If you've ever had to pick up the phone and cold call your way into opportunities, you know just how difficult it can be to make meaningful connections with potential prospects. As few as twenty years ago, sales people didn't have much choice but to cold call or hop in their car to visit prospects face to face. Fast forward to today, and sales enablement tools have drastically changed the sales landscape.
In order to efficiently build and manage a sales pipeline, sales people have traded suits and ties for telephones, email nurturing campaigns, and social media outreach. While this shift certainly increases productivity for global sales teams, it doesn't mean that the role of the inside sales person has gotten any easier. It's quite the contrary. Our prospects are more inundated than ever with sales emails, phone calls, LinkedIn requests, etc. And quite frankly, so are sales people.
I don't know about you, but even as I sit here writing I'm getting distracted by HubSpot, Slack messages, and JIRA notifications. And I don't know what I'd do without them. In this three part blog series I'm going to explain my love affair for all things sales tools, including the why, the how to use, and the how to choose. So lets get to it folks-- we've got a lot to talk about.
Why Are Sales Enablement Tools Important?
Having spent nearly eight years in inside sales, I can tell you first hand that getting an inbound phone call or receiving an inbound lead notification is like being handed a winning lottery ticket. Emotion washes over you, you start imagining all of the things you'll do with your new found fortune, and then the moment comes to cash in your ticket. Imagine the surprise and let down you'd feel when finding out that the lottery ticket was a dud.
The exact same thing goes for inbound sales. Not all leads you receive are going to be winners, but it's hard not to think that maybe, just maybe, they'll all be a home run. The rise of inbound marketing has undoubtedly provided sales people with warm leads and easy-to-close opportunities. But the majority of your inbound leads still need to be worked just like any other lead. They simply need to be handled differently.
Industry nuances in terms of different sales processes aside, everyone who's ever worked an inbound lead should know that speed is key. According to InsideSales.com, sales people should respond to a lead within the first five minutes that it becomes available. Wait around for half an hour, and your chances of qualifying a prospect decrease up to 21X. So how are we as sales people supposed to strike when the iron is hot? The answer is simple: sales tools.
Take HubSpot for example. When a sales team uses their marketing software, the entire team gets real-time notifications when a new lead is submitted, when that same lead returns to their website, and when they open a follow up email. In an ideal world where the sales universe could call every single inbound lead within five minutes, there would still be prospects who didn't answer their phones. They may not answer the second or third time either. But if that entire sales universe had HubSpot, they'd have a much easier time identifying when that prospect was engaging with their company. They'd be able to pick up the phone and call immediately, saying "Hey Mr. Prospect, I see that you just visited our products page. How can I be of help?"
The challenge with inbound leads isn't that they aren't qualified if a prospect doesn't answer phone calls or emails. Nobody wants to be solicited when they're not ready to buy, and a consumer probably won't answer if they're not ready to make a decision. Sales tools can help us to keep these folks on our radar; they allow us to see when they are active on our company websites, and to see what type of content they're digesting. They can help us to stay engaged with prospects who have potential, even if they aren't ready to buy when we're first able to speak with them. That's a pretty powerful thing to have at our fingertips. And yet it's taken for granted all the time.
These tools or programs aren't just there to provide you with lead notifications: they're there to help you improve your sales game. If you're not willing to put your faith in technologies that can help you win, then maybe you're in the wrong profession. I'll never forget the first time I ran a product demo. I was a nervous wreck, was stumbling over my words and kept making really awkward analogies on the phone with my prospect. While my friends would gladly tell you that this is typical Erin behavior, I've got to tell you that if I didn't have sales enablement tools at my disposal, I would have fallen flat on my face. My manager was listening to my call the entire time, and was instant messaging me answers to the prospect's objections that I wasn't experienced enough to handle. I didn't close that deal, but I felt a lot better knowing that I had someone there as an active lifeline, who was willing to help and turn a bad call into a coaching opportunity.
My why for sales tools is simple: they're extremely valuable, and-- when used responsibly-- can make even a novice sales person into an empowered conversationalist. Next up in this blog series I'm going to be talking about how to use sales tools to your advantage, and how to incorporate them into a regular prospecting routine. In the meantime, check out some of the other content from New Perspective. We're a bunch of passionate and hardworking people who love what we do every day, and who are constantly curious and looking to have meaningful conversations.
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