Plenty of products exist to help salespeople hone their craft. But what makes the best sales tools stand out? How do you go about comparing one with another?
For a typical small business, the right sales tool has three important features: it integrates easily with other products; it saves time and effort; and it helps your sales team follow up. (Even if that sales team is simply you.)
Before we get into the details of these three points, let's answer the more basic question: What are sales tools? They're any kind of software or hardware that makes your sales process better, faster, and cheaper.
The best sales tools automate parts of the process to help your sales team achieve more in less time. Time saved is an important point: The more tasks your sales team have to complete manually for each sale, the less time they have to look for other new prospects.
A useful tool can do things like identify potential customers who have similar interests, and then automatically send them emails or videos to move them along the path to purchase. They can track the progress of individual prospects, help you keep existing customers engaged and happy, and everything in between.
So let's look at the three key traits of effective tools.
Your sales tools should work with your existing sales process and with any other small business tools you may be using. A new email program should be able to work well with your old analytics software. Your database should work with your marketing automation. And so on.
Look for a tool that all members of your team can use easily. Once your new tool is plugged into your existing software systems and apps, everyone will need to learn its nuances in order for your company to get value from it.
Remember, you’re looking to make your sales operations better, faster and cheaper. Your sales process is unique, so make sure the tool will adapt to you, and not vice-versa.
How? By being helpful, seamless and automatic.
Being helpful is job one. Do you currently have to remember and track all your sales leads and activities by sending yourself emails, or even by putting sticky notes on your laptop screen? (No shaming—we've all been there.) That's a sales funnel that's going to leak leads.
The best tools for salespeople will also:
Free up time with easy automations. Is your team spending time and effort tapping out prospect notes or scrolling through messy contact spreadsheets? There are too many variables for a sales representative to keep track of manually. With all those details automated in one database, your team can save time and focus their efforts on well-qualified prospects.
Focus on leads that are ready to close. Naturally, you want to focus your active sales energy on the prospects who are most ready to buy. A good sales tool can sort your leads and "bubble up" the best ones to you and your sales team.
Score leads. Before the best leads can be bubbled up, they need to be scored accurately. The best sales tools for small businesses will track things like email opens, link clicks and unsubscribe requests, and use them to rank prospects. If someone opens an email and clicks the "Learn more" link inside, they'll receive a high score and your sales representatives get a ping.
The right tool takes the guesswork out of communication by keeping your follow-ups on-time and on-topic. They may remind your salespeople to contact prospects on the right schedule and with the right message, or they may automate the messaging almost entirely.
A good tool handles all the key variables:
Type of communication: Is your sales team contacting leads the way they wish to be contacted: by email, phone, mail or even text? Good sales tools can automate contact preparation and make sure you connect with every prospect in the way that will best spur them toward a sale.
Timing: Getting the timing right is critical when talking with both leads and customers. A message that might be welcome at one moment can be annoying at others. Look for tool that will help you reach out to every prospect at moments that are timely and relevant for them.
Volume: Message volume is a classic Goldilocks scenario: Too many messages can irritate users, while too few can make them think you don't care. But a "just right" portion of emails, phone calls or mailers will move prospects ahead.
CRMs, mailing software and other sales tools exist to help you with all these things and more.
Infusionsoft by Keap is designed for small businesses like yours. Our suite of sales tools includes:
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