Sales Intel is generally recognized as information about accounts and competition. It’s used in selling to achieve situational awareness. Like any other form of intel, it is information that needs to be accurate and timely if it is to lead to the desired positive outcomes – being down selected and then winning the business. But, if intel is really about information, why is it called intel?
The answer is that intel is not information, it is knowledge, which consists of a particular mix of information and skill. It is the latter that reflects an ability to know what information is dispositive and what is just noise. It is about discerning context, the setting within which something is happening, in order to know what’s real and what’s pretext. But above all, it’s about developing a sense for the subtext of a sales situation. An intangible, underlying, and often distinct theme, if you will, subtext “whispers” to an account executive as to who’s really winning the business, what’s really important to a client, which client individuals have power and influence, and what needs to be done, directionally speaking, to win the business.
That’s what Sales Intel is and what it does for account executives, but actually doing it requires something else – the recognition that Sales Intel is a discipline. One that consists of three steps:
When entering a new sales cycle, it is the experienced and high performing account executive that knows that it is Sales Intel and not just traditional sales activities that set the trajectory of a compete campaign. It’s recognizing that Sales Intel is a discipline to build knowledge and develop key and timely insights that can become nontraditional sources of competitive advantage to win deals.