How the Right Monitoring Tools Can Bring in Sales Leads Worth $250,000 or More

April 28, 2011. By monitoring Twitter for sales leads, Avaya responded to a tweet by a potential customer in 2009 regarding their new phone system. 13 days later, Avaya closed a $250,000 sale, and is still used as a social media case study today. The web 2.0 driven explosion in online sources of customer information means that sales leads monitoring has taken on more possibilities. What are some best practices?

We ask Ville Vanhala, Senior Vice President of Information Resources at M-Brain (formerly GIA) for his thoughts on the subject.

What can a company fuel its business development through market intelligence?

“Market intelligence teams can help make an immediate impact on their company’s performance by supporting Sales and Marketing – as opposed to solely supporting strategic planning, for example. What’s more, actionable intelligence such as concrete sales leads is relatively easy to provide. And companies are usually willing to invest in sales intelligence solutions, due to the relative ease of demonstrating ROI with the output.

The challenge for companies is to assemble a solution that combines the right elements for their specific situation. There are lots of possibilities as there is such a vast supply of solutions or at least partial solutions. These range from company database products, marketing lists providers to contact validation services, media monitoring services and social media monitoring tools. Then there are web analytics tools, CRM solutions and customer insight analytics!”

How does a company choose the approach that is right for it?

“You need to be clear about the objectives.

What are the priorities in your company’s sales growth strategy? Is your company aiming to increase sales to existing customers by selling more of the same products to them or by offering new products and add-on services to them? Or perhaps the main priority is to win new customers? Are those new customers to be found in existing market segments or in new markets, such as foreign markets or new industry segments where your products can be used?

Answers to these questions will to a large extent, determine what companies are to be monitored in the sales intelligence process and in what markets.

Naturally, the company’s sales growth strategy may include multiple objectives that will contribute to overall sales growth. Are the objectives to grow existing accounts and to win new clients? In that case, setting the objectives for sales leads monitoring is also a question of priorities and deciding which sales efforts should and could be most actively be supported with sales intelligence.”

What other considerations are there when setting up the sales leads monitoring process?

“You need to define the format, the depth of detail and the frequency of updates and you need to decide how it will be delivered within the sales organization. In many cases, delivery may be to lots of people scattered around the world.

Most times, a regular flow of basic data about new prospects may serve sufficiently to help sales teams. Key company and target contact lists, pulled regularly from up-to-date company information databases, may help sales teams to identify just the right targets for their sales activities.

In other companies, the intelligence to sales teams may be in a more comprehensive format. For example, it may include in-depth target company or key account profiles that contain lots of valuable details and updates about each target company’s strategy and business challenges. Such intelligence provides an indication of a prospect’s needs and is usually assembled through a combination of online information sources and primary research.

One solution to consider is to deliver sales leads intelligence into a corporate market intelligence portal. Here, the information can be combined with other intelligence about companies and market trends in each market. In such a shared market intelligence portal, the incoming sales leads can be efficiently distributed to the key people responsible and team members can add insights by posting comments to the incoming information.”

What are some ways to allow for immediate follow up to sales leads intelligence?

“It is useful for a market intelligence team to consider how far they can and want to go in terms of setting up solutions that integrate the sales leads intelligence with the day-to-day activities of the marketing and sales team.

One such example of integrating intelligence with concrete action is the social media listening platforms that allow sales and marketing personnel to react to consumers’ discussions on the web, such as in the Avaya case. Members of the sales team can engage in an online conversation in social media with prospective clients directly through the same user interface that delivers the intelligence of the conversations.

Another example of advanced sales leads monitoring would be intelligence that continuously analyzes specific target accounts in great depth and also provides recommended actions. This can work especially in industries where buyer companies are large and your company has lots of solutions to offer to a client or its different business units, at different points in time. In this kind of process, the ongoing key account analytics will alert sales teams of a client company’s emerging new strategies or business challenges and will also include analysis about the best propositions to present to that client at that moment.”

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