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Sales

Selecting the Right Software for Growth

More and more companies are turning to SaaS products to help their sales teams operate efficiently, organize their CRM information, and manage all of their marketing.

Reliable sales software is crucial to have in place before your business really explodes, because you don’t want any implementation or learning curve time to slow down your sales and marketing operations when customers are demanding your time the most. 

There will be multiple considerations when evaluating which SaaS platform will work the best with your team, and by the end of this read we’ll leave you with the most important considerations.

When considering new software, there are three main types:

  • Customer Relationship Management (“CRM”)
  • Sales Enablement
  • Marketing Automation

Regardless of what you’re in the market for, these will be the questions to ask yourself about the features you need to consider.

Features/Considerations

  • Cost: Figure out your budget for migrating to a new software, and then evaluate a couple different products that fall into that range. Many SaaS providers are offering Freemium products to stay competitive, and this is a great option to see how your team and processes jive with the interface and general click path of that software. Also, when you are just starting out, it might absolutely make sense to go for the Freemium play. Pro Tip: Make sure you understand the included features and how the pricing will change if you plan to utilize more of that platform’s features down the line.

As your team and company’s sales grow, decide on what the most valuable features are to you. You should break down features into three categories:

  • Non-negotiables
  • Nice to haves
  • Save for later

Let’s take an example.  You may discover a SaaS product that has all of your non-negotiables, but costs $5,000 more than your middle-road option. At this point, start factoring in the benefits that any extra up-front spending might get you. Are you going to end up spending more money down the road when you cannot live without that feature anymore, and have to buy it separately, or miss out on a packaged offer? Those are all valid questions to ask yourself and any other decision makers.
 

  • Integration: If your business has been operational for a while, your team may have some native systems in place, and you want your new purchase to work with them as smoothly as possible. After advocating for a budget, and getting the team on board to learn a new system, the last thing you need is excess frustration during the transition. Many SaaS providers know this and have built their systems to be integration friendly. Some common examples include:
  • HubSpot <> Salesforce integration
    • HubSpot’s Salesforce integration is fairly seamless and allows for the two platforms to talk back and forth, so you’re never missing any real time data that is updated in either platform. It’s extremely customizable and is a great option for Sales and Marketing alignment.

    • ZoomInfo
      • This tool can integrate with a lot of widely used CRMs (HubSpot, Salesforce, SalesLoft to name a few) and ensures there is accurate contact information in your CRM.

    • HubSpot <> O365/GMail
      • Reps do not have the time to email a contact from their inbox, and then go into a CRM to add all the individual bits of information about that contact or company. This integration allows for a simple click to add any contact you’re emailing into HubSpot, and if you want, will even add the email correspondence to that contact’s record.

  • One or multiple systems— What does your business need? Are we looking to setup or replace all new software? Do you already love your Marketing platform but it doesn’t have a sales counterpart? This is going to be a key player in your decision making, and possibly how much you spend.

If you’re doing a lot of things manually right now, or using multiple freemium products, a feature-rich software that can be used as an all in one system might make the most sense. Your sales and marketing team can gain visibility into what’s happening within the business as a whole, creating alignment, and can have cost benefits such as a one-time implementation fee.  It also provides a clear understanding of what you’re spending each month, because it’s all in one place.

If you already have one or two systems that your team is not replacing, consider a solution that can integrate with everything you already have in place. If the software you already have in place is set up to grow with you for a while, and you have a tighter budget in the meantime, it’s ok to buy one separate tool that can integrate. Just make sure you won’t be making an investment only to have to change again in the near future.   

  • Customization— Providers have realized how important it is for their users to make the platforms they’re in every day work for them, not the other way around. Each SaaS provider has essentially architected a One-Size-Fits-All solution, that’s available in many different colors. Meaning that you’re all getting the same software – say HubSpot, for example. But there’s so many different ways to make it work for thousands of different businesses. Think about the level of customization you need and research according to that. SaaS platforms are now built so that they can integrate with on-premise software with the help of developers, as well as just about any software you may already be using through open APIs. Before you make a selection, ensure the software you’re evaluating has the customization you need.
  • Accessibility & Ease of Use  — SaaS products allow their users to access their information from almost anywhere. This goes hand in hand with more common work scenarios – bouncing from the office, home, or while traveling for conferences or work trips. But with mobility becoming more and more common, laptops aren’t necessarily enough anymore. Ask yourself all of the reasonable scenarios your team could need to access your new software tools. Some places could be an iPad at a trade show booth, or cell phone for reps who are on the road. Pro Tip: You’ll want to demo any mobile apps of software you like to verify it actually works as advertised. If someone rolls out a mobile app just to have it, but it’s barely usable, then it may not meet your specific needs.
  • Reporting— Out of all the tools offered by the different SaaS companies on the market, reporting capabilities might be the biggest range of options you have.
    Some tools will let you get deep into customized reporting, like Salesforce which will let you pull from any data point in the system. A feature like this may be important to you if you have a lot of data and need to see the same data points multiple ways. Other systems may have nice features such as built-in notifications or can simply email you a dashboard of your sales reps activity every week. Reporting can be an expensive feature so if you are working with an external sales rep, make sure to voice the capabilities you need early on.

Moving to a new system is not a small task – there’s a lot of work, thinking, and conversations that have to go into it. On the flip side, making this decision allows you to have way more visibility into how your business and teams are operating. A solid tech stack supports growth by automating pain points and allows for standardization so new team members can get familiar with your set up and processes quickly and efficiently.

If you want your company to grow, which, I’m sure everyone does, all of these benefits probably sound like a great idea. But the process can be a lot to take on when you already have a full-time job. Many companies opt into working with a consultant to help identify gaps in their business and make recommendations that will help the company make the right decision for them. Consultants have experience with customers across various industries and have a deeper understanding of the tools available on the market, making it easier to tailor suggestions for your company’s needs.

Whether you approach your research with the help of a consultant or solo, the above points will help you ask yourself the right questions when searching for your next SaaS system. 

Categories
Sales

5 Steps for Building and Managing an Effective Sales Pipeline

A well defined Sales pipeline is the center of an effective sales process. When managed correctly, a sales pipeline can give your team useful insights such as forecasted revenue, what parts of your process might be blocking deals from moving forward, and highlight your top sales performers.

Setting up your pipeline will require some time and thought, as well as consistent review. However, it’s worth the time upfront. A Harvard Business Review study showed that when asked about having an effectively managed pipeline, executives who said their pipeline was well managed were consistently reporting increased revenue.

An effective pipeline also requires a comprehensive understanding of your buyer’s journey. You want the different stages of your pipeline to match the interaction you expect to have with your buyer, and the milestones or outcomes you expect through the buying process. When you create pipeline stages to reflect the behaviors and buying process for your customer, as well as the planned interactions your teams will have, it will ensure that your deal information is accurate. Your pipeline will be set up in a way that goes hand in hand with where your prospects, leads, and opportunities are in your buyer’s journey.

These buying stages include:

Awareness– Your buyer is discovering that they have a problem that needs a solution.

Consideration–  Your buyer has defined what their problem is. They are actively doing research on options to solve their problem.

Decision Making– Your buyer has done their research and is ready to evaluate options, with an end goal of a purchase.

The tips below will help you set up a pipeline that will empower your sales team to effectively guide prospects and leads to a decision – as well as give your team visibility into the whole process.

  1. Define Your Sales Pipeline Stages – Your pipeline stages should be defined by the different outcomes or interactions with the buyer that your sales team has throughout the sales cycle. Think about the information about your product or service your buyer will have access to within each stage, what kind of interactions they will have with sales during each of these times. 

    Things to consider: How many meetings or demos could a buyer have before making a decision? What does your contract process look like? These questions will help uncover consistencies and steps in your sales cycle that will then turn into the stages of your pipeline. Examples of common stage definitions are Discovery Call or Product Demo.

  2. Establish rules for each stage—  A common mistake made by teams is leaving too much room for interpretation. When your team is clear on what needs to happen during each stage in order for a deal to be moved forward, departments will be aligned and the pipeline stage will be accurate. Decide on specific events that trigger stage completion, and allow a deal to move into the next stage. This could include a meeting or demo being held, or a contract being sent.

    When you decide what these triggers are for your business, you can build them into your pipeline stages so that reps are clear on what qualifies a deal to continue to move forward down the pipeline.

  3. Manage your Pipeline like a Pro with a CRM –  If you’re ready to re-define your sales stages, it’s going to require time and energy. Finding a CRM that can automate, standardize, and report on the process you worked so hard to set up will set your team up for success. You will be able to report on the progress of each deal at any time and keep your data in one place.

    Check out this article by The Balance Small Business to get their take on some of the best CRMs on the market right now. They break it down into categories so you can read up based on what you need the most. Some favorites are HubSpot, Pipedrive, and Salesforce.

  4. Avoid future headaches with a clear data management plan – Imagine this scenario. You put time and effort into defining your pipeline stages, and found a new CRM or re-worked your current one to store all your sales data. A month goes by, and you’re excited to see all of the progress that’s been made due to your new sales pipeline.

    You sit down to start creating some reports, only to find that your expected numbers are completely off, and a lot of data appears to be missing. This happens to many teams who didn’t put much thought into enforcing standardized steps in their sales process.

    With an effective pipeline, you should work to define what you need to track on each deal for every stage. This could mean tracking certain data points, or meeting notes, to ensure the data is always captured as deals move through each stage of the pipeline. When done properly, you won’t be wondering what data you’re looking at because you’ll know that your sales team has been following a specific, documented process.

  5.  Get your team fully on-board – Introducing your team to a whole new sales pipeline is an undertaking in itself. They will be learning new stage definitions, potentially a new software, and will have to adjust their workflow so that data entry is accurate and the new pipeline can be effective. Because of this, it’s easy for reps to follow business as usual and not prioritize standardization.

    Asking and reminding team members who have proven their old ways to be successful to make changes can even be awkward. But, it’s a crucial step in this process. So how do you get your team on board? First, understand where their resistance is coming from.

    HubSpot found that 32% of sales reps spend over an hour on data entry every day. That’s a lot of time spent away from prospecting, emails, and meetings… it’s no wonder many sales teams are reluctant to adopt a new process. It’s okay to leave room to evolve and improve, but over-all you want to get your process right the first time. Involve your team from the beginning. They’re the ones doing the job every day – ask what usually happens during each stage, what objections customers have, and what roadblocks them the most in their day to day. Then make decisions and definitions according to their feedback. For example, your sales team knows how long it usually takes to get a meeting, so you could use their feedback to decide how long a prospect should spend in a ‘Qualify’ stage. Giving your team some skin in the game will alleviate the learning curve when they see the long-term benefits that are waiting on the other side.

Talk to any team who has put time and effort into building out a sales pipeline, and their building blocks will look a lot like the ones listed here. There are so many benefits beyond visibility, clean data, and accurate reporting as highlighted in this post, but those are some of our favorites. If you’ve found yourself needing to restructure your company’s sales pipeline, and want to do so like a Pro – feel free to reach out to us here.

Categories
Sales

Put Time Back Into Your Sales Team’s Day with These Sales Tools

Google any part of your sales process that you need help with and add ‘automation’ or ‘tool’ to the end of the search and watch dozens of results come up. With so many options at our fingertips including the ability to create free accounts, click “Talk to Sales” buttons on websites, and make contactless purchases, adding tools to make your sales process more efficient is easier than ever. However, this doesn’t mean you should just try them all and skip on your research. 

Asking specific questions about which parts of your process you need to improve, and why, will help you identify which tools can help you put time back into your Sales Team’s day. The tools mentioned in this article are designed to help take manual, redundant work out of everyday tasks and processes such as data management, partner management, outreach, and contracts. When you create more time for your sales team, they are able to focus on connections and delighting the prospects, or customers, in their pipeline.

The below tools integrate with customer favorite CRMs like: HubSpot, Salesforce, Zoho, Pipedrive, Zendesk, Sugar, and Stripe.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Favorite Features:

Send inMail from your CRM: Ever hear, or personally relate to the sentence “I have a million tabs open right now”? The LinkedIn Sales Navigator has a CRM widget that gives your reps the ability to view insights and send LinkedIn messages from within your CRM. Eliminate having to click through tabs to get the relevant info needed before reaching out to a lead.

Save leads you want to keep tabs on: Sales reps can save individual leads and organizations to a special filtered feed within LinkedIn. This feed provides updates on top leads such as if they got a new role, or commented on a post. Up to date insights like this can answer questions like ‘what is their decision making influence?’ or ‘what solutions or products is this organization lacking that we can provide for them?’ And, you can get these answers straight from your feed without having to dig for them – saving a lot of time for your reps. 

Honorable (feature) Mentions: 

  • Mobile app
  • Ask mutual connections for intros 
  • See who you’re already connected to within an org 
  • Tags – add tags to identify a contact’s role, or where they are in the buying process

Note: You may need to be on a team or Enterprise account to access all of these benefits. Find out more info here.

HubSpot Sales

HubSpot’s sales tools automate the mundane day to day tasks Sales reps are faced with such as outreach, follow up, and task organization. 

Favorite Features:

Sequences: HubSpot’s sequences tool was built to save reps a ton of hours. Reps can now create (and test) a series of specific emails that are geared towards different types of leads, industries, products – whatever makes sense for your outreach process. You can enroll a contact in a sequence, and if they reply they are automatically unenrolled so that they don’t keep going through an automated drip. Reps can see which outreach technique works the best for their targets with different timing, subjects, and content options. HubSpot’s personalization tokens allow you to personalize your outreach so that you’re getting the time-saving benefits of automation, without turning off recipients.

Workflows: Instead of your team having to constantly monitor the status of everything in their pipeline – from leads to open deals, workflows can trigger off of actions associated with these objects so that if there is action to take, sales reps can be notified with an email or task creation. Sales managers can be notified when deals are moved into Closed Won, for example, or a sales rep can receive a task due if a contact replies to a sequence. On top of that, workflows can be used to automate many of the administrative tasks in your CRM the team is doing manual today.

Honorable (feature) Mentions: 

  • Templates 
  • Queues 

PandaDoc  

Teams are using PandaDoc to organize and gain transparency into document management, while elevating the buying experience for their customers. 

Favorite Features:

Create quotes quickly: Spin up quotes in minutes by automatically pulling data from your CRM. PandaDoc’s quotes tool eliminates manual data entry so quotes can get to your prospects fast.  

Collaborative contracts: PandaDoc has an amazing contract tool that allows teams to have visibility into updates being made on a contract, and sign off on a final version, all within the contract itself. This eliminates errors so that there are no missing elements from your contracts.

Honorable (feature) Mentions: 

  • Send, track, and create eSign documents in one platform
  • On the fly editing

Zoom Info

Connect with your ideal customer. ZoomInfo helps drive effective campaigns geared towards targeted leads, because you’re only looking at leads who meet your ideal buyer’s criteria.

Favorite Features:

Data Enrichment: ZoomInfo Enrich will integrate with your CRM to keep your contact information updated and accurate, so you never have out of date information. Enrich updates your contacts with personal information fields as well as information on their job title, location, so that you don’t have the wrong people prospecting these contacts.

Filters: Create filters that are specific to your ideal personas. This saves time for your team because the system always knows who you are looking for as opposed to the manual process of finding a lead’s name, and then having to search for all the other qualifying information. (company’s industry, decision making status, etc.) 

Honorable (feature) Mentions: 

  • ZoomInfo Scoops
  • ZoomInfo Workflows

Allbound

Manage your partners with a platform that alleviates the time-consuming back and forth communication and approval processes required to work with and work deals with a Partner.

Favorite Features:

Content Library: Add all your partner approved and branded content to your Content Library in Allbound. This gives partners the autonomy to get resources relevant to what they need without having to wait or ‘get a hold’ of someone to provide it for them. Users can quickly find the content they are looking for without taking time out of your team member’s days. 

Deal Registration: Avoid conflict with complete access to a partner pipeline within Allbound. These deals integrate with your CRM so all of the information about your Partner deals is visible in the CRM you are working in every day. This also prevents partners from registering the same lead.

Honorable (feature) Mentions: 

  • Playbooks
  • Co-branding capabilities

All of these tools are designed to seamlessly integrate with your CRM and save your sales team time. Discovering which parts of your process could benefit from automation or the many sales tools on the market right now will allow your sales team to find more time throughout their day, and give a better experience to prospects and customers.