Choosing the right sales tools for 2021 is going to be hugely challenging for sales reps and larger sales team alike, which is why I am fully behind the drive to standardise sales processes for b2b sales teams. In fact, I’ve written a lengthy article on this covering all aspects of the sales process including various sales techniques and how to prospect effectively.
However, I am also a firm believer in having toolkits that enable your team for success and reduce friction in their day to day activities. It is with this in mind I am going to talk through the stack we use here at BIAS and why it can work for you. To give context, I’ve broken it down into five categories or stages to follow and emphasised the need for closer alignment between marketing and sales.
Preparation for managing customer relationships
Before you as a sales rep or you as a sales leader set up the team, planning the sales tools to play with is as important as your key hires. Get the technology wrong and your teams will make you pay through lack of adoption of your kit, get it right and they’ll sing your praises.
With this in mind, my first recommendation is Gmail for business.
I recommend Gmail primarily because it's designed to work with a huge number of software platforms and therefore sign in with your google email account is easy and smooth. In addition to that, its great features and suite of tools that come with such as sheets, docs and drive enable your team to work collaboratively sharing key assets.
Gmail also enables you to save and download your documents in formats that Microsoft offer so it's multifunctional and multi-capable. I also like that the mobile apps come with a work security feature enabling you to keep your work communications secure and you can wipe the handset remotely if you lose it. Perfect for security-conscious organisations.
My second recommendation is HubSpot's free CRM. My first reason is that it starts free with up to 1,000,000 contacts. My second is that you can sign in with your Gmail account. But beyond that is that this FREE CRM will remain free with up to 1,000,000 client contact details. This totally removes any notion of not having a CRM for your startup through scaleup. If you don’t believe me, check out its reviews on G2 and make your own decision!
But let's look under the hood, why am I choosing this over any of the others I have listed in the other content on sales tools I have produced?
The truth is bias. I am wholly biased towards HubSpot’s suite of tools and it forms part of our company ethos to work with companies that also want to secure the powerful features of this leading CRM.
So let's look at the sales functionality that comes with the free HubSpot CRM:
- Customer records and custom fields
- Company insights through the companies menu
- Deal tracking, so you can see how well your reps are performing and forecast effectively
- A meeting booking link and integration to your Gmail calendar
- Email tracking and open notifications, giving your team insight into prospect activity and enabling them to strike as the email is opened
- Live chat, a great tool for those who want all their prospect and customer activity tracked to one record of truth
- Sales email templates which you can use in your Gmail to reduce the manual production of emails. Simply save the emails you most use as templates and insert them in one click before finally customising and sending them on.
This is just for sales, we aren’t even talking about its impact on marketing and customer success teams so YES this is my number one CRM recommendation. Couple this with HubSpot's marketing hub and sales hubs and you are ready to rock and roll.
Website and website conversion tools
I’m guessing you’re thinking that the website isn’t for sales it’s for marketing purposes? Whilst I do agree, today’s sales rep has to be marketing savvy and working closely with his or her lead gen team to ensure what they produce is supporting your goals. You can’t see the relationship as a “them and us” situation.
The rejections you face, the myths you hear, the successes that are shared with you all help to get the website as a vital hub and connection between the two teams. Read on and discover what I consider to be the optimal synergy for success.
I’m sticking with the HubSpot theme here. We also work with WordPress, but the HubSpot CMS is definitely more powerful than its free counterpart and doesn’t have plugins, which means no chance of plugin related issues occurring.
However, plugins aside, what you get when working with the HubSpot CMS and a connected HubSpot CRM, is the opportunity to build more data about your prospects. What pages they are visiting, what content they’ve downloaded, how long they’ve spent on each page. Not that you can’t get this from the HubSpot script integration in WordPress, but you can get so much more from HubSpot's CMS personalisation. And if your sales organisation is embarking on an ABM led customer acquisition strategy, this tool is for you.
Ensuring that your target sales accounts receive personalised messages for customised landing pages to support the sales initiatives draws marketing and sales to one ambition. By working with your marketing team, your hot leads and high value accounts become easier to acquire.
Did you also know that you can install your HubSpot CRM forms into HubSpot's CMS webpages easily too?
I really like Leadfeeder. Have you had any experience with Lead Forensics? It’s a piece of software that tracks what companies have been on your website and lets you know what they do. It’s different to HubSpot's data which can sometimes give you the internet service provider and not the company.
But if you have had Lead Forensics, Leadfeeder provides the same service but is a fraction of the monthly cost, 75% more cost-effective than its competitor.
Leadfeeder also has a native HubSpot CMS integration so that you can tag companies that visit the website back to open deals, create new deals and help with your prospecting activities. By having this level of clarity any sales rep can optimise their sales focus to companies showing interest based on their real-time behaviour. Think tracking pricing, product and service pages.
Just set up your notifications and on a daily or weekly basis you can see companies by size, location, industry and more that tie into both an ABM strategy and a standard sales strategy.
I love Drift as much as I love HubSpot. This platform is a dream for people like myself who love both marketing and sales as it sits on the crossroad between the two departments perfectly.
Drift is a live chat/chatbot solution for company websites and landing pages. But my number one reason for liking it so much is because it enables sales reps direct access to prospects on the website.
For me, there is an element of making it really easy for your website visitors to connect directly to sales, especially if they are in a buying mindset. Sometimes as marketers we focus too much on qualification and not enough on sales and vice versa from sales to marketing. But there is so much content discussing forms as bottlenecks on websites, forcing visitors to retreat without sharing and Drift stops this.
By setting up qualification chat conversations on product, service and pricing pages and having these conversations route directly to sales teams or individual sales reps you give more scope to have hot leads than by reacting to forms completed on landing pages which just push a potential buyer onto another website.
So sales reps and sales leaders, on this one I implore you to do some more digging (or talk to us) about how Drift can bring sales into the website experience and start your conversational customer acquisition journey.
Lead nurturing tools
The lead nurturing process in any b2b sales process is hugely important as marketing are effectively setting lead scoring to deliver a marketing qualified lead to sales.
SO GET INVOLVED.
Sorry to shout but it frustrates me when sales reps don’t see marketing as an integral factor in the sales qualification process. If under the inbound marketing strategy you are looking for X number of touchpoints before an opportunity becomes sales-ready, you need to be part of that discussion.
Enter HubSpot’s marketing professional or enterprise platform, and yes, it kicks butt at the enterprise level now too!
Keeping in line with managing budgets as well as keeping friction between platforms to a minimum, we love the marketing professional platform. From a sales perspective, you completely focus on working with marketing to ensure that the automated workflows are properly structured and defined to your buyer persona.
You still let the marketing specialist do their job, but pay more than inquisitive attention to what's happening at this part of the funnel. Let your marketing partner show you what assets they have in the locker around eBooks, checklists etc for particular personas as you can also use these same assets in your sales conversations, just without sending people to landing pages and forms.
Lead scoring, automation and workflows at this stage of the customer journey are key to your sales success.
Sales enablement tools
Finally, you must be thinking… back to sales and less about marketing? But I had to show the point where both teams cross over and how you should view it from the sales reps perspective. Surely anything that directly benefits your ability to sell and close needs due care and attention?
So let’s look at HubSpot's sales professional hub and show why this is a necessary tool, over and above friction reduction and seamless integration of the CRM, CMS and Marketing platforms.
By adding the Sales Hub professional subscription you give the free CRM some hypothetical steroids upon which to perform. In addition to all of the functionality listed above in the CRM section, you get so much more. Introducing sales automation.
Sales automation is perfect for streamlining processes of large and scaling sales teams. This platform delivers the power and sophistication today's sales reps need, such as required fields, multiple deal pipelines, teams, products and quotes, and custom reporting.
But what else is beneficial?
- Set up email sequences for prospecting; think trigger events, responses to enquiries which generally makes your life easier and quicker to respond
- Call tracking. You can make calls directly from the Hubspot CRM and directly tie conversations to a customer record. This means you can access this for preparing for sales calls, especially exploratory calls. In addition, if you are taken ill and you need to close a deal, your colleagues can access the records and close them whilst you’re absent
- Automate your deal processes. Use trigger events to move your deals through their stages rather than relying on manual intervention
- Use tasks to keep you on track. Either manually or again using automation and sequences to trigger tasks to your calendar ensuring you don’t miss those all important activities
- Develop those all-important sales playbooks and ensure the teams are singing from the same sheet. You’ll get faster onboarding and shorter sales cycles.
- Use the quotes tool to tie in quotes to your automated deal stages and generate quotes based on your products*
- Sales analytics and reporting are key to individual sales reps and team performance
As a fully integrated sales platform, the HubSpot suite and these complimentary tools all work together to provide your sales organisation with the simplicity, connectivity and power you need to propel your business forward. But we aren’t quite finished yet. If you have managed to attract some prospects, nurture them through the funnel and are into sales conversations, maybe you want to add something for your sales presentations and we like Qwilr.
Sales proposal tools
As you can see, or at least picture the sales tech stack we use here at BIAS is simple, seamless and yet superbly powerful. We wanted tech that either natively or simply integrated with each other or by using piesync or zapier. However, the latter was to be used sparingly if at all.
But let's talk about presentations and more standardisation.
I jumped between Proposify and Qwilr for a while, they are similar but have different features so I was torn where to go. But once I settled on Qwilr I knew I had made the right personal choice. I connected this with HubSpot and started to use this for my presentations and quotes.
Yep, duplicating what can be done in HubSpot, but then I’m a low-code kind of guy and Qwilr is designed to be easy to create.
So we designed standardised presentation templates based upon the regular issues we come across and brought our company branding into the design style and away we went. We have a baseline marketing presentation, sales presentation and a website CMS presentation. We keep it simple, on-brand and easy to access. And as the prospect can accept the presentation in Qwilr, we know quickly when it's been viewed and accepted.
It’s the consistency and ability for the whole team to use the platform and have standardised approaches to sales and presentations which form part of the overall standardised sales process we designed for BIAS.
So there it is. My 8 powerful b2b sales tools for 2021 are based on a tech stack that is seamlessly integrated for sales success.
What are you doing for 2021? and are you going to make it easier for your sales team to succeed? spending less time on non-revenue generating tasks and more time on productive sales activity.
For more help and guidance around technology consulting and standardisation of your sales process contact BIAS today.