Sales reps want to represent strong brands, present great products, access healthy pipelines, and share relevant content.
When reps meet these expectations, organizations get something vital in return: incoming revenue that drives organizational growth. However, a seasoned sales rep will loop you in on a common problem: their sales tool stack isn’t stacking well enough. In fact, it might be on the verge of toppling over. There are various sales tools in the environment – probably an excess of them kicking around – but they don’t map to what sales reps truly need to do their jobs. This misconfiguration leads to wasted effort, lost opportunities, missed quotas, and stressed out sales reps. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that putting together an effective sales tool stack isn’t difficult or risky. It’s simply a matter of identifying, targeting and addressing the core challenges that sales reps face on a day-to-day basis. Here’s a rundown of the essential tools that, when integrated, create a stack that works for reps – not against them.
Some reps resist (read: hate) using a CRM, but it’s because their organization believes that a CRM alone can close sales deals – which is not the case. However, when a CRM is positioned correctly in the stack as a support tool to help reps manage prospects, deals and communications, it works wonderfully and the resistance turns into enthusiasm. Here are three good ones to check out:
- Salesforce: You’ve probably heard of it (or already use it) because it’s considered the best in industry and has the largest market share.
- Microsoft Dynamics: Also a top CRM in terms of popularity, and it’s broadly used among organizations both large and small.
- Oracle: Includes a comprehensive and fully integrated stack of cloud applications and platform services.
Email automation tools streamline communication with prospects and customers, and liberate sales reps to maximize their active selling time and focus on high impact priorities. Once email automation is correctly added to the stack, marketing teams may be even happier than sales reps (who will be delighted), since they can use it to track open rates and other email marketing metrics across the buyer’s journey. Here are our recommendations:
- Outreach: This best-in-class sales engagement platform helps sales reps secure more meetings.
- Yesware: The all-in-one sales acceleration platform helps sales connect with prospects and track engagement.
- SalesLoft: One of the first companies to build out an engagement platform, Salesloft is an easy way to email and call prospects.
Social selling tools enable reps to establish thought leadership positions for themselves and their organization, ultimately so they can uncover opportunities, develop relationships, and usher prospects through the pipeline. Research by Sales for Life found that sales reps who effectively use social selling are 40% more likely to meet quota than their non-social selling counterparts. We’ve tested out our first two recommendations; the third is a company we think is going to be big really soon:
- LinkedIn Premium: With Premium, you can send direct messages to potential business contacts, which has shown to be 2.6 times more effective in garnering responses than emails or cold calls.
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator: This social-selling CRM provides sales tools that help you find the right prospects to build trusted relationships.
- Nudge.ai: By connecting to email, calendar, and social media, Nudge brings your network together and tracks the strength of relationships.
Lead databases do more than point sales reps to potential opportunities in various regions, sectors and verticals. They also provide company demographic data, verified contact information, and multiple contact options. It goes without saying – but we’ll say it anyway just to be on the safe side – that various lead databases have strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to select the right one (or mix) to support sales rep success. Here are a few tools that can help you identify and engage the best leads:
- DiscoverOrg: This sales and marketing intelligence platform provides access to the most accurate data, org charts, and real time projects to keep you informed.
- RainKing: The marketing system supports sales teams with enterprise leads, customer leads, and marketing in the IT sector.
- InsideView: A solid list of partnerships helps InsideView provide software solutions for sales and marketing to deliver critical information directly into your CRM.
Web conference tools have come a long way in recent years, and are now used regularly to conduct online meetings (with one or several participants), deliver demos, run webinars, host virtual classrooms, and so on. In addition to enabling valuable face time – remember that more than 50% of communication is nonverbal – these tools can also reduce travel costs by 30%, which makes CFOs and CEOs happy. Try one of these:
- Zoom: We use Zoom for video conferencing, online meetings, and wireless screen-sharing, and we love it because it’s easy to use and reliable.
- GoToMeeting: This simple web conferencing service integrates HD video conferencing, screen sharing, and audio conferencing.
- Blue Jeans Network: Blue Jeans offers interactive, multi-directional video communication services through a cloud-based platform.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention what we’re calling “web conferencing 2.0.” Companies like Chorus.ai record, transcribe, and analyze your sales conversations in real-time, highlighting important moments and revealing why you win and lose deals. We had the opportunity to chat with Roy Raanani, co-founder and CEO of Chorus.ai, to discuss how to overcome sales challenges through business intelligence. Listen to the quick podcast here.
As we all know: content is at the center of the sales process. Content management tools let sales reps quickly find hyper-relevant content for any sales scenario, from any device, and within their preferred email client. Sales reps can also make shared content more compelling by adding corporate branding, and using HTML5 to create interactive layers. If you’re in the market, try one of these:
- Drupal: This open-source content management platform supports millions of websites and applications.
- Microsoft Sharepoint: This web-based application lets you organize and manage content in libraries and lists with metadata and records management.
- Sitecore: Sitecore combines web content management with marketing automation, email marketing, social media, e-commerce, and analytics into a single platform.
The Bottom Line
Successful sales reps are like professional athletes. They don’t want to be taken out of the game when it’s all on the line. On the contrary, they crave the opportunity. All they need is fair chance to succeed, and they’ll confidently and competently move ahead. Simply put, when organizations get their sales tool stack right, they position their sales reps to win. And when this happens, everyone triumphs.