FEATURE ARTICLE

Read This Before Buying Another Sales Tool!

By Peg E. Ventricelli, Contributing Writer  |  June 02, 2016

Every sales organization wants to close more deals. Toward that end, today’s businesses have tapped into technologies that help salespeople to be more productive. A multitude of sales tools supporting processes that fuel the sales machine have flooded the market in recent years. Sales leaders are latching onto these tools to drive revenues and get a leg up on their competitors.

Yet the sheer number of tools being deployed in some organizations is detracting from the achievement of the desired outcomes, adding complexity to, rather than easing the burden of, sales-related tasks. Indeed, each new tool piled on the technology stack makes managing, maintaining and integrating them more difficult.

Still the positives outweigh the negatives. Your search for another sales tool is likely driven by success indicators, such as these:

  • Sales organizations with at least five sales tools perform better than those with fewer products in their technology stacks.
  • New sales applications are helping salespeople more easily achieve their sales objectives, as a 2016 study by the Sales Management Association (SMA (News - Alert)) shows.

Either of these findings would substantiate your efforts to invest in additional sales tools for your sales team. So, you’re on the right track. But consider one more finding from the SMA: Most sales organizations say they’re not getting the maximum value from their tools. They find managing multiple tools tricky and deriving insights from disconnected technologies challenging.

As a sales leader, how do you resolve this conundrum?

The solution is simple. Before purchasing any new sales tool—and risking additional complexity that may confuse rather than enhance sales efforts—consolidate your existing tools onto one open, extensible platform.

A single sales acceleration platform will allow you to fully utilize any new sales tool, regardless of its function, so it can live up to its promise. Otherwise, your salespeople may find new tools more of a hindrance than a help. In fact, a 2016 Accenture (News - Alert) study found that more than half of salespeople surveyed feel that non-customized sales tools are obstacles to their productivity.

So, before you add another tool to your stack, give some thought to first deploying a unified solution that can reduce the complexities of multiple sales applications. An open and extensible platform will enable sales leaders to address the following three criteria for deploying any new tool regardless of its function:

Integration

As sales tool usage grows, the need to integrate these tools into a comprehensive package that can, 1), speed up the sales process and, 2),  improve the customer experience is imperative for business success. These were the two sales tool applications rated highest in importance and effectiveness by respondents to the SMA survey, with the third being delivery of insights on sales force activity and performance.

SMA found that more than half of firms are dissatisfied with their current tool integration. Yet firms that are satisfied in this regard reported an 11 percent higher rate for sales objective achievement than did their discontented competitors. The results point to a preference among higher-performing businesses to consolidate their sales tools.

In other words, the return on investment for sales tools is greater for firms that integrate them on one sales acceleration platform. After all, time is money and nowhere is this truer than in sales organizations. For instance, automated data updates across sales tools reduce the time salespeople must spend clicking through various tools looking for information.

Combined email and call scheduling is another feature of an integrated platform. Your reps will benefit from 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. Integrated solutions also help sales teams build more predictable pipelines, and identify patterns for success and failure more easily.

These functions represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to benefits derived from the consolidation of disparate sales tools. Without a unified platform, deploying a new tool could have negative ramifications for your sales organization from costs to productivity. On the other hand, when tools are integrated, you get analytics insights.

Unified analytics

Discordant apps cannot generate the insights necessary for you to help your sales team improve its capability to engage with customers throughout the buying journey. Unified analytics, on the other hand, enable end-to-end visibility across the sales funnel. Next-generation sales acceleration platforms are offering users a single pane of glass visibilityTM for data encompassing such parameters as messaging analytics, coaching reports and lead engagement activity.

As organizations continue to experience an influx of information from a multitude of sources at a rate previously unseen in the world, pinpointing the data that will drive opportunity creation and increased revenues becomes an overwhelming task. Yet the data pertinent to a particular customer during a sales engagement must be at hand in just seconds to optimize the likelihood of a sale.

Analytics are critical for powering sales conversations with the right package of information and insights at the right stage of the interaction to impact and influence customers’ purchase decisions.

An agile and scalable sales acceleration platform will enable salespeople to personalize their own tools to support guided selling. Point tools that only target certain aspects of the revenue funnel cannot provide all of the insights needed for success.

Describing the benefits of unified analytics, Suresh Balasubramanian, CEO of LiveHive, Inc., a leading provider in the sales acceleration market, said, “Buyer-side engagement analytics are invaluable to sales organizations, but they need to be delivered in a cohesive and unified way—from the very top of the funnel to the bottom.

“With buyer-side insights integrated at every sales stage, sales teams improve their prospecting efforts, focus on the right opportunities, streamline qualification, and get more visibility at closing. All of this increases prospect understanding at a time when B2B buyers are engaging with sales less and less.”

Ease of adoption and use

To make certain that your new sales tool will be quickly adopted by your team and put to good use, it must be smoothly integrated into your existing systems. For example, LiveHive’s single sales acceleration platform ensures ease of adoption by offering integration with sales tools such as all leading email clients (e.g., Outlook and Gmail); popular CRM systems like Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics CRM; multiple cloud storage platforms, from Box to Dropbox (News - Alert) to Egnyte to OneDrive to Google Drive; leading prospecting platforms like InsideView; and e-signature solutions like CudaSign from Barracuda Networks. New and existing sales reps will benefit from using familiar best-in-class tools that operate seamlessly within their existing workflow, easing the selling process. Simultaneously, sales leaders gain a unified solution that provides a big picture view into processes, behaviors and engagement.

At no time is an easy-to-use, integrated sales acceleration platform more valuable than when bringing new staff on board. In fact, a survey by Qvidian determined that “the continuous struggle to ramp up new hires” is a serious detriment to an organization’s bottom line. Survey results showed that 71 percent of the organizations polled take longer than six months to bring new reps up to speed, compromising their ability to optimize revenues.

Instead of allowing a disconnected system to lengthen the learning curve, streamline content and resources in a fully integrated system.

Keep in mind that today’s sales reps are proficient with intuitive and ubiquitous technologies like smartphones, car navigation systems and personal fitness trackers, so they are accustomed to—and would willingly embrace—tools that are relevant and simple to use. The challenge for sales leaders, therefore, is to rethink sales tools to match how sales reps work, easing their struggles to maximize performance. Sales tools must be able to work together to serve up information and deliver real-time insights that influence and engage customers all along the sales funnel.

Leaders intent on maximizing the potential of their sales teams should look to next-generation sales acceleration platforms for more efficient tool adoption and management, and to give their sales organizations more valuable insights into their customers and processes. After all, SMA found that 60 percent of sales organizations plan to spend more on sales tools during the next two years. They have good reason—and so do you. Get a jump on your competitors by first putting a strategy in place to integrate your sales tools on a unified platform.  




Edited by Erik Linask
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