Sales intelligence — the ability to use data to inform key decisions, coaching opportunities, and prospect profiles — has fundamentally changed the profession. As data and technology mature, the ready availability of sales intelligence has generated intense competition that requires companies to become think and act faster and smarter.
Consider the following stats, from Aberdeen:
- 62 percent of B2B salespeople say sales intelligence helps them generate more leads and better qualify them.
- 41 percent of B2B sales folks claim that having a better understanding of their sales territory and target industry enables them to have better conversations with clients.
- Sales teams that have a sales intelligence solution integrated with their CRM software cite an average quota attainment of 36 percent.
But what many companies don’t realize is that despite these major uplifts in performance, sales intelligence is still evolving. And now, the next generation of sales intelligence is upon us: prescriptive insights.
A Brief History of Sales Intelligence
With the rise of big data and improvements in sales technology came the first iteration of sales intelligence: descriptive data. At its core, descriptive data makes it easy for sales teams to get answers to their everyday questions by describing what is happening in their business at a given time.
For example, descriptive intelligence tells you whether your reps are performing according to plan, how many calls they made last week, what their time-to-first action is, etc. Instead of harassing their IT departments or spending hours rolling up reports, sales folks could now get quick and accurate answers to their questions. But that’s where the insight ended, and subsequently where predictive analytics began.
Predictive analytics uses artificial intelligence (AI) and historical data to anticipate what will occur in the future. Predictive analytics takes many forms, but some of those that sales teams are most familiar with include email sentiment, lead scoring, and forecasting.
Predictive sales intelligence is extremely valuable; high-performance sales organizations are 4x more likely to use predictive analytics than underperformers, according to Salesforce Research. However, while predictive analytics can tell you what might happen, they cannot tell you why it’s happening and how you can correct course to achieve higher performance. Enter prescriptive insights.
What Are Prescriptive Sales Insights?
Prescriptive insights are the latest and greatest culmination of big data, AI, and sales technology. This generation of sales intelligence can dynamically pinpoint why particular performance variations occur and make relevant recommendations to drive change.
How is this done? Scientific sales solutions have the power to dynamically codify and analyze millions of data points at once, isolating the key dimensions that impact performance. These dimensions rage from lead source to sales rep, company, industry and more. Identifying and isolating these factors gives way to prescriptive insights about specific levers your team can pull to achieve results.
For example, say that you want to understand more about your team’s time-to-first-action. Descriptive data will tell you that your team’s time-to-first-action is 30 minutes. Predictive analytics will say that, considering your current lead flow, you should be able to follow up with 112 new leads per day. Prescriptive insights will reveal that if you reduce your team’s time-to-first-action from 30 minutes to 17 minutes, you can generate $75k more per quarter.
Similarly, imagine you are curious about the types of leads generating the most value for your business. Descriptive insights will tell you that Lead A did not convert. Predictive analytics will let you know that, due to Lead B’s industry and lead source, there is a 65 percent chance it will convert. Prescriptive insights, on the other hand, will reveal that, to increase your average deal size by $10k, you must focus on leads that come from paid search and have at least 500 employees.
Redefining Sales Intelligence
Knowing where you stand and being able to predict future outcomes is crucial for sales success, but a clear understanding of why things are happening and exactly what you can do to achieve desired results will take your performance to the next level. Prescriptive insights are redefining sales intelligence, and your competitors may already be riding this wave into the future.
Rachel Serpa is the content marketing manager at Base, a CRM software provider that automates data capture and analysis to make sales teams more productive. Serpa is a Bay Area native who works from the Base headquarters in Mountain View, CA.