Modern sales reps have access to a lot of tools. But often times us sales reps must use tools that aren’t necessarily made to do our job better or to sell more business. Many of these resources help with various pieces of the sales cycle, but very often they’re hard to use and not entirely relevant.
In upcoming posts for the Sales Blog, I’m taking a look at the different parts of technologies intended for those of us in the field. Before I take a closer a look, I’d like to set the stage and define all of them from the perspective of a sales user.
Learning Management Systems (LMS)
LMSs have grown in popularity while in-person and hands-on training has shrunk. The manager of an LMS (for example, someone in an operations role) fills the system with courses and evaluations to get a new salesperson up-to-speed and for ongoing training for all of their reps. Sales reps can then be evaluated with mock pitches and tests to find their biggest strengths and weaknesses. Some advantages of LMSs include:
- Standardizing training for all sales reps
- Saving time and money in training costs
- Evaluating sales reps by quickly distributing their performance to multiple parties
- Tracking what training content works based on sales rep performance
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
ERP software is something that you might’ve heard of, but as a salesperson may not have directly used. ERP software is focused on the internal business side of things; employees enter data and the software then analyzes how that data affects the business. When companies become large with many employees across many departments, ERPs are helpful for giving snapshots of what’s happening in every department in terms of financials, people and time. They’re important, but don’t play a direct role in how you sell.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM software is the flipside of ERP. While ERP focuses on the back-end of the business, CRM focuses on the front of the business and captures the details of the customer. If you’re a salesperson, chances are you’ve used CRM (with 91% of companies with more than 11 employees using it). CRM software is used to store information about prospects and customers; from the contact details of an individual, to the specifics about the company, notes about your conversations, or the sales stage the organization is in related to buying your product/solution.
But although it has “relationship” in the name, CRM software rarely directly enhances relationships between sales reps and the customer. Don’t get me wrong, CRM software can be a “vital nerve center” for your company, and offers up crucial information as you try to close a deal. In fact, many different parts of your sales tech stack feed information into it. At the end of the day, CRM is intended for tracking and managing the many moving pieces of the sales cycle, and though it can be used to enhance your customer interactions, it can’t do that on its own.
Social Selling Tools
With any medium comes the tools to sell there, and with the advent of social media, social selling tools are one of the newest on this list. Only 31% of sales reps adopt social into their sales cycle, so social selling is a new field and an exciting one to watch grow. Hubspot discusses three areas of social selling tools:
- Listening: Tools like LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator and Topsy to gather information about prospects
- Participation: Tools like Triggerfox, PeopleLinx or Buffer that help you interact with people on social media, and establish yourself as a trustworthy authority
- Collaboration: Tools that feed social data into your CRM and give team members access to the relationships you’ve established on social media
For years, companies knew that social media was important and used it to great effect for marketing. Now sales reps can make the same progress by having social selling tools in their stack.
Content Management Systems (CMS)
Like ERP software, CMSs are a big part of your business that you might not necessarily see directly. CMSs store and manage all of your business’s marketing content and sales collateral, which oftentimes include external documents as well. Some companies use a CMS to have sales reps get collateral, while others have them access that content through a tool that is more user-friendly, only populating content relevant to that specific sales user.
Sales Enablement Software
Like social selling tools, “sales enablement” is a bit of a catch-all term for software that has many different purposes. Generally, sales enablement is intended to make the sales rep more effective as they navigate through the sales cycle. Software in this space generally looks to provide tools for the sales user to ease administrative burden and ultimately sell more business.
In-Person Customer Interactions
I’ve placed customer interactions in their own category because while many of the categories of software I’ve covered tie into the customer interaction, none of them are built for it. In fact, some of them bog it down (as I’ll be covering in coming posts), adding work before and after the face-to-face discussions with a customer without empowering the sales rep for it in any way.
The in-person interaction demands more than content management or sales enablement. Stay tuned to the Mediafly Sales Blog, as I’ll explore the limitations of the different parts of the sales tech stack, and how you can empower sales reps at that crucial moment of interaction.
Learn more about how you might be losing productivity without even knowing. Download my new eBook, Maximizing Productivity Throughout the Sales Cycle and discover the tools that top sales reps are using to deliver the perfect selling experience!
John Burns is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Mediafly, Inc and the author of Mediafly’s Sales Insight blog. Please have a look at some of the products and solutions John has had a hand in selling: SalesKit and ProReview.