The B2B selling landscape is changing rapidly — buyers are in control of the sales process and prefer to have fewer interactions with salespeople. With no way to initiate a conversation with a prospect, sales leaders can have all the usual contact information and strategies in place and still fail to convert their leads.
Relationship intelligence helps sales leaders navigate this tricky situation by giving them cues about when to reach out and engage a prospect to close the deal.
But what exactly is relationship intelligence and how can you apply it to your own business? We talked to a ton of B2B sales experts and industry leaders to find out how you can use relationship intelligence to increase your sales and which signals to pay special attention to.
Here’s what they had to share.
What is relationship intelligence?
Relationship intelligence is a way to measure the strength of the relationship between your business and a potential customer. It helps you to identify, build, and broaden your customer relationships to improve your chances of having a prospect buy from you.
Relationship intelligence goes beyond collecting basic data like contact information and job title and involves analyzing the information already present in your CRM to:
- Get actionable insights like recent job changes
- Create a relational map of prospects in an organization
This helps sales reps find the warmest path to a target account and allows them to work out a personalized strategy to engage with the lead and convert them into a customer — all without spending hours on manual data entry.
For instance, if you want to know the best path to take to reach a potential customer, you can leverage relationship intelligence technology to determine if someone from your organization is already connected with them or if they know someone who works at the same company.
This way, there's potential for you to connect with a champion who will advocate for you and help you to get a warm introduction to the target account instead of spending hours trying to build a relationship with a cold lead.
The benefits of utilizing relationship intelligence don’t end there. It’s quickly becoming a must-have for organizations wanting to improve sales efficiency and hit revenue targets on time.
How relationship intelligence benefits B2B outreach
Relationship intelligence is crucial for demand generation and sales teams because it helps them move away from a one-size fits all approach and allows them to find more effective inroads to their target accounts. In turn, this boosts their chances of reaching their revenue goals.
How can relationship intelligence do all that? Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science. Relationship intelligence works by:
1. Bridging the buyer-seller gap in B2B sales
With so much high-quality information readily available to potential customers online, the gap between them and salespeople is growing wider. Leads often prefer to do their own research, which means you need to adjust your strategy for approaching them. It’s no longer as simple as educating them about your product. Now, you have to consider what they may already know about it.
For example, if every deal maker (or decision maker) in a buying group is armed with an average of 4-5 pieces of information about your product or service, and every buying group is made up of at least 6-10 members, that leaves a lot of room for conflict and confusion.
Additionally, deal makers no longer prefer engaging with sales reps — they only spend 17% of their time talking to potential suppliers. And, if they’re considering multiple suppliers, they spend only 5-6% of their time with each sales rep, according to a Gartner report.
But the solution isn’t necessarily to increase outreach volume or invest in more technology. Instead, your sales teams should spend less time selling and more time supplying valuable information to the buyer.
In other words, sales reps should try to provide personalized content to help prospects and stakeholders make sense of the information they find online if they want to increase the likelihood of a sale.
And to create personalized content that appeals to prospects, your sales teams need to hone their emotional intelligence and put themselves in a prospect’s shoes. This is where relationship intelligence comes in.
"Relationship intelligence helps create content by leveraging data-driven insights to uncover patterns in customer behavior. With the right relationship intelligence tools, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of their customer's journey. This then enables them to develop more personalized content strategies that can effectively engage and convert prospects."
"For example, at girokonto.io we use relationship intelligence tools to track user engagement through each stage of their journey with us. This [relationship data] helps us identify areas where customers may need additional information, enabling us to tailor our content according to the needs of our customers and ensure that we are providing the most relevant content for their specific requirements", says Lisa Dietrich, Partner at girokonto.io.
2. Building credibility and rapport with B2B prospects faster
Complex buying journeys and an unwillingness to interact with salespeople aren’t the only things that have made closing deals more challenging for sales reps.
Many economists and financial experts are hinting at a recession and the overall financial ecosystem looks unstable. To counter this, companies have been cutting budgets and are less receptive to buying anything that’s not a must-have.
As a revenue or sales leader, this puts you in a tough spot as it’s going to be a lot harder for you to:
- Establish a connection with prospects
- Keep them engaged
- And hit your sales goals
So, what’s the best way to navigate this situation and still reach your targets?
Start by researching the prospect and their organization. But don’t just stick to the basics, dig deeper into their needs using relationship intelligence and intent data.
“Doing your homework not only shows your customers that you care, it separates you from your competitors and helps you build rapport and credibility faster,” says Shari Levitin, best-selling author, and sales coach, in this LinkedIn article.
Research also backs up this fact — while 76% of top performers say that they always conduct research before reaching out to prospects, buyers cited “not knowing my company and its needs” as one of the biggest deal-breakers when making a business purchase.
This is where relationship intelligence data comes in handy. It helps your team understand your prospect and anticipate what they need before they need it. This positions them to engage your prospect and build a more human relationship with them.
“Relationship intelligence helps in prospecting by providing you with detailed insights on customer interactions across channels, including email, website visits, social media activity, etc. This allows you to build up a comprehensive view of your prospects’ interests and behavior. With this data-driven insight, you can better understand who is likely to be interested in your product or service, as well as when and how best to approach them during their buyer’s journey”, says Lisa.
3. Shortening the B2B sales cycle
Two of the biggest factors in long sales cycles are prospects’ reluctance to engage with salespeople and their hesitance to make a purchasing decision.
While there are many workarounds your salespeople can use to pique the interest of your prospects, customer indecision is harder to detect and causes a loss of sales in 40-60% of cases. In fact, your team members are more likely to lose a deal to indecision than to a competitor.
Most salespeople think this indecision stems from the prospect’s unwillingness to change the status quo. As in, they want their tools and processes to stay the same. But research from Harvard says otherwise.
According to the study, biases cause customers to want things to remain as they are, even when better alternatives are available.
But indecision itself is due to omission bias, which, in this context, means the customer’s desire to make a decision is inhibited by a fear of loss. For example, if the prospect makes the wrong decision about a new product or service, they could lose company money or even their decision-making powers.
Unfortunately, this means the usual sales tactic of using Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) will not help further your cause or close the sale.
Instead, you’ll need to qualify your leads based on their buying potential and their ability to make a decision. That way, you’re not left chasing after leads who will eat up your time or lengthen your sales cycle.
Relationship intelligence can make all the difference in these cases. It augments a rep’s relationship skills, accelerates the lead qualification process, and shortens the sales cycle by identifying hot leads and finding opportunities to build quality relationships with them.
"Relationship intelligence enables teams to focus on high-value leads that are most likely to close quickly by providing detailed customer profiles with insights into past activities, behaviors, and preferences. This allows sales teams to better understand their leads and engage with them in a personalized way."
“Additionally, automated processes powered by AI-driven insights can also help qualify potential leads faster so that reps can spend more time closing deals rather than prospecting or qualifying leads manually,” says Robert Hoffman, Marketing Manager at CashbackHero.
In short, relationship intelligence helps data-driven teams hit their revenue goals faster. But to make the most of it, you need to understand the various signals your relationship intelligence tools provide and how to use them.
Understanding relationship intelligence signals and how to leverage them
Monitoring relationship intelligence signals helps your sales team gain a deeper understanding of your prospects and what they’re looking for in a solution provider. This information will allow your team to create experiences tailored to the prospect’s needs and, ultimately, close the deal.
So, which relationship intelligence signals should you watch for, and why? Let’s see what the experts had to say.
Lisa Dietrich, Partner at girokonto.io believes engagement metrics are some of the most important relationship intelligence signals to monitor. Here are three of the metrics she recommends you keep an eye on when assessing potential prospects:
- Website interaction frequency: Tracking how often prospects visit your site.
- Email open rates: Seeing how often prospects open emails from your business.
- Social media activity: Keeping an eye on the type of posts prospects interact with most.
“By monitoring these key signals closely, businesses can gain valuable insight into the behavior of their customers, which will enable them to tailor their approach accordingly for maximum success,” she says.
“This [engagement data] can also give you valuable insight into their level of interest and help you make informed decisions about how to move forward,” says Dmytro Kondratiev, CEO, and Legal Board Advisor at LLC Services.
Sentiment data refers to the emotional tone or attitude of prospects toward your salespeople when they interact with them.
Your reps can obtain this data by analyzing responses to the emails they send to prospects or by reviewing the comments and replies prospects leave on your company’s social media posts.
“Having this [sentiment] information can be incredibly valuable in understanding their [the prospect’s] current state of mind and help you address any concerns they may have,” says Dmytro.
For example, if your sentiment data shows that your prospects are exhibiting a positive sentiment, you can analyze the interaction or social media post to create similar posts.
On the other hand, if your prospects show negative sentiment, you’ll need to step back and consider how to do things differently.
3. Customer job changes
During the pandemic, many companies canceled in-person events like seminars, workshops and conferences, and employees were forced to work from home.
Simultaneously, a new trend called the Great Resignation emerged in which numerous employees quit their jobs to seek other opportunities.
Although many companies are encouraging their employees to go back working in-office, The Great Resignation is still going strong.
Some professionals want to continue working remotely, while others may be on the search for better pay, benefits, or work-life balance.
This makes it hard for sales reps to keep track of who works where, causing them to miss out on warm leads at new companies, like customers who used your product or service before moving to a new employer. That’s why it’s so important for sales reps to track job changes using relationship intelligence tools like UserGems to multithread deals and continue selling effectively.
An example of an organization that optimized its job tracking relationship intelligence data and multiplied its revenue is Ceros. Ceros is a fast-growing software company that helps marketers and designers create and publish interactive content.
Like other companies, they had to get creative with demand generation as they could no longer do in-person events which contributed to one-third of their pipeline.
So, they started using UserGems to track job changes and find warmer paths into their target accounts.
The result? They saw a 20X ROI in closed-won revenue in the first quarter after adopting UserGems. To read more about how Ceros used UserGems to fast-track its revenue, check out our Ceros customer story.
The right insights save time and boost pipeline generation
Relationship intelligence is all about drawing meaningful insights from customer data to help your team find a better path to reach prospects and seal the deal.
It’s a must-have in this information-rich era as it allows you to build credibility with prospects and shorten the sales cycle.
Engagement and sentiment data are some of the most important signals to track if you want to create personalized experiences and speak to the prospect’s needs.
But another essential signal to look out for is job changes, as it allows you to increase the number of warm leads in your pipeline. And that's where UserGems comes in.
UserGems is a pipeline generation software that helps revenue teams generate and protect revenue efficiently. With UserGems, companies can track and automate outreach when their champions change their jobs, and capture the buying groups to find the warmest path into every account.
Companies like Mimecast, Greenhouse, Medallia use UserGems to reach their revenue goals, quickly and efficiently.