Sales Reporting vs. Sales Intelligence – The Great Debate

Although the terms “sales reporting” and “sales intelligence” have traditionally been used interchangeably, the recent surge of big data and real-time analytics is cause for companies to make an important distinction. While there is an argument to be made for each having its place in the data-driven sales organization, there are a few key differences between these two approaches that businesses should know.

Static vs. Dynamic

One way to think about sales reports versus sales intelligence is as a snapshot versus a video. Reports offer a fixed view, or snapshot, of performance at a given time, such as, “what were my total sales last quarter?” or, “how are my reps performing according to plan?” Because they are static in nature and difficult to modify without starting from scratch, reports are typically built once and simply re-run on a weekly or monthly basis. If a company wants to see new data, it will mostly likely have to re-create the report.

In contrast, sales intelligence allows you to dynamically analyze millions of data points at once to create and examine various scenarios and outcomes. Intelligence provides real-time insight into complex queries such as, “if I were able to move prospects from Qualified to Proposal 3x faster, how much more revenue could I generate quarter over quarter?” Some sales intelligence CRMs are even able to interact with sales reps by notifying them when a deal is at risk based on factors like email sentiment or stage duration analysis!

The What vs. The Why

Since they are compiled to provide a single snapshot of a finite data set, sales reports are fantastic at highlighting problems and identifying discrepancies. If you want to know whether your leads are converting into closed business, sales reporting can give you a simple yes or no answer – but understanding why this might be happening is a different story.

That’s where intelligence comes in. With the ability to compare your sales funnel across dozens of dimensions like deal size, company vertical, sales team and lead source, sales intelligence can provide actionable, quantifiable insights as to the steps that can be taken to achieve a specific desired outcome. Think of it this way: a report will reveal that your sales team fell short of its forecast. Intelligence will tell you this happened because there was a capacity problem, and that you need to hire three more reps to process the number of leads it will take to hit quota next quarter.

Base Reporting Blog Image

Siloed vs. Integrated

In general, sales reports are limited to pulling data and providing information from one system at a time. Most consolidation has to be done manually and takes a significant amount of time and mathematical prowess. With many sales teams still leveraging a handful of point solutions to do their jobs every day, including contact management systems, email providers and phone dialers, generating an accurate sales report can be a challenge.

Sales intelligence works across integrations and APIs to connect with and dynamically pull information from multiple systems. The ability to analyze data from across systems at once in a single place not only saves a significant amount of time and resources, but also eliminates many of the errors that occur when manually piecing together various sales reports. What’s more, in addition to bridging the gap between sales platforms, intelligence enables businesses to connect the dots across departments; for example, leading sales intelligence CRMs can integrate directly with marketing and support platforms like HubSpot or Zendesk to help keep customer information in one place.

With the dawn of big data, traditional sales reporting and sales intelligence can no longer be mistaken for one another. Forward-facing sales organizations are quickly adopting intelligent sales platforms that provide smart, real-time analytics that yield actionable and quantifiable sales insights, in addition to traditional reporting. For more about how this type of solution can benefit your company, go here to learn more about Base.

Related Articles

The Evolution of Sales Intelligence

Science of Sales

The Evolution of Sales Intelligence

Imagine a mainframe computer from the 1960s. Despite its sheer size, we can now wear more data processing power on our wrists (hello, Apple Watch) than exists in this photo.

Rachel Serpa

Rachel Serpa

November 3, 2016

Subscribe to the Sell Blog

Be the first to hear about product updates, as well as sales, productivity and CRM strategies.