Developing Customer Intelligence for Sales Enablement

Sales enablement guruKeeping up with prospective customer challenges and needs has become both easier and more difficult at the same time.  The mining of information online today, provides decided advantages as compared to just a decade ago.  Yet sorting through the sheer volume of available data can prove rather overwhelming.  Fortunately, numerous time-saving resources now exist to render even the most backwards researcher a pro at gathering customer and prospect intelligence.  This week we’ve trawled the web to create a handy resource list for keeping up with customer challenges and needs so that you can assemble the latest and most in depth customer information to pass on to sales.  Please chime in with your favorite go-to sources.


  1. Broad company & industry research


    • Industry blogs – Searches on Google Blogs help provide the broader picture of industry trends.  Type in your relevant search parameters to find the top blogs covering your target industry or function, and see which issues are top of mind.  For example, a quick search of “retail industry blogs” indicates on the first page of results, that the challenges and opportunities brought by e-commerce are key issues.


    • Market analysts and consulting firmsGartner, Forrester, McKinsey & Co., and IDC, are a few of the many reputable sources regarding industry trends and insights.  While customized research will come at a premium, there is still considerable value to be found in the thought leadership such firms make available freely online.


    • Database subscriptions – Services such as Dun & Bradstreet’s Hoovers, IbisWorld, and Salesforce’s provide a range of features, from company reports and list-building capabilities, to in-depth industry reports.


  2. Listen & monitor


    • Google Alerts Alerts can be customized to regularly deliver to your inbox the latest Google results on the search parameters you set.  Monitor specific topics, key words, competitors, prospects, etc.


    • Social media monitoring tools – Services such as Hootsuite, Sysomos, and Salesforce’s Radian6, feature robust monitoring, reporting, and analytics to provide you with the business intelligence necessary to understand and engage with your target market.


  3. Customized lead generation


    • Predictive analytics – Insights from Big Data, combined with predictive analytics, enables a newer service, Mintigo, to evaluate and match current prospect interests with your offerings, allowing you to prioritize leads more accurately.  The blogosphere describes Mintigo as a unique “customer search engine” with impressive results.


    • Prospect surveys – Reach, engage, and qualify your prospects, while gaining valuable insights in one efficient process with survey-based lead generation.  Not only do you get qualified leads from the opt-in survey, but you also get a contact database of highly targeted individuals.


  4. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Smartly utilized CRMs can help increase sales by keeping you organized and optimized.  For maximum efficiency and productivity, look for a solution which integrates with other services you use. Popular choices include, Nimble, Zoho, and Salesforce.  Such cloud-based platforms have numerous add-on products to provide you with comprehensive services, including solutions for sales, customer service, as well as marketing and campaign management.


  5. Social Media Platforms – While B2B marketers shouldn’t discount other social media platforms (namely, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube), LinkedIn is the only true B2B social network.  If resources are limited, with over 225 million users to-date, LinkedIn is a great place to gain intelligence on highly targeted prospects – and perhaps even a warm introduction.  However, using the social media monitoring tools mentioned above will provide you with a more comprehensive view across the numerous social media platforms.


  6. Customized prospect research


    • Prospect surveys – These efficient and effective surveys are not only highly successful at lead generation, but also provide valuable insight into a highly targeted market.  Survey data can then be used as to craft thought leadership pieces to engage those prospects who initially declined to participate in the survey.


    • DIY surveys – Online survey tools can be highly cost-effective and many integrate with other platforms.  These user-friendly survey services provide real-time data results and automated reporting.  For straightforward surveys, popular choices are SurveyMonkey, PollDaddy, and SurveyGizmo.   For those requiring more complex data collection solutions, a service such as Qualtrics offers more sophisticated options.  As always be careful how you represent the results of DIY surveys. Prospects are apt to consider poorly if they are obviously self-serving. 


How effective is your sales enablement strategy? Download the SimplyDIRECT Sales Enablement Checklist to determine if there is more that can be done to support sales in their efforts to close business. Click on the button below.


Sales Enablement Checklist


Help us grow our list – what are your favorite online resources for keeping up with customer needs and challenges?