The Minimum Viable Sales Stack:

A sales leader I know was intrigued by the promise of better results through technology. He bought every new algorithmic marvel on the market, believing that the software would improve his sales force's efficiency and their effectiveness. When he totaled what he spent, he recognized that the sales stack cost almost $7,000 per salesperson, with no improvement to his team's efficiency (something that is difficult to measure outside of activity) or their effectiveness (something easy to measure by looking at win rates).

Even worse, he soon learned that his team wasn't using the technological toys he had purchased for them. Even though they were provided onboarding and training sessions with every new tech, by and large they kept using the same techniques they’d learned years before. Eventually, the monthly bills forced the manager to recognize the investment wasn't paying for itself, so he pared down the technological solutions. He learned an important lesson: the minimum viable sales stack includes what is necessary while excluding what is not.

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The Foundation of the Sales Stack is the CRM

No sales technology is more important than the CRM. Your client relationships are your primary asset, and a CRM helps you document those relationships. It's also a tool for keeping track of your leads, your targets, your opportunities and, if setup appropriately, a source of competitive insights that can improve your sales team’s ability to create and win new opportunities.

The CRM should provide a single source of truth. When it doesn’t, it's probably been configured for the sales manager and not the sales force. Because most CRM instances don't include a field for the existing competitor or the reason a client is compelled to change, the sales force can't do something as simple as discovering their competitor's main weakness, so they can call on the competitor's other clients to start a conversation about the challenges they might be experiencing. The more your CRM serves your sales force, the better your chances of moving your team from "compliance" to "commitment."

Populating Your CRM with Contact Data

When rapid results matter, one way you can increase your momentum is by putting accurate phone numbers and email addresses in your sales force's hands. Contacting a prospective client without spending hours trying to find the right phone number or email address removes the friction and the frustration of not communicating with your prospective clients. While much online content is inaccurate or outdated, using your CRM lets your salespeople act without hesitation.

One way to improve your team's prospecting blocks is providing them with the information they need to spend ninety minutes on outreach without having to waste a large part of that time trying to find a phone number. We like ZoomInfo.

The Prospecting Sequence

Your CRM might provide you with the ability to set up a sequence of communications to gain a meeting with your dream client. Outreach is difficult for a host of reasons, including the challenge of breaking through the noise of all your contact’s other incoming messages. The increase in the volume and variety of spam requires a thoughtful, value-creating approach to differentiate your message, ideally one that helps the client learn something about themselves and recognize the value you can create for them.

If money is an issue, you can easily do this work on paper, but you will have better results if you use something like Vanillasoft to create the best—and most consistent—experience.

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Video Conferencing Platform

Even though I reject the "new normal," one of the major outcomes of the pandemic was the wide acceptance of video conferencing, especially for sales organizations and their prospective clients. While the salesperson who travels to see their client has a tremendous advantage for winning deals, many of the shorter conversations are now done on video, even if the client is too shy to turn on their camera.

Investing in a good videoconference platform pays for itself in several different ways. First, it eliminates some travel expenses. But even more importantly, video offers a richer experience than audio by itself. A good salesperson will acquire more information that way, especially from nonverbal cues like the client's body language and their facial expressions. Video is closer to face-to-face than other mediums and should be preferred.

Most platforms include the ability to record your meetings, creating an archive of the conversation for future use, including coaching the sales force. We like Zoom.

The Only Useful Social Platform

There is only one social platform for business and sales, and that is LinkedIn. Even though LinkedIn is plagued by spammers, scammers, bots, and other spray-and-pray nonsense, there is no other place to reliably find professional contacts. You can also gain insights about your current and prospective clients, ask for introductions, and monitor what your targets post and what they discuss on other people's posts.

Even though I have long been a critic of social selling, I am a strong advocate of content marketing, capturing insights, and paying attention to what's going on in my client's world. LinkedIn is the only worthwhile place for salespeople to spend time.

Whatever software you settle on, buy only what you need—and to fully capture its value, make certain your sales stack is being used to improve your team's effectiveness.

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Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
November 12, 2021
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