Most marketing and sales organizations today have a bunch of tools across different customer lifecycle touch points, yet it’s not uncommon that some deals slip through the cracks.
Disparate tools and data sprawl makes it nearly impossible to have visibility into the overall health of the sales pipeline and the deals by stage. And when deals don’t go through, all your marketing investments and sales efforts are wasted—jeopardizing your sales quota and revenue forecasts.
That is where revenue intelligence comes to the rescue. The goal of revenue intelligence is to provide complete transparency into your pipeline health, identify gaps, and help you improve the efficiency of your revenue operations.
But before we get into how to leverage revenue intelligence to ensure you don’t let deals slip through the cracks, let’s take a step back to look at things holistically and understand the different avenues where things can go wrong.
3 key areas where deals fall apart
While sales is a highly quota driven role and salespeople are committed to do everything in their power to get deals across the table, it takes more than just sales teams to close deals. Let’s look at three key areas where deals begin to go wrong.
1. Poor sales discovery
A discovery call is your first chance to have a 1:1 chat with a prospect and explore a fit between your product and your prospect’s pain points and goals. These calls typically happen after you have piqued your prospect’s interest in your product, through a cold outreach or an inbound request.
You can try to push hard during the discovery call or use it as your golden ticket to wedge the door open into your prospects’ minds (and their wallets). The key is to play the role of a trusted partner for your prospect and explore if your product is a good fit for them, and not try to somehow cram square pegs in round holes.
At Avoma—if during the call, we realize that our product is not a good fit for a prospect, we will say so upfront. It’s best to have long-term trust over short-term gains, any day!
Chasing numbers and not customer-fit is a key reason why a prospect enters through the top of your sales funnel, trials your product, and quits after the trial period. They’re not going to become a paying customer unless they see your product solving their pain.
2. Inadequate nurturing and objection handling
Many businesses do a great job of separating the wheat from the chaff, i.e. sorting out the good leads from the bad. However, some of them still fail to convert deals into sales because they don’t nurture their leads very well.
In a 2019 demand gen survey, 60% of buyers gave their nurturing programs a failing grade. It’s also unfortunate to notice that close to 44% of salespeople give up prospecting a customer after just one follow-up call, although it’s common knowledge that very few deals close in one or two meetings.
And more importantly, how you handle objections goes a long way in the nurturing process. Objection handling at the core is about identifying the root cause(s) of concern in your customers and navigating them to a solution that is agreeable to both you and them. Sometimes, it's taking them from a flat "No" to "let me think about it", while other times it's having them say "I can work with that" when they originally said, "I'm not sure about it."
Your chances of closing more deals might benefit if you are persistent about solving your customer’s problems than merely following up several times.
3. Poorly-organized processes
Poor internal processes are the biggest self-sabotaging reason why deals slip through the cracks. Sadly, we often come across a lot of extremes—either too much of emails and follow-ups or it’s all crickets.
Imagine three different people from the sales team reaching out to a prospect at the same time when they are on the second day of trialing your product. The poor behind-the-scenes exchange of information in your company usually ruins the buying experience for new customers and subtly nudges them to gravitate towards a more mature competitor.
You can offset this challenge by bringing together all the engagement data across your meetings, calls, emails on a single Deal Intelligence platform. The point is—it gives complete visibility on the amount of engagement for each account, so that you can take an informed approach.
What is Revenue Intelligence?
Revenue Intelligence refers to the intelligence you get from collecting and analyzing key account information. The insights you get as part of revenue intelligence includes deal progression activities, deals that are potentially at risk, trends, opportunities and more.
Revenue Intelligence operates in a way similar to conversation intelligence. Similar to how conversation intelligence is about recording, transcribing, and analyzing conversations to give you actionable insights—revenue intelligence helps you identify trends and gaps in revenue functions thus making your revenue operations more efficient.
Why does revenue intelligence matter?
Revenue intelligence helps you work smarter, and ensure you don't let deals slip through the cracks. It gives you key insights such as—How engaged is your sales team with this critical account? Which competitors were mentioned in the conversations so far? Are the right stakeholders involved in the discussion from both sides?
Think of the last time a deal of yours went sideways. Odds are it was because something slipped your radar. Maybe it was a deal that seemed solid, but then a stakeholder derailed it at the last minute—something you should have anticipated. Or maybe a prospect made a passing comment in a meeting that should have raised a red flag — but was somehow missed.
Improving your conversion using Revenue Intelligence
When you don’t have the right tools and processes, you risk losing out on fantastic deal opportunities that might yield good multi-year revenue. By the same token, having the right tools and processes at your disposal will help you close more deals and improve your profit margins with just a little more effort on your part.
1. Leverage historical customer data
Sales is often referred to as a cycle for a reason—because most deals are recurring and identical in nature once you find your product market fit. For instance, you can dig out a lot of valuable information on what kind of questions, interactions, and content worked best in the past to get deals across the table for prospects from a particular industry.
To take it to the next level, leverage Avoma’s conversation intelligence and listen to conversations to better understand:
- Recurring objections
- Common pain points
- Use cases/Business Needs, etc.
The best part is—Avoma automatically identifies the topics of discussion and organizes it under topics such as Demo, Pricing, Pain Points—so that you can quickly skip to topics you want to learn about than having to listen to the entire conversation.
You can also get aggregated information across hundreds of customer conversations to understand the most common business needs of your customers, which helps you position your product better.
You can leverage these nuggets of information you get from to standardize the sales approach across your organization.
2. Take the collaborative selling approach
Collaborative selling is an approach to work alongside people on both sides of the fence—buyers as well as sellers—to identify the optimal solution for the customers. Collaborative sales takes place when you open the sales processes also to other collaborators outside of the sales teams—such as marketing, product, customer success, and even the customers.
From an internal collaboration standpoint, it helps you close gaps such as sales-to-customer success handoff, as the stakeholders are contextually involved throughout the sales lifecycle.
Collaborative selling helps you improve your conversion because the complex B2B selling today demands that you shift from the traditional selling approach to partner with customers to help them find the right solution.
3. Step up your sales coaching program
Sales coaching is one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure you’re not missing out on deals. Statistically speaking, B2B sales reps who have access to proficient sales coaching initiatives in their organizations achieve their quota 75% of the time than the ones who don’t.
But we have come a long way from the days when sales coaching took place exclusively in a face-to-face environment. These days—especially in the post-pandemic era—virtual coaching has made sales training programs more effective, scalable, and sustainable.
Organizations these days take an asynchronous approach to sales coaching where reps asynchronously listen to the calls of other, more experienced sales reps and learn from their real customer conversations (without having to shadow on their calls).
Avoma helps you take the coaching a step further, where the platform makes it possible for you to have a feedback loop right within the platform. You don’t have to schedule another call or meeting to share feedback. Instead, you can comment contextually on the conversations asynchronously.
4. Leverage deal intelligence to control your sales outcome
Deal intelligence extends the power of conversation intelligence to enhance revenue operations. With deal intelligence, you don’t stop at analyzing customer meetings and calls across functions such as sales and customer success. Instead, you get a 360° view of all deals in your sales pipeline, pipeline health, deals that are potentially at risk, and more.
In fact, you can also deep dive into a specific deal to understand:
- Who are the people involved in the deal from your side as well as the prospect’s organization?
- Who are the key decision-makers engaged?
- What stage is the deal in currently?
- The number of conversations across meetings, calls, emails
- The last contacted/engaged date and more
Most B2B organizations face a common pain point—lack of alignment between marketing, sales, and success teams. Furthermore, the misalignment typically extends to a lack of seamless integration between the tools used by marketing, sales, and success tools, thus impacting end-to-end visibility.
Using a Deal Intelligence software solves this problem by automatically collecting and analyzing data across all your customer-facing teams and making it accessible with actionable insights for everyone in the organization. This approach empowers all revenue teams to collaborate and strategize faster on revenue growth initiatives.
The deal intelligence data enables you to diagnose the health of each deal at a granular level and course-correct your action to stay in control of the deal outcome.
5. Practice pressure with caution
Many sales teams don’t like the idea of pressurizing their prospects because it’s sometimes perceived as an unnecessarily aggressive sales strategy. But pressure selling works—if you do it sensibly. Pressure selling is about being a little more persevering in asking for a sale with your prospects at the right time.
You will have to be a little pragmatic about it, such as by assisting your prospects in understanding the product better or making the deal look like an irresistible win for them.
The Challenger Sales technique is a great example to understand the benefits of pressure selling. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Challenger sales reps are generally comfortable discussing money with their prospects and they are good at applying gentle but firm pressure on the customers. The technique, endorsed by several sales teams across the world, demands that salespeople do the following to improve their deal closures:
- Offer unique insights to customers
- Engage in strong two-way communication
- Know the individual customer's value drivers
- Identify the economic drivers of the customer's business
Because the Challenger Sales technique mixes value with pressure, there’s no wonder why most of the high-performing sales reps are twice as likely to use this approach while 50% of all-star performers in the complex B2B sales environment fit the Challenger Sale profile.
6. Make empathetic listening a common denominator for all sales conversations
In sales, your ability to listen empathetically to your customers is proportionate to your success in closing deals. Most deals fail because salespeople focus too much on themselves and their solutions rather than focusing on the customers.
Listening actively and empathically lets you internalize your customer expectations better and handle objections more efficiently. Listening with intention helps you throughout the sales process—from qualifying the right prospects during a discovery call to identify their pain points when you are demoing the solution, or from understanding their current processes to getting a sense of what they are trying to achieve.
We at Avoma have found that the ideal talk range in a sales conversation is 40%–60%, i.e., you should be doing only 40% of the talking and let the prospect talk 60% of the time. So if you are talking for more than 40% of the total time on the call, you are probably talking too much and not listening enough.
Here’s an example of a real sales conversation between one of our sales reps and a customer:
In today’s crowded business landscape, listening genuinely to your customers is a rarity. It’s also a reciprocal engagement—prospects will pay attention to you if you give them your full undivided attention. They will have fewer and softer objections and you will earn the reputation of being a trustworthy solution provider.
Empathetic listening will not only help you build trust and rapport with your customers but help you understand your prospects’ needs and improve your sales numbers.
Managing and closing deals is a continuous, long-term process of talking to, listening to, and engaging with the right customers. All it takes to improve the results is making incremental improvements consistently and letting things compound over time. And to do that you need the right insights in the right time—and that’s where revenue intelligence comes handy.