In a world where customers have access to more information than ever before, it's not surprising to see that sales is ever-evolving. The digital world has completely changed the sales game.
HubSpot's research found some interesting insights:
- 57 percent of salespeople think buyers are less dependent on salespeople during the buying process.
- Only 29 percent of people want to talk to a salesperson to learn more about a product, compared to 62 percent who will consult a search engine.
The changing landscape of sales is bringing new challenges and making pre-existing challenges even more difficult. In fact, HubSpot's research also found that 30 percent of salespeople say closing deals is getting harder now.
The best approach is starting to sell the way that your prospects buy. This is accomplished through inbound sales.
Why is inbound sales so important today? Because the world of sales is now buyer centric, and inbound sales is all about empowering the buyer with educational resources to help them make the best decision for themselves. Sales rep are now more of a consultant to prospects.
Ready to build your inbound sales process and team? Here are five kinds of tools you need to get you started:
1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
A CRM acts as a central repository for businesses to store data, track interactions, manage relationships, and identify important opportunities for sales and marketing to best serve prospects and leads and delight current customers.
The CRM has become a staple for every sales department for many reasons. It can help you and your team track and manage customer data, which you can use for lead scoring and lead nurturing.
Your customer data is the pillar for your business growth strategy. With accurate, comprehensive information on who is engaging with your brand, you're better prepared to nurture them and drive conversions.
CRMs give you the ability to facilitate internal team communication. Everyone in your organization can access your customer data, which can help all your teams better engage your audience at every customer touchpoint. They also save you time by simplifying and automating data input and tracking.
When you're considering CRMs, look for tools that include features like dashboard analytics and specific integrations that best fit your team. For example, you can integrate tools like Gmail and Google Drive with your CRM so every tool works together.
We love the HubSpot CRM for many reasons. Not only is it free, but it also best fits our needs because it integrates with all our tools and with our HubSpot suite. That being said, there are plenty of other excellent CRM options, including Salesforce, Oracle, and Zoho.
2. Document Management System (DMS)
A DMS has been essential for a long time. It thankfully replaced paper-based systems, which are slow, inefficient, and wasteful. A DMS comes with a variety of features, like the following:
- Cloud storage, which is best for accessing everything from anywhere, at anytime.
- Tracking abilities and metadata storage so you can see all changes and updates to important documents.
- Integrations with your other awesome tools, like your CRM, email, etc.
- High levels of security to help protect private data.
Simply put, a DMS does all the things mentioned above and overlaps with other systems. But in terms of sales, one of the best features to look for is e-signature capabilities, which brings us to our favorite DMS tools.
One of the most robust tools you can use as a DMS is Google Drive. It's easy to use, customizable, and, best of all, free.
Another must have for us is PandaDoc. This is an essential tool for all aspects of our organization. We even use it internally for our onboarding and other employee documents.
But it really shines as a sales tool. We deliver, track, and manage all our client-facing documents. This makes it easier on prospects, too. They can make comments and suggestions to documents and use their e-signature for final sign off.
One of our other favorite features is video embedding. We always shoot videos to show prospects our team members who would be working on their accounts, and then we embed the video into our proposal documents. This way, prospects get all the information they need in one single document.
3. Communication Tools
One of the biggest issues plaguing sales teams everywhere is silos. When you don't use an internal communications tool, your teams are not connected, which can be frustrating as it slows down sales processes.
This is why it's so important to invest in technology that provides reliable connections. Communication tools break down silos and help bring your marketing, service, and sales teams together.
Another important consideration to address with your communications tools is how you host and conduct meetings. You can simplify scheduling, record meetings, and much more when you invest in the right tools for your team's needs.
For our internal communication, we love Slack. It's the most popular communications tool for a reason. It's super easy to use, includes countless integrations with other apps (including CRMs and DMSs), and makes collaboration a breeze.
Our sales and marketing teams share a channel and are constantly in contact. This is important for them to share documents, discuss leads, and, of course, send funny memes.
In terms of communicating with prospects, everyone needs a simple meeting tool. We use two. The first one, HubSpot Meetings, is what we use to simplify how prospects can contact and schedule meetings with our sales team.
When it comes time for the meeting, Zoom is our go-to. We love Zoom because it is reliable, delivers an excellent video and audio experience for all participants, and gives us the capabilities to record meetings for future reference.
4. Networking Tools
Social prospecting is the process of leveraging your network to connect and engage with prospective clients. As you already know, your network is valuable in the world of sales.
When you work in sales, you should be building relationships both in person and online. According to LinkedIn's research, B2B buyers rely heavily on both social media and word of mouth — 75 percent of them use social media to make buying decisions, and 50 percent use LinkedIn as a source for these decisions.
What's more, 76 percent of them say they prefer to work with recommendations from their professional network.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available to help you expand your network and engage with your existing network.
More networking apps are constantly emerging, but a few stick out as leaders of the pack. If you're looking to expand your network with locals, check out Shapr.
You simply build a professional profile within the app, select hashtags that align with your business interests, and then start swiping right or left to "meet" with others in your area who share relevant interests.
The other tool you can use to manage your prospects and take your network to the next level is LinkedIn Premium. The Sales Navigator Professional tier includes 20 InMail messages, a lead builder tool, lead recommendations, and insights on your accounts and leads.
Additionally, you can use tools like Crystal to make that first impression more impactful with prospects. It uses AI to predict someone's personality based on their digital presence, which can inform how you tailor your messaging.
5. Invoicing Tools
When it comes time to send invoices, you need the right technology in place. Old school tactics are cumbersome and take way too much time.
Bottom line: you want to make your payment process as easy as possible for your customers and your entire organization. So with the right tools in place, you're able to track and manage each customer's invoices in one simple interface. Plus, user friendly software helps with onboarding customers.
Why wouldn't you want to make it easy for customers to pay you?
There are plenty of options to choose from, and QuickBooks is always one of the first invoicing tools to come to mind. It really covers all the bases for your business needs, from managing bills to inventory management and so much more.
In terms of invoicing, it offers plenty of awesome features that make them stand out. You can accept instant payment directly through the "smart invoice" you send. Customers can pay using credit, Apple Pay, and bank transfers, which are free.
The software automatically matches payments to the associated invoices, so you don't need to manually track this. You can also customize invoices for each customer and add billable hours through tools like Google Calendar or Quickbooks time tracking.
Other notable invoicing tools include Zoho Office Suite, Hiveage, and Invoicera.
There you have it — the five kinds of tools you need to get started with your inbound sales process. Once you pick your tools, you're ready to attract, engage, and delight your customers.