The Ultimate Guide to Sales Technology & Sales Stacks
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A guide to the sales technology
Tech has transformed the sales industry with a plethora of tools designed to simplify each and every task associated with selling.
And having the right tools for the job increases success. According to LinkedIn’s State of Sales report, 82 percent of top-performing reps attribute their success to sales tools, citing them as critical to their ability to close deals. With a ringing endorsement like this, it’s worth digging into the toolbox to see what’s available.
While there may be no shortage of options, just like any set of tools, it’s best not to clutter your desktop with a bunch of gadgets, widgets, and apps you don’t actually need. Selecting which sales tools to include in your toolbox—or sales stack—is key to making sure your software fits into your workflow.
But finding the tools that fit with your workflow isn’t easy, especially when confronted with so many options. In this article, we’ll help you better understand the basics of sales technology and the concept of a sales technology stack. We’ve also provided a handy list of the 12 types of sales tech that you should consider, so you can get started compiling your own tech sales stack today.
What is sales technology?
Sales technology refers to any sales software tool that lets your reps perform their tasks faster and in a more organized way.
Every industry and career field has been revolutionized by new technologies, and sales is no different. But it’s not the hardware that’s changed. We still rely on computers and phones to do most of the grunt work. The sales software industry is where it’s going on, and that’s what we’ll focus on in this guide.
Sales technology software lets sales reps perform their daily tasks faster and with greater accountability. With reps typically spending only 16 percent of their day in front of customers, they’re wasting too much time on admin work instead of selling. Sales technology cuts down on time-consuming, tedious admin tasks so your team can focus on building and retaining a happy customer base.
What is a sales tech stack?
A sales tech stack is the collection of programs, interfaces, IT infrastructure, and software that businesses use for day-to-day work. It’s a digital toolbox of operations-enhancing software for sales teams. Each department usually has its own unique tech stack, including the sales team.
Think of a sales tech stack as a literal stack of tools standing next to the model of the traditional sales funnel. At the top of the funnel are potential customers gaining awareness of your product. This is where you’ll have your prospecting, lead generating, and live chat tools.
Next are the potential clients in the consideration phase of the funnel. Utilize your sales engagement platform and customer relationship management platform to build strong, trusting relationships. Scheduling and demo tools come in handy at this phase as well.
Finally, at the bottom of the sales funnel are customers in the decision phase. This is where your sales team will make best use of sales tracking and reporting, sales automation, and closing/e-signature technologies.
There is a tool out there for just about everything you can imagine, each with their own set of benefits for streamlining your sales process.
What are the benefits of a robust tech stack?
A well-designed sales stack keeps your team engaged and helps them fine-tune their approaches for the future. By providing detailed insights into the buyer experience, these tools help your reps connect with prospects and customers at just the right time. Most buyers are 60 percent through the buying process before they even talk with a sales rep.
Utilize the tools in your tech stack to slash that timeline so reps connect faster with prospects. With 82 percent of customers expecting a response within 24 hours, it’s critical that sales reps have the tools they need to react quickly and close the deal.
Here are some of the benefits you can experience with a well-chosen tech stack:
Snag high-quality leads with less effort
Prospecting and lead generation technologies are excellent tools for taking some pressure off your reps to find the highest quality leads. Even while your reps are home for the night or handling other clients, your lead generating software continues to search for and identify promising leads and set them up for sales reps to take over.
The result is that your reps have more time on their hands for revenue-generating activities, and your business is still bringing in high-quality leads to populate your pipeline.
Save time by automating tedious tasks
A survey of 720 sales reps in 2018 found that, on average, they spent almost 65 percent of their time at work doing something other than selling. Administrative work and other red tape often keep these people from the top bullet point in their job descriptions. The right tech keeps your reps on the phone, in the field, or in the boardroom — not battling tedium and red tape.
Automations can be triggered by actions or set up to operate at a specific time or interval. Plus, automated data capture and entry is both faster and much more accurate, so you can look forward to fewer errors causing problems down the road.
Track effective strategies
Once you’ve adopted the best tools for your tech stack, it’s critical that you don’t lose sight of the overall goal. The whole point is to increase sales, and you can’t do that unless you’re collecting data, measuring outcomes, and identifying the strategies that work best.
Finding out which practices are profitable and which are dragging you down is key to growing your business. Sales tech cuts out the guesswork when it comes to implementing changes. With hard, accurate data right at your fingertips, you can draft the best strategic plans for future success.
The 12 types of sales technology you need to consider
Scrolling through so many types of tech and deciding which ones you actually need can be a little overwhelming. Not to worry. We’ve broken it all down into 12 tools that are worthy of a spot in your sales arsenal.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a wildly popular tool for managing customer data from a single point of entry. Its popularity is hardly accidental. As an all-in-one sales platform solution, most leading CRM software contains most, if not all, of the technology types on this list. That’s because businesses use CRM to track sales, store contact details, analyze performance, run forecasts, and automate dozens of tasks that are necessary for maintaining healthy customer relationships.
Instead of a patchwork of spreadsheets, apps, and databases, a comprehensive CRM allows your sales, marketing, and CS teams to work together inside a single platform. Most CRMs offer integrations with common business apps like Gmail, Slack, MailChimp, and DocuSign. All of your communication, documents, quotes, and tasks get consolidated (with options to automate actions and workflows) in one place where your entire team can access current data at a moment’s notice.
A CRM is practically a necessity for sales teams today. It provides a strong foundation to integrate the other optional tools on this list, and it can also scale with your business. Between teams and departments, CRMs increase visibility, reduce silos, and improve communication. Automated workflows keep sales reps on track with clear priorities and optimal timing for follow-ups, all leading to a sleek pipeline and higher conversion rates.
Lead generation software
A top of funnel tool, lead generation software works to automatically generate leads and route them to the right team members. By scraping data from online channels like social media, landing pages, and email, lead gen tools collect contact information from folks with interest in your product or service.
B2B and B2C businesses tend to use lead generation programs a little differently, and there are several different types of lead gen tools. Some increase customer engagement. Others are meant to streamline the sales process. The point of any lead gen tool, however, is the same — to attract customers to your business.
Your sales team benefits from lead gen software because it minimizes the time they have to spend manually tracking down leads. Contact information remains fresh and up-to-date, not hit-or-miss. With a lead generation system in place, your reps have the tools not just to find the most leads, but to target the highest value leads. This keeps your team focused on prospects who are most likely to buy, rather than wasting their time following cold trails.
Sales prospecting tools automate the process of identifying potential customers for your product/service and reaching out to them in order to bring them into your sales pipeline.
These tools generate leads from every available source, including web forms, social media activity, and internet searches. Then, they identify which leads are most likely to purchase, segment them by qualifying criteria, and assign them to the appropriate sales rep.
With great prospecting tools in your arsenal, you can expand your market, increase visibility and awareness of your brand, and build your credibility as a thought leader in your industry. Plus, you’ll be generating higher-quality leads that are more likely to convert, ultimately boosting your revenue.
Sales funnel software
Any platform or resource that helps businesses automate how leads trickle through the sales funnel falls under the umbrella of sales funnel software. By providing a variety of templates, these tools can help you create assets like follow-up emails, landing pages, or content offers. Each asset is geared toward moving your prospects through the funnel to become paying customers.
Stimulate interest in your products and services with sales funnel tools by increasing web traffic on your business site, social media channels, and/or online store. This type of inbound lead generation increases brand awareness and revenue. It also increases your team’s efficiency by automating repetitive processes when engaging new prospects.
With sales funnel automation, new contacts can choose the best channels through which to engage with your company. They can easily navigate landing pages, enter information for webinars, or sign up for newsletters to stay in touch, and move through the funnel.
Lead management software
Quite a few tools fall under the purview of lead management software, but the primary goal of these sales tools is to minimize risk as leads get handed off from marketing to sales.
Lead management is an extended process from lead generation and capture, through qualification, segmentation, and scoring, all the way to distribution and nurturing. A variety of software applications assist at different points along the way. We’ll take a closer look at pipeline, lead scoring, and sales tracking software below.
This handy digital sales tool organizes your selling process so you can visualize the steps your leads need to take to become customers. Sales teams can build and customize their pipelines to efficiently manage leads, opportunities, contact information, and overall prospect and customer relationships. Most importantly, pipeline software gives you clear visual insight into your current pipeline, shortens your sales cycle, and boosts conversion rates.
Lead scoring software
Scoring leads is the universal process of quantifying how likely a lead is to buy by assigning a numerical value to typical lead characteristics. With an automated lead scoring system in place, it becomes substantially easier for sales reps to identify and prioritize the leads that are worth pursuing.
Lead scoring software enables sales teams to create accurate and reliable formulas to apply to leads at scale. By focusing on warmer prospects with a higher lead score, reps can spend their valuable time more wisely by nurturing the leads that are most likely to convert.
Lead routing solutions
Based on their scores, leads are automatically assigned to the right team or individual for follow up. This is called lead routing. There are a few different, general ways to route leads but the most effective tends to be round-robin lead assignment, which assigns leads that made it past lead scoring to sales reps in a circular fashion.
Rep 1, then rep 2, then rep 3, and so on until the cycle repeats itself.
Automating this process and ensuring it works in tandem with your lead scoring solution is crucial to a well-oiled pipeline.
Sales tracking software
Sales tracking technologies facilitate the tedious data entry of sales reporting by managing all aspects of the sales process. The software provides set workflows so reps can instantly pinpoint where any prospect is in the buyer’s journey, as well as decide on what the next steps should be towards conversion. Many of these apps are also armed with sales analytics tools to help identify potential areas of improvement.
All these types of lead management software save valuable time and energy for your marketing and sales teams with automated processes and workflows. They also promote better communication between these teams, contributing to greater customer insights and turning more leads into sales.
A sales dialer is a software tool that connects agents to contacts smoothly and efficiently without reps having to manually dial each and every call. This allows reps to call more contacts in less time.
Power dialers automatically dial a new number as soon as a call ends. They’re best used when teams need to make as many outbound calls as possible and ensure a personalized interaction with the contact. When the sales dialer gets a busy, disconnected, or unanswered call, the system patches the rep along to the next number, eliminating dead space between calls.
The sales dialer, especially when integrated with your CRM, can collect and store data, make notes on abandoned calls, and even send emails to follow up on promising conversations. A power dialer can help reps to build trust with new prospects. With this sales tech in your company’s toolbelt, there’s always a human rep on the line who can access customer data on their screen and greet each contact personally.
Use email analytics to track how recipients on your contact list respond to and interact with your campaigns. By tracking metrics like open, clickthrough, and unsubscribe rates, you can see what makes your prospects engage or jump ship and use this information to refine your messaging.
Making the most of email analytics can be a straightforward way to get more leads moving into and through your sales pipeline. Clients appreciate personalized communication — email analytics let you continually personalize and perfect your language to ensure higher conversion rates. Luckily, email analytics are a pretty standard inclusion in sales CRMs and marketing platforms, so it’s easy to get started with a few key metrics.
Sales engagement platforms
Think of the sales engagement platform as a tool that’s overlaid on top of your CRM. Together, they impact your sales process by magnifying each step in the buyer’s journey and focusing on how reps interact with customers. These engagement tools facilitate more direct communication between sales teams and clients, helping businesses speak clearly to their prospects’ pain points.
Effective engagement platforms are a crucial part of sales enablement. They ensure that reps keep a customer-centric view of the buyer’s journey through the sales pipeline. By automating selling actions and menial tasks, reps can spend more time utilizing those intangible soft skills to provide a personalized experience for each prospect at scale. This means more time spent on generating revenue rather than drowning in busywork.
Sales analytics software
Sales analytics software gathers data from your CRM and can calculate a number of useful metrics about your sales process. These insights reveal where reps’ strengths and weaknesses lie and where bottlenecks might be impacting your pipeline velocity. Such invaluable metrics can help you optimize your sales process and even forecast future sales performance.
The software works by engaging AI technology to capture relevant data from your CRM in real time. After analyzing the data, the software creates an easy-to-digest report so companies can see where to make improvements and what to expect for the future.
Analytics are especially useful for sales management to gain visibility into their team’s activities and individual reps’ performance levels. With these insights, managers have an easier time strategizing, decision-making, and forecasting. Sales CRM analytics takes the guesswork out of operational decisions, so managers can move forward with confidence.
Under the canopy of sales analytics, let’s take a closer look at a few specific types of software: reporting, forecasting, and dashboards.
Sales reporting software
With so much data on hand, reports are necessary to make sense of it all. Reporting software synthesizes CRM data into usable sales insights with easy-to-interpret visuals.
As a sales management tool, reports are crucial for sales leaders to understand performance and coach individual reps in the areas that will most benefit them. By utilizing reporting software, managers no longer need to painstakingly compile data and build spreadsheets. They can focus on cultivating a winning team strategy.
Sales forecasting software
Sales forecasting tools predict revenue by analyzing past and present sales data to formulate the most accurate picture of future trends. The greater the accuracy of your prediction, the better and more informed your business decisions can be.
Sales forecasting is critical when making large-scale plans concerning inventory, staffing, and workflow. Sales forecasting software means you don’t need to depend on the vagaries of human instinct and guesswork. You can rest assured that your forecast is data-driven and reliable.
A dashboard is a centralized sales app that provides simple visual access to customer data, metrics, and reports. Dashboards are easily customizable so team members can access exactly the data they need without being overwhelmed. Metrics get processed into easily digestible visual representations so reps and team leaders can identify successful tactics, critical trends, and areas of improvement. What makes the dashboard so indispensable is its ease of customization and single point of entry for any team member.
Sales force automation tools
For a sales rep, sales force automation (SFA) is like having a personal assistant. Sales automation tools take over and manage repetitive, time-sensitive tasks that typically monopolize reps’ schedules. SFA can handle tasks like sending follow-up emails, generating invoices, and creating forecasting reports so your team has a smooth, organized workflow and can spend more time actually selling.
Door-to-door/outside sales software
Door-to-door or outside sales software is designed for reps who are out in the field selling and have different needs than their deskbound counterparts. Typically, outside sales reps will meet potential clients in their own offices, so access to a mobile CRM application is vital.
Mobile CRM technology allows reps on the road to access the exact same information they would have at their desk — without the giant desktop computer. Door-to-door sales tools will also frequently come with handy features like GPS, automated calendar and task management, and offline data sync. With the right door-to-door software solution, reps can focus on selling, improving customer experience, and closing deals faster — all while staying coordinated with their team and sales leader.
Sales productivity tools
Sales productivity tools include any app or software that makes the tasks of selling more streamlined and efficient, optimizing the entire sales process. Some of these we’ve covered already, like CRM, SFA, and lead gen tools. But with so many tasks involved in the sales cycle, there are plenty of other tools to consider as well.
Scheduling software, for instance, makes setting up meetings a breeze with no back-and-forth emails and endless games of phone-tag. Other tools include payment processors as well as communication and collaboration tools. Teams can share up-to-date documents and data securely, all while simplifying tasks and streamlining their workflow.
How to choose the right sales tech
Once you’ve determined that you need a specific software tool for your tech stack, here are some software sales questions you can ask to determine which vendors are the right fit:
Are they a good fit for our company’s size, industry, and customer base?
These external factors determine which types of tech you need and which pricing levels you can afford. Just because a big-name company goes with one provider doesn’t mean that provider is also right for you.
Do your reps spend time on any manual processes that you can streamline or eliminate?
Talk to your staff and try to determine how much of their time is spent on specific tasks. Then, do some research to discover what tools exist that would reduce the amount of time spent on those tasks. Cutting a few hours here and there adds up to increased productivity and sales.
Where is there opportunity for more engagement?
Now that automations have created space in your sales reps’ schedules, fill those gaps with revenue-generating activities. Engaging with customers is one of the best ways of moving prospects to make a purchase. Ask yourself what kind of engagement best suits your brand and customers, and search for engagement platforms that offer features for that kind of activity.
What Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are you focusing on?
Every company looks at different metrics to measure performance. Are you focused on client acquisition rate? Number of calls and emails? Average deal size? Conversion rate? This goes back to the sales tech roadmap. Once you’ve identified your KPIs, narrow down different sales technologies that will help measure and evaluate them.
Many software tools are often bundled together onto a single platform, which makes learning and integrating much easier. Platforms like Zendesk Sell — one of the industry’s leading sales CRMs — provide multiple sales tech tools, making it easy to scale from start-ups to enormous enterprises.
Try an all-in-one sales CRM for free
Without a robust sales tech stack, you’re missing out on opportunities for smoother operations and faster growth.
Zendesk Sell funnels all client communication through a single centralized platform for easy access. It integrates with many other platforms to streamline communication between clients and among colleagues, keeping everyone on the same page and up-to-date with the most accurate data. It also lets you track sales from beginning to end and evaluate your KPIs so you always have a clear view of your company’s health.
If you’re interested in taking greater control over your business and maximizing your team’s time, check out Zendesk Sell. This powerful CRM platform helps sales teams streamline their operations so they can spend less time on tedious tasks and more time selling and planning for growth.
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