There is an endless list of tools for startups to choose from in order to optimize their sales technology stack. We know this because as our sales team grows, we continue to trial and vet various tools to determine which work best for us.
I sat down with our sales team to learn which tools they love and specifically why they love these tools what won them over during the trial process and what aspects of the tools continue to play an integral aspect in our sales success.
I also wanted to know WHY they needed these tools, and how they could tell if a tool was truly necessary. The overwhelming response from our team? “It quickly becomes apparent when existing processes are getting out of control and wildly unscalable. We knew we needed to optimize certain areas with technology as our own team grew in numbers. The hard part is that there are SO many tools to choose from.”
It’s kind of awesome when your specific experiences demonstrate the value prop of your own company (shameless plug: we do all the legwork to find the services and products your business needs so that you can focus on the more important stuff).
But, back to tools for your sales stack. TechCrunch wrote an article last year about how 2016 will be the year of the sales stack. Whether or not that was/is the case, they provided a valuable list out the areas of sales that benefit from tech:
- Lead-gen and outsourcing prospecting
- Inbound leads and improved lead scoring
- Outbound leads and increasing delivery with messaging/email tools
- Analytics for the sales funnel
- Meetings and simplifying tech demos
- Proposal process and streamlining contracts
- CRM to get smarter about customer interactions & data
- Hiring platforms and sales aptitude tools for a stronger team
Here are some of our favorite tools and insights from our sales team on the why behind each tool:
GetSteward – The solution is built by people who worked in sales and business development roles at startups, and realized how hard it was to hit lofty stales goals. Now they help other startups by researching thousands of new leads based on their ideal customer profiles. Each lead is researched by hand by sales researchers, verified by their proprietary technology, and reviewed by a member of their team. Pricing is pretty basic – $1 per lead – but you can learn more here.
HubSpot – We use HubSpot for a lot of our marketing operations and automation – email marketing, blogging tools, social marketing, landing pages, list building, and the list goes on. One feature we’ve begun to play around with is the ability to leverage manual or predictive lead scoring. From experience, criteria and factors will always shift and change so keep a close eye on your leads to create custom plans of attack. Their feature-packed solution can be pricey for many early stage startups, but luckily for you, we have a partnership with HubSpot to offer significant savings for members that meet a certain criteria. Sign up to claim HubSpot’s offer.
Cold email prospecting is never easy. Here are two solutions we use to make us more efficient:
Email Hunter – Pretty self explanatory, it hunts emails for you. Just type in a domain name and get a list of all the emails related to it found on the internet. There’s a Chrome plugin and you can get 150 emails a month for free. Plans start at 1,000 emails for $49/month and go up from there.
PersistIQ – This solution is designed to work across your entire sales workflow and we personally love how it organizes and optimizes email outreach across our sales team. We don’t like automated blasts and this helps us personalize each while staying organized and in-sync. Yes, there is a Gmail plugin and great integrations with Salesforce, Zapier, and others. Plans start at $59/month per user, and go up based on your outbound needs.
CRM & Analytics
Salesforce – Everyone knows that Salesforce is a leading CRM solution for businesses of all sizes but it’s ability to help us excel at reporting is second to none. Reports and dashboards are completely customizable, and based on the plan you purchase, can really impact advanced forecasting and workflow automation. Plans start at $25 for five users for an out-of-the-box CRM solution, SalesforceIQ CRM. Salesforce Lightning Professional starts at $75/user billed annually for a fuller set of features. Another interesting aspect to consider is Salesforce Einstein – business intelligence built into their platform that automatically monitors a sales reps performance. With a majority of CRM implementations failing on average, this feature can help make sure it’s used properly at your company.
GoToMeeting – Some of our team defaults to free conference lines to connect multiple people on one line, but we’ve found that GoToMeeting is very reliable and has a clear user interface. For the most efficient and simple product demos or screen-sharing, you can leverage GoToWebinar, a sister product. Check out a free trial and then pricing begins $19/month for GoToMeeting and $89/month for GoToWebinar.
HelloSign – eSignature solutions can greatly reduce friction in the contract process. When all you want is a sign on the dotted line, you do not want to have to deal with printing and scanning or faxes (if you can even find one). HelloSign is simple and easy to use, integrates with Google Docs, lets you sign in Gmail, and is free if you only have three documents per month. Otherwise, pay $13 a month for unlimited documents from one sender or $40 a month for up to 5 senders and unlimited documents.
This is one aspect of the sales process that we don’t automate. Aside from posting on AngelList and searching for connections on LinkedIn, we keep it pretty simple. In fact, our director of sales is pretty old school when it comes to recruitment. Read more in our Q&A with him here, but he’s all about interacting and meeting with sales professionals in our area to learn about their experiences and what they are looking for in their career. If he sees a fit – for now or in the future – he will build a relationship with that candidate to stay top of mind when they’re ready to leave. In sales, it’s almost always all about the relationship.
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