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Drowning in Sales Point Tools? Unmuddy the Waters with a Unified Sales Acceleration Platform

By Peg E. Ventricelli April 28, 2016

The B2B sales market is in transition: First, the rise of the Internet and better-educated buyers pushed sales representatives’ efforts lower in the sales funnel and inside office walls; simultaneously, marketing automation (MA) started to bring in more leads, and CRM systems enabled businesses to improve customer relationships. Next, sales point tools designed to help sales reps simplify and speed up their activities flooded the market. Now, the convergence of these technologies and their ensuing complexities is disrupting the sales cycle and driving the emergence of a new market: sales acceleration.


Still in its infancy, the sales acceleration market is expected to reach $30 billion by next year, according to a study conducted by InsideSales.com; the amount equates to $6,790 annually per sales rep. The market encompasses innovations in technologies—ranging from predictive analytics to data visualization to gamification—to help sales organizations increase the velocity of the sales process, thus bridging the gap between MA and CRM.

As the numbers indicate, companies are buying into the space in droves, propelled by the proliferation of applications that can help sales organizations turn leads into paying customers in record time. What’s more, the trend is being fueled by massive infusions of venture capitalist money. Over $1.2 billion has been invested in sales tools over the past several years.

As much as these apps support sales efforts, the sheer number of tools across different sales stages and the tools’ lack of integration are overwhelming sales organizations. Unless preventive measures are put in place, the turmoil—caused by adding new, disparate tools to sales-support systems—will eventually take a toll on productivity. To prevent this, sales leaders are beginning to consolidate their sales tools onto one platform.

Agility is the key to growth

As a sales manager, how can you keep your reps as productive as possible when managing and maintaining multiple sales point tools is such a struggle? You can’t. Disparate apps cannot generate the insights necessary for you to help your sales team improve their capabilities from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel. Furthermore, a lack of integration destroys cost efficiency, and limited visibility reduces your potential to improve sales processes.

What you need instead is the agility to fully utilize sales tool functions, which is engendered by a single sales acceleration platform. With a unified, integrated solution that provides a big-picture view into processes, behaviors and engagement, sales organizations can seamlessly:

  • streamline sales processes,
  • enable sales reps to be more efficient,
  • enhance coaching capabilities,
  • build a more predictable pipeline, and
  • easily identify patterns of success and failure.

Suresh Balasubramanian, CEO of LiveHive, Inc., a leading provider in the sales acceleration market, explains the benefits of a single, unified platform, “Right now, sales leaders don’t have a complete picture of what’s happening across all the different stages of their sales process. To get a ‘single pane of glass’ view of their sales organization from top to bottom, these different point tools need to be integrated in one place—or they won’t deliver the promised value.”

Empower sales teams with automation combined with analytics

A 2016 Accenture study found that more than half of the salespeople surveyed feel that sales tools are more of an “obstacle than a facilitator to their sales performance.” This finding should alert sales leaders that their approach to sales enablement is flawed, and they need to align digital tools with the evolving needs of today’s sales reps.

Integrated sales acceleration solutions put the power in the hands of those who drive customer relationships. Email and call scheduling, for instance, enables easier identification of promising leads, faster contact of prospects via prepackaged emails and other content, and an automated follow-up process that reminds sales reps to revisit key targets.

Additionally, think how your reps could save time by utilizing email templates from a simple drop-down menu, never mind improving consistency across messaging, as well as eliminating typos and discrepancies in branding conventions. What’s more, an integrated platform can give your sales team the ability to instantly capture prospect email addresses from any company website or LinkedIn and email them with a single click, improving prospecting efficiencies.

 When you combine automation with analytics, sales organizations also gain valuable insights to strengthen their existing processes by seeing what’s working and what’s not across the sales funnel.

Unlike MA systems that are controlled by marketing, a sales acceleration platform gives sales organizations command over their own A/B testing templates and sequence building, and includes the capability to personalize messages, a necessary tool for brand differentiation. Sales managers can quickly see, for example, how many emails have been sent, the level of engagement the emails have received and which templates are garnering the most responses.

Open ecosystem of sales tools enables a holistic view of the sales life cycle

Consider the productivity gains just from giving your sales team the ability to gain insights on one platform—eliminating the complexity of accessing multiple tools for data associated with prospecting, making contact and closing the deal with a contract, for example.

It’s not a pipe dream.

On April 19th, LiveHive took a huge step forward in ridding sales organizations of the confusion caused from using disparate sales tools to accomplish objectives. The company announced both the next generation of its sales acceleration platform and the first members of its Sales Connect partner network: InsideView and CudaSign from Barracuda Networks.

The new partner network was developed to further enhance LiveHive’s ability to deliver preintegrated solutions to its customers. For instance, the CudaSign eSignature solution combined with LiveHive’s powerful analytics will make it easier for joint customers to track and monitor engagement. And InsideView works in tandem with the LiveHive analytics as well to help sales organizations quickly identify new opportunities and connect with prospects faster.

The next-gen platform includes a new dashboard that provides sales managers with data on rep operations, lead engagement activity, sales processes, messaging analytics, coaching reports and more. Some of this data is pulled into the LiveHive solution from apps supplied by select partner companies, such as Salesforce, Dynamics, Act-On and Dropbox.

 LiveHive’s open, extensible sales acceleration platform, helps sales organizations to overcome the complexities of multiple sales applications and become more successful. With deep engagement analytics fully integrated with best-in-class sales technologies, LiveHive provides sales leaders with end-to-end visibility across the sales funnel to improve processes and increase rep efficiency.

Your tools can work together to provide an intuitive view of sales processes—giving sales rep insights into who is opening sent emails, who they’re forwarding them to, how much time is spent reading them and more.

LiveHive’s Balasubramanian says that LiveHive differs from many other sales acceleration solutions in that it was designed from inception as a powerful content-sharing analytics platform specifically for sales and is, therefore, ideally suited to the needs of sales organizations. Other software vendors deliver solutions that were built as sales point tools and are working to re-architect their offerings into platforms.

What’s the difference?

It’s difficult to achieve the same level of integration with a solution that wasn’t built from the get-go as a platform. Buyers would be wise to verify vendor claims of robust integration before signing on the dotted line.

For instance, companies that declare integration with Salesforce may still require users to click multiple times. Yet more than one click negates the claim of a seamless connection. Since time is the sales rep’s most precious commodity, every additional click reduces his or her effectiveness. Instead, maximize efficiency with a sales acceleration platform built from the ground up with automated analytics.

As a sales leader in charge of navigating the complex and quickly changing sales landscape, be sure to look at technologies that can shorten the sales cycle and close more deals. 

 

Contributing Writer

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