As businesses strive to stay ahead of the curve and outdo their competition, they are constantly seeking ways to maximize their revenue. One of the most effective ways to do this is through the use of revenue intelligence.
Revenue intelligence is the process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting sales data to make informed business decisions. In today's sales environment, relying on gut instincts alone simply won't cut it. The slightest miscalculation can lead to lost revenue and missed opportunities.
In this guide we'll explore the importance of revenue intelligence, how it works, and how to implement it effectively in your sales strategy. Whether you're a seasoned sales professional or just starting out, this guide will help you take your revenue-generating abilities to the next level.
So what is revenue intelligence exactly?
Simply put, it’s an AI-driven process to analyze sales and product data. Its goal is to provide actionable insights into your sales organization, processes, buyers and customers — so you can drive revenue growth.
By leveraging AI-powered predictive analytics, revenue intelligence goes beyond data capture and provides more advanced insights into buying signals, targeting data, and forecasts. This enables sales reps to prioritize their prospects, gain a prospect’s full buying context, and personalize their communications accordingly. It also enables revenue leaders to connect actions to outcomes and make accurate, data-driven revenue predictions.
Sales teams don’t typically suffer from lack of hard work and hustle. What revenue intelligence does is make sure that hustle is pointing in the right direction — and that everyone is aligned in pursuing the most efficient and profitable course of action.
But with all the predictive analytics tools out there, how do you know whether a particular software or platform is true revenue intelligence?
Generally, revenue intelligence requires three components in order to work: artificial intelligence, 360-degree data integration, and actionable insights. We’ll take a look at each of these in turn.
You may be thinking: “I’ve been in sales for decades, and I’ve never heard of revenue intelligence. Can it really be that important?”
The answer is: yes it is!
The reason that revenue intelligence is a relatively new tool in the sales leader’s toolkit is that the technology necessary to make it work — namely, artificial intelligence — has only recently slipped into the mainstream.
As the number of AI-powered tools and technologies has grown — both in sales enablement and other fields — revenue intelligence has blossomed as a new category and class of technology.
With AI, revenue intelligence software can analyze hundreds of thousands of data points, running them through various predictive models to not only identify trends and connections that lay beneath the surface, but also predict performance in a way that a human analyst simply cannot.
Sales and marketing teams are no strangers to CRM data. But as helpful as that data is, often it only comes about through manual data entry. Without a dedicated RevOps team to regularly clean and maintain that data, you inevitably end up with a lot of noise.
Not only that, but CRM data is highly limited in what it can tell you. For instance, you can see when a lead becomes an opportunity, but you have no insight into:
The truth is, the data necessary to answer these questions definitely exist, just not in your CRM. Website analytics, marketing campaign stats, behavioral analytics, and other data sources provide necessary insight into the entire customer journey.
Revenue intelligence seeks to solve this problem by eliminating siloed data and bringing all these insights together to form a single source of truth.
No customer makes their buying decision in a neat and tidy sales process. By integrating data from sales, marketing, customer success, and support, revenue intelligence uses all the information at your disposal to best understand your prospects and customers so you can make informed decisions.
If you’re going to invest in a revenue intelligence product, you don’t just want some nice charts and graphs to spruce up your next quarterly report. You want insights that will help you make better decisions — whether you’re a frontline sales rep or a revenue leader.
The key to revenue intelligence is the provision of actionable insights, enabling you to make better decisions in real time while you still have the ability to course-correct.
These insights enable you to improve sales team performance in the following areas:
With revenue intelligence, you gain access to a wealth of actionable insights that helps both your individual reps and overall team become more efficient.
At its core, revenue intelligence is decision intelligence: the insights empower sales teams to make more informed, impactful decisions based on a 360-degree view of the revenue process.
As sales continues to evolve in an ever-changing landscape, amid ever-changing customer expectations, sales leaders can’t rely on old methodologies to meet those expectations. They must be agile, basing decisions on the most up-to-date insights into their actual audience.
Basically, “gut feelings” and “this is the way we’ve always done it” don’t work anymore.
Thankfully, revenue intelligence provides a new level of insights to inform sales teams, including:
These insights enable revenue leaders to increase productivity, prioritize leads and opportunities, generate personalized & contextual communications, and align sales with marketing and post-sale teams.
And industry leading companies are taking note. Last year, Forrester announced that revenue intelligence was “core to a go-to-market tech stack.”
At the end of the day, a number of stakeholders benefit from revenue intelligence:
Here are some of the specific benefits that revenue intelligence provides to these stakeholders.
READ MORE: Why Traditional Sales Enablement is Dead, and Revenue Enablement is the Future
Salespeople at all levels are always on the lookout for new opportunities, whether new accounts or expanding opportunities within existing accounts.
Revenue intelligence uncovers insights from a variety of data sources, surfacing insights into prospect timing, stage of the buying journey, level of interest in a specific product, and more. This helps your reps identify opportunities that are lingering below the surface that they otherwise may not have pursued.
According to first-party research from InsightSquared (a Mediafly company), 68% of companies miss their forecast by 11% or more.
However, for organizations of all sizes, predictability and consistency are key to organizational planning. The better revenue leaders can forecast pipelines and revenue, the better your organization will be.
Revenue intelligence not only connects actions to outcomes, enabling managers to coach and train sales reps to engage in the most effective activities, but AI-driven predictive analytics can predict trends before they occur. This allows teams to know when to double down on their current activities, or course correct.
READ MORE: What the NFL Draft Can Teach Us About Forecasting Sales Pipeline
When reps have a clear picture of which of their activities have the greatest impact, they can make great strides without having to increase their hours or workload. As a result, accurate sales forecasting data via revenue intelligence is a major boon to organizational efficiency and productivity.
Picture this: a rep shows up to work and before they make their first call, they have a clear picture of:
This enables reps to structure their day to have the biggest impact. When everyone in your organization does this, you’ll start to see the needle move very quickly.
Let’s face it: most CRM data is a result of manual data entry. So while the majority of reps say they value their CRM, it’s only natural that inputting data takes a back seat to other sales activities.
The result: significant gaps in your data.
Revenue intelligence fights against this trend by creating an automated, single source of truth that collects, cleans, and updates your data in real time:
When you’ve eliminated gaps and errors in your data, you have a more accurate view of your entire revenue operation. This, in turn, results in better predictions and decision-making.
Not only does revenue intelligence help individual team members perform at their best, but it also helps ensure that everyone is rowing in the same direction. After all, when everyone operates from a single source of truth, there’s going to be natural alignment that occurs.
What’s more, revenue intelligence can help sales leaders identify which reps are slowing down in productivity, and work with them to fix the issue—whether through coaching, training, or incentives.
Revenue intelligence is also critical to align not only your sales team, but also the various teams and stakeholders across your organization. Marketing, sales, success, and service are all part of the same overall cycle, and when everyone is aligned, the customer has a better experience — which is what it’s all about!
Now that we’ve walked through what revenue intelligence is and its key benefits, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of how it works.
First, it’s important to note that not every revenue intelligence platform works the same way. Various algorithms weigh different data points differently, and many change and evolve over time.
But at its core, revenue intelligence follows this basic process:
See the graphic below for an illustration of how Mediafly Revenue360 follows these three steps.
Learn more about Mediafly’s Revenue360 platform here >
Let’s look at each of these steps in turn.
Before you can analyze data, you need to capture it. That way, your revenue intelligence platform has something to analyze and get the ball rolling.
Keep in mind that data capture is something that you can improve over time. If all you have right now is data from manual entry, that’s at least something to get you started. As you refine your processes based on your insights, you can improve your data quality, which will only improve the intelligence you receive.
In essence, don’t let imperfect data keep you from getting started.
There’s a myriad of data that you can collect that can inform and drive your revenue intelligence efforts. Some of these are familiar to most sales leaders, but others are metrics that used to be invisible.
Note that the list above just scratches the surface of the data available to you and your sales team. You’ll want to collect the data that provides you with the best insights to drive your strategic decision making.
Once you’ve captured your data, your revenue intelligence platform will leverage machine learning, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence to analyze your data and surface actionable insights.
The possibilities are limited only by a) the data at your disposal, and b) your imagination!
Once your RevOps team configures the platform based on the specific questions most important to you, all you have to do is input the data, and the insights start coming immediately.
Examples of questions your revenue intelligence platform can answer include:
If your revenue intelligence software isn’t providing tangible answers to these questions (i.e. there’s a number attached to that answer), then you need to look for another platform. The primary value proposition of revenue intelligence is that it surfaces answers to some of the more obscure questions.
Once you have actionable insights and intelligence at your disposal the next step is — you guessed it — to put those insights to use. Here are some steps you can take:
Like the insights described above, the possibilities for how to put this data to use are endless. The important part is that you take action. Intelligence that sits on a server collecting metaphorical dust is a waste of your time and money.
While revenue intelligence is a powerful tool to have in your toolbelt, it alone won’t make your sales team more successful. After all, revenue intelligence tells you only what to do—but you need other platforms to help you take action.
Here are brief summaries of all the additional technologies you should have to be successful with revenue intelligence.
The most efficient way to improve your sales is by improving your sellers. With coaching, conversation, and talent intelligence, you can identify the behaviors and skill gaps that are preventing your people from meeting their quotas, and make real-time, actionable adjustments.
Buyers no longer consume sales content in a linear fashion. Instead, they want to engage with brands and sales teams on their terms. Engagement platforms enable you to tailor interactive content to the buyer’s specific wants, and gather insights to help continually optimize their experiences.
See our Engagement360 platform >>>
People don’t buy products. They buy value. With value selling tools, you can enable your marketers, salespeople, and support teams to lead value-based conversations across the entire customer lifecycle, generating higher quality leads, accelerating deals, and increasing ROI.
As the modern sales economy continues to evolve, revenue leaders are faced with doing more with fewer resources. Revenue intelligence provides an automated, data-driven way for sales leaders to align, maximize, and grow their teams.
Most importantly, revenue intelligence puts the customer’s voice and actions front and center—making sure that you base your decisions on what they want, rather than what you think is right.
That’s why the majority of revenue teams are adopting some kind of revenue intelligence.
Instead of boring you with technical details, let’s talk specifically and tangibly about how revenue intelligence can benefit your sales organization and wider revenue team.
Ultimately, it comes down to three things:
If you’re curious about how revenue intelligence delivers these benefits, then you’re in the right place.
Keep reading to dive into the top benefits of revenue intelligence for sales and marketing leaders.
READ MORE: Revenue intelligence: the future of data.
Revenue intelligence provides insights beyond what your CRM is capable of doing. While your CRM collects great and important insights to help track deal progress and rep activity, it cannot answer questions like:
Now, if that sounds too good to be true, here’s why it isn’t.
First of all, all the data you need to uncover these insights and make these predictions is already out there. Online customer behaviors, phone call durations, frequency of communication, and the content of those conversations all speak to a buyer’s interest in your product. Revenue intelligence simply takes that data and interprets it in a way that any sales leader can understand.
The reason why we’ve never seen this before is that until recently, AI or machine learning-powered technology was not nearly as accessible and mainstream as it is now. Thanks to major leaps and bounds in AI capabilities, sales teams have the unprecedented opportunity to become more effective, efficient, and data-driven.
So how does revenue intelligence do all of this? What makes it effective?
It all comes down to three components: data integration, conversation analytics, and predictive analytics. Let’s break down each of these in detail.
Whether you’re using a complex AI algorithm or a simple Excel formula, one thing remains consistent — when you put data in, you’re going to get data out (in most cases).
The question is not whether or not you get a result. The question is whether you get an accurate result.
Some of this has to do with the structure of the algorithm or formula. But there’s another often ignored factor that’s just as important: the quality of the data you’re putting in.
By data quality, we’re not just talking about old or inaccurate data, although that’s important. We’re talking about gaps in your data — gaps that prevent you from seeing the full picture of your audience's behaviors.
Revenue intelligence brings together data to give you a 360-degree view of your prospects. That data includes:
By bringing this data together into a single location and applying advanced AI-driven analytics to it, revenue intelligence provides actionable insights to help you make accurate assessments, predictions, and decisions.
These decisions will be based on facts, not intuition.
One of the great benefits of revenue intelligence is that it can help you opportunities for improvement among your team and reps so you can make real-time adjustments.
But if you’re just looking at the number of emails and dials, then you may as well just keep using your CRM.
Conversation intelligence, on the other hand, doesn’t just cue you into the number of interactions your revenue team has with prospects and customers, but the quality of those interactions as well.
Conversation analytics can pull out any of the following bits from your sales call recordings:
Sales happen in those person-to-person interactions. By analyzing your conversations, you can get a very clear idea of not only the “what”, but the “why” and coach your reps to success.
READ MORE: 10 unexpected use cases of conversation intelligence.
It’s not enough to have a snapshot of where things stand right now. Effective revenue leaders need to know where things are headed so they can develop a strategic sales plan.
Predictive analytics are what make revenue intelligence a powerful planning tool: by analyzing all the quantitative and qualitative data at your disposal, you can fairly accurately predict what will happen in the future.
What’s more, a strong revenue intelligence platform won’t just tell you what’s going to happen, but why. That way, you’ll know what adjustments to make to ensure you meet your upcoming targets.
At its core, revenue intelligence is decision intelligence: the insights empower sales teams to make more informed, impactful decisions based on a 360-degree view of their revenue organization, process, and buyers.
Revenue intelligence provides insights that can help sales managers, RevOps managers, and organizational leaders all make more informed, strategic decisions based on accurate, reliable predictions.
Here are some of the most meaningful benefits of revenue intelligence.
There is a lot of potential within a sales organization that leaders and reps simply don’t realize. This includes prospects that have gone cold or upsell opportunities within existing accounts.
But how do you know which of these opportunities are actually doable, and which ones are just wishful thinking? That’s where revenue intelligence comes in.
By pulling together a wide range of data, including behaviors, interests, engagement, and more, you can see where there may be opportunities lingering beneath the surface — so your reps can jump on them!
Modern sales leaders cannot rely on intuition and instinct to make decisions. There are just too many “unknown unknowns” to stake millions of dollars in one person’s gut.
By providing not only insights into current prospect and account activities but also predictive analytics to forecast upcoming trends, revenue intelligence provides sales leaders with the insights they need to make both strategic and tactical decisions that drive revenue.
While salespeople are known for being independent and aggressive, they don’t work in a vacuum. If you want maximum efficiency in reaching your organizational goals, it’s critical for your entire team to row in the same direction.
Revenue intelligence helps you identify which reps are succeeding, and which ones are falling short, in these and other areas. That way, you can course correct with prescriptive recommendations and personalized coaching plans to keep the organization moving forward.
Let’s face it: CRM data is only so helpful. While it gives you a good picture of quantitative metrics like phone call volume or win rates, you miss out on a lot of critical information.
Revenue intelligence automatically works to close data gaps by:
The more data you have at your disposal, the more accurate your insights will be.
The main difference between sales training and coaching:
With revenue intelligence, you get clear visibility into how your reps behave and whether they’re aligned with your expectations. By identifying skill gaps, missed opportunities, or poor performance at scale, you can focus your coaching efforts on those areas that have maximum impact.
This also leads to the growth of a coaching culture, where everyone is motivated to improve because they can see how coaching benefits them.
READ MORE: Growing in a recession—6 steps to sales coaching success.
The end result of a solid revenue intelligence program is revenue growth.
By understanding not only your customers’ voices but also their behaviors and sentiments, you can align your entire team to meet their needs. When you share this data among your teams and use it to drive team performance improvement, the natural result will be a growing, thriving organization.
Is revenue intelligence really worth the investment?
That’s a question so many sales organizations are trying to answer, especially given the tumultuous market and general unpredictability we’ve faced for the last three years.
In a sales landscape with fast-changing customer expectations, intuition, and instinct can only get you so far.
Is revenue intelligence the solution to this problem?
A lot of sales organizations seem to think so, as revenue intelligence software is a fast-growing market:
So what’s all the hype about? What does revenue intelligence software do that is driving that demand?
Here are a few examples:
Revenue intelligence technology provides both a high-level, organization-wide view of what’s happening in those three areas, as well as detailed, granular insights to help drive action — and revenue.
Here we’ll dive into the problems revenue intelligence solves and how to find a revenue intelligence platform that meets your needs.
The insights that revenue intelligence software provides can solve a number of challenges common to most sales organizations. Generally, these fall into three broad categories:
These insights enable revenue leaders to increase productivity, prioritize leads and prospects, generate personalized & contextual communications, and align sales with marketing and success teams.
At its core, revenue intelligence is decision intelligence: the insights empower sales teams to make more informed, impactful decisions based on a 360-degree view of their revenue organization, processes, and buyers.
Specifically, it enables revenue and sales leaders to address the following common problems.
1. Missed & unrealized sales opportunities
Unknown unknowns cause so many sales opportunities to go unrealized. As a result, few companies are truly maximizing their revenue potential within their current footprint.
Revenue intelligence solves this problem by integrating data from multiple sources, analyzing it, and surfacing insights on both implicit and explicit customer behaviors. This enables sales teams to make decisions based on prospect timing, stage of the buying journey, level of interest in a specific product, and more.
2. Blind spots & data gaps
Manual data entry is one of the biggest obstacles that modern sales organizations face. It’s tedious and time-consuming, and it inevitably gives an incomplete picture of your target market.
Revenue intelligence addresses this issue by creating an automated, single source of truth that avoids:
This, in turn, increases the quality of your strategic and tactical decisions, because you’re operating off the most trustworthy and actionable insights available.
3. Invisible buying signals
Think of a recent sales call. When you’ve been talking to your prospect, how much of your sense of their willingness to buy came from their explicit comments?
More likely, you interpreted their body language, the quality of their questions, and other subconscious signals that told you: this is going to be a good fit.
Most buying signals are not explicit. Unfortunately, traditional sales analytics rely exclusively on explicit buying signals — like a demo form submission or abandoned shopping cart — instead of the thousands of implicit buying signals that prospects inevitably leave along their customer journey.
Revenue intelligence leverages AI-driven analysis to collect these insights, enabling sales reps to better personalize their communications, prioritize leads, and generate more revenue.
4. Revenue leakage
To prevent lost revenue, it’s critical not only to know what happened, but also why. That way, you can respond to those objections, concerns, or fears more effectively next time they come up.
Revenue intelligence tracks and analyzes data related to revenue. Not only does it identify current areas of loss, but it also leverages predictive analytics to uncover potential areas of loss. And most importantly, it will give you granular insight into how to mitigate those losses.
A sales organization is only as good as the people within it. Revenue intelligence enables you to look at the quality of individual and team performance, so you can make real-time adjustments.
5. Productivity slugs
Sales reps are natural hustlers. (And if you have a rep who isn’t, it’s probably time to guide them down another career path.)
As a result, productivity slugs usually stem not from a rep’s inability to put the hours in, but from ineffective activity. In other words, it’s the quality of their output, not the quantity.
Revenue intelligence makes highly detailed connections between activities and outcomes, so you can see the strongest correlations. That way, you can direct your reps to spend their time on activities that move the needle.
6. Misaligned teams
Revenue intelligence helps address misalignment in two ways. First, it helps to prevent misalignment within your sales team. When every rep is executing a different process in a different way, it can be hard to predict outcomes. The insights from revenue intelligence can clue you into who’s doing well and who needs to improve.
Additionally, revenue intelligence helps align various teams and stakeholders across your revenue organization. After all, marketing, sales, success, and service are all part of the same customer journey, just at different stages.
7. Lack of coaching success
One area where sales organizations go wrong is they don’t fully understand the difference between sales training and coaching.
Training is about knowledge or helping reps understand something they don’t already know. Coaching is about behavior or getting those reps to put it into practice.
With full visibility into how your reps are engaging — both on a qualitative and quantitative level —- sales leaders can leverage revenue intelligence to see where reps are falling short and fix performance.
A great example is conversation analytics: by using AI and machine learning analysis on sales call recordings, sales leaders can see where in the conversation they may be losing a buyer and work with the rep to correct that behavior in future calls.
Predictability is paramount to business success & growth. It’s what enables business leaders to make strategic decisions, allocate resources, and move the company forward.
Revenue intelligence helps overcome the major challenges organizations face in predictive planning, including the following:
8. Unpredictable pipelines
Did you know 68% of companies miss their forecast by 11% or more? Although that number can be small, for a company that does upwards of eight to nine figures in revenue, that’s a lot of dollars.
By analyzing previous sales data, rep performance, and implicit buying signals, revenue intelligence provides clear, data-driven sales forecasting through predictive analytics.
What’s more, it can help provide you with the regular, repeatable actions that are most likely to lead to growth in the future — so you can get your team moving in the right direction.
9. Instinct-driven decision making
No one should stake millions of dollars in revenue on one person’s gut. It’s not fair to the company, stakeholders, or the markets you serve.
By providing not only insights into current prospect and account activities, but also predictive analytics to forecast upcoming trends, revenue intelligence provides sales leaders with the actionable insights they need to make both strategic and tactical decisions.
10. Underperforming products
Not all products are successful, obviously. But often, revenue leaders don’t have clear insight into which products are contributing most to the bottom line.
Revenue intelligence makes these connections plain as day. With this knowledge, leaders can both direct sales resources toward promoting the most profitable products, and also provide insights on product lines that may be retired due to low ROI.
11. Sluggish revenue growth
Regardless of the external economic factors impacting your sector, any successful organization needs to grow. Revenue intelligence identifies areas where your growth may be sluggish, and uncovers the root cause of that problem. That way, you can target your resources to address the issue, maximizing your efforts.
READ MORE: What the NFL Draft Can Teach Us About Forecasting Sales Pipeline
Now that you’re aware of the critical problems revenue intelligence solves, it’s important to know how to find the best revenue intelligence software.
However, here’s a major caveat: technology alone won’t fix your sales organization. Revenue intelligence software is a critical tool, but a tool is only as effective as those who use it.
If you want to see revenue intelligence success, you need to have people in your organization who believe in making data-backed decisions, and processes to collect data and act on the insights you get from your revenue intelligence platform.
Once you have those in place, you can use the following criteria to evaluate your software options:
If your platform meets the criteria listed above, then the odds are you’ve got a high-quality revenue intelligence platform.
Hopefully, after reading all that, you’re thinking: This sounds fantastic! How do I get started?
Well, we’re glad you asked.
Mediafly Revenue360 is a comprehensive revenue intelligence platform that combines sales enablement, content management, customer engagement, and value-selling tools to drive advanced B2B personalization.
If you want to learn more about Revenue360 and start to deliver personalization, predictions, and scalable growth, click here.