Evaluating Your Sales Tech Stack

A technology stack is a set of mostly software programs that maximize your rep’s time and efficacy through standardized and recorded actions that scale their efforts and measure their impact on the bottom line. A good tech stack provides automated workflows for reps daily activities, a centralized system of sales data, and analytical insights into sales.

CRMs are ubiquitous now, but which one you pick is more important than ever. Your growth goals in the near vs long term, your market segment, your marketing or demand generation efforts, can and should play a role in determining your CRM. 

In a market segment that has been (and still is) dominated by a few companies (mainly salesforce.com) the demand for niche CRM products has created a diverse category of options that fit all company sizes and industries. Salesforce is a powerful tool but it should not be the default CRM anymore, as many of these are incredibly capable, sophisticated, and are a fraction of the price.

The goal of a CRM is to be a central repository or single source for data and information about your revenue generation efforts. Without customization and tailoring to your specific ICP or sales process you’re likely missing out on vital information about the health of your revenue generation efforts. The out of the box version of many of these CRMs now are an 80% generalized template of sales process and ICP data. They are a good starting point that reduces the amount of time it takes to set up the system, but they need to be adapted to your specific business or needs.

It is highly recommended that you hire or contract a dedicated admin for your tech stack. Ideally an in-house adwin who has ‘skin in the game’ to make sure the tools are being used effectively and who has KPIs/goals tied to team performance and system adoption/optimization. 

Having a detailed and nuanced understanding of your goals and how the tools are being used vs how they should be used is one of the biggest values of having in house management.
 
Outsourced CRM management can be a highly effective solution in growth stages or for highly specialized tools/skill sets. From startup to about $10M, a CRM can be easily managed by a contract, part-time, or agency/firm. Beyond $10M the pace that changes need to be made is too high for an outside solution. Management will be forced to sink an increasing amount of time into each project, ultimately creating a less effective workflow.
 
It is never advisable to have a sales rep manage a CRM. It’s not the role of the sales rep to do this and it can also be a conflict of interest with them having admin access to all of the data and information in the system. 

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Sales engagement tools have been ‘all the rage’ in the last 5-years with companies like Salesloft earning a multi-billion dollar valuation. They are incredibly powerful tools that allow reps to engage dozens of people, if not hundreds, all at once. With great power comes great responsibility, and this is proving true here too. Sales engagement tools are rarely used to their full potential and are typically used to ‘spam’ potential clients with templated cadence emails. This is a highly ineffective use of this tool and frankly a misapplication of its power. 

These tools are being marketed (and for good reason) as the ‘sales rep’s home base/dashboard”. They give reps access and insights into deal movement, sales activities, prospects, meetings, and call recording in easy to navigate and understand dashboards. 

If you’re using these tools, they should be closely monitored for performance and usage. They are not cheap and rarely used to their full potential to earn sales.

The goal of the sales engagement tools is to replace the CRM as the hub for salespeople. CRMs tend to be clunky and overwhelming for sales reps. They’re not an ideal tool for sales and historically companies had a hard time getting reliable data because reps refuse to use them. 

Sales engagement tools are attempting to be the hub that fits a salesperson’s workflow, the “home base” for them to always have open. They automate simple tasks, provide reminders, and give up-to-the-moment information about deals and clients. 

No matter which system is the hub or single source of truth for your salespeople, make sure that it’s being used properly and monitored closely. This is the most effective way to ensure maximum output for your reps.
 
In a digital and increasingly virtual world, we are no longer sitting next to each other, but instead we are across a video call or Slack channel from each other. It’s more important than ever to have insight and actionable details to see what’s happening with a dispersed sales team and how to maximize their efforts.

In 2020, this almost seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many companies are just now moving to or even aware of video calling as an option. Many are still relying on simple phone calls to build rapport and connect with new clients and that is a mistake. 

It is absolutely vital to be on video now, with new and existing clients. Video is one of the best and fastest ways to connect with your clients to get deals done, but it must be done right.

When you cannot hide behind a phone or an email a lot can go wrong. The benefits of a video call are incredibly high when compared to a simple phone call or email, but video calls can also expose a lot of bad behavior and poor salesmanship. It is important to equip your team with the tools to be successful in a virtual sales environment.

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One of the biggest challenges cited by sales reps across all industries is missing data or information both when talking to potential clients as well as when trying to find new ones to approach. This can also impact the insights drawn from sales performance data and the ability to refine marketing targeting, forecasting, territory assignment, and quota setting.
  
Many companies rely on their rep’s ability to research or add information as they engage with potential clients, but that poses two key problems. One, that’s time they could be spending doing other sales activities and two that assumes they are good at research.
 
Investing in data enrichment or prospecting tools is one of the best ways you can increase sales effectiveness in your company and gain deeply insightful and actionable insights from your pipeline performance.

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A digital contracting tool greatly reduces friction in the sales process and gets deals done quicker. Digital contracting tools or ‘e-signature’ tools should seamlessly integrate into your CRM and other tools to allow reps to generate contracts at a moment’s notice through seamless workflows.
 
This allows reps the ability to maintain control of a conversation and a client’s attention to get the contract signed. Sales reps have lost the ability to hand someone a pen to sign on the dotted line. If used properly, Digital contracting tools are the closest sales reps have gotten to that leverage in decades.

To ensure that your sales process and role expectations are being both executed and effective, you need to have accurate, transparent, and easy to understand ways of distributing the data. The best way to do this is through analytics or data visualization. They don't always need to be complicated, expensive, or fully integrated, but the best tools tend to be those things. For small teams just getting started, Excel and Airtable are great options and for larger orgs Salesforce, Tableau, and Lookr present great options for large systems and datasets.
  
The most important point is that what gets measured gets managed, and if you’re not managing the data, then nothing will matter. This is why the best dashboards are the ones that get used. It's a good practice to test your team periodically. Ask the manager how to display the data and insights, if they use the tools regularly this is a simple request. The same should be done with your reps. If they are looking at it, it will drive their behavior.

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