As consumers continue to connect with one another via social media they become more sophisticated buyers. Social recommendations and online customer ratings have made anyone with internet access a product expert. This trend can make the life of a salesperson very easy (positive word of mouth breeds more consumer interest) or very difficult (how do you sell a bad product if everyone has read a blog about how bad it is?). Regardless of how good or bad a salesperson's product may be, his sales method must be as sophisticated as a consumer's ability to buy. In response to this need, InQuira, a California-based provider of enterprise knowledge solutions, recently announced the launch of a knowledge-powered sales enablement application named Sales Intel.
InQuira, who was named a Leader in CRM's 2010 Service Awards in the category of Contact Center Search, says via press release that the product provides sales teams with the best information contextual to the opportunity and stage in the sales cycle. Rather than spending needless time searching for information, the platform's social tools allow users to communicate information with each other on microsites; the product also offers an intent-based search application.
Cutting down on the time salespeople search for information - when they aren't selling - was also a factor in the creation of Sales Intel. According to Gartner research, salespeople spend fewer than 45 percent of their time selling; face-time with clients amounts to just 10 percent. In response to that trend InQuira installed tools for rapid knowledge capture, creation, sharing, and reuse into the platform.
"We're trying to encourage a more active dialogue with customers," says Sid Suri, Senior Director of Product Marketing. "There's an opportunity in sales enablement because [within the field] there hasn't been a lot of innovation. We wanted to change the game a little bit, to make a product that is understanding and very targeted versus the old document and content management paradigm."
Esteban Kolsky, Prinicipal at ThinkJar, echoes Suri's claims.
"The core competency is extending investments into different processes," Kolsky says. "Nobody has done this before. Oracle, SalesForce, and other CRM companies can do this but in separate projects."
The key benefits of Sales Intel, according to the company, are as follows:
- Higher Lead Conversion
- Higher Quota Achievement
- Increased Sales Productivity
- Faster Ramp Times
- The Ability to Focus Resources
- Build Customer Trust
- The Ability to Measure Results
Clearly the product is intended to help businesses, but what about the salespeople working for that business? Suri acknowledges that some salespeople might find Sales Force Automation (SFA) technology to be like "big brother." After all, who wants his boss recording and monitoring everything he does at work? Suri argues that the benefits to salespeople in allowing the system to record transactions are worth the tradeoff.
"Salespeople look at SFA as big brother," he says. "But we want SFA to work smarter for the salesperson. Our analytics will allow [companies] to look at the overall experience of a salesperson and take action. [It will help companies] find the root of problems and discover what top-sellers are doing."
"It's increasingly common in business for a small minority of the top salespeople to produce a majority of the revenue," says Michael Murphy, CEO of InQuira, in the Sales Intel press release. "InQuira Sales Intel arms sales teams with the best available information for any phase of a sale, coupled with the best practices and expertise from the top performing reps so that every sales person can perform at their best."
InQuira was founded in 2002 and its software platform includes three core capabilities: knowledge base management (including authoring and workflow), natural language search, and advanced analytics and reporting. According to its Web-site InQuira's product suite features these offerings:
InQuira Intelligent Search - a unified system that combines advanced linguistic techniques and contextual understanding to provide unparalleled capabilities for understanding, and responding to, the true intent behind a user's inquiry and browsing behavior;
InQuira Information Manager - a comprehensive knowledge base product for identifying, developing, organizing, and sharing any type of enterprise information. And;
InQuira Analytics - a reporting package that delivers the insights organizations need to more effectively manage the user experience on the Web and in contact centers, continuously refine self-service and online marketing interactions, and enhance the ongoing capture, organization, and retrieval of content.
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