Sales intelligence (SI) is a collection of technologies and processes for collecting and analyzing information to help a company increase the likelihood of sales. Data is collected about sales prospects, competition, products from all over the web, news and social media sources.
This article describes how Web Scraping can help you with “collection” of Sales Intelligence and specifically how ScrapeHero can augment basic Web Scraping with the “clean up and analysis of the scraped data”.
The collection of data related to Sales is neither enough nor specific and definitely not clean.
The holy grail of Sales related data is to identify a list of customers who are ready to buy your services today and with just one call or email. But this is just the holy grail – an ideal that is largely unachievable.
The collection of data is a critical part of the overall process. Data is collected from various sources and some of it is being acquired organically as part of the interaction with a sales lead and the rest as ancillary data from other sources related to the lead – the individual, company, market, and location.
The primary channels for sales intelligence are through
- Inbound Sales Channel
- Outbound Sales Channel
- Channel partners – VARs etc
Eventually, the data about a potential customer is stored in some place in your systems.
The initial issues we face right away are that these channels all have their own data sources, formats, and data quality issues.
Inbound Sales Data
The inbound sales data may come through email, the website, the phone or social media or fax or the postal mail. The data for each channel may come in its own format and each source may not even have a standard format.
If the sales leads come in through a website the data could and usually is structured – it has fields for the common data elements such as Name, Email, Telephone, Company Name, etc and probably a catch-all field for comments or notes or details
Due to the ubiquity of email as a communication medium and the failure of countless attempts to topple it from its perch, what was structured data from the website can end up turning into semi-structured data if your website communicates this data to you in an email.
Email has no real structure.
However, email can be used to augment a structured data store such as a database for inbound leads or better yet a CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) which mostly uses a database in the back-end but hides the complexities for you through a prettier user interface.
Unless you are using some VOIP based smart technology, this data doesn’t really exist in most companies and definitely not in any structured format. The most you can hope for is, the call logs and some metadata about the call or the transcripts of the call.
Social Media data
This data has the potential to be structured but is a highly evolving source of data. Companies are trying their best to figure out how to tie this data into their traditional channels and best leverage it beyond just driving traffic to their websites and product marketing
Postal Mail or Fax data
This data can be somewhat structured if paper based forms are used and the OCR workflow in place works and works well to turn them into structured data but it does have a high error rate and in the case of postal mail it has a high latency due to the physical transportation time.
Outbound Sales Data
The outbound sales data may come synchronously through email campaigns or the phone or social media. The other channels such as marketing may drive leads back through asynchronous means to the website or the call center and then look more like the inbound sales data. This data again may come in its own format and each source may not even have a standard format.
Email campaigns may be a great trackable way to generate leads and eventually the response to such campaigns do lead back to the collection of data either in a reply to the email or driving the leads to a structured source of data collection such as a website.
Outbound phone call data share the same characteristics as the inbound phone data with a few additional data points.
Channel Sales Data
Channel based data either through channel partners or value added resellers (VARs) has its own set of problems. It may be hard to even get in the first place and then if it is even acquired, may be extremely dirty, unusable and unreliable.
If your company has the clout to have partners or VARs integrate with you following your guidelines, that is a tremendous advantage but still the data cannot be relied upon as-is. It still has to be verified, cleaned, matched correlated etc.
This data may be available to you in a couple of ways
This type of data is obviously better but requires a technical sophistication throughout the supply chain. It can come through API calls, Webhooks etc and the goal needs to get to as much as a real time interface as possible.
Periodic data dumps
This type of data can come over various transport mechanisms such as the traditional FTP methods or using newer cloud based storage options such as Amazon S3.
The Role of ScrapeHero in Sales Intelligence
Our services help with all aspects of the Sales Intelligence process in a support, augmentation and verification capability.
Collection of Data
The Internet is an amazing collection of all kinds of information. It is just not in a format that is easily consumed by systems in the format of data.
We turn all the text available over the Internet into Data
We can help collect data about individuals, companies, markets, industries, geographies, trends, weather, transportation, eCommerce, health, governments and thousands of other kinds of data.
We can collect, match and correlate disparate sources of data and give you clean usable data
Verification of Data
Once the data has been collected or gathered by us or you or any other company, the data has to be verified – is the data accurate.
We can help with the verification process. The verification process may be simple using simple matching algorithms or complex using multi-faceted comparisons or fuzzy matching. We can employ various Machine Learning (ML) techniques to build a self-learning and sustaining model for such verification.
Integration of Data
The data needs to be integrated with your processes and systems and workflow.
We can help standardize the data and integrate it through automation into your systems so you derive the maximum benefit. We rely on a loosely coupled integration approach to keep your dependence on our systems to a minimal and keep your risk posture unaffected.
Augmentation of Data
Data is usually incomplete or stale and in the worst case inaccurate but with the help of fresh augmented data, the data becomes much more accurate and valuable.
We can scour the Internet to look for data that can provide missing data or updated or real-time data about your sales leads, companies etc. We can refresh your CRM systems with updated or even real-time data that will increase the odds of your success in a sale or new customer acquisition.
A common example of how ScrapeHero can help is when a loyal customer contact of yours changes jobs. Sales Intelligence savvy companies will know about this change by leveraging ScrapeHero’s data collection and monitoring services and quickly reach out to this contact at this new job and as a result, sign up a new customer. At the same time, they will also reach out to the new person who replaced their contact and build a relationship and retain that customer.
Companies that don’t use Sales Intelligence wonder why they keep losing business.
Let’s help you with Sales Intelligence
Turn the Internet into meaningful, structured and usable data