What Is Revenue Intelligence? A Complete Guide

How to stop going with your gut and start selling based on data.

February 10, 2022 | 6 minutes
 
Dave Borrelli
Senior Vice President of Sales, Salesforce

Revenue intelligence is getting real about what’s really happening in your business, so you can take the right steps to grow. Sure, sales is both an art and a science — but we actually need a lot more science.

When I had a handful of accounts and three or four account executives, I could do okay without leaning on the data. But as these numbers doubled, tripled, quadrupled, and doubled again, I had to make a shift.

Bye-bye, intuition. Hello, data and insights. Show me how to make the right moves in my pipeline, guide my leaders and reps to win (and win faster), and hit my forecasts every time.

Ready to dive in? Below are steps to bring revenue intelligence into your business.

What you'll learn:

 

What is revenue intelligence?

Revenue intelligence is a data-driven way to sell. It uses AI and automation to create visibility across the revenue lifecycle — from marketing to sales to finance — and generate insights you can act on. Sales leaders use revenue intelligence to monitor pipeline health, guide sellers to the best motions, and drive predictable revenue growth.

Why does revenue intelligence matter?

Revenue intelligence helps you work smarter, not harder. It’s about getting answers. How engaged is the sales team with this critical account? What competitors have been mentioned in the conversations we’ve had so far? Are the right executives already mapped and aligned?

Think of the last time a deal of yours went sideways. Odds are it was because of something you didn’t see. Maybe it was a deal that seemed solid, but then a stakeholder derailed it at the last minute — someone you should have seen coming. Or maybe a customer made a comment in a meeting that should have raised a red flag — but that flew under the radar instead.

We could all use better radar. Otherwise we’re flying blind.

 
 
 

What are the benefits of revenue intelligence?

The benefits all point to one thing: revenue growth. But let’s get specific:

  • 📡 Give sales leaders total visibility into the big picture with fresh data. Revenue intelligence data goes both ways. For sellers, it’s what they need to know and when. For sales and revenue leaders, it’s an accurate, real-time system of record and engagement. It’s visibility into the health of your business. It’s the dataset of your dreams.

  • Accelerate sales cycles and cut down ramp time. Show new sales reps where to begin and guide them to the actions that will make crater-sized impacts. Now they can play in the same league as your highest performers and maximize the bottom line. You might think that we’re talking about AI-powered software, and we are, but we’re also talking about something deeper: making life at work better for your people.

  • 📈 Set big forecasts and hit them because you can see the data, trust that deals are in the right stages, and take action. Every team can benefit from collective experience to mitigate risk and keep deals moving through the right stages.
 
 
 

How does revenue intelligence actually work?

Innovators dream of building technology that’s indistinguishable from magic. Revenue intelligence takes all the raw data flowing through your CRM and transforms it into gold. For sales and revenue leaders that means visualizations and predictions to monitor business health, de-risk the pipeline, and set accurate forecasts. For sellers, that means guidance at every stage of the deal — who to reach out to, what to say, and what to sell.

It’s the next best thing to having a data scientist sit at every sales rep’s desk.

Every company gathers revenue intelligence differently. Basic software helps you go from data to insights. At Salesforce, we like to take it a step further: helping you go from data to insights to action. That way teams don’t need to cross systems to act on what they’ve learned.

When done right, revenue intelligence is like an electric circuit where energy flows uninterrupted. Insights are the current and action is the flame.

 

And what about metrics?

To get your teams to perform and your revenue to grow, you’ll need to bring metrics forward that used to be invisible — not just whether your reps are hitting their quota, but also how many deals they’re closing (and what kind), how fast they’re closing them, and what products they’re selling.

At Salesforce, we look at metrics like these:

  • ⚙ Deal size: How large or small are your deals? Revenue intelligence gives you visibility into the deal sizes in your pipeline, so you can coach your reps to focus on the highest impact activities: closing larger deals.

  • 🚀 Deal velocity: The easy way to grow your revenue is to speed it up. Measuring how fast your team can go from opportunity to close can help you accelerate that process and shrink your sales cycles.

  • 📊 Product mix: What are you selling — and to who, and when? A company can have many different offerings, and it can be hard to know the best mix to offer each customer. Personalize your customer conversations by guiding your reps to sell the most relevant possible products every time.

  • 🤝 Win rates: How many final stage prospects did you close compared to the total number of deals in your pipeline? Accurate forecasting depends on knowing the likelihood of every deal to close. View the win rate history for your products and sales reps to make better predictions.

  • Custom metrics: Get a running start with the out-of-the-box metrics above. Then as you mature, define and measure unique metrics — like annual recurring revenue (ARR) or annual contract value (ACV) — that match how you manage your business.
 

How can you add more science to sales?

Read the Ventana Research report to learn six ways Revenue Intelligence helps you act on the bigger picture.
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How can revenue intelligence software help?

Revenue intelligence software is your escape route out of intuition-based sales. Our customers have told us they’ve been selling by going with their gut and forecasting based on how they feel — and they want out.

Here’s a preview of how revenue intelligence software works in Salesforce:

 
 

Meet (and beat) your targets

For better or for worse, it’s what sales leaders wake up thinking about: “Will I meet my target for the quarter?” You’re trying to figure out whether you’re trending ahead or behind of what you predicted for attainment and velocity. You’re also focused on helping your reps who are falling behind. Salesforce helps you answer these questions and act on what you’ve learned, so you can throw away your spreadsheets and breeze through your forecasting calls.

This screenshot shows the pipeline stages rolling up automatically to the forecast, with visualizations showing which reps have recently updated forecasts, so you can confidently set your forecasts. Learn 5 techniques for more accurate forecasting.

 

Know where to focus in your pipeline reviews.

Like any parent, we love all our dashboards equally. Okay, fine — we love this one the most. It’s a new flowchart that shows you how your pipeline has progressed over time. Before revenue intelligence, sales leaders could only access the current state of the pipeline. But it’s more important to know what’s changed. Did my pipeline go up or down — and why?

Now you can find the answers in this simple, interactive dashboard. The chart here shows what the new deals are, which deals were upgraded and downgraded, and which deals in commit have slipped or are lost.

 

Win your deals with confidence.

Now that you know which deals to focus on to hit your numbers, it’s time to go beneath the surface and get insights you can act on to move the deal forward or prevent it from stalling altogether. This screenshot shows a side panel of insights for an individual deal.

Some insights you can use to your advantage (“This company is making leadership changes”). Other insights help you catch red flags in time to save the sale (“The deadline for sending the quote is about to expire”).

You can take action on these insights right from the same panel: Email your rep, assign tasks, update next steps for deal coaching — the list goes on. We want you to stop hoping for growth and start planning for it.

 

Discover what your customers care about.

The same side panel, as shown here, can also guide you to critical insights from your sales conversations right in the flow of your work. Make better decisions and get more productive by understanding what your customers are saying across meetings, calls, and emails.

This screenshot shows how you can explore a topic (in this case, competitor mentions) and go right to the moment that matters.

 

Coach your teams to win.

Most leaders are focused on quota attainment. Get a leg up and see the 360-degree view of every team member’s performance.

In the dashboard below, we can see how one rep is performing relative to the team for a wide range of metrics: closed deals, pipeline amount, win rate, and average deal size. The bottom half of the dashboard lets you go deeper with supporting data: the rep’s accounts, top open opportunities, and top products.

Having all this data in front of you lets you coach your reps on the best motions that will help them reach their targets.

Intuition didn’t get you there. Data did.

 

More Resources

 
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