Technology—and sales technology is no exception—has been evolving at light speed these past months and years. However, there isn’t one single solution that is going to get you where you want to be on its own. Technology is essential, but you have to have a solid process established before you even begin to add tools.

Despite the volumes of tools available for sales professionals to choose from, your greatest asset is still your sales team themselves. If you have managed to build a strong team that has been optimized with targeted training, adding technology tools that help them do their jobs more efficiently will only multiply their success.

In order to determine the right tools for your company, we look at your existing sales stack and how it aligns with the buying journey at each stage.

This diagram illustrated how various sales and technology tools can support you at each stage (thanks to SalesHacker).

sales tech landscape

Now, let’s have a look at some of the tech tools that can help. Having the right tools at your disposal empowers your sales team, helping them close more deals and focus more closely on what they do best.

Best Marketing Tools for 2018

1.     CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

Your entire organization hinges off of your CRM. It helps your teams manage their day-to-day activities and serves as a database for critical content. It also gives you a complete picture of how your business is performing overall.

Many people think of a CRM as simply a contact database, but it is so much more than that. for the sales team, it can help forecast future business and it can also help you work more efficiently. Today’s CRMs have integrated calling, messaging, and scheduling features to streamline workflows.

Top CRMs for 2018 include HubSpot, SalesForce, Zoho, Infusionsoft, and Pipedrive. Each is cloud-based to enable your remote teams, and each provides a wide range of tools to help nurture prospects and customers at every stage of the buying journey.

2.     Social Selling

Social selling has become a viable force in today’s sales landscape. LinkedIn, as a platform, is often the stepping off point for these activities.

In fact, according to LinkedIn’s social selling index, sales professionals are able to create 45 percent more opportunities, 51 percent more likely to reach their sales goals, and 78 percent of all social sellers outsell their non-social selling peers.

And while these metrics are important—and telling—it’s true for both sides of the selling equation as studies show that 81 percent of buyers are more apt to engage with a strong, social brand.

LinkedIn as a selling tool

If you are searching for your ideal target company or using an ideal customer profile, LinkedIn is a great place to find what you’re looking for.

If you want to get the most out of LinkedIn, you have to pony up for LinkedIn pro. As the paid version of the platform, it gives you access to tools like Sales Navigator, which can help you locate and target the right companies and individuals. If you are a serious sales professional, you won’t be able to get everything you need out of the free version. You’re probably already using it – so, go ahead. Kick it up a notch.

3.     Best outreach management tools

To narrow down your ideal choice of outreach management tools, consider your average contract value and sales volume. For instance, there are plenty of tools that are great for helping you scale your prospecting activities.

However, if you have a high average and lower volumes, you will need tools that have a different focus – more robust, better personalization.

Some of the solutions that we like best include YesWare, Outreach, ZenProspect, and SalesLoft. A relative newcomer, MixMax is a tool that is also showing some promise at a significantly lower cost.

4.     Suspects analysis

Though this aspect of the sales process generally falls under the marketing umbrella, there is great value in being able to identify our ‘suspects’. That’s what this type of predictive analytic tool can do for you.

Using artificial intelligence (AI), tools like Datanyze help you identify strong customers and companies to target. Though it is at the higher end of the scale in terms of investment, there are some other great and similar tools that are downright affordable, such as Clearbit or BuiltWith.

If your marketing team has no issues identifying leads for you, these tools can still help you prioritize your leads to make certain you are focusing on the ones that are most likely to buy.

For predictive technology and lead scoring, have a look at Cloud9 Business Analytics or Lattice Engines.

5.     Best prospecting tools

Despite the vast range of tech at your disposal, your best prospecting still needs to happen over the telephone. To optimize that process, many of the prospecting tools available today help you manage your calling activities as well as improving your dialing efficiency.

Talkdesk is a cloud-based solution for call centres that integrates with a range of other business software.

SalesForce has an integrated system called PowerDialer that helps you connect with your contacts and close more deals.

Ring.io integrates with your UC or telephony platform to improve your daily calling activities. It also sends details of all your call data to SalesForce.

6.     Calendaring

Calendaring software averts a lot of the back-and-forth you might have occasion to do over email about meeting times, and so on. It connects calendars for all parties concerned and helps you collaborate over times that work for everybody.

Calendly is a great tool that syncs with your existing calendar. You can add multiple invitees to a single event and gives the option for your entire company’s (or department’s) availability to be consolidated on a central page.

X.ai leverages a bot named Amy that will reach out to your contacts on your behalf and oversee all event-related email communication using your calendar’s availability.

Most CRMs, like HubSpot, MixMax, and SalesForce, include a calendaring module. Depends on what you like.

Winning. Everybody likes it.

Winning happens when you are able to identify a customer’s pain points and provide a viable solution. Here are some tools that can help you do just that.

7.     Listening and analysis tools

The most important part of your customer relationship is in being able to really hear what the customer is telling you so that you can deliver the right solution. Using various technology tools to help you record, analyse, and transcribe your conversations as they happen will bring value by preserving the moments that matter.

Some even leverage an AI tool to analyse your conversations so it can tell you how to increase your win rates. With recent advances in natural language processing (NLP) technology, your records will be as accurate as they are useful.

Chorus.ai provides this service as SaaS, as does Gong.io. A nice little bonus is that they each deliver their insights in real-time.

You might also want to look at ExecVision. It provides useful analyses of daily communications throughout the organization, helping you fine-tune your performance.

8.     Live Engagement tools

Live engagement is an important tool in the winning arsenal. Tools that support live engagement allow you to share content and share screens during live calls and conferencing.

Top players in this sector include Zoom, Join.Me, and GoToMeeting.

9.     Best documentation tools

Having the right content at your fingertips can make all the difference. Tools like Octiv, Bynder, BuyerDeck, and Seismic help you access and manage your documents anywhere, from any device. Seismic, for example, will integrate with SalesForce and Outlook, making it a snap to enable collaboration. File sync on these systems means that you always have access to the latest version.

BuyerDeck empowers your team with the content they need, and it also provides insight into what is working and what isn’t. You’ll have access to every detail of your client’s buying journey, helping you make better decisions at every stage.

Octiv optimizes document workflows and data between connected systems, providing a more effective user experience. For both sales and legal teams, it frees you up to work smarter and be more productive.

Bynder is simply one of the best document management platforms out there. It’s simple, it’s cloud-based, and it is 100 percent secure.

These document management tools allow you to share your collateral freely without actually sending a document. Your proposals, quotes, and contracts can be sent as a live document that will alert you immediately when somebody alters it or forwards it to another person. To create a live document, you can leverage tools like ClearSlide or Attach.io.

For building proposals and quotes, check out Proposify, Qwilr, or PandaDoc. For obtaining e-signatures, DocuSign is still the leader in this space

Growing: taking your wins to the next level

Once you have established amazing, solid relationships with your customers, the next order of business is to expand it beyond what was originally achieved. This allows you to reiterate the value of your solution and how it is still delivering what the customer wants and needs from it.

In other words, you have to be able to parlay the activity that is happening with your product or service into an opportunity to both up-sell and cross-sell. These tools can help you achieve the growth you need to maintain your forward motion.

10.  Best live chat tools

In order to find out more about how your customers are connecting with what you are selling, you need to connect with them – the more directly, the better. Luckily, there are lots of great tools that can help you reach this goal.

Intercom is live chat software specifically geared to sales. It is great for onboarding a new client. With it, you can respond immediately to customer questions and concerns, keeping them engaged with the product and with your awesome customer service. Intercom leverages messaging apps to support your sales teams as well as marketing and support. It also offers some useful plugins and SalesForce integration.

In much the same spirit, Autopilot is now integrated with AI-powered LiveChat, which helps you do a better job of following up after your most important conversations.

For more traditional live chat tools, check out Olark, or Drift, a relative newcomer to this space, which uses a smart AI to chat with customers on your behalf. Drift has a long list of integrations including SalesForce, Slack, HubSpot, Marketo, and many more.

11.  The final destination: customer success

Once you have closed that deal, the journey still continues. In the age of global competition and ultra-fast scale, it is more important than ever to be hands-on in managing your customer’s success. To fulfill this specific purpose, an entirely new category of tools has been spawned.

Whether you need to manage and measure groups of customers and their storied lifecycle with while working you or if you just need to manage your day-to-day customer interactions, the right tool can help you do more, win more, and solidify your future growth.

You need to be able to craft solid strategies that align with your needs as well as your customer’s needs to ensure you are continuing towards the same horizon.

In this space, you’ll find two distinct solutions that are head and shoulders above the rest. Totango helps you engage at every stage of the customer success journey, from onboarding to renewal. Gainsight connects teams in the effort to nurture both new and old customers throughout their lifecycle. Either of these could be considered leaders in this segment, it’s up to you which one you think is most viable for your needs.

Wrapping up: so many toys … so little time!

With all the technological possibilities at your fingertips, it’s easy to find great tools that will impact your sales efforts in a positive way. However, beware of shiny things and their tendency to distract. Before you buy, make sure the tool you choose is aligned with your process. Test them with your top stakeholders and solicit honest feedback before diving into the deep end.

Good luck and good sales! The world is your oyster.

Fernando