Sales acceleration technology is a category of software that’s designed to maximize sales revenue by driving sales efficiencies and improving sales effectiveness. This involves not only automating sales processes, but also increasing the velocity of sales by helping reps identify the best prospects, connect with them more successfully and have more intelligent conversations during the selling process.
I predict that within the next few years, virtually all companies will need sales acceleration technology in order to be competitive. Like marketers, sales teams increasingly combine a series of single or multiple-point solutions together that form their “sales technology stack.”
The core of this array of tools is usually the CRM, which acts as the principal system of record. And while Gartner has estimated that CRM is climbing to a $36 billion market, sales teams have been demanding tools to serve more functions than simply managing relationships with customers. This has led companies to develop a proliferate landscape of tools aimed at helping sales reps, sales operations and sales leaders work more productively and achieve better results.
Here are just a few of the categories of sales acceleration tools:
|Coaching Tools||Help managers influence reps’ sales activities in real time in order to help them meet goals|
|Configure Price Quote (CPQ)||Sales proposal and pricing generation tools|
|Email Tracking Software||Email templates for rapid outbound email and lead response; open notifications; content open tracking|
|Inbound Call Tracking Software||Discovering which marketing campaigns are driving the most valuable inbound calls; to distribute inbound sales calls; to display contextual data about leads during inbound calls via CTI|
|Lead Prioritization||Helps reps drive more revenue by reaching out to the most sales-ready leads first|
|List Building Tools||Tools that integrate with data, web and social media channels to help sales build prospect lists|
|Market Intelligence||Supplementary data about leads and accounts to help identify and prioritize hot leads|
|Outbound Sales Dialers||Click-to-call or prioritized dialers to speed outbound phone prospecting|
|Predictive Analytics||The use of data, machine learning and modeling to make predictions about future sales opportunities|
|Sales Content Management||The delivery of contextually relevant content to sales reps at each stage of the sales process|
|Sales Engagement Software||Live presentation software, although many such vendors are also integrating content delivery, email tracking, and more|
|Sales Force Automation (SFA)||Automates sales reps’ manual and administrative work in order to give them more time to sell.|
|Sales Gamification||The application of game mechanics to sales teams’ activities in hopes of raising overall team performance through internal competition|
There was a time, before CRM tools like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics when businesses were run using spreadsheets, contact databases and sometimes even Post-it notes. While CRM has greatly improved sales teams’ productivity by storing client data and greatly enhancing team collaboration, it has done little to actually help reps influence the outcome of sales calls. Sales calls are where most inside sales deals are closed. And sales acceleration tools can bridge the gap between customer data and calls, by surfacing data in the right context. Sales acceleration tools can also help reps quickly call down CRM lists and connect with more of those leads.
We’re seeing radical shifts in buying behavior and, as a result, companies need to change the ways that they sell. There was a time when big deals were closed over dinner and drinks. But today’s buyers are completing more of their buying journey on their own, and conducting research on the Internet before reaching out to sales.
Except for enterprise-level sales deals, there’s rarely time for in-person appointments anymore. Sales reps need to be agile enough to reach out to prospects during key sales windows. And since buyers are doing more self-educating, they expect sales reps to be more educated and informed than ever. By utilizing tools that provide reps with contextual data about prospects and their buying preferences, reps can have far more intelligent conversations than ever before.
In order to help more reps reach quota, inside sales leaders need moment-to-moment insight into sales activities and their outcomes. Tools that provide sophisticated metrics in real time can help managers make intelligent revenue predictions as well as identify key opportunities to coach reps to success. As an example, if a manager notices that an underperforming rep isn’t following up with leads as many times as top performers are, the manager could then coach that rep to follow up more aggressively.
According to data from CSO Insights, the percentage of reps that make quota has been declining since 2012. Now only 57% of reps hit their numbers. More and more companies are finding that it takes more than the right sales model for reps to hit their numbers. It also takes the right tools. Tools that can help reps connect with more prospects, automate tedious tasks and have smarter sales conversations can have a dramatic impact on sales ROI.
Demand for sales representatives is up. As a result, companies are recruiting less experienced sales reps. According to recent data from The Bridge Group, the average experience required for new SDRs is 1.3 years, (which fell 18% annually since 2009). In fact, the same study shows that four times as many companies are are now hiring SDRs with less than one year’s experience as they did in 2010. In order to help inexperienced reps succeed, it’s more important than ever to outfit reps with tools that can help them reach their potential faster.
Interested in learning which sales acceleration tools are best for your business? Download our free eBook The ROI of Sales Acceleration.
Jesse WestDirector of Lifecycle MarketingringDNA
Jesse Davis West is Director of Lifecycle Marketing at ringDNA, focusing on improving the experience and maximizing the lifetime value for customers across their entire journey. Drawing on 9 years of B2B marketing experience, Jesse is passionate about communication, branding and strategic marketing. He also plays a mean lead guitar and can throw down at karaoke.