A few days ago, I posted about some ways to create a more efficient sales cycle for your reps. I wrote about enablement that relies on larger organizational changes -- investing in a content marketing program, for instance. But there are some changes you can make that are as simple as investing in a tool (some pretty cheap, at that).
Here are the five tools every organization absolutely must have to sell better, faster deals and improve sales productivity. If some seem basic, it's because I've actually seen sales forces operating without them. (Yikes.)
1) Premium LinkedIn Account
If you don't have one of these in this day and age, you're insane. (Many companies subsidize this -- but I think reps should invest in it even if their company doesn't. Consider it your personal investment in your career.)
Here's the thing: Reps won't always get a warm lead. Sure, there are a few extraordinary companies out there that call solely warm leads, but chances are, reps will have to talk to people who aren't familiar with your company. Reps can make that better by getting to know them before the conversation.
2) Email Tracking Software
There are plenty of free or cheap email tracking extensions reps can use in their browsers to learn when a prospect opens their emails, or interacts with their emails in some way. The value of this isn't so you can dial up a lead the second he opens up your email -- it's the intelligence you can discern from email activities. For instance, whether that email was opened immediately, or weeks late; if links were clicks or not; if it was opened multiple times or just once.
Again, it's not about jumping all over prospects when they open the email, rather what that prospect's interaction with the email says about their interest in your solution.
3) Reliable Conference Call Service
A reliable conference call service is a critical investment that, these days, doesn't require a huge monetary investment. In fact, I used to use a free one, and none of my reps had issues with it. There are great paid options, too, that have more bells and whistles that can make the selling experience even more seamless -- custom URLs are one of my favorites -- but if you're running on a tight budget a reliable low-cost option is better than no option at all.
4) Reliable Screensharing Service
Many sales managers make the mistake of thinking screensharing services aren't critical because they don't "demo" anything in their sales process. But even if you don't have digital product demos, a screensharing service can help make your conversations visual and more interactive, and encourages reps to provide a higher level of service than they could otherwise offer without it.
A dead simple system for tracking and reviewing interactions with clients is a requirement. Some reps think of CRM as management's system for evaluating sales rep activity. But really, it should be used as a simple way for anyone to get a 30,000-foot view of the pipeline: how projected revenue is looking at each stage versus this quarter's and next quarter's targets, which prospects need to move forward in (or out of) the process, that sort of thing. Take a look at all of the reasons that teams can benefit from a CRM.
Even if none of that resonates, here's one undeniable reason you need a CRM: You absolutely must have a way to determine the last time you talked with somebody without going through your emails or looking at your call logs. You should centralize customer data into one place with the best CRM software on the market.
These tools are the bare minimum for an efficient sales team -- but too many are operating with only two or three of these tools, and I guarantee it's making your team less successful. The more investment you and your team puts into an efficient sales process, the more you'll both get out of it.
Originally published Sep 3, 2014 6:00:00 AM, updated May 26 2017