Powering Revenue Intelligence: Concepts & Tech for Sales

In today’s turbulent economy, revenue has never been more important. That’s why sales leaders at companies of all sizes are making revenue intelligence one of their top priorities.

Recent years have seen the emergence of the chief revenue officer (CRO) in many industries. At the same time, revenue intelligence is becoming an important factor in setting organizations apart. Companies that have adopted it are seeing strong results even amid broader economic uncertainty. 

The term “revenue intelligence” and the technologies that support it are often misunderstood. This is despite the increasing emphasis on data-driven methods to generate revenue. 

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • What revenue intelligence is 
  • The technologies and concepts behind it
  • Why CROs are prioritizing revenue intelligence

Let’s start by understanding what revenue intelligence is and how it came about. Then, we can look at how it helps the world’s leading companies grow and succeed.

What is Revenue Intelligence?

Revenue intelligence is the practice of studying sales, marketing, product and customer data together. This allows businesses to spot patterns, trends, and opportunities to increase sales and revenue.

Revenue intelligence tools can help sales and marketing leaders identify growth and productivity opportunities. These tools provide a detailed, holistic view of individual prospects and leads.

Sales leaders can target higher-value accounts to increase revenue and identify stronger leads during the prospecting process. This can maximize opportunities for upsells among existing customers.

Chorus by ZoomInfo is a helpful tool for sales leaders. It helps them to improve the performance of individual reps. It does this by enabling them to review calls and call metadata. This allows them to determine the ideal times to call prospects and pinpoint areas of opportunity. 

ZoomInfo Sales helps sales teams to prospect better. It uses intent data, like buying signals based on prospects’ behavior, and ZoomInfo’s business data.

As with any nascent term or discipline, precise definitions of what revenue intelligence is vary. Revenue intelligence is distinct from using data to sell more efficiently.

It uses AI and automation technologies to identify opportunities which are too difficult to find manually. Even the most diligent sales professional would be unable to locate them without these technologies. This, in turn, enables salespeople to use their limited time more effectively and scale their efforts for maximum impact.

Revenue intelligence was developed as a practice. It happened in parallel to the emergence of the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) role. This role is part of the go-to-market (GTM) leadership team.

Revenue intelligence also developed in response to the changing landscape of software-as-a-service (SaaS). Companies devoted more attention and resources to revenue, making it a centralized business function. This led to the development of new approaches to working with data across their organizations by Chief Revenue Officers (CROs). Revenue intelligence emerged as an extension of those ideas.

What makes revenue intelligence so transformative is that it defies conventional wisdom about how we sell. 

Traditionally, salespeople relied mostly on their experience and instincts to close deals. Revenue intelligence, on the other hand, relies on automated insights at scale to unearth new opportunities. 

Go-to-market (GTM) teams can use revenue intelligence systems to prospect more efficiently. They can use all the data available to them, not just the leads from the marketing team. This helps them to solve customer problems more effectively and form lasting relationships. Ultimately, this will drive more revenue.

How – and Why – Is Revenue Intelligence So Important?

Revenue intelligence systems offer considerable efficiency gains. This growth of revenue intelligence as a discipline is partly due to macroeconomic conditions.

Investors today prioritize flawless execution over anything else.

The days of investors being attracted to grand ideas, despite moving quickly and taking risks, are long gone. We are now placing more emphasis on achieving performance and sustained growth.

This requires us to take a more unified approach to generating revenue. This has led to a greater need for CROs, revenue intelligence technologies, and revenue operations professionals (commonly referred to as RevOps). These professionals are responsible for making sure the systems in use are optimized.

In 2021, Salesforce reported that just one-third of companies had a dedicated executive role overseeing revenue operations – but that 89% of businesses surveyed said they intended to hire a CRO in the coming two years. Today, data from LinkedIn states that “head of revenue” and/or CRO is the fastest-growing job function in the U.S. in 2023, suggesting that many businesses are following through on their plans.

Many companies are finding it difficult to achieve their revenue targets despite the increased demand for these roles. This is due to their existing workflows and tech stacks. 

Data from Xactly states that just 14% of more than 250 revenue leaders surveyed had a dedicated revenue intelligence system in place. Almost two-thirds (65%) of revenue leaders were unfamiliar with revenue intelligence. This suggests it will be some time until revenue intelligence is mainstream. The fact that so many revenue leaders are unfamiliar with the concept is particularly striking. 

Investment in revenue intelligence technologies

Investing in advanced AI and automation technologies is essential for revenue intelligence systems. It is therefore not surprising that technology investment is key for businesses that invest in this area. 

The revenue intelligence market has experienced considerable growth in recent years. Data from Grand View Research states the sales intelligence market was worth approximately $2.9B in 2019, and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5% until 2027. 

There’s evidence investors see revenue intelligence systems as a strong vehicle to lasting growth. Forrester reported that venture investment in revenue intelligence companies almost tripled between 2020 and 2021. 

Both established players and new entrants to the market are likely to innovate in the space. This could create a complex and fragmented market for prospective buyers.

Revenue Intelligence: A New Way to Win

Revenue intelligence is not merely a new term for existing practices or referring to new software tools alone. This is a novel approach to using data to make informed decisions throughout a business. This method increases efficiency, enhances customer experience, and boosts revenue.

“The growth-at-all-costs era is behind us — hire as many sales reps as you can, have them sell as much stuff as you can, and see what happens,” ZoomInfo CRO Dave Justice says. “Now it’s about efficient growth, and driving productivity across the entire go-to-market motion.”

Sales leaders may recognize the potential of a revenue intelligence platform. However, Xactly’s data reveals that many remain unaware of the capabilities of these technologies. They don’t know how they can help their businesses grow.

Here are just some of the possibilities offered by revenue intelligence solutions.

Greater alignment between sales and marketing teams

Revenue intelligence is a discipline. It requires data to move freely between teams. This makes it easier for sales and marketing to work together. Implementing revenue intelligence systems is one of the main benefits.

This isn’t just a matter of convenience – it’s a critical competitive advantage. Data from LinkedIn suggests that 85% of sales and marketing leaders believe that greater alignment between sales and marketing is the most effective way to ensure strong, consistent growth.

Revenue intelligence systems allow sales and marketing leaders to work from a single, verified source of truth. Minimizing data bottlenecks reduces siloes. This enables marketing teams to gain deeper insights into potential customers. It also helps salespeople target the right prospects with the right message at the right time.

Broader reach with less waste

Not so long ago, a lack of actionable data was among the leading challenges facing GTM leaders.

Data from Adverity shows that more than two-thirds of CMOs feel overwhelmed by the amount of sales and marketing data. This problem is made more complex by the growing number of platforms and data providers used in many organizations.

Revenue intelligence systems enable GTM teams to use their time and budget more effectively.

Revenue intelligence gives teams greater insights into prospective customers’ motivations. This is done by providing critical context to sales and marketing data, such as real-time intent data. In addition, more sophisticated targeting options allow marketers to identify new audiences more effectively, increasing productivity.

A centralized revenue intelligence system can help reduce “tool bloat.” It does this by streamlining workflows and providing a comprehensive view of a company’s data from a single dashboard. Team members become more productive when they use fewer tools and data sources. This reduces the fatigue caused by constantly switching between different contexts.

Higher customer retention

Revenue intelligence systems help businesses in two ways. They make it easier to find new customers and also help retain current customers. This is done by offering better visibility into the customers’ needs and goals.

Revenue intelligence systems reduce the time spent on administrative tasks. This allows sales professionals to focus on activities that create meaningful relationships with customers. They can gain a better understanding of their markets and demonstrate real value. This, in turn, often translates into happier customers and longer business relationships.

As noted in our 2023 Customer Impact Report, these benefits are often most pronounced among customer success managers (CSMs). In our survey, CSMs reported an 18% increase in net-retention rates after implementing ZoomInfo.

Revenue Intelligence: A New Way to Go to Market

The potential impact of revenue intelligence is vast. However, before choosing and implementing a platform for your go-to-market strategy, there are many factors to consider.Two companies in the same industry may differ greatly, despite having similar headcounts and annual revenue. One may be more technologically advanced than the other. Additionally, each may have distinct needs, so be sure to consult and partner with GTM experts as you go.