Building A Better Sales Technology Stack
February 17, 2020
So Just What Is A Sales Tech Stack?
A sales technology stack is a set of software tools designed to increase the sales team’s effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity. The components of a sales tech stack fall into these categories:
- Sales force automation technology helps streamline many tasks and keeps sales managers better informed about sales activity, sales figures and the sales funnel.
- Training solutions can ramp new sales reps and deliver critical insights at the fingertips of the sales team.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software is the foundation of your tech stack. It’s home to your customer and prospect data and integrates with other components of stack, accelerating the sales process, informing your salesforce, automating report creation and facilitating better workflows.
- Prospecting and lead management tools accelerate the sales process with everything from chat tools for engaging website visitors to matching leads with the right sales rep.
- Sales and marketing intelligence applications can reduce wild goose chases by filling in the company profile blanks when only limited contact information is available about a lead or prospect.
- Analytics and reporting platforms make data more useful for the sales team, helping them visualize data, discover which prospects are responding to campaigns, get high level insight into buyer behavior, and, most importantly, measure and forecast sales team performance.
With so many available sales technology options, constructing the right sales stack targeted for your market and operation can be challenging. If you overlook a key component, your team may not have access to critical information, may not operate as efficiently as they could and may be unable to close a higher volume of sales. Erring on the side of “more is better” can fill your sales tech stack with unnecessary or ill-fitting tools that are often left unused in favor of manual workarounds like scribbling on a sticky note.
Building a sales technology stack doesn’t have to be a mystery or a source of worry. Here, we’ll examine best practices for creating a tech stack that suits your needs. We’ll dive into its core components, and identify an often-overlooked secret ingredient capable of supercharging your sales team – a predictive lead scoring solution that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to accurately qualify leads and measure how likely prospects are to buy.
Planning and Building Your Sales Technology Stack
Organizations have learned that sales technology can speed the sales process, as well as greatly improve the number and quality of prospect touches. High-performing sales teams are 3.5 times more likely to use sales technology, and today most sales teams do so. If you’re not already leveraging technology to bolster sales, rest assured your competitors are.
What you need from sales technology depends on your product or service complexity, company culture, competitive landscape and level of brand awareness that exists in the marketplace. It’s crucial to consider factors such as these, so you can build your sales tech stack around your team’s unique must-haves and not overwhelm them with nice-to-haves that don’t move the needle in terms of close rates.
There are a lot of variables to consider when evaluating different tech stack components. As you go through the process, it’s critical to focus on how each technology can help identify the best prospects and reduce time spent on low quality leads and prospects. The basic steps are as follows:
Define needs – What do you want your sales technology stack to do for you? What results and outcomes do you want sales technology to help you achieve? Identifying these high-level goals will inform more granular decisions down the line.
Identify key sales activities – There is an intended outcome for each sales activity. From setting meetings to building rapport to closing deals, evaluate how sales technology can help. Gauge your team’s strengths and weaknesses, then analyze each tool’s ability to help them improve.
Audit existing technology – You’re probably not tracking sales activity with quill pens on parchment, so before you get too far down this road, audit your existing technology. Examine how it’s used and if it could fill needs without having to add another application to your stack.
Create consensus on must-haves – It’s important to remember that one person’s mission-critical feature can be another’s white noise. Leadership should collaborate with stakeholders to decide what features and functions are essential, then roll them out to the team and get buy in.
Evaluate sales technology – Broader consensus is required at this stage of the process. You’ll want to bring in those responsible for deploying and administering the technology. Falling in love with features isn’t enough. You’ll also need to make sure it’s something your IT department can roll out and manage.
Examining The Core Components Of A Sales Tech Stack
On average, sales teams use five applications in their tech stack, and that’s not even considering all the toys your marketing department probably has deployed. So as you evaluate sales technology, in addition to keeping your IT team in the loop, you’ll likely want to be sure your sales technology stack plays nice with your martech.
The core components of a sales tech stack fall into these categories:
Sales force automation technology – Most sales automation tools make similar claims: more sales and shorter sales cycles. They function to help you track leads, automate selling tasks and trigger communication with prospects. Their use can help organizations build a more usable database, identify best practices and guide sales reps through the ideal sales process for your product or service. These platforms also create transparency for leadership teams, helping them to coach reps as needed and forecast better.
Training solutions for sales – Tech solutions for sales learning help eliminate the need for time-consuming, costly and often ineffective event-based training. As a data hub, sales training technology can keep your team abreast of up-to-date product information, sales best practices, competitor insights and key value props.
Customer relationship management (CRM) – The CRM is a cornerstone of your tech stack, the place where you keep all the data on your customers and potential customers. CRMs help speed the sales process by putting detailed contact information at salespeoples’ fingertips, automating the creation of detailed reports, facilitating better workflows and syncing in real time with the rest of your sales tech stack.
Prospecting and lead management – This category covers a wide variety of tools designed to streamline the sales process, though some can also create new manual tasks. Live chat tools can engage site visitors and initiate the sale process immediately. Lead handling tools automate the more mundane sales management tasks by routing leads based on product line or territory, among other criteria.
Sales and marketing intelligence – Sales reps historically expended a lot of effort on lead and prospect research, trying to turn a business card or an email address into something actionable. Sales intelligence technology can take limited contact information and add elements like company name, location, and employee count – saving time and speeding the lead qualification process.
Analytics and reporting platforms – One could argue that a good CRM will carry this load, but there are tools available that can make data more usable for the sales team. This helps you gain a better understanding of the sales funnel, provide more insight into buyer intent, and improve the accuracy of forecasting.
The Missing Link in Your Sales Technology Stack
We’ve established that your tech stack can make your team more efficient, and take some of the labor out of prospecting.
That said, truly effective lead and prospect qualification are often missing from the sales tech stack. This qualification process is where a lot of time gets wasted, and many opportunities are lost. In most cases, it begins when the sales team receives a marketing qualified lead (MQL).
Traditional marketing lead qualification is extremely inaccurate, often based on guesswork and assumptions consumption of marketing content, not science and hard data. It uses very limited behavioral signals like downloading an ebook or filling out a form. The resulting qualification and scoring are often based on the hunches of the person or persons performing the task.
MQLs are too often based on very little hard data or analysis, resulting in false positives that will never become a customer and false negatives that disqualify a genuinely promising opportunity.
When presented with an inadequately qualified lead, the sales team is left with two choices: Do a bunch of tedious research or pick up the phone. Even if there’s the occasional winning lottery ticket in there, the sales reps are wasting a lot of time on dead end leads, missing opportunities and not closing enough deals.
To resolve this problem, you should deploy a data-driven predictive lead scoring solution. Unlike traditional, haphazard manual methods, this sales tech stack secret sauce is a technology with the ability to analyze behavior, draw precise conclusions about buyer readiness, and use this insight to accurately score and qualify leads.
Making The Most Of Your Sales Tech Stack With Infer
That’s what Infer does: It uses AI and machine learning to accurately predict which leads are most likely to close and when. It analyzes data from your CRM and your marketing automation platform, along with our proprietary database containing firmographic, technographic and demographic data on 19 million companies and 42 million prospects. Infer remove the guesswork and cumbersome manual effort, analyzing relationships among hundreds or thousands behavioral data points and comparing those measures to historical conversions and closes – creating a model that draws a line between behavioral signals and propensity to buy.
Your sales team gets real-time, automated lead qualification with exact scores that tell them which leads to pursue, which to nurture, and which to disregard. Sales reps know just what to do, winning more deals and closing them faster.
Effective Sales Technology Should Better Qualify Leads and Prospects
When you add the missing ingredient to your sales tech stack, you make your team more competitive. You take much better overall advantage of your entire technology stack, because every component is now focused on leads that will convert and close.
Discover how we make the magic happen and get a demo today.
Sales Technology Stack FAQs
What Are Sales Tools?
This refers to sales technology used by sales teams and managers to help their reps more effectively sell. Sales tools are often used to automate laborious sales tasks such as scheduling follow-ups, generating lists and reports, and creating and managing documents. Sales managers use sales tools to track sales, measure sales activity, create forecasts and evaluate prospect information. Other tools help with training new reps and putting key information at the fingertips of the sales team.
What Types Of Sales Tools Are There?
The core components of a sales tech stack fall into these categories:
- Sales automation tools help you track leads, automate selling tasks and trigger communication with prospects. They can help organizations build a more usable database, identify best practices for sales reps and create transparency for leadership teams.
- Solutions for sales learning help eliminate the need for time-consuming, costly and often ineffective event-based training, and keep your team abreast of up-to-date product information, sales best practices, competitor insights and key value props.
- Sales enablement solutions help you equip and prepare salespeople to engage prospects and drive deals. Tools in this category address everything from content creation and management to training and presentations.
- A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is where you keep and track all the data on your customers and potential customers. It’s a central repository of information vital to sales and marketing, and critical to managing relationships and your pipeline.
- Prospecting and lead management – This category includes a wide variety of tools that are designed to streamline the sales process. They include live chat tools to engage site visitors and initiate the sale process immediately, as well as lead handling applications that automate the more mundane sales management tasks.
- Sales and marketing intelligence – Sales intelligence technology can take limited contact information and add elements like company name, location, and employee count – saving time and speeding the qualification process.
- Analytics and reporting platforms – These technologies can make data more usable for the sales team, helping them gain a better understanding of the sales funnel, provide more insight into buyer intent and improve the accuracy of forecasting.
How Can Other Technology Be Used in Sales?
Many commonly used business tools can be leveraged by salespeople to do their jobs more effectively. Everything from texting to social media is on the table when it comes to closing more sales.
- For years, sales managers would implore reps to pick up the phone when a prospect became difficult to reach. Today, the ringing phone is more of an irritant than ever, but texts are viewed much differently by most. Texting offers the rep a low-profile way to follow up on a sale that often reaps rewards in the form of better information.
- Depending on the type of organization and product or service sold, customer service or finance platforms that would not traditionally integrate with the CRM can be a source for leads such as suppliers and business partners.
- Creative reps often use their company’s content library and social media posts as sales collateral. Sending prospects newly published, relevant marketing or technical material can be an effective way to keep the lines of communication open.
- Social media offers both a goldmine of data and the opportunity to prospect to large groups of people. LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook have become more accepted as platforms on which business is conducted by savvy sales professionals.
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