysis, supply pipelines, macroeconomic conditions that would affect consumption patterns, competitor analysis, and many other areas. Through data analysis, a business is better positioned to forecast the future operating environment, and thereby respond quickly to emerging opportunities and threats. An example of how data analysis might be used would be making the decision to yank an advertising campaign that's failing, based on historical sales data.

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