Sales intelligence vs. CRM: what’s the difference?
What sales intelligence can do for your business
6 sales intelligence tools to bolster your tech stack
What to look for in a sales intelligence solution
For even the most experienced sales team, maintaining a consistent flow of high-quality leads in the sales pipeline is a considerable challenge.
Reliable customer relationship management (CRM) software helps you keep track of your leads. Adding sales intelligence gives your team the crucial data they need to find prospects, understand customers and drive more revenue.
In this article, we’ll look at what sales intelligence is, how it benefits businesses and the best sales intelligence tools to improve sales performance.
What is sales intelligence?
Sales intelligence refers to data related to prospects and customers that sales teams can use to improve sales strategies and enhance conversion rates throughout the sales funnel.
You can break down sales intelligence into three basic components:
Data collection. Sales intelligence tools and platforms that assist with gathering information from various sources, including social media, websites and public records.
Data analysis. Sales intelligence tools that use algorithms, and now often artificial intelligence (AI), to analyze large volumes of data and turn it into useful insights that a human then implements.
Data application. Sales intelligence tools that use the data to identify untapped high-potential leads, predict sales trends and guide sales strategies.
Intelligence tools will fall into one or more of the categories above, with the most complex offering the full spectrum of data collection, analysis and application.
There are four different types of data that these tools typically use to optimize your sales process from the top of the funnel to after the close. Current tools on the market may include data from any of the following categories:
Prospect data. Information on potential leads and their activities, enabling you to qualify and prioritize leads.
Customer data. Insights into current customers for better personalization and improved customer retention.
Market data. Broader information on market trends and industry benchmarks to help you identify new opportunities.
Competitor data. Details on competitors’ strategies, pricing and market positioning.
In practice, sales intelligence enables your teams to improve every aspect of their sales process.
Sales intelligence vs. CRM: what’s the difference?
CRM systems and sales intelligence solutions share a common focus on customer data.
Sales intelligence helps you uncover valuable data, while CRM software enables you to manage that information and apply it in your business on a daily basis.
Sales intelligence feeds your CRM software, enriching existing data points and supplying fresh insights on potential customers.
For example, a sales rep could use sales intelligence data to identify a high-potential lead in a specific industry. Inputting that information into a CRM means they can track engagement, schedule follow-ups and nurture the relationship.
Throughout the sales cycle, the rep can use insights from the sales intelligence tool to personalize pitches and offers, all managed and tracked within the CRM.
The right integrations allow both systems to share information in a two-way system, reducing manual data entry and associated errors. The sales intelligence tool feeds new information into the CRM and the CRM updates the intelligence tool with its existing deals and customers.
For example, Pipedrive has a number of sales intelligence features – including AI Sales Assistant – and integrates with a wide selection of sales intelligence solutions. A seamless data exchange between both platforms means your sales reps always have the latest, most relevant details they need to progress a deal in their CRM.
Together, sales intelligence and CRM systems provide your sales team with a holistic view of your customers and ensure you don’t miss out on any opportunities.
To provide actionable data and insights for sales opportunities.
To manage customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle.
External data, e.g., lead databases, social media and market analysis.
Internal data, e.g., customer communication history, sales data and service records.
Business strategists and sales reps.
Sales reps, marketing and customer service teams.
Strategic planning, market trend analysis, lead scoring.
Daily operations, task management, communication.
Enriching the sales pipeline with qualified leads and market knowledge.
Facilitating and improving relationships with existing customers.
What sales intelligence can do for your business
Back in 2006, mathematician Clive Humby declared that data is “the new oil”. However, experts believe that isn’t the best comparison because, for starters, data has far more potential than oil.
While there’s only a limited amount of oil in the world, the amount of data increases exponentially every day.
The challenge isn’t finding data; it’s sifting through it all to find the necessary information.
Investing in another tool or platform may put some managers off. For most businesses, though, the improved efficiency and increased sales make it worth the price.
Sales intelligence is like a super-efficient intern that helps businesses find the precise details they need for their sales teams, saving valuable time and increasing effectiveness.
More specifically, businesses that use sales intelligence tools benefit in the following ways.
Improved data hygiene
When it comes to data, quality is more important than quantity. Accurate, up-to-date data enables better decision-making and ensures you use your resources effectively. On the other hand, inaccurate data can mean time and effort wasted on the wrong leads.
As a result, more businesses are recognizing the importance of data hygiene policies and implementing clear procedures to maintain its accuracy.
Instead of second-guessing your data or spending all your time double-checking the information you already have, sales intelligence tools validate your existing data and ensure it’s ready for use.
Busier sales pipeline
Finding and qualifying the right leads is a significant challenge for any B2B sales team.
Sales intelligence tools speed up the lead generation process, enabling you to identify more leads that match your ideal customer profile (ICP) for a steady flow of high-quality leads into your sales funnel.
Once those leads are in the pipeline, the same sales intelligence tools use data enrichment to provide additional insights. Filling in any gaps in your customer knowledge means you can prioritize leads, tailor your outreach and strategically move them through the funnel toward a successful close.
Sales intelligence software helps you learn more about your prospects and customers, enabling you to differentiate your approach and stay ahead of the competition who aren’t leveraging these tools.
Identifying key decision-makers and their contact details allows sales teams to spend less time researching and get a headstart on their engagement. Sales intelligence can also comb through millions of potential leads, helping you find those hidden gems overlooked by your competitors.
One particular advantage of sales intelligence software is unearthing hard-to-find contact information. Many companies have a contact number on their website, but it’s harder to find direct numbers for C-suite and other higher-ups who may match your buyer persona.
Better understand your customers with our Buyer Persona Templates
Use these templates to ensure your solution always aligns with your customers' interests and needs
A verified mobile number or email address means you can start a conversation while your competitors are still trying to get past the gatekeepers.
Shorter sales cycles
Sales intelligence tools can crunch vast amounts of data in a fraction of the time it would take a sales rep, drastically reducing the time your team spends on each lead.
For example, sentiment analysis and engagement tracking enable you to proactively identify customer pain points. Your sales teams can then tailor their pitches to directly address these issues, leading to quicker conversion rates.
Similarly, using historical data to predict buyer behavior means teams can prioritize the leads most likely to convert. The more time you spend with high-potential leads, the quicker they’ll travel through the sales funnel and the sooner your reps can move on to new opportunities.
Your existing customer base is a goldmine for potential sales growth. Sales intelligence tools continuously update customer profiles with new data, helping your team uncover fresh cross-selling and upselling opportunities.
For example, by letting you know when accounts are researching new tools (either on your website or elsewhere), sales intelligence can flag customers who would benefit the most from a related product upgrade. Sales teams can then make informed, personalized recommendations that boost sales value.
Sales intelligence can also predict the best times to approach customers with these opportunities, increasing the chances that they’ll say yes and leading to higher customer lifetime value.
Today’s customers expect a personalized service. Businesses that are better at personalization generate 40% more revenue from those activities than the average company.
Sales intelligence tools allow sales teams to craft messaging that resonates on a personal level, significantly increasing engagement rates and, as a result, revenue.
Data-driven insights help you tailor each email, call and social interaction to the individual’s specific needs and past interactions with your company. A high level of personalization not only enhances the customer experience but also fosters a sense of trust and relationship that generic outreach can’t match.
By connecting personalized outreach efforts with strategic relationship-building, sales intelligence turns routine communications into opportunities to deepen customer relations and loyalty.
6 sales intelligence tools to bolster your tech stack
There’s a wide range of sales intelligence tools available in the market, each with different features and capabilities. By choosing a platform that meets your specific needs and integrates with your existing sales technology stack, you can maximize the benefits.
Here are some of the best sales intelligence tools currently available.
Best all-round sales intelligence tool: Prospector
If you’re searching for B2B leads, Prospector has a vast database of over 400 million profiles from 10 million companies.
Prospector can quickly narrow your search and find profiles that match your buyer persona using filters such as job title, location and industry.
You’ll get direct access to your leads’ phone numbers, emails and social media touchpoints, all in compliance with GDPR and other international data regulations.
The Prospector database is maintained by an AI engine that updates and verifies up to 800,000 profiles daily, so you can be confident that the contact details are accurate.
Prospector is available in Pipedrive’s LeadBooster add-on, along with Chatbot, Live Chat and Web Forms tools.
As part of Pipedrive’s toolset, Prospector works seamlessly with the CRM, enabling you to reach out and engage with contacts directly from Pipedrive. You can also attach email threads and deals to contacts to keep track of all the relevant information without jumping between tools.
Best for conversation intelligence: Call IQ by Klenty
Sales reps spend a lot of time on the phone, learning more about their prospects and building relationships. Klenty’s Call IQ helps you make the most of every conversation without worrying about forgetting any details.
Sales reps can seamlessly record, transcribe and review their calls, extracting important insights and understanding customer sentiment.
The platform stands out with its meticulous breakdown of calls, pinpointing each question posed, determining positive or negative remarks and highlighting the agreed next steps.
You can also see useful details such as how much time each participant spends talking, ensuring balanced conversations and that potential clients feel heard.
Call IQ empowers sales reps to enhance their calls and improve their close rates by streamlining the process of understanding and acting on a call.
To keep all your call data synced with your CRM, you can connect the tools using integrations like Call IQ by Klenty for Pipedrive.
Best for sales training intelligence: Avoma
Avoma is designed for sales managers and VPs to help their teams maximize their meetings for more insights.
Pairing conversational intelligence with an AI meeting assistant, Avoma assists sales teams with every stage of a meeting: preparing, capturing meeting details and reviewing key points.
Avoma’s unique approach to sales training helps set it apart. Sales managers can speed up the onboarding process by providing new reps with curated playlists featuring top-performing calls. Real company examples introduce them to best practices and familiarize them with common customer objections.
Reps can focus on the customer, using active listening to effectively address customer concerns and objections.
Avoma’s sales intelligence helps teams improve their sales tactics for optimal outcomes by amplifying the quality of interactions and refining the sales approach.
Connect the tool with your CRM so your meeting notes and insights are automatically recorded in the right place. For example, Avoma integrates with Pipedrive so reps can access call notes and recordings in the deal.
Best for EU-based sales intelligence: Dealfront
Formerly two separate tools, Echobot and Leadfeeder, Dealfront combines the best of both to offer a powerful all-in-one sales intelligence solution. Dealfront uses three specific data sources:
Brought together, this data allows you to find target accounts showing genuine buyer intent, identify the key decision-makers at the company and then access their direct contact information.
Along with individual and company details, Dealfront has access to financial information, news articles, press releases and social media to help you find the best possible prospects. The software can also match anonymous IP addresses to known companies, enabling you to identify website visitors and engage with them.
Dealfront is particularly useful for sales teams targeting the European market, trained on multilingual data that isn’t available anywhere else.
Lusha is a market intelligence platform designed to help sales, marketing and recruitment teams with contact data and company information for prospects and leads. You can search within the platform directly or use the Chrome plugin while browsing company websites.
Along with the typical filters you’d expect with a sales intelligence platform, Lusha also allows you to find leads based on buying signals, changed jobs and current technology.
Lusha prides itself on its ease of use – the site claims you can get your entire team onboarded in just 10 minutes. You can also export all the necessary information to your CRM in a single click, meaning you don’t have to worry about jumping between tools.
Lusha helps teams hit their KPIs efficiently by constantly refining the search for their ICP with the addition of personalized insights from past searches.
Best for buyer intent data: ZoomInfo
ZoomInfo offers a comprehensive suite of products for sales, marketing, operations and recruitment. The SalesOS software gives users access to an extensive B2B contact database for precision-targeted account selection.
Notably, ZoomInfo lets you find potential buyers right at the start of their journey by showing you intent data, such as who’s researching solutions like yours or visiting your website. Finding prospects at this critical time ensures you can reach them before competitors even know they exist.
Other notable features include Chorus, which lets you analyze customer calls and emails for conversational intelligence. You can also use the multi-touch sales cadences with ZoomInfo’s native phone dialer and email software.
Best for network intelligence: LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional social network, with over 950 million members sharing information about their careers. LinkedIn Sales Navigator enables sales professionals to leverage that vast network.
It has over 40 advanced search filters, from company size to recent changes in senior leadership. Sales Navigator lets you manually search for accounts that match your ICP with pinpoint precision.
While Sales Navigator is one of the more costly tools in this list, understanding your prospect’s network gives you a distinct advantage. Along with finding shared connections, Sales Navigator also flags previous customers, colleagues and classmates who can give you an introduction.
You can then track contacts by importing them to your CRM using an integration like LinkPort.
What to look for in a sales intelligence solution
New sales intelligence solutions are being launched regularly and sales managers must assess each provider based on their unique objectives and requirements.
To start, it’s essential for businesses to thoroughly understand and map out their current sales processes, pinpointing the specific needs and gaps where a sales intelligence tool could make a difference.
Knowing the ins and outs of your sales cycle helps you select a tool that integrates smoothly and adds the most value.
Reflect on what kind of intelligence is most useful for your operation. Ask yourself and your sales team:
Do you need a comprehensive platform that covers a broad range of data types or a more focused solution tailored to specific use cases?
Do you need detailed lead data to enrich your contacts, or are market insights more critical for your strategic planning?
Do you need to generate more new high-quality leads, or do you need conversation intelligence for meetings with existing prospects?
With those factors in mind, here are some key features of any sales intelligence solution.
Ease of use
All of the sales intelligence in the world won’t do you any good if it’s hidden behind a complicated interface. The less time salespeople spend navigating complex software, the more time they can dedicate to selling.
An easy-to-use interface reduces the learning curve, leading to faster onboarding and less resistance among team members. A user-friendly design also helps minimize errors and means sales reps are more likely to use all of the relevant features, increasing overall productivity.
As a business grows, it helps to have tools that will scale alongside it. Flexible plans are crucial in a sales intelligence platform because they allow businesses to make adjustments based on their current needs and priorities.
An adaptable plan also ensures that small startups aren’t overpaying for excessive features, while large enterprises can enjoy the advanced features and additional data they require.
Cost-effective pricing models that accommodate growth prevent disruptions and the need for frequent platform changes, which can be expensive and time-consuming.
A sales intelligence tool should seamlessly integrate with your existing CRM software to enable a seamless exchange of data. Robust integrations eliminate potential data silos and ensure that information flows between systems in real time.
The right integrations enable your sales force to have a 360-degree view of their leads and customers within the tools they already use, while workflow automation makes the process more efficient and less prone to errors.
Pipedrive’s Marketplace, for example, offers integrations with tons of tool favorites so you can centralize your data and processes.
Support and training
Even with the most intuitive platform, questions and issues will arise. Reliable customer support ensures that you can address these promptly, avoiding any significant downtime or delays to your sales activities.
Comprehensive training materials help users maximize the tool’s potential. Whether through online tutorials, webinars or documentation, these resources play a critical role in helping the sales team understand and leverage all the features of the platform.
For example, Pipedrive offers 24/7 email and chat support on all its plans. In our training area, Pipedrive Learn, you’ll find extensive resources including academy courses, video tutorials and webinars.
Sales intelligence is rapidly becoming an indispensable asset for growth-focused businesses. Companies can achieve a real competitive edge in today’s crowded marketplaces by leveraging the massive amounts of data now available.
The right sales intelligence means teams can spend less time searching for prospects and more time having strategic conversations that close deals. In turn, sales leaders gain greater visibility into their pipeline and can improve sales forecasts to optimize their go-to-market strategies.
Ultimately with sales intelligence, organizations can nurture leads better, close deals faster and continue strengthening customer relationships into the future.
Share your thoughts with our Community
Start or continue the conversation with like-minded sales and marketing professionals on our Community.