Today's B2B selling game is no joke. Revenue teams have it tough trying to navigate digital selling, changes in buying behavior, and a volatile market. In an effort to adapt and compete, organizations are increasingly throwing money at sales technology, embracing the revenue operations model and touting revenue intelligence capabilities.
The sales tech space has become crowded as revenue operations, revenue intelligence, and sales engagement start to converge as categories, Forrester noted earlier this year.
The rapid changes are particularly confusing for marketers focused on delivering value and understanding content engagement. After all, marketers today have the greatest influence over buyers: Nearly 85% of B2B purchasing decisions take place before buyers engage with vendors.
Part of the tech confusion stems from a muddled definition of revenue intelligence. Plenty of companies claim to have it when, in reality, their solutions offer only sales enablement table stakes.
So, what is true revenue intelligence? What do revenue teams, including marketers, need to accurately assess deal health and help their organizations win?
Partial Revenue Intelligence
Forrester defines revenue intelligence in part as solutions that "capture human engagement activity between buyers and sellers and automatically upload that data to CRM platforms." It's no secret that commercial teams love that data because it offers clarity into pipeline and deal advancement. What most don't realize is that most of the data is partial—it's limited and incomplete. Sales leaders think they have revenue intelligence when what they really have is partial intelligence.
For most of today's solution providers, revenue intelligence consists of data on sales rep activities—emails, calls, and meetings—and feedback from reps on those meetings. In other words, the intelligence is reliant on what reps recall and manually log into their CRMs.
Although those insights are helpful, they don't capture the full customer lifecycle, and they certainly aren't enough to close deals in the current challenging digital selling environment.
Compounding matters is that most sales technologies have yet to assemble customer insights into a single platform for revenue teams. So, the data is siloed—it can't be easily accessed, interpreted, or applied. It's little wonder nearly half of the sales professionals surveyed for LinkedIn's 2021 State of Sales report identified incomplete data as their top data challenge.
True Revenue Intelligence
Marketers who want true revenue intelligence need content engagement data. A crucial indicator of deal health is how buyers engage with sales content—the when (before, during and/or after the sales cycle) and the where (which medium—website, presentation, and/or meeting follow-up content).
Content intelligence can reveal what's most important to buyers, and stakeholders care about whether and which deals will likely close. Yet, only 35% of sales teams track the effectiveness of their content, according to G2. The missing piece of revenue intelligence in most marketplace solutions today is content engagement data.
Platforms that claim revenue intelligence capabilities need to get that granular—combining content engagement data captured in sales enablement platforms alongside buyer intent, conversation intelligence, and sales engagement data. Solution providers should take particular note, because the real power of revenue intelligence lies in having all of the insights together in one centralized hub. Bouncing from system to system makes it extremely difficult for commercial teams to assess overall pipeline health. When marketers and sellers use one integrated tech stack, they have visibility into every buyer touchpoint to see what's resonating and moving deals forward, so they can share more of it, as well as accurately identify what's likely to close and replicate sales wins.
The goal with revenue intelligence should always be one accurate and holistic view of the deal pipeline. That's much easier than it sounds if you have the right technology in place. Leaders might be surprised to learn that artificial intelligence and machine-learning can capture, analyze, and visualize their customer data, all in the same interface, and then recommend the next best action. What's more, that interface can be integrated into current sales and marketing tech stacks.
Revenue intelligence should uncover all of the data that is overlooked in sales pipelines today and help organizations determine the next best sales motion. Understandably, when revenue teams have a holistic view of their opportunities, successes, and risks, they act with greater confidence.
One of the biggest payoffs of true revenue intelligence is better forecasting. Fewer than 25% of sales organizations have a sales forecasting accuracy of 75% or greater, research from Korn Ferry found.
A holistic revenue intelligence solution can help sales leaders understand which deals are likely to close and which accounts are likely to renew, allowing them to deliver more accurate sales forecasts. That's important because forecasting influences so many planning decisions and functions within organizations.
The other noteworthy payoff of revenue intelligence is the ability to replicate deal wins. When commercial teams have full visibility into the customer journey, they better understand buyer behavior and engagement. Revenue intelligence incorporates a steady volume of customer insights into prescriptive advice. Sales and account teams, in turn, learn what steps they need to take to win, drive account health and replicate that success.
Revenue intelligence is no longer a luxury for organizations—it's a necessity. Commercial teams can no longer afford to gauge opportunity health solely on sales meetings.
The need for a broader view of buyer engagement is only increasing. By 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur on digital channels instead of in sales meetings, Gartner predicts.
The writing is all over the wall. Understanding how buyers engage with content outside of sales meetings is crucial. It's time to raise the bar on sales enablement technologies.
When revenue intelligence capabilities include content engagement data, marketers learn how to help their companies win and give sales leaders the insights they can't live without.
More Resources on Revenue Intelligence
Know someone who would enjoy it too? Share with your friends, free of charge, no sign up required! Simply share this link, and they will get instant access…
You may like these other MarketingProfs articles related to Marketing Management:
- How to Gain Managerial Approval for Your Go-to-Market Strategy
- Marketing as a Service, or How to Improve B2B Marketing Impact
- The Shift From Digital Transformation to Digital Evolution | Marketing Smarts Live Show
- The Top Driver of Employee Retention Is Meaning
- Better Together: The Importance of Aligning Sales and Marketing Teams
- Sales and Marketing Alignment Insights, Strategies, and Success Indicators: Matt Heinz on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]