The smartest bird gets the worm.

A person writing on notebook

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes, sizes and stripes. There are those of us who are the absolute kings of product design. Others bring technical skills that are par excellence. Still, others are superior execution people - they know how to hire the right people, and how to get everything done. 

And then, there are those of us who have a background in sales. To say we have an advantage when it comes to selling the product is just… Well, it amounts to a brag. The thing is, today, with all the sales intelligence tools that entrepreneurs have access to, sales really don't have to be all that daunting. 

For most non-sales people, the first point of friction is knowing where to start. How do you even find customers, right? Part of the answer is good sales intelligence. Sales intelligence software works by continuously crawling millions of publicly available websites, gathering relevant data, and matching it to profiles in its database. 

It starts with better, more accurate data that syncs with your workflows, and makes prospect identification easier. Once you have your list of potentials, it helps you narrow down this list to those who are ready to buy, giving you more ROI on your sales effort. It then gives you visibility into their intent by showing you what topics and products these prospects are interested in. Finally, it helps you reach decision-makers faster, thereby shortening your sales cycle. 

If you're an entrepreneur who is in the process of growing your sales team, or if you're a sales leader who is in the market for a sales intelligence solution tool to replace or augment whatever you've got going on, this list should help. 

The SaaS Advantage 

I'm a SaaS evangelist, to be honest. When it comes to building our tech stacks and handing out tools and solutions to our teams, I am really skittish about making big commitments and purchases without giving my team a say-so. The best tool in the world is of no use if my team hates using it. 

Especially when it comes to Sales Intelligence, things are evolving so fast. Why commit ourselves to a big heavy product that will probably be obsolete in a year? This is where SaaS shines. Not only do SaaS products give you the Pay As You Go flexibility, but they're also usually better at what they do because of that flexibility. They know you won't stick around because you made some big investment! 

Of course, all the tools I'm looking into right now are for my own SaaS baby SmartCue, so my lens is skewed towards tools that are most suited to small organizations and startups that are yet to achieve scale. However, all these tools are the sort that can scale rapidly with you when you grow. 

With these considerations in mind, here's my list. Please bear in mind that this list isn't exhaustive, and I've only included those tools that I or my tribe have used. Also, I've relied on and for most of the customer reviews. 

1. ZoomInfo 

Free version: Yes

Trial version: Yes

The great thing about ZoomInfo SalesOS is that you can quickly learn everything about the companies you are targeting - identify the best people to contact, track which solutions they are using in their technology stack, and if there are upcoming opportunities that are a fit for your products and services. My favorite feature is that you can go to a prospect’s website, hit the extension and have a ready list of contacts sorted by their title. 

Cons: The system is very expensive and the data accuracy is not the best. Even though it is very easy to use, it looks dated. Users often complain about the contacts export limit and contact view limit being very restrictive. 

2. LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Free version: No

Trial version: Yes

This is a mighty tool for lead generation, lead segmentation and lead capture - It basically helps you find the right set of people and build relationships. With the amazing search feature, you can not only reach out to prospects, leads or recruiters but also send more targeted messages to all the right people by creating relevant and filtered lists of leads and accounts. It is so easy to search accounts for contacts. You can search by title, seniority, years at the company, location, etc. The advanced filters are a lifesaver to build a list of people for prospecting. 

Cons: It lacks a CRM integration and it is pricey for small businesses. It’s a task to export information about leads and accounts. 


Free version: No

Trial version: Yes

Gong is a conversation intelligence platform that empowers sales reps to take advantage of their most valuable assets – customer interactions, which the Gong platform automatically captures and analyzes. It will automatically show up at your meetings and not only record the call, but take notes on what you are discussing in different sections which makes it very simple to go back through your previous conversations and get a refresher on what was discussed and the next steps for your next call. The playback tools also make it very simple to drop reminders on important elements of the conversation so you can jump right to the information you need without having to fast forward/rewind searching for it. 

PS - Watch out for a killer Gong integration coming soon to SmartCue that will supercharge your current Gong experience!

Cons: Sometimes the transcripts are not always 100% accurate and you need to go back to the audio for interpretation and reference. 

4. Wingman

Free version: No

Trial version: Yes

Wingman works for me, personally. It essentially has a similar feature set as Gong and Chorus but there’s the added bonus that it alerts you if you're monologuing in your calls! And it throws up real-time voice-triggered cue cards based on contextual phrases (rather than verbatim phrases). It is also significantly cheaper than other conversation intelligence tools, making it a good fit for a start-up or a small business.  

Cons: There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to using the full features of Wingman (eg. the battle cards and prompts).

5. UpLead 

Free version: Yes

Trial version: Yes

UpLead is a B2B data provider and sales intelligence platform that is excellent for high-quality, targeted and verified lead generation. It allows you to create a filtered view of leads based on the industry, job title (including particular ones), company, and region. Compared to ZoomInfo, the ease of use is far higher because of its intuitive UI and the quality of support far outstrips its competitors. Their contact data and company data accuracy are pretty high.  

Cons: Uplead could be more affordable for small businesses. However, it's relatively inexpensive compared to its competitor.

SmartCue's Favorites

So, I footed the rather pricey bill for LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and I don't regret it. It works as advertised. It allows us to filter to a granular level, the types of folks we want to find and target. It keeps adding folks based on my filters (which I LOVE!). It is tightly integrated with LinkedIn, so my outreach through LinkedIn email is seamless for the recipients, and for me. This is exactly what I need, at this stage of my SaaS baby. 

However, I am lusting after Wingman a little bit. It's a strong solution overall, and I love the in-context cues (or battle cards!) from real-time conversation analysis. 

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I love tools that cue contextually. The advantage of having, at that moment, the information you need to wow the prospect is undeniable. It is the basis of my own SaaS baby, SmartCue. Like Wingman, SmartCue is in the business of providing contextual cues during demos. Where Wingman relies on real-time conversation analysis, SmartCue relies on where the mouse is pointed. Just thinking about the possibilities of combining these two tools excites me. 

In fact, I've already onboarded several clients who use Wingman and Gong, and honestly, I didn't really need to sell SmartCue to them. They understand the value it delivers because they've seen the magic of contextual cueing firsthand. Then, when I combine that with all the other goodies SmartCue packs into it, it becomes a no-brainer for them to add it to their tech stack. 


Businesspeople working

Irrespective of your experience in sales, sales is hard work. Tools I would've given an arm and a leg for 10 years ago, are par for the course today. You just can't do sales the old-fashioned way. It's like bringing a Volvo to an F1 race. Sales Intelligence tools are no longer the shiny new thing they once were, they're the main workhorses your sales process runs on. 

Take your time and evaluate your options. And if something isn't working, don't force it. Replace it.