The 2021 sales tech stack will look notably different from what it looked like three years ago.
In many ways, the sales stack has become something of an arms race. Not in the military sense where one country is reacting to the threat posed by another’s arms build-up, but instead a quest for tools that enhance sales productivity and ultimately increase revenue in an era where we seek to define the future of work in decentralised high-growth environments.
In recent weeks I’ve spoken with – and actively listening to – revenue influencers from across the globe. Beyond this, I’ve read several reports on the subject, and I can feel the wind of change.
Before going more in-depth, I should briefly attempt to define what falls within the domain of SalesTech.
SalesTech includes sales automation, where repetitive tasks are automated, and it also includes sales enablement, where timely content exists to engage and nurture prospects. It also extends to post-sale activities, such as customer success and support.
It begins with your choice of customer relationship management software. Now, let’s go further, row-by-row, if you will, in alphabetical order. It encompasses analytics, where the data-to-insight and insight-to-action process begins, and it facilitates forecasting and reporting.
It includes account-based marketing tools, coaching and upskilling platforms, compensation management, document automation, field sales engagement, lead generation and prospecting, sales engagement, team communication and video conferencing.
I’m not going to delve into each area in today’s 1200 word post (for a deeper dive, you can check out some of the work done by Nancy Nardin or The LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2020), but instead, I’m going to take a look at the enterprise software landscape before sharing a list of useful, quick to implement and cost-effective sales tools for tech scaleups.
Tech Stack Staples
Sales leaders will remember 2020 for its overwhelming migration to the inside sales model, and as the year that virtual selling went mainstream.
Sure, the data-driven sales organisation has been on the rise for years, and the CRM remains the foundational tech piece. Salesforce has once again been named the #1 CRM provider by International Data Corporation (IDC) in its latest Worldwide Semiannual Software Tracker.
However, the enterprise landscape is evolving quickly.
Microsoft’s so-called ‘Slack killer’ – the Teams chat platform – has grown in popularity throughout the year, fuelled by the pandemic and the rush to enable remote collaboration, and well, because it comes with 365 without a price increase.
The big news in December 2020 is Salesforce’s acquisition of Slack for $27.7 billion, which is more than Microsoft paid for LinkedIn in 2016 when it outbid Salesforce.
These two giants, one notably larger than the other, are squaring off against each other and are big arms dealers in the sales tech stack arena. I believe that further consolidation is likely as demand for end-to-end solutions increases and nose bleed valuations giveaway to reality in 2021.
Sales Tools for Scaleups
While on the bench in recent weeks, my goal has been to remain fight fit. In part, I have achieved this state of readiness by demoing and testing tools. Typically agile, new (and some not so new) players.
I hope that my list and any resulting conversation about it will help you to improve productivity rates within your sales organisation, especially for those within the bottom 80% of performers.
Activity Management, Sales Process and Social Selling
• LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a critical part of any well-rounded social selling strategy
• Mixmax is an email app that extends Gmail’s functionality (alas, last I checked it is not 365 ready)
• Pipedrive is an easy-to-use yet robust CRM and sales pipeline management solution, used by small and medium-sized companies
• Xant is a sales engagement and sales intelligence platform that provides behavioural insights which help accelerate revenue
Administration, Research and Scheduling
• Calendly helps you to schedule meetings without back-and-forth email delays
• Expensify provides a receipt and expense management solution
• Ricochet is a Chrome plugin that facilitates desktop research, and Cognism recently acquired it
• SignNow allows you to send and manage documentation, then close with e-signing
Collaboration, Communication and Knowledge Sharing
• Crystal Knows is a virtual personality profiling tool which allows you to tailor messaging
• DingTalk is called DingDing in China; it’s an enterprise chat and collaboration platform, an email killer
• Grammarly is an English language writing assistant
• Guru the Guru-Slack integration allows you to find the golden nuggets within conversations
• OpenDeck is 100% free and will enable you to “Steal inspiration for your next pitch deck,” it provides decks from various startups, all sorted by category
Some Extras For Recruiters and Job Seekers
• Evie is an autonomous interview scheduling assistant for recruiters
• Huntr is my CRM of choice for tracking and managing job applications
• CareerPuck helps candidates make a stronger first impression by bringing your personality to the fore through video
The simple reality is that companies need to sell more per business-to-business (B2B), salesperson. The old ways just won’t cut it, and sellers must evolve their skill sets. We, as sales leaders, must reduce administration-related downtime and reallocate time to client-facing activities.
In my experience, the top salespeople have competency in technology and by their very nature are problem-solvers. They approach revenue generation like it is science, while each conversation is an art form. It is necessary to know and understand both approaches when seeking to achieve peak results. I think of this as the merging of machine and human capabilities.
By its very definition, the sales technology stack involves growing beyond the CRM. The stack should follow the strategy for how a company goes-to-market. Strategy, people, process and technology, form the four legs of the table and each, therefore, forms a crucial part of the equation.
The journey towards sales transformation will enable increasingly decentralised companies to automate workflows and execute at scale. The whole point of a sales cadence strategy is to diversify outreach by getting in touch with prospects across multiple touchpoints.
If you implement a new solution, sales representatives will use it, right?
Wrong, most won’t. Everything boils down to attitude and behaviour! A well-defined and documented sales playbook along with a fully integrated sales tech stack is what enables mid-to-large sales teams to predictably close deals. I can’t emphasise these points enough.
Thanks for reading my post and Happy Holidays to you and yours.