What is Relationship Intelligence Anyway?
Relationship intelligence is term that’s starting to generate a lot of buzz in the B2B sales community, and with good reason. If you don’t know the full meaning of the phrase, that’s okay! We’re here to help.
This guide will walk you through the definition of relationship intelligence, the benefits that it offers to enterprise businesses, and the tools that will provide you with that needed information.
Relationship Intelligence Definition
B2B sales experts and organizations all have their own take on the relationship intelligence definition, but there are some common characteristics that are true across the board.
In a nutshell, it refers to the data and insight your company has about each prospect or customer, usually captured in CRM. It’s probably information like the interactions your company has had with the prospect, their budget and timeline, and the product or service they’re interested in.
Instead of bulk data about how reps are performing across the business, it’s the information pertaining to the relationship with a single potential customer.
That’s where most relationship intelligence definitions stop, but we’ll take it a step further by saying true relationship intelligence needs to give you insight on sentiment.
Knowing you sent a prospect 15 emails is not enough intelligence to approach a deal effectively. Instead, you need to know if those emails were effective, if the prospect responded positively, if they are championing the purchase, etc.
So, with that in mind, let’s put together a clean, concise definition:
Relationship intelligence is the data relating to all meaningful interactions and sentiment between your business and a prospect or customer.
The Benefits of Relationship Intelligence
A recent Aberdeen Group study found that only 15 percent of businesses fully understand their customers and address their needs.
If you’re one of the 15 percent or are currently content with the information captured in your CRM (and you would definitely be the minority there), then there’s no need to read further! But if you’d like to provide your reps with the insight they need to close deals effectively, then read on. Here are the chief benefits of implementing a relationship intelligence solution:
- Reps can focus on the right deals
If you have 100 leads to follow up with and only enough time to follow up with 40, who do you prioritize? Maybe you’re currently going by whoever responded most recently or whichever deal is potentially the biggest, but the better approach is to use relationship intelligence to prioritize the leads that have been fully engaged in the buying process.
Again, this isn’t just about “number of emails sent” or “phone calls made.” Don’t sink more time into a deal that is never going to close. Instead, use this insight to focus on leads with a positive view of the purchase. Reps spend less time chasing bad deals and more time on the right ones.
- Reps can tailor their messages to each prospect’s circumstances
The way you follow up with a prospect stuck in reality valley is different from a follow-up for a prospect who has simply been out this week on vacation. Can your reps easily assess each situation at a glance and tailor their messages for each individual?
With relationship intelligence, they can. This insight keeps your prospects from being offended by a generic, ill-fitting message.
- Reps can spend less time on buyer research
The “at a glance” view of a relationship with a buyer is incredibly valuable. Sales reps shouldn’t have to dig through clunky CRM forms trying to get a feel for where things stand with a prospect, yet for some reason that’s still the norm for the majority of B2B enterprises.
Sales enablement platforms with built-in relationship intelligence tools solve this problem, usually through data visualization.
Instead of paragraphs of text or columns of data, that information is transformed into an easily digestible chart or graphic. As a result, they’re able to spend time on more important sales activities.
Recommended Tools and Software
If you want to succeed with relationship intelligence, your sales operations need to be set up in a way to capture that intelligence and use it effectively.
We won’t go into any specific software providers in this guide. Instead, we’re covering the types of tools and functionality you should look for when evaluating sales enablement vendors.
- Automatic Data Collection
If you rely on sales reps to enter in complete, accurate, and up-to-date information into CRM 100 percent of the time, we’ve got news for you: your CRM isn’t complete, accurate, or up-to-date.
For true relationship intelligence, you need the full picture, so the smart approach is to automate the process of capturing and logging all of that information. Look for a data collection tool that can track and log any communications sent to prospects in a way that is easy to review within CRM.
- Data Visualization
As mentioned earlier in this guide, data visualization turns a big pile of information into something that’s actually useful for daily sales activities. When evaluating CRM data visualization tools, look for a platform that goes beyond basic pie charts or bar graphs. Instead consider solutions that provide more insightful client relationship visuals.
You should also make sure you’re getting a tool that can customize the visualizations to fit your business needs, capturing and presenting the aspects of the relationship that are most important to your sales process.
- Content Personalization
With the first two tools, you give your reps an accurate picture of the relationship in a way they can easily digest. The logical next step is to give them a tool to take action. Armed with the insight about the current state of the relationship, your reps should be able to immediately craft a message or presentation that is tailored with the information that will make the biggest impact.
Look for a content personalization tool that can be used natively within your CRM or sales enablement platform (reducing the amount of back-and-forth between tools is ideal). The tool should have a healthy balance – maintaining structure and corporate branding while also being flexible enough to allow reps to make whatever changes are needed to existing content to make it relevant to the buyer.
Don’t underestimate the value of relationship intelligence. Just three tools can take your sales process to new heights of effectiveness.