Companies have made significant investments to date in tools and technologies to enable their marketing and sales processes. Usually, the core of this investment is a customer relationship management (CRM) system deployed with high expectations of streamlined selling and new insights. Unfortunately, CRM systems are rarely fully utilized and often fall short of these expectations. Shouldn’t sales technology actually help salespeople sell?
Rather than become a chore to update and merely a means to provide activity and pipeline reports to management, why not make an investment in something that actually drives and optimizes sales activity?
Companies need to embrace the sales technology stack to truly take advantage of technology-enabled selling.
The concept of a sales stack has been around for a while with sales expert Jim Keenan sharing a great post called The Sales Stack back in 2012 on his A Sales Guy blog. His seven layers include both enabling technology as well as rewards, recognition, and compensation programs. Max Altschuler published a more recent take on it on the Sales Hacker blog titled Welcome to the Era of the Sales Stack. He maps the stack to each stage of the sales lifecycle and highlights some great tools to enable the various pieces of it.
To truly take advantage of sales technology, you must break it down into its foundational parts and map it to your particular sales model and buyer journey. To do this, view the sales technology stack as four pillars to build upon:
This pillar focuses on who should be a customer. From sizing the total addressable market to developing buyer personas to contact details, core to any sales stack is information regarding targets and prospects that is both detailed and actionable. Inputs to this pillar include marketing automation systems, which help capture and prioritize leads for follow-up, as well as any other types of inbound inquiries or list development processes. Knowing who to target, their interest level, and how best to contact them is crucial.
Adding context to this information is even more important. Merely having someone’s correct contact information who fits the profile of a target customer does not mean they know who you are or are ready to buy from you. Adding context based on shared relationships (including sites like LinkedIn), previous interactions with other people in the company, or a warm introduction via a referral makes starting a conversation much easier.
To best start and continue the conversation requires this second pillar in the sales technology stack focused on engagement and communication. This includes tools and techniques that drive one-to-many engagement like social publishing as well one-to-one engagement via email, phone, screen sharing, or face-to-face meetings.
Having a variety of engagement options available to the sales professional allows them to move from channel to channel in order to best connect and interact with a sales prospect.
Knowing who to contact and how to engage with them leads to this third pillar of the sales technology stack. This includes the materials produced by the marketing team like whitepapers, case studies, and data sheets, as well as the content used by the sales team to engage and drive the buying process like prospecting emails, calling scripts, and demonstration plans.
All of these materials must be organized and accessible for the marketing team to manage and the sales team to access. Also critical here is the ability to measure content effectiveness as evidenced not just by usage but by contribution to closed deals and any derivative works created by the sales team for their specific needs (including industry and geography).
Without a level of intelligence and analytics, sales technology also runs a risk of not meeting its expectations. The fourth pillar includes the insights necessary to know the best time to contact a prospect, what piece of content is most effective for that prospect at a particular deal stage, and when the optimal time for follow-up engagement arises.
Merely having a list of targets with contact information and a means to reach them via email or screen share with some prepared content does not translate into an high-performance sales operation. To truly accelerate sales and understand performance, data and analytics are critical. This includes knowing what sales reps are doing when, when those activities are most effective, and even what a prospect is doing with your content after it is shared. Sending a presentation attached to an email without any way to track that email or the viewing of the presentation creates a sales “blind spot” and limits visibility into engagement opportunities. In addition to these “sales triggering” events, rolling all of this up and making it available for both sales and marketing teams to review and understand is essential.
Ultimately, this is about enabling your sales team to spend more time selling and less time doing non-sales activities. Sales technology should help your team sell and constantly optimize itself to improve selling efforts. Highspot is built to do just that. By closing the loop from marketing to sales to the customer, we provide a full view of engagement and what content is performing best while continually optimizing the system to improve overall sales effectiveness. We make sales technology that actually helps you sell.