Closing down a sale in the internet age is not an easy task
Customers have grown savvier over the years, and unless you approach them through their preferred communication channel, offering a product they need, at a price point they find acceptable, you won’t be making a sale anytime soon.
The growing number of companies entering the market doesn’t help either – every sales opportunity you miss will be fulfilled by your rivals, diminishing your presence in the market.
One of the ways to tip the scales back in your favor is by enhancing your sales workflow with software tools. By setting up a sales tech stack, you can streamline each phase of the sales process. However, with the number of tools currently available, figuring out which ones to use can be a difficult task.
So to make things easier, we have decided to try out some of the most popular ones, and see which of them offers the most benefits. You can find the results of our research in the remainder of this post.
By focusing their efforts on user experience and ease-of-use, the developers of Really Simple CRM had to sacrifice some of the more advanced customization features. However, for freelancers and most small businesses, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker, especially when the basic version of the tool comes completely free of charge.
Sales Intelligence Tools
Knowledge equals power in sales. Sales intelligence will help you determine which prospects are worth pursuing, and which ones are not worth the time and effort. Sales intelligence tools exist to help you gather the information needed to decide whether to chase a sale or not. Our top picks when it comes to sales intelligence tools are:
Crunchbase is a sales intelligence platform for finding business information, monitoring industry trends, and discovering sales and investment opportunities. Crunchbase gathers data from four sources: their venture program, machine learning algorithms, their in-house data department, and the Crunchbase online community. Crunchbase can help you find leads based on your target demographic.
While Crunchbase is one of the most powerful sales intelligence tools at your disposal, it does have some limitations. A major one is a fact that practically everyone is using it, so you can be certain that your rivals have access to the same kind of information as you do. This devalues some of the information you can gain from the platform.
DiscoverOrg is a sales and marketing intelligence platform that can help you home in on the right leads for your company. It comes bundled with a pipeline management tool, so you can seamlessly transition from marketing into sales. Through DiscoverOrg you can access up-to-date info charts for your prospects, which can help you determine the right engagement opportunities for each prospect.
As for the downsides, DiscoverOrg is surprisingly stingy when it comes to pricing information. It can only be acquired by submitting a form on their website, which is not ideal for companies looking for a solution they can immediately buy and use. It also makes it harder for companies to plan their budget.
Customer Relationship Management Tools
The first piece of sales software you should consider using is a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. The main purpose of such tools is to help you stay in touch with customers, streamline your sales workflow, and ultimately improve your profit margins. Our suggestions are the following:
Salesforce CRM is the industry standard when it comes to CRM software, and for good reasons. The tool is easy to customize thanks to a powerful UI, and the fact that it is a cloud-based service. Salesforce CRM is also easy to integrate with other sales software, offering the option to sync data between tools that can’t interact directly with each other.
The one major downside to Salesforce CRM is its price. The basic, feature-light version comes at €25, and if you want to get the complete package you will need to spend €150 and upwards for the Lightning Edition. This makes Salesforce CRM a less attractive option for freelancers and solo entrepreneurs looking to improve sales on a budget.
RSS is a powerful, user-friendly CRM tool that won’t break your budget. The basic workflow can be picked up within minutes, so you can start using it straight away. Other features include custom reports, two-way email synchronization, and the ability to integrate with accounting software such as Xero or Kashflow. Really Simple CRM is fully compliant with GDPR data safety regulation, an essential feature for companies selling in the EU.
Lead Prospecting Tools
There are three distinct phases to generating a sale: identifying a promising lead, qualifying the lead, and converting the lead. This process used to require multiple individuals working together. Today, with the help of lead prospecting tools, you can complete the whole process on your own in a fraction of the time. Our recommendation would be to use one of the following tools:
Intercom is a tool that provides messaging and lead prospecting features in one convenient package. It enables you to automatically send customized onboarding messages to prospects, priming them for conversion. Once a prospect is ready to convert, you can close the deal with Intercom’s live chat feature, or keep them engaged with a chatbot until a sales rep is ready to handle them.
While Intercom is a powerful tool, its various features tend to overlap with those of other tools. This can be an issue for those looking for a more specialized solution. Intercom is also on the pricier side of lead prospecting tools, with a basic plan that starts at $87 per month.
LeanData is a tool for managing your sales pipeline by routing leads to the right sales rep. Failing to achieve this can cost you sales that you would have otherwise easily obtained. LeanData comes with a drag-and-drop interface, allowing you to build complex routing logic with only a few key presses. You can customize your lead routing strategy even further by using LeanData’s insight-based management features.
The issue with LeanData is that sometimes it can be hard to schedule a meeting with their customer service dept. Whether this is due to a shortage of staff or mismanagement is up for debate. Fortunately, the tool itself is functional and well optimized, so the likelihood of the need to contact support is fairly low.
Sales is a process that has its own improvement feedback loop. The more sales you make, the more customer data you will have, and the more data you have, the more sales you will make. And in order to gather relevant, actionable sales data, you need the right tools. Here are our suggestions:
Tableau is a data visualization and analytics tool. It is easy to set up, customize, and use. The tool has been optimized to deliver reports and data visualizations whether you’re running it as a desktop app, a mobile app, or within the browser. Tableau uses sophisticated data visualization techniques to produce human-readable representations of data coming from multiple sources. It will help you spot patterns in your sales data, allowing you to optimize your sales strategy.
Tableau’s one major con is that it has a steep learning curve. Once you pick up the nuances of the software, the tool works exactly as intended, but it can take a while to get there, especially for non-technical personnel. Tableau is not cheap either, with a starting price of $70 per month.
Bombora is intent data tool aimed at shortening the sales cycle by helping you discover prospects that are exhibiting buying behavior. It works by identifying intent keywords that prospects use when searching for particular topics. Bombora can also provide content topics and suggestions based on this data, which can help with marketing as well as sales.
The dicey thing about Bombora is that they don’t disclose the sources they used when creating intent data. So while their predictions have been proven right many times, the question remains whether they’ve asked for third-party consent while gathering data.
Sell Smarter with the Right Tools
Sales software is entering a renaissance of sorts. There are many great tools available, and new ones are being developed as we speak. Choosing the right sales tools can help you reduce costs, improve efficiency, and ultimately generate more profit. It is a matter of finding which aspect of your sales workflow needs fine-tuning, checking out the available tools, and picking those that fit your specific needs and budget. And we hope that our article has given you a few pointers on where to start.