InsideSales.com Chief Strategy Officer Dave Boyce shares with us the benefits of collective intelligence and how it fuels the next generation sales platform. Read on to find out more.
Collective Intelligence Definition: This refers to the shared intelligence that comes from the collaboration of individuals. It can also consistently predict a group’s performance in the future.
Boyce started off the discussion with a little thought experiment.
Boyce argued that we would rebuild it the way we built the Internet. This way, the more people that use it, the more valuable it becomes for each user.
This is the characteristic we see in sites like Netflix and Amazon. They match watching and purchasing patterns to make relevant recommendations to each user.
The more people that use Netflix and Amazon, the more useful they become to each user.
Enterprise architecture wasn’t built that way. It was actually lifted from client-server data structures.
It has clearly-defined firewalls and silos that keep the data within four walls, never to mingle.
Since we have the next generation sales technology, what’s considered as the “last generation” sales technology?
Boyce made a bold statement on this: The last generation sales technology is CRM, and CRM is dead.
He clarified that this doesn’t mean CRM is going away. Rather, it’s considered “dead” because it no longer adds incremental value to sales teams.
It has already reached its peak in terms of adding value and has now relegated as a database and record system. There is no opportunity for it to stretch beyond where it is right now.
Now, let’s look at the era we’re currently living in. We’re in the most impressively-sustained period of economic growth in the United States and most of the world.
This should be great for our sales teams, right? Yet in reality, it hasn’t been that way.
We’re now down to 53% of sales reps achieving quota on average in the U.S. A lot of that is because 92% of companies are raising their targets every year for their sales teams.
These companies also add new members to their team, thinking that by adding new people, they’ll be able to hit their target. They also give their sales reps pieces of technology similar to CRM so they can do more.
Yet, they’re just not working. All these changes don’t help salespeople sell more.
One of the problems is how sales reps spend their time. Yes, they may be working, but they’re also spending time on the wrong things.
Boyce cited a conceptual graph that tracked the effort sales reps put in on different types of prospects. It shocked him to discover how evenly-distributed sales reps’ efforts are across all qualities of prospects.
Why would anyone spend time and effort on low-quality prospects, you ask? It’s because they’re the ones who return calls, schedule demos, attend meetings, and take slots on our calendars.
Those make sales reps feel good and busy, but they don’t necessarily mean closed deals.
If companies had the ability to determine which prospects and activities are high-quality, they would aim their time and effort toward those.
If companies give their sales teams tools that allow them to do more, they can also reach out to the low-quality prospects. Of course, this is after they exhaust all opportunities they have with high-quality prospects.
To achieve that, companies need information about the future. The problem is, this information isn’t present in CRM.
CRM has information about history. What sales teams need is information about the future, and this is what sales reps crave for every day.
They spend 18% of their time in CRM to record details about deals they’ve already closed and activities they’ve already performed. All that effort so that sales managers can feel better about knowing what they are doing.
In contrast, they spend 65% of their time in tools where they’re looking forward to tomorrow’s deals. Those are tools like Inbox, LinkedIn, and sales productivity applications like InsideSales.com.
They want to know where buyers are and how they can find and engage them. This is the kind of job that you’ll entrust not to CRM, but to artificial intelligence.
AI runs on data, but not all data is equal. Sales reps want data about the buyers.
Remember that tomorrow’s buyers look different than yesterday’s. In fact, today’s B2B customers act like consumers.
All the data from the past you loaded into your CRM aren’t relevant if you’re trying to figure out present and future buying behavior.
Where can companies get the information about the future that they need? Not out of CRM, but rather out of something we call “collective intelligence.”
An easy way to understand this is to compare it with Waze, the navigation app. Every single user of this app agrees to stream data off of their device while they’re using it.
Google then analyzes the data and uses it to help the rest of its users navigate in the most efficient way. In short, every Waze user contributes data for the benefit of the whole community.
There’s nothing artificial about this. It’s real intelligence from users who are accessing the app real-time.
That is collective intelligence — real-time feedback from the collective that helps other users.
Instead of using CRM, imagine your sales reps are logging into a next-best prospect, next-best action-scripted interface. This system tells them the next best course of action for a prospect who’s enrolled in an IT executive play.
Not only is the system telling them what to do and who to call, but it also suggests a script for a prospect call. What are the other benefits you can get out of this next generation sales technology?
Imagine yourself in your sales reps’ shoes, using this next gen sales technology powered by collective intelligence.
Before you call your prospect, the system gives a list of recommended prospects whom other sales reps before you also reached out to. Other reps who got engagement from the prospect you’re reaching out to also got engagement from these recommended prospects.
That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re your buying committee, but it’s a good place to start.
If these are people worth considering, you can enroll them in their specific place. This will save you time doing LinkedIn research, title-matching, and trying to guess your prospect’s buying committee.
Let’s say you’re now going to call your prospect. You want to make sure you’ll be able to get in touch with them.
Right next to their phone number are three bars that give useful information. For example, someone within the collective called this particular 10-digit sequence six days ago and received an answer.
That means someone ahead of you, who is on the same path you want to be on, got engagement from this phone number. It’s a good number, so you can go ahead and place that call.
After you call your prospect, in this IT executive play, the system says email is next. What if you don’t like the one-bar signal the system projected for the email address you’ll contact?
One option is to run different permutations of the email address. Then, see if any of those have ever gotten an engagement within your network.
Let’s say you get a hit. You can now check the engagement rate with that email address.
If it’s better, you can send your email to that address instead.
Another advantage of collective intelligence systems is that you can ask your network when the best time to send an email to the prospect is. The collective can vote on it, and you can use that data for decision making.
Using collective intelligence requires a lot of data. It requires data about successes and failures.
To gain collective intelligence, you need to log all the relevant data that will be useful to users. This includes things like each call placed, each action taken on an email, and what the title of the target person and their geography are.
You log all this data, whether it lead to a sale or not. A hundred billion of those with associated outcomes — that’s critical mass.
In the last generation sales technology, we relied on sales reps to enter information about their activities. Yet a sales rep wouldn’t enter all the information about their activities, like an unanswered phone call.
When all those relevant data points come together, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t, then you can make recommendations.
That’s what we call collective intelligence.
When you have all this information, you have critical mass. Then your collective intelligence AI can start adding value the same way Waze does.
Collective intelligence requires critical mass. The more people use the system, the more value they can get out of it.
Sales companies spend billions of dollars to get access to collective intelligence data. They want to optimize their sales teams.
They’re equipping them to do more of the right things so they can hit their quotas.
These sales teams are also making money. They’ve figured out a way to leverage the power of the collective, and it makes them more powerful.
Collective intelligence is real intelligence. It comes from people who are ahead of you on the path, and they’re leading you on the way you want to go.
Now, inside sales provides a systematized collective intelligence which you can let your sales reps use. This will make them smarter and faster at what they do so they can hit their quota.
Don’t let CRM box you in — leverage the power of collective intelligence and the next generation sales technology. When you understand the benefits of collective intelligence, you can take advantage of it.
Providing the data that your sales reps need will help them become more efficient and productive. In turn, you’ll be able to achieve the end goal — hitting your sales quota.
What are the advantages and limitations of the sales technology you’re currently using? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.