Sales Technology: A Complete Guide to the Tools and Technology Sales Professionals Should be Using

sales technology

Are salespeople making the best use of the sales technology available?

Based on data from our State of Sales Report 2019-2020, 49% of reps aren’t using technology or automation tools to tackle the challenges of prospecting. That said, despite knowing that lead qualification is a challenge that could be aided by automation tools, three-quarters of salespeople are happy with the tech they have at their disposal.

In general, 73% of sales professionals use sales technology to close more deals, and since 2016 investment in sales technology has grown by 53%. Sales professionals are becoming more aware of the benefits of sales technology, but there are still gaps in adoption.

Investing in sales technology can lead to a more streamlined sales process, less time wasted on manual tasks, robust reporting and the ability to focus more time on selling and closing deals—all well worth the initial outlay. Software companies are continuously designing and building more robust tech solutions that are easy to implement and customize to your processes and needs. 

This guide breaks down the basics, including the types of tools available to today’s teams and how they can transform your business for the better.

Table of contents

  1. CRM
  2. Lead enrichment
  3. Sales enablement 
  4. Inbound sales scheduling/routing
  5. Internal sales communication
  6. Automation

What is sales technology?

Sales technology usually comes in the form of software as a service (SaaS) tools that assist agents with sales activities. 

By using tools and technology for sales, your reps can automate tasks such as:

  • Data entry
  • Emailing prospects and customers
  • Sharing notes and collaborating on tasks
  • Scheduling calls or meetings
  • Locating creative content or files
  • Prospecting 
  • Lead enrichment
  • Reporting 
  • Creating, sending and tracking proposals

Each of these tasks can be supplemented with automation or artificial intelligence (AI) technology, based on the specific SaaS service you choose. AI and automation can revolutionize certain sales tasks, such as finding and sorting leads or chatting with potential customers via a chatbot service to qualify leads. Reps can then use this reclaimed time to focus on meeting goals and closing sales.

We’ll discuss exactly how your reps can use these sales enablement tools to power up these tasks in a later section.

What are the benefits of investing in sales technology?

Upgrading your sales tech is an investment that pays for itself and can improve the overall health of your business. Below are some key benefits:

Empower your reps to do their jobs better

Based on data from our State of Sales Report 2019-2020, reps that are happy with their sales tools are 18% more likely to consider themselves successful at their jobs and 28% more satisfied in their roles.

sales technology success

Technology for sales makes it easier for reps to manage and carry out their day-to-day tasks. Let’s take cold calling as an example. Making phone calls to leads is a big part of every sales rep’s daily or weekly agenda and taking notes on each call takes valuable time out of your rep’s day. 

Instead of wasting time taking notes and logging calls, sales tech such as Kixie and Pipedrive’s Caller automatically log calls and call recordings in real time. This helps to keep your reps more organized and gives them a chance to revisit the calls at a later time to glean insights from the conversation. Further, these tools can route calls to your rep’s cell phones so that if they step away from their desk they won’t miss a call. 

Sales technology like this helps to free your reps from hours of manual effort they’d otherwise put into these activities. With this newfound free time and additional automated support, your reps will feel empowered to focus on driving results and revenue.

Eliminate time-consuming tasks from your reps’ schedules

Research from McKinsey notes that approximately half of all repetitive tasks at work could be automated. These tasks include:

  • Manual data entry and note-taking
  • Researching outreach candidates
  • Following up with customers and agents
  • Approvals and updates on campaigns or sales initiatives

The same McKinsey study also notes that the average worker can save more than six hours per week through sales automation.

Cutting out tedious tasks not only frees up your reps’ time to talk to customers, it also helps them avoid burnout, which is a symptom of feeling undervalued and overwhelmed. In our State of Sales Report 2019-2020, 54% of sales reps reported regularly working on the weekend, 68% reported not being compensated for weekend work and about a fifth (22%) of sales professionals are working 50+ hours per week. 

sales technology work weekends

Long hours for little compensation make it difficult to find an optimal work-life balance. By removing tedious tasks, you give reps back crucial hours in their work week, helping to reduce stress levels and boost motivation. Ultimately, automating manual tasks with sales software allows reps to focus on the parts of their jobs that bring them true joy: selling. 

Moreover, high-performing reps often take the time to hone their soft skills that ultimately make them better reps and sales leaders, while reps who are busy with time-consuming manual tasks don’t have the time in their day to upskill and grow. 

Considering that 92% of our survey respondents reported developing their sales skills on the job, the best way to set your reps up for success is to give them enough free time to learn and improve. How can you do that? By providing them with the tools they need to automate manual tasks, thus giving them the space they need to improve their sales performance and ultimately deliver valuable results. 

Give your sales team a competitive advantage 

Our State of Sales Report highlights the fact that roughly half of sales teams aren’t relying on any sort of dedicated sales technology or automation tools for prospecting. That means there’s a massive window of opportunity for your business to outperform your competition.

Let’s say you have automated processes and workflows set up to immediately respond to queries, follow-up with customers and gather more information on people prior to prospecting. Doing so increases your efficiency and ability to expand your pipeline and will put you ahead of a competitor that’s still using spreadsheets or conducting manual outreach.

For example, a tool like Leadfeeder allows you to define filters that qualify a visiting company as a sales qualified lead. This way, when a new lead visits your website, if that visitor aligns with your predefined filters Leadfeeder will automatically sync those details with your CRM and create a new lead, activity and deal in your CRM record. Then, it will automatically send notifications to your reps to look into the lead further. 

With the right technology, sales teams can do even more to improve their lead generation and qualification process.

Pipedrive’s LeadBooster, for example, features a number of tools so that you can engage leads 24/7 and strike when they are hot. Here are two key LeadBooster tools that you can use:

  • Chatbot can be customized and added to your site to engage in conversations with your website visitors as soon as they land on your homepage. Based on their answers, it can then route hot leads directly to the right reps, or store them in the Leads Inbox.
  • Live Chat functionality can be added to any Chatbot script so that your reps can go online and engage leads who are interacting with your Chatbot in real time.

You can find out about more of our lead generation tools in our features pages.

Chances are at least some of your direct competitors are leveraging a variety of sales tech tools themselves, so taking advantage of automated tech can help you stay ahead of the curve. 

5 types of sales technology you should consider

The need for a better tech stack is clear, but where should you start building yours out? Below are types of sales technology that today’s businesses should consider adopting.

1. CRM (customer relationship management)

Perhaps the most important piece of sales technology for your business, your CRM serves as an all-in-one platform to manage your lead and customer information. Think of your CRM solution as the central hub that you build the rest of your sales tools around. 

As noted by our State of Sales Report, people who use a CRM tool for sales are 9% more likely to hit their sales targets. Those same respondents also said they were more satisfied in their sales roles.

sales technology targets

That’s because a CRM does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to your day-to-day customer interactions. From emails and phone calls to individual interactions with your company site, your CRM logs it all for prospects, leads and customers alike. This alone allows you to save hours upon hours of manual data entry.

In addition to tracking your previous interactions, a CRM also gives you a place to plan your next steps. At a glance, you can see which conversations you’ve already had and what’s next as you approach closing.

Having these details front-and-center makes it easier to establish an effective sales cadence for each and every customer. 

A CRM should keep you from having to bounce between spreadsheets, your inbox and your business’ dialer. Also, features such as built-in email templates allow you to personalize your sales strategy in a way that’s scalable.

Tracking transactions and deals closed in your CRM lets you see the direct ROI of your sales efforts. Additionally, features such as sales forecasting enable you to use customer data to understand how your teams’ performance is poised to impact your business at large.

A CRM system gives you a constant pulse on your sales team’s activities and the overall health of your pipeline. Your reps can also access this information, and know you can, which creates a sense of accountability and helps them understand what works and keep deals moving. A CRM is a must-have in terms of sales technology and pipeline management.

2. Lead enrichment tools

Another key takeaway from our State of Sales Report is the fact that prospecting and qualifying leads are among the top challenges of modern sales teams.

According to our State of Sales Report, only half of reps (52%) say that they spend a large proportion of their workday actively selling. Meanwhile, 47% of survey respondents reported spending a large proportion of their time on prospecting. While prospecting is important when personalizing outreach, research can be a huge time-sink if your conversations don’t pan out. This is where lead enrichment comes into play. 

Simply put, lead enrichment tools allow you to flesh out the details of your leads without having to conduct manual research. From company data and demographic information to their social handles and beyond, lead enrichment gives you a more comprehensive view of your contacts.

Take a tool such as Smart Contact Data, for example. The platform retrieves web-data about your contacts instantaneously, which allows you to prequalify leads with just one click. Using just an email address and public data, Smart Contact Data will search parameters such as industry, employee count, or revenue and then match your target customer profile with its retrieved data.

Based on these results, you can then start building out your list of outreach contacts. Smart Contact Data automatically pulls people’s emails or handles from social sites like LinkedIn, giving you some flexibility in terms of how to get in touch. With all of this data synced with your CRM, this is a perfect example of how your sales tech can (and should) work together.

Through lead enrichment, you streamline the process of researching leads and prospects alike. This makes your reps’ lives easier and likewise ensures that you spend less time with leads who ultimately have no interest in what you’re offering.

3. Sales enablement and engagement tools

Anything you can do to take the guesswork out of closing deals is a plus. Do your leads prefer phone or email follow-ups? When is considered “too soon” to get in touch? Could you be pushing them too hard?

Sales enablement and engagement platforms powered by AI can be a powerful ally in helping you uncover these details. Predictive analytics tools take a look at what’s worked in the past and then essentially help to determine the next steps for any given deal based on this data. 

For example, tools like Outreach.io use customer insights to help you come up with a sales cadence that makes sense. The platform highlights notable steps and benchmarks which are crucial to closing a deal. 

By creating sales sequences, you can analyze and recreate touchpoints that actually result in sales. You can then replicate what’s working with the rest of your reps.

This is a shining example of sales automation and AI in action. Such tools help your reps avoid under- or over-analyzing their process and encourage consistent interactions with your customers.

4. Sales scheduling and routing tools

Conventional wisdom tells us that sales teams need to speed up their speed to lead. According to data from Drift, only 7% of B2B companies respond to leads in five minutes or less and only 30% of companies respond to leads within 24 hours. The takeaway? There are sales opportunities out there for companies that can close quickly.

Modern sales scheduling tools can help you do exactly that, assessing who your hottest leads are and how to get them on the phone ASAP. By setting up a scheduler with routing rules, companies guide their leads to the right reps based on parameters such as their experience level or location. 

Let’s look at the scheduling process using a tool like Scheduler. If a lead is qualified and ready to book a meeting, they can simply open your calendar link and see all of your available time slots, or choose from your chosen allocated time slot options for this meeting. In Scheduler, leads can also add notes or links with vital information pertaining to the meeting. 

Once a meeting is booked, a confirmation email is sent to both of you and added to your respective calendars. Finally, that meeting slot is removed from anyone else who receives your link. A dedicated scheduler is a smart alternative to manually responding to emails or conducting outreach by-hand after someone has filled out a form on-site.

You can even take it a step further and invest in a chatbot like Leadbooster to engage with qualified leads on your behalf. This way, your chosen AI tool can engage your site visitors, collect valuable information and even show them a demo of your product without a rep even getting involved. Moreover, you can set it up so that you get notified any time a human connection is needed. This will improve your customer experience, make your leads feel taken care of and ensure you’re never too late responding to a lead again.

5. Internal communication tools for sales teams

Keep in mind that not all of the technology sales professionals rely on is directly tied to customer interactions. Consider the growing need for teams to communicate internally. This is especially true given the rise of remote sales teams

Ideally, agents should be able to quickly share resources or pick each other’s brains about how to move forward with a deal. Sales managers should likewise be able to see how their teams are getting along and collaborating. A communications tool can do the trick.

For example, many sales teams use Slack to streamline their internal back-and-forths. In addition to celebrating wins and keeping teammates up-to-date, Slack is the perfect place to collaborate with folks from other departments such as marketing. You can sync up Pipedrive and Slack with an integration.

Some teams might prefer something more business-focused such as Zoom, offering virtual meetings and video calls in addition to chat options. Such features are helpful for teams that miss face-to-face interactions or are fully remote in the first place.

Sales teams should be able to communicate with each other asynchronously to increase connection, reduce lag times between replies and contribute to a more productive work environment.

Automation

Automation tools can help sales professionals simplify and streamline every part of the sales process.

As we saw earlier, the right automation technology can make it much easier to generate and qualify leads.

Once they enter the pipeline, you can use email automation tools to engage leads and prospects with personalized content.

For example, with a tool like Mailigen (which integrates with Pipedrive through the Syncbot) you can create templated emails that go out to leads based on triggers or set up nurture flows to drive them toward becoming a customer.

In fact, with a CRM that has the right features and integrations, you can set up triggers to do almost anything.

Integration tools like Zapier enable you to connect hundreds of different apps with each other in various ways. Here is just one example: you can create a Zap to send data from interested leads on Facebook to Pipedrive in the form of a new contact.

The right automation tools take work off your sales reps’ plates and also act as an extra member of the team, engaging leads and closing deals.

With a tool like Sales Docs, you not only reduce the time your sales reps spend setting up sales proposals, contracts and more, you also know when best to contact prospects as you can see if they’ve opened your documents.

Automation tools and features are some of the most useful in a salesperson’s arsenal, so if you’re not using any, find out what’s out there.

What else should companies consider when choosing sales technology?

Every business is different in terms of its size, scope and budget. Let’s look at some key points to consider when assessing the best tech sales tools for your team.

Integrations with other sales, marketing and communication tools

Turning your sales process into a well-oiled machine means making sure that your business’ tools work together.

There shouldn’t be any disconnect from your lead capture forms, project management tools and your sales technology. Whether through native integrations or third-party connectors like Zapier, interconnectivity is a must for your sales stack.

Our Pipedrive marketplace is a great way to interconnect your technology by discovering and connecting apps that enhance your CRM experience. 

For example, our Dealbot for Slack makes it seamless for agents to communicate and collaborate when closing a deal.

Pricing

When shopping around sales tools, the price tag is obviously a major area of concern. 

Companies rightfully want to keep themselves as lean as possible. Although free and freemium solutions are available for some sales technology, most tools that rely on automation or AI are going to come at a premium.

Many SaaS tools price themselves per-user and per-month, meaning that how much you’re spending depends on the size of your team. That said, some tools over bulk pricing and discounts for longer-term commitments. 

Note that you don’t need to adopt all of the tools on our list to have an effective tech stack. Instead, you should examine your priorities, such as organization, prospecting and lead capture, and assess pricing from there. Be sure to double-check contract language and consider a test drive of any tool prior to paying.

Ease of use

Although adopting sales technology is relatively straightforward via cloud tools, consider the learning curve involved. This includes not only learning the specific features of your sales technology but also the process of onboarding. 

The technology sales teams use should be simple. Rather than throw a wrench into your reps’ sales process, your tools should empower them to do their jobs better. Thankfully, most SaaS tools have robust knowledge centers and dedicated employees who can help sales managers navigate the process of onboarding.

How are you using sales technology to level up your team?

Investing in technology tools is a top priority for sales organizations of all shapes and sizes. Doing so empowers your reps while also ensuring that your company stays competitive in the modern sales landscape.

Now’s the time to start building out your tech stack. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the full features of Pipedrive to understand how a CRM can help transform your business.

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