The Right Sales Tools Will Make the Difference Between a Bad or Great Quarter
Sales remains a very results-oriented business: you either close the deal or you don’t. And in a highly competitive market, your success often comes down to whether you have the right sales tools to make your job more efficient and effective.
Digital technology has changed the landscape of sales. The salesperson was once the gatekeeper of all the vital information customers needed to make a decision. But when the internet became mainstream, the balance of power shifted to the buyer. Customers now have all the product or service details they need at their fingertips. As for sales reps, they tend to come in at the tail end of the buying process.
Modern sales tools can help your team keep up with modern buyers. Today’s consumers want you to come to them with solutions they didn’t know they needed. It’s not fortune-telling—it’s using data and technology to get to know them better.
With the right tools in place, you can also automate all those tedious, non-revenue-generating administrative tasks that take up 65% of your sales team’s time. Giving reps more time to understand buyers and their needs can mean the difference between a poor sales quarter and a great one.
Let’s look at how the right sales tools can impact your business. We’ll also share our picks of essential tech tools that will help you drive revenue and growth.
Good Sales, Bad Sales
When it comes to sales quarters, what causes companies to announce their first quarter was great but then their second quarter was bad? Compared to a successful sales month, it’s not easy to pinpoint the reasons behind a bad sales quarter.
For starters, a disastrous three months can point to several challenges: lower demand, a market slowdown or a new competitor. In contrast, a good sales quarter typically means only one thing: the sales rep or team closed enough deals.
Do All Companies Experience Bad Quarters?
Quarterly performance has become so critical that many investors today base their decisions on a company’s performance during the last three months. The mere act of missing sales targets for the quarter is enough for many stockholders to sound the alarm. But all companies will inevitably experience a dry spell. The hope is that they can turn things around quickly enough to limit their losses.
More reasonable (and successful) companies are driven by the bigger picture: sales trends. They know which months are lean and temper expectations. They also beef up their inventories during traditionally strong seasons such as summer or winter holidays.
The moral of the story is simple. Companies that learn from their sales performance tend to avoid the same mistakes that lead to bad quarters. They learn how to study trends and act accordingly. More importantly, they find ways to continue improving themselves.
The best way to learn from previous performances? Use sales tools that can help you look at data closely and provide insights.
How Do You Recover From a Bad Sales Quarter?
Learning from poor sales results means taking a long hard look at what happened. Thoroughly review the sales strategy implemented during the previous sales period and identify inefficiencies in the sales process. In the course of the postmortem, you might uncover solutions to the problems that led your team to miss its sales targets.
Sometimes, the best way to stop a sales slump is by confronting it head-on. Instead of looking at the lack of closed deals as failures, think of them as lessons and learning experiences for future reference.
Re-Evaluate Your Current Sales Strategy
A critical aspect of this learning experience is analyzing your team’s previous performance. However, using anecdotal reports as the basis for your evaluation won’t show an accurate picture. Instead, refer to your sales tools to gather measurable data on how each member fared during the period.
The average sales organization uses 10 sales tools and plans to add four more. These tools include customer relationship management (CRM) systems that help agents handle clients and monitor the sales journey. The stack also includes email, office productivity, scheduling and automation software.
In addition to providing services, these tools usually offer analytics features that track their user’s output. As such, they can help determine if sales representatives were able to talk to more prospects and service existing clients. They can also determine whether the sales team’s time would be better spent trying to retain current customers instead of attracting new ones.
Teams that have a hard time maximizing their sales tools often report problems regarding integration. While companies invest in various sales tools, they often acquire independent or mismatched applications that don’t talk to each other. As a result, sales reps find themselves entering the same data (including login information) into different apps over and over.
Getting tied down with software means they now have even less time to deal with clients. As a result, the sales software’s promise of a streamlined experience remains unfulfilled.
Upgrade Your Sales Tech Stack
So far, we’ve determined that using a sales tech stack inefficiently is the more pressing concern. Sales tools should boost productivity and allow the sales team to spend more time actually selling. Instead, reps are getting tied down with even more non-revenue-generating tasks.
Create a Road Map for Your Sales Tools
Revisiting your sales tech stack involves more than just replacing old software with new, more advanced versions. A great way to make sure your sales tools will actually help your sales team is to formulate a sales technology road map.
Don’t just haphazardly add one software after another. Instead, have your IT team collaborate with sales to determine what they actually need to perform better.
Follow these four key steps when developing a technology road map:
- State an actual sales objective and list specific tools that can actually help you achieve that objective.
- Determine if there are available solutions that integrate with other proposed solutions. This doesn’t necessarily mean acquiring a suite to ensure full integration. There are plenty of solutions that feature seamless application programming interface (API) integration.
- Draw up a list of pros and cons for each proposed solution. This can determine whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. The list should include any impact on actual sales processes as well as non-revenue-generating activities.
- Look ahead at future goals. Making your software road map future-proof can help you avoid costly upgrades later on.
Leverage Your Sales Tech Stack Data
Most modern sales technology software contains two crucial features: automation and analytics. Automation allows sales reps to complete common tasks faster and more efficiently. Instead of spending the whole morning hunched at the computer, salespeople can now use automated software to send and reply to emails, generate new leads and follow up on proposals.
Analytics provides an easier way for sales managers to receive data-powered insights. Instead of having to write down their dealings on every activity, modern sales software logs activities automatically. Managers can then get a breakdown of how many calls and visits a sales team member made in a day.
In addition, analytics can gather data on a rep’s actual sales performance, including closed sales, average order value and pending deals. This instant access to information enables managers to make timely decisions that can positively affect day-to-day sales activities.
Finally, a well-prepared sales tech stack means enhanced collaboration between sales team members. Even on field visits, sales reps can stay in touch with managers as data flows in and out of field sales devices. This lets them provide clients with real-time quotes and updated stock inventories.
Collaboration can also cover the development of sales materials and presentations. Team members can share comments and input their changes within the same document no matter where they’re located.
Integrating Your Sales Tools With Your Sales Strategy
So far, we’ve seen how the right components can make for a formidable sales tech stack. Now, let’s look at how individual sales tools can help your team turn a bad sales quarter into a fruitful one. The right sales tools don’t just make selling a lot easier; they also improve efficiency in getting the job done.
Using a spreadsheet to track down your entire list of leads won’t cut it if you plan to grow your business to its full potential. Instead, consider using a CRM platform to monitor and manage the various stages of the sales journey. This can ensure your sales team focuses its efforts on leads with the most potential.
A CRM also allows you to track where each of your clients is in the sales pipeline. Knowing their location enables you to apply the right strategies and provide timely assistance so your sales rep can move the deal further.
Create More Content
Again, today’s customers no longer rely on their favorite salesperson to provide all the information they need about a product. Instead, modern buyers do their own research before talking to a sales rep. Your team can still influence sales, though, by providing informative and engaging content that can help customers make informed decisions.
Your content allows customers to know more about your product and company. Additional information should spur interest in the community and industry and among users.
When creating content, produce different types for different stages of the sales funnel:
- Blogs and how-to articles target new leads and prospects.
- Leads in the middle funnel appreciate more in-depth information, so research papers, testimonials and video tutorials are highly appreciated.
- Bottom-of-the-funnel lead—those who are ready to take the plunge—would find trial versions, free samples or new customer promotions highly enticing.
Use Automation to Increase Your Productivity
Certain sales functions can’t and shouldn’t be avoided. Think cold calls, emails, sales meetings and training. However, many salespeople begrudge the time it takes to complete these daily tasks. This is why it’s important to incorporate productivity software with automation features into your arsenal of sales tools.
Email service providers automate your cold call emails to go out at preset times, while artificial intelligence (AI)-driven chatbots can handle initial sales inquiries until you can take over. Schedulers integrate your email, calendar and video conference software so you won’t miss any important meetings. Even if you can’t avoid these everyday tasks, productivity and automation software make them easier to hurdle.
6 Essential Sales Tools To Add to Your Tech Stack
Thanks to productivity software and automated tasks, today’s salespeople can now hurdle most administrative tasks more quickly and efficiently. This gives the intrepid salesperson more time to focus on sales activities.
Thankfully, there are plenty more tools available for becoming a more successful sales representative. Let’s look at six of the most important sales tools that focus on converting leads into paying customers.
The CRM system remains a crucial part of the sales rep’s arsenal of sales tools. It’s your main repository for everything about your clients, leads and prospects. What’s more, your other sales software will depend on the CRM for every required piece of information.
With a CRM as the central hub of your company’s efforts, you have an efficient and reliable source of information. Whether a salesperson needs to look up a recent purchase history or access a recent conversation with customer service, the CRM can deliver.
At this point, the CRM is a must-have for all sales organizations wanting to climb up the ranks. More importantly, a CRM helps sales teams avoid shuttling between various programs and sources of truth during their interactions with customers.
2. Sales Prospecting Tools
The first step in every sales journey is finding the customers. Most sales professionals use prospecting to get initial information on leads that can potentially turn into customers. However, prospecting can be a very arduous and time-consuming affair. Imagine scouring industry directories and trade organization memberships for only a couple dozen prospect names.
With sales prospecting tools, you acquire an initial list of potential customers and feed the information directly to the sales team. The software does the heavy lifting of looking into directories and lists and filtering prospects based on specified criteria.
The right tools can then perform additional lead enrichment services. For instance, they can cross-check initial prospects with public information, company profiles and social media accounts to generate quality leads. With a shortened prospecting process, sales reps can get to work immediately and start making contact through cold calls, emails or even webinar invitations.
3. Sales Engagement Tools
Communicating with prospects and customers requires you to be available in multiple ways. Sales engagement tools enable sales reps to constantly stay in touch with clients by consolidating all their communication channels.
Many traditional clients prefer the warmth of personal conversations or phone calls. Busy buyers who can’t spare even one minute of their time prefer to engage over email. Meanwhile, impatient but connected customers who want answers right away require always-on channels such as chat or instant messaging.
Through sales engagement tools, sales reps can manage their communication channels to keep track of individual conversations more effectively. The system also provides optimization recommendations that can nudge the customer further into the sales pipeline.
Throughout the conversations, the sales engagement tool directs any new information back into the CRM and the customer’s file. When it comes to sales engagement, no information is too small to store.
4. Sales Management Tools
Sales management tools let team leaders keep track of individual members during their daily interactions. Such tools enable managers to track each field sales agent’s location and record pertinent details such as travel time, clients visited and each visit’s duration. Using this data, sales managers then get a big-picture idea of how each sales rep uses work hours to perform revenue-generating activities. The data will often report on the sales rep’s efficiency in maximizing sales calls.
More importantly, sales management tools hold information about each salesperson’s record. They provide a snapshot of how many customers the agent is currently managing, how many leads are in the pipeline and how many clients have churned.
Having all this information provides managers with a granular view of their team efforts. Instead of relying on anecdotal sales reports, they now have detailed information they can use to better assess their staff.
For instance, a cursory look at field data can spur a sales manager to suggest a better route. Or an agent with high lead engagement but low sales numbers may need training on how to close deals. When managers know what challenges their sales reps face, they can intervene by arranging individual coaching sessions.
5. Sales Forecasting Tools
Prior to every sales season, teams come up with sales targets based on the previous sales performance, the current marketing condition and other mitigating factors. The ability to track the sales team’s progress enables management to provide timely interventions to keep the group on the right track. Sales forecasting tools are a great way to check how close both individual sales reps and entire teams are from the target goals.
Data from sales forecasting software allows managers to concentrate efforts on members lagging behind. In case of changing or unanticipated market conditions, the company’s top decision-makers can also choose to adjust the sales goals or shift to a rolling forecast.
The bottom line is sales forecasts can look ahead and determine whether the team is on the right path. If it’s not, forecasting tools let teams make adjustments before it’s too late.
6. Sales Enablement Tools
Leads become customers when they make the conscious decision to buy into what you’re selling. While many sales representatives have the gift of persuasion, they still need help determining what information to share and how to share it. Sales enablement tools hold the important information sales reps need to present their offerings.
These tools allow the sales team to develop, enhance, share and manage sales materials that eventually end up with customers. The advantage of sales enablement software is that when agents create personalized pitches for specific clients, they remain guided by sales- and marketing-developed strategies and approaches. Nobody has to start from scratch. Instead, sales reps can utilize resources such as official images, approved copy and updated product specifications as they make their own custom presentations.
Collaboration is another major feature of sales enablement tools. For instance, sales reps can access existing materials developed by their team members. Others can also pitch in and share their opinion when reviewing new materials. What’s more, this software can contain collected insights and feedback from previous and existing customers.
Use Sales Tools To Avoid Bad Quarters and Ensure Good Ones
Overcoming bad sales quarters and achieving good ones comes down to being prepared. Effective sales tools allow you and your entire sales team to attract prospects, engage customers and stay focused on meeting sales goals. More importantly, the right tools help sales team members accomplish their tasks faster and more efficiently. With less time spent on administrative tasks, sales reps can focus their time and effort on selling.
Ingage is cloud-based sales enablement software that creates highly-interactive presentations. Rather than subjecting clients to static, linear presentations, Ingage lets you tell the entire story through interactive elements that expand to provide even more detail when viewers click on them.
What’s more, collaboration features let individual team members join the presentation development process remotely. Once completed, simply share the presentation’s link with your intended audience via email. The link opens a web version of the presentation, which clients can view on their computers and smart devices wherever they are. In addition, smart analytics collects data on viewer reactions to the presentation. This enables content creators to pinpoint which areas elicited interest from the viewer and which need improvements.
Learn more about how Ingage interactive presentations can turn your bad sales quarters into great ones. Sign up for a free demonstration today, and we’ll be happy to show you the first step toward compelling, interactive presentations.