Has your sales technology budget shrunk in the past year? If so, you're not alone. HubSpot's recently-released State of Inbound 2015 report shows evidence that budgets are decreasing across the board, no matter how large or small the size of the company. This can pose challenges for sales teams, trying to do more with less. And, in my mind, it begs the question, "How much will the decreasing budgets have an impact on sales performance?"
The State of Inbound 2015 report is the culmination of the data collected from nearly 4,000 marketers and salespeople across the globe during the past year. The report is extensive (72 fun-filled pages), with 9 marketing and sales chapters, but in this blog article I'll focus specifically on the findings related to how satisfied sales teams are with their sales tools and technology.
Types of Sales Technology
Types of sales technology can span many categories. Let's dive in with some definitions of the most common, and the ones measured in the State of Inbound 2015 report:
CRM Software (e.g. Salesforce, Zoho): Software that helps manage customer relationships, storing customer and sales process data
Digital Transaction Services (e.g. DocuSign): Cloud-based services designed to digitally manage documents, such as sales contracts, sales orders, or new customer sign ups
Business Data Software (e.g. data.com): Provides background data for a prospect, company, or industry
Sales Engagement Platform (e.g. ClearSlide): Platforms used to share content with prospects
Sales Enablement Software (e.g. HubSpot Sales): Software designed for sales productivity, such as email tracking
Are They Working?
There's no shortage of tools available to sales teams. But are they working? According to the report, there's some evidence to suggest both "yes" and "no."
Interest in sales technology is on the rise for nearly all categories. However, while the interest is there, satisfaction levels with the tools are low. Among all the categories, CRM software and sales engagement platforms had the lowest satisfaction scores.
Back to my earlier question—"How much will the decreasing budgets have an impact on sales performance?" There's room for improvement in sales technology, but the same report shows the power of these tools cannot be ignored. The usage of a CRM, for example, directly correlates with successful sales teams. HubSpot reports that "unsuccessful sales teams are 2x more likely to use Excel, Outlook, or Physical Files to store lead and customer data."
How Can You Get The Most From Your Sales Technology Stack?
The overall low satisfaction scores prove the need for some careful consideration when reviewing technology for your sales team. Start with one of the most important points of consideration for salesperson success—the alignment of the sales tool with your marketing technology.
Why? The line between sales and marketing is thinning. After all, great "marketing" should be focused on new sales and organizational growth. Some marketing departments are even hiring sales reps on their teams. According to the Bridge Group, 24% of sales development reps report directly to Marketing. Long gone are the days that marketing and sales departments can operate in silos, and neither can their tools and technology.
Today, a successful salesperson needs marketing data integrated with sales technology to leverage lead intelligence during the sales process and to provide the most relevant content to the buyer at the right time.
Consider these examples:
1. A salesperson is notified of a sales-ready lead. The salesperson toggles to his CRM and views the lead's contact page in the marketing platform, full of lead intelligence because it's integrated with the company's marketing platform. He can view the pages the lead has viewed, how long ago the lead converted on the company website, which videos or content pieces the lead downloaded, etc., to be well-prepared before making the call. The salesperson opens the conversation with a buyer-centric approach, understanding where the lead is in the purchase journey and some context as to what problem the lead is looking to solve. This saves headaches and time, shortening the sales cycle for both the salesperson and the lead.
2. A salesperson receives a notification on her screen from an email tracking sales tool. She learns that a lead opened an email she sent last week. She clicks on the notification before reaching, and sees that the lead has visited her company's pricing page on the website just hours earlier. The salesperson recognizes that there's no better time than the present to reach out to that lead, because of the marketing lead intelligence at her fingertips.
As she composes an email, she has all the relevant information about the lead right in front of her. Past contact history, social media content, and mutual connections appear to provide the context she needs to be most helpful to the lead, again progressing more quickly down the purchasing funnel.
Recognize that your sales technology may not be perfect, but sales and marketing tools that are integrated can have tremendous power. Focus on the alignment with marketing technology and you're more likely to be headed down the road to sales technology satisfaction and success!
Posted by Nicole Mertes As Weidert Group's lead salesperson and business development strategist, Nicole heads up the agency's new business strategy and provides sales consulting services to clients.
Prior to her role at the agency, Nicole was an advertising manager at Gannett, one of the nation's largest media companies. With 10+ years of experience in advertising sales, she understands the complex relationship between marketing and sales within organizations.