Boost your email open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65%, and cut unsubscribes by 26% with one tool: video. Video, especially in emails, has become a powerful marketing tool because:
It’s now affordable and accessible to produce high-quality content.
Videos can simplify complex topics better than text.
They showcase the brand’s personality, fostering familiarity.
They naturally grab more attention than plain text, boosting visibility and engagement.
For prospecting, videos are invaluable. Start with an email introduction and then offer a personalized video. This makes your video anticipated and tailored to the recipient, increasing engagement.
Email 1: “Thanks for downloading our Commission Modeler. What challenges do you face in selecting the right commission structure? Reply, and I’ll provide a personalized video with recommendations.”
Email 2 (if no response): “Here’s a video about selecting the right commission model for various sales models. If you want personalized insights: <insert link to sales page>”
Thinking of using video? Here are tips:
Personalize: Address specific issues of the prospect.
Keep it concise: Aim for about 30 seconds. Anything longer than that, and viewers drop off.
Be clear: Have a succinct message with a defined call-to-action.
Prioritize quality: Even smartphone cameras work, but ensure good lighting, minimal background noise, and stability.
Expand video use to social media, post-event emails, testimonials, and demos. Incorporating video in your email marketing not only boosts engagement but also effectively addresses prospect needs, paving the way for conversion.
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If you’re in the market for customer relationship management (CRM) software, you’ve probably heard of HubSpot. There’s a reason this sales management software has such widespread recognition – it’s the only enterprise-level CRM that’s affordable and scalable for small to midsize sales teams.
After completing numerous HubSpot Sales Hub implementations for our clients, and using it for our own CRM needs, we’ve developed an in-depth appreciation for all that HubSpot has to offer. We detail these below, along with a few things that you should know before purchasing HubSpot Sales Hub software for your team.
HubSpot Sales Hub Strengths & Weaknesses
HubSpot is a CRM software that offers six different hubs: Sales Hub, Marketing Hub, Customer Service Hub, CMS Hub, Operations Hub, and Commerce Hub. Each hub has a Starter tier, Professional tier, and Enterprise tier. Hubs can be combined for a significant discount in HubSpot’s CRM Suite bundles. Nearly all sales capabilities are contained within HubSpot’s Sales Hub, so that’s what we’ll be discussing today.
Every CRM platform has strengths and weaknesses, and HubSpot Sales Hub is no exception. Knowing the potential pros and cons of the CRM you’re looking to purchase is an essential part of the research process. Read on to learn what we’ve discovered as experienced HubSpot users.
Strengths of HubSpot Sales Hub:
Great user experience from Sales Hub Starter to Sales Hub Enterprise
When choosing a CRM software, one of the most important things to look for is the combination of scalability and user experience. In other words, your sales CRM should be easy enough to use that your reps will like it and commit to using it, and it should be scalable enough to still be a good choice as your business grows.
HubSpot is the only enterprise CRM that includes every capability you could ever need, along with a great user experience for every team size and price point.
We don’t recommend other enterprise CRMs like NetSuite and ACT because of how clunky and outdated they look and feel. Salesforce and ZohoOne are not much better. We’ve found that sales teams who use these tools just don’t like using them as much as non-enterprise CRMs, and find them all to have steeper learning curves. HubSpot gives you the strength (and scalability) of an enterprise CRM without jeopardizing buy-in from your team.
Nearly unlimited sales automation capabilities
HubSpot has just about every workflow and task automation you’d ever need. Sales Hub Professional is enough automation for most teams and costs a maximum of $500/month for five users, whereas Sales Hub Starter ($20/month) is just enough automation for small teams just starting out. Either way, this is far more automation options than a non-enterprise CRM like Pipedrive.
Because HubSpot Sales Hub is one of the largest sales CRMs, there are options for integrating with nearly every software you use in the HubSpot App Marketplace. This doesn’t mean every integration will be useful to your workflow, but you have more options than you would with a non-enterprise CRM.
Affordable Sales CRM for small sales teams, with nearly unlimited capability to scale as you grow
While the entry tier CRM technically offers free tools, anyone serious about sales will want the HubSpot Sales Hub Starter plan. This is $20/month for two users ($10 per additional) and provides great sales tools for an entry-level CRM. It won’t give you automated tasks or prospecting, but it’s easy to set up, learn, and use to your advantage.
High quality sales training and resources
Regularly updating your sales skills is important, and HubSpot’s training academy and onboarding services offer incredible value. Not only are the courses for learning how to use HubSpot great, but they also have some of the best online sales training courses we’ve ever seen, and this all comes included with your subscription. The free HubSpot blog has up-to-date articles for every feature and process, as well as sales and marketing skills, concepts, methodologies, and more.
Weaknesses of HubSpot Sales Hub:
HubSpot Sales Hub is not ideal for automated prospecting
In order to get automated email sequences, you’ll need Sales Hub Professional, with a price tag of ~$500/month. Even then, you’ll have less automated prospecting capabilities and settings than you would with a dedicated prospecting tool.
This is why we often recommend combining Sales Hub Starter with Reply, which comes out to ~$90/month for both applications and includes a good native integration between the two. One of the other sales engagement tools we recommend is Growbots, which includes both prospecting and targeting tools and also works well with HubSpot.
To do full-blown prospecting in HubSpot you’ll need Sales Hub Enterprise ($1,200/month). This HubSpot Sales Hub tier is loaded with features but is not at all worth buying if you only need it for prospecting.
HubSpot’s buying process can be annoying
HubSpot is a large company, and the sales experience can be hit or miss depending on which sales rep you get. They are open to a lot of negotiation, which can be a good thing or bad thing depending on your needs. While we appreciate when a SaaS company makes the buying process easy, being able to negotiate can play to your advantage if there’s only one feature you need from a different tier or Hub, or if you’re willing to bundle product Hubs, pay annually, or sign a long-term contract.
With a lot of marketing contacts, HubSpot Marketing Hub can be expensive
The vast majority of companies won’t experience this scaling issue. If you want to actively market to 10,000+ contacts you’ll end up spending ~$3,600 per month. Fortunately, Sales Hub doesn’t have this same problem and is much more affordable for marketing teams at scale (~$120 per user for 10+ users).
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HubSpot CRM features that will revolutionize your sales process
To be successful, sales teams must have a written, enforceable, transparent, and efficient sales methodologies. The last two qualities, transparency and efficiency, are not possible without CRM features like the ones we’ve listed below.
HubSpot CRM features that help create transparency:
1. Two-way email sync through the HubSpot Sales Extension
This feature, which is available for both free and paid users, is one of the simplest ways to create transparency for your team. When enabled, the HubSpot Sales extension automatically syncs all incoming and outgoing email, whether through Gmail, Outlook, or any other provider, to the corresponding contact or company in the CRM. Once this is running in the background, conversations with leads and existing customers are all recorded and accessible, making it easy for anyone to get up to speed in less time if needed.
2. HubSpot Calling and/or VoIP integrations
HubSpot calling can be a great option if outbound calls aren’t a huge part of your sales process. Each HubSpot Sales Hub tier includes a block of minutes each month (HubSpot Sales Hub Starter – 500 minutes, Sales Professional – 3,000 minutes, and Sales Hub Enterprise – 12,000 minutes), so if you’re only occasionally reaching out to customers or prospects, this might be enough to meet your needs.
When call recording is enabled, HubSpot will record every call and attach the recording to the contact record, which allows for call review and coaching, as well as the ability to listen to past conversations, which is ideal for transparency.
If you have a sales team making hundreds of calls per day, you’ll probably want to go with a VoIP that integrates well with HubSpot, like Aircall or Kixie. These more robust platforms create transparency through automatic call logging and recording, along with queues, power dialers, and other high-volume calling tools.
HubSpot Sales Hub easily connects to HubSpot Customer Service Hub to provide real-time customer support with live chat or chatbots.
3. Detailed sales analytics and custom reporting
HubSpot has solid reporting tools for both the free CRM tier and Sales Hub starter. HubSpot Sales Hub Professional and Enterprise users have access to even more robust reporting options, along with sales analytics that will help you to keep a pulse on the effectiveness and productivity of your salespeople.
Detailed activity reports and customizable dashboards mean that every member of your sales team can stay in the loop and aware of the personal and team activity metrics that will directly lead to their success.
Efficiency is the effort required from sales reps when moving deals through the sales process, from lead scoring to the moment you close deals. Too often, sales reps end up spending too much time on repetitive or even unnecessary tasks. By becoming more efficient, your team will be able to spend more time actually selling. Time and time again, we’ve seen that sales team efficiency translates into increased revenue.
HubSpot Sales Hub offers multiple tools to improve rep efficiency. Below, we’ve listed a few of our favorites.
1. Streamline sales emails with templates and snippets
Unlike mass email marketing templates, HubSpot sales email templates and snippets are designed for personalized, one-to-one sales emails. Creating templated emails instead of re-inventing the wheel every single time you need to reach out to a lead or customer is one of the easiest ways to increase efficiency. Canned snippets are similar to templates, but are intended for bite-sized chunks of information like specific legal terms or responses to frequently asked questions.
2. Keep leads from falling through the cracks with automated follow-up
When it comes to sales, it’s all about the follow-up. On average, only 2% of sales are made during the first point of contact. That means if you don’t follow up, even with a simple follow-up email, you’re missing out on potentially 98% of your sales. That’s no small amount.
But even knowing that follow-up is key, it’s far too easy for reps to let leads fall through the cracks. Fortunately, with HubSpot Sales Hub it’s easy to automate follow-up tasks based on time since last contact, lead behavior, and even deal stage. Sales automations are available for Sales Hub Starter to Enterprise users, so there’s no excuse for not using them to create tasks and follow-up reminders.
3. Be more consistent with sales outreach using sequences
Out of all the sales engagement tools that HubSpot Sales Hub offers, sequences might be one of the most underrated. Many confuse sequences with an auto-drip campaign, but in HubSpot sequences are actually semi-automated cadences that enable you to reach out to leads in a varied and intentional way throughout your sales process.
Basically any sales outreach activity – 1:1 emails, calls, texts, and LinkedIn messaging, along with other task reminders, can be added to a sequence with natural delays between each step.
Here’s an example:
Day 1: Send LinkedIn connection request + send first cold email
Day 2: If LinkedIn connection is accepted, send first LinkedIn message
Day 5: Send second cold email
Day 8: Send second LinkedIn message
Day 10: Send third cold email
Day 11: Make first phone call
Day 16: Make second phone call
If a lead responds to an email, or schedules a meeting from your scheduling link, HubSpot can automatically unenroll them from the sequence so that you can continue the conversation organically.
Sequences are only available to HubSpot Sales Hub Professional and Enterprise users, but are definitely worth considering if your team is doing a high volume of sales outreach.
More HubSpot Sales Hub features we love to use:
Custom properties – this allows you to track and report on the specific sales and customer data that matters to you and your business.
Multiple deal pipelines – you can use each deal pipeline for a different product or sales process.
Meeting scheduler – send contacts a link so they can easily book meetings at a time that works for their schedule.
Personalized emails – use dynamic fields in templates to easily create personalized emails in seconds.
Email tracking – get unlimited notifications when contacts view and click on tracked emails.
Lead rotation automation – distribute incoming leads fairly to each member of your sales team.
Sales pipeline automation – automatically create deals and move them through the sales pipeline based on pre-defined criteria.
Document library – store and share documents with trackable links so you have clear data on which pieces of sales collateral are converting.
How to choose between Sales Hub Starter, Professional, and Enterprise
With all of the bells and whistles that HubSpot has to offer, it’s not always obvious what Sales Hub tier will best serve your needs. While each situation is unique, there are some general guidelines that will help point you in the right direction.
HubSpot Sales Hub Starter
This extremely affordable HubSpot tier gives you everything you need in a basic CRM, while allowing room to grow and expand down the road.
Choose HubSpot Sales Hub Starter if:
You only need basic CRM functionality without automations or in-depth reporting
You’re working with a small team and limited budget
You’re just starting out, but want to be prepared for significant growth in the near future.
HubSpot Sales Hub Starter might not be the right fit if:
You need to automate sales processes or create custom reports
You need multiple deal pipelines
HubSpot Sales Hub Professional
While this HubSpot tier jumps up in price, there’s also a significant increase in what you can do with Sales Hub Professional.
Choose HubSpot Sales Hub Professional if:
You want to increase sales rep efficiency by automating follow ups and task reminders
You need sequences, sales analytics, and playbooks
You need lead scoring and automated lead rotation
HubSpot Sales Hub Professional might not be a good fit if:
You want to organize users in teams
You need custom objects, custom goals, or predictive lead scoring
You’re integrating with Salesforce or a custom API
HubSpot Sales Hub Enterprise
HubSpot Sales Hub Enterprise allows you to do pretty much anything you can imagine with your CRM, but it’s not cheap. HubSpot Sales Hub Professional will meet the needs of 99% of non-enterprise sales organizations, but there are a few reasons you may want to choose enterprise.
Choose HubSpot Sales Hub Enterprise if:
You have multiple sales teams and sales managers
You need conversation insights, custom objects, or custom goals
You want to automate almost everything from sequence enrollments to predictive lead scoring
You need to integrate with Salesforce or a custom API
Whether you have an established sales team or are just starting out, HubSpot Sales Hub has the functionality and tools you need to manage your sales team, improve sales performance, and scale effectively.
In our high-tech world, skill, experience, and training will only take you so far – and choosing the best sales tools and technology can be the difference between success and failure. But finding the right sales technology for your needs isn’t easy. After wading through marketing messages, sales demos, and over-hyped user reviews, you still need to find technology that fits your budget, team size, and specific business needs. Just as important, the sales technology you select needs to play well with the other tools in your tech stack – or you risk information silos and communication errors that can bring your team’s momentum to a grinding halt.
You may be wondering if these technological unicorns even exist. Thankfully, we can answer this question with a resounding yes!
The Sales Tech Stack
There are three primary types of sales technology:
CRM — all-around sales management software
Sales prospecting tools — specialized software for engaging leads
Targeting tools — specialized software for finding leads and contact information
At the very least, every sales team needs a Customer Relationship Management tool (CRM). Depending on your sales process, you may also need a targeting or sales prospecting tool, or software for scheduling meetings, making cold or follow-up sales calls, and the like.
Using multiple specialized sales management tools doesn’t need to be a hassle or cost a fortune. One tool that does everything is ideal, but it’s not necessary to learn to code or have a large budget to integrate software or use multiple tools. Most sales tools integrate well with other sales technology and you can put together a good sales tool tech stack for under $500/mo.
For example, consider a B2B sales team that needs to find their own qualified leads for high-volume outbound prospecting, and has a long, detailed sales process. A cloud-based CRM like HubSpot can manage the sales process for $50/mo, but it has no targeting capabilities and charges $500/mo to add most prospecting features. Here are their options:
Option 1: HubSpot Sales Professional (sales and prospecting for $500/mo) +LeadFuze (targeting for $135/mo). Total fee = $635 per month.
Option 2: HubSpot Sales Starter (sales for $50/mo) +Reply (prospecting for $70/mo) +LeadFuze (targeting for $135/mo). Total fee = $255 per month.
Option 3:HubSpot Sales Starter (sales for $50/mo) + Growbots (prospecting and targeting for $200/mo). Total fee = $250 per month.
Not only is option #1 the least specialized option (HubSpot has less prospecting capabilities thanReply or Growbots) but it’s also nearly three times the cost of the other, more specialized bundles.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of the sales technology stack, we’ll dive into each of these tools in detail, along with our top recommendations for CRMs, targeting and prospecting platforms, and other sales productivity tools we use and love.
But first, let’s dive into why you need a CRM and how to find the best one for your team.
Every sales team needs a CRM tool. Yes, even a sales team of one.
To close deals and succeed in sales, you need to follow clearly defined sales methodologies, you need to be efficient, and (if you have a sales team of more than one) you need to be transparent. A good CRM will help with all of this.
Sales CRMs are designed to manage everything sales-related. They track the entire sales cycle, sales process, prospecting, customer lifecycle, KPIs, commissions, sales performance, sales analytics, website traffic, all customer interactions, customer satisfaction and more. And they alert your team with notifications when key activities occur to keep the workflow moving. CRMs are vital to maximizing customer experience, and they can significantly improve your customer success program.
Sales CRMs also contain sales enablement tools, marketing and sales process automation tools, sales AI tools, and nearly everything else needed for modern sales teams to manage sales efforts and stay competitive. Inevitably you’ll need other tools to level up your sales efforts further, but the CRM is where nearly all sales professionals live throughout the day.
Not only do you need a CRM, but you need a good CRM and to configure it to match your processes. A CRM that’s not a good fit for your business (or just bad software) will cause unnecessary drag on your salespeople – and often does more harm than good.
Sales CRM Categories
CRMs typically fall into one of three categories:
Lite CRMs – software that wasn’t specifically designed as a CRM, but can be adapted to provide basic CRM functionality. Examples of this include Asana,Notion, and Airtable.
Standard CRMs – this category includes the majority of CRMs and typically works best for small to midsize sales teams (100 sales reps or less). Examples include Pipedrive, Copper, andClose.io.
Enterprise CRMs – this is full-sized software for full-sized companies, and most enterprise options end up being unnecessarily complicated and expensive for the average sales team. Salesforce, Zoho, and NetSuite are all examples of enterprise CRMs.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. While most CRMs fit firmly in one category, we’ve found that HubSpot works well for everything from tiny sales teams to full-scale enterprise organizations.
Questions to Answer Before Choosing a CRM
When selecting a CRM there are a few things to carefully consider:
Will it support all aspects of your sales process, or will you need to integrate other software to fully meet your needs?
What is the user interface like? Is it straightforward and easy to navigate, or does it have a steep learning curve?
What features can be automated? What information will need to be entered manually?
CRM Features Every Sales Team Needs
Determining which features are important to you will depend on your sales strategy, marketing activity, and existing tech stack. Some words to be on the lookout for are:
Email Sequences — every sales team needs the ability to send sequenced emails automatically. As we mentioned earlier, some sales prospecting tools do this better than most CRMs (and cost less) but it’s much less hassle when possible in your CRM.
Multichannel Sequences — nearly everyone doing outbound sales prospecting should use multiple channels to connect with leads. This feature includes email sequences and, again, some sales prospecting tools do it better than CRMs (and cost less) but the integration can be a hassle.
Automation — all sales teams should use automation, at least to streamline basic tasks and workflows. This doesn’t need to be done in the first year while your process gets ironed out but you’ll need it eventually. It’s fine to start with lower automation capabilities as long as the next tier(s) will fit your needs as you grow.
Pipeline — sales managers spend most of their time looking through the pipeline and individual deals. When these screens aren’t customizable or intuitive, or don’t mesh well with your team’s process, it’s a pain and sales representatives will use them less. Look for a visual sales pipeline and a streamlined user experience.
Meeting Scheduler — every sales team should make it as easy as possible to schedule a sales call. Finding a sales CRM with this native feature is the easiest way to do it.
Sales Playbooks — sometimes called dynamic call scripts, intuitive call notes, or “blueprints,” playbooks are interactive call scripts that guide sales professionals through calls and organize their notes. This has a massive impact on the quality of sales calls, data reporting, and transparency, but is only valuable if you have written sales processes.
Integrations — all CRMs like to advertise how many automations they have. Native CRM integrations usually work better than 3rd party integrations (like Zapier) but it’s always better to have that capability as a baked-in feature of the CRM.
Unlimited scalability, with a great user experience regardless of team size
HubSpot is the best all-around sales CRM on the market. It’s the best sales CRM for startups, small businesses, and most large businesses because it strikes a perfect balance between user experience (UX), scalability, and pricing. They’re also releasing new AI sales tools, like acontent assistant and operational chatbot built on GPT.
What you need to know about HubSpot:
The only enterprise CRM with great user experience at every level. This combination of scalability and UX is priceless. Competitors like Salesforce and Zoho have similar capabilities but are so ugly and clunky that sales professionals hate using them. HubSpot gives you the strengths of an enterprise CRM that you’ll never grow out of, without jeopardizing buy-in from your team or giving them a steep learning curve. This is important when it comes to adoption and onboarding.
Unlimited efficiency from automations and integrations. HubSpot has every workflow and task automation you’d ever need. Sales Hub, which is also a sales enablement platform, offers enough automation at the Professional tier for most teams and costs a maximum of $500/mo for five users, whereas Sales Hub Starter ($20/mo for two users) is just enough automation for small sales teams or startups.
Affordable lower tiers. HubSpot gets pricey when you add many hubs (especially with many marketing contacts). But these hubs and higher tiers aren’t necessary for small, low-revenue teams. HubSpot’s $20/mo Sales Team Starter tier is loaded with more features than every other similarly priced option on this list.
High quality of training. HubSpot’s training academy is incredible. The courses for learning how to use HubSpot are best in the business, plus they have some of the best online sales training courses we’ve seen. Conversation intelligence also helps sales managers coach their sales reps on recorded calls.
Sales Hub Starter ($20/mo for two users) is enough to get you started if this is your first CRM, but larger and experienced sales teams will eventually want Sales Hub Professional ($500/mo for five users). The Enterprise tier ($1,200/mo for 10 users) unlocks playbooks, custom objects and reporting, and advanced analytics and automation.
HubSpot only charges for seats that use Sales Hub features. Most admins and non-sales reps will NOT require a paid seat. Non-sales users are free.
Check out our full review of HubSpot Sales CRM here.
Pipedrive is the best standard CRM for small sales teams, and the best budget CRM for startups. It doesn’t have the scalability of HubSpot, but it still has an excellent combination of great capabilities and excellent UI/UX.
What you need to know about Pipedrive:
The best value CRM. Pipedrive’s 2nd and 3rd tiers ($28-$50 per user per month) have more capabilities than other CRMs at the same price point. The 3rd tier includes workflow automations, webhooks, custom fields, quotes, e-signatures, email sequences, custom reporting, scheduling, a dialer, and more. The majority of these features are either not included with other CRMs or in the range of $100 per user per month.
Good UI/UX. It’s tough to pack many features into a CRM while maintaining an excellent look and feel. Many people leave CRMs like Salesforce, Zoho, and ActiveCampaign because the UI is too confusing and it’s tough to get reps to buy-in. Pipedrive isvisually appealing and easy to get situated without formal training. Each screen strikes an excellent balance, containing lots of data while still being easy on the eyes. While plenty of CRMs suffer from “great data; terrible to look at,” Pipedrive deserves credit for avoiding the fate of Keap and Close, which prioritize great UI at the expense of minimal data.
Limited scalability. Pipedrive has similar features as enterprise CRMs, which may make it seem like you’ll never grow out of it. However, these features in Pipedrive have fewer capabilities and customizations than in premium tiers of HubSpot or Salesforce. This is okay since the cost is 10-20x lower than a premium tier enterprise CRM, but since migrating CRMs is such a big job, scalability is key for growing sales teams. Examples of features that need more depth are reporting, deal customization, and automations.
Some key features require paid add-ons. Many of these features are very basic and really shouldn’t be behind another paywall. For example, it’s an additional $32/mo for a meeting scheduler, live chat, and web forms, which are all included in HubSpot’s completely free tier. Document library, document tracking, proposals and quotes, and e-signatures cost another $32/mo. The list goes on.
The Advanced tier ($28 per month per user) is good enough for very basic sales teams. However, most good sales tools are in the Professional tier ($50 per month per user), such as extra deal and field customization, advanced reporting, and more.
Email marketing-centric but well-rounded with great marketing automation
If you’re looking for customer relationship management but still need affordable technology for your marketing teams (marketing automation, email automation, etc.) then ActiveCampaign may be perfect. It has solid CRM functionality for the price, and significantly more automation capabilities than non-enterprise sales software on this list. Although we haven’t tested them yet, their new sales & marketing AI and AI lead generation tools seem more like simple workflows than high-powered machine learning and AI sales technology.
What you need to know about ActiveCampaign:
Scalable and efficient. A big reason for this is the wide array of sales and marketing automation options. You get a lot of automation tools even at the lower tiers, and the price to upgrade to Professional or Enterprise tiers is reasonable compared to competitors.
Affordable, especially if you have a lot of marketing contacts. While this is more of a concern for marketing-heavy companies, many CRMs get extremely expensive as you scale to 5k, 10k, 50k, or more contacts. ActiveCampaign’s price remains reasonable as you scale.
User interface isn’t great. The UI is a bit outdated and geared more toward marketing than sales. This is a matter of preference, but many people used to using sales CRMs may not like this interface.
No competitive advantage if not utilizing marketing automation tools. In other words, if you don’t need marketing software then choose a more sales-focused CRM.
You can subscribe only to their marketing features ($49/$149) or sales features ($19/$49) but ActiveCampaign is best when bundled. The Plus bundle ($93/mo for five users) is an excellent, affordable option. The Professional bundle ($386/mo for 10 users) adds AI prospecting and AI lead generation, as well as sales engagement and advanced automation.
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Niche but powerful CRM that lives entirely inside Google Workspace
Copper is the best CRM for people who live inside their Gmail or Google Workspace. At first glance it’s tempting to write it off as a niche Gmail plugin, but Copper is capable of more than most other standard CRMs.
What you need to know about Copper:
Designed for Google Workspace. It’s unmatched in terms of its integration with Gmail and the rest of the Google ecosystem. If you value this more than anything, look no further. Copper is the only sales CRM recommended by Google, and they’re a Google-backed company – they have no real competition here.
Ease of use and easy sales rep buy-in. Copper may be the easiest CRM to get employees to buy into using since everything is a click away from their email inbox.
Scalability is an issue. Copper lacks many of the advanced capabilities you’d find in an enterprise CRM. You can use integrations when necessary for calling, automations, quotes and proposals, etc., but all these integrations add up to being expensive and a hassle.
Gets expensive. Subscriptions are per person (regardless of roles) so a team of a couple sales reps, a manager, and operations rep can cost over $500/mo. At this price it can be tough to justify the lack of scalability and enterprise-level capabilities.
The Basic tier ($23/mo) is too limited and doesn’t even include reporting, integrations, or email templates. Most will need the Professional tier ($59/mo) which is also limited. The Business tier ($99/mo) unlocks email sequences, lead scoring, and more.
Great for outbound sales calling, but seriously lacking in reporting and customization
Close is a good CRM if you need one that comes fully equipped for phone calls. It has a good range of CRM features, especially at higher tiers, but some of these features are so severely limited that it’s tough to recommend Close over other similarly priced CRM software and sales tools.
What you need to know about Close:
Very well-equipped for calling. Power dialers are the first step toward consistently making a high volume of sales calls, and Close has this feature natively. This is great since adding an efficient dialer onto most other CRMs is either impossible, expensive, or requires a complex integration. With Close you get this feature right out of the box at $99 per month per user.
Easy to use. This is due to its lack of features and options, but regardless, it sticks to its core activities (namely calling and deal tracking) and does those well without distracting in the process. Centralize your workflow by syncing with Gmail, Outlook, and other email providers.
Reporting is extremely limited. You can only view reports or dashboards that report on very basic information, like the number of leads created or calls made. There’s no way to even check conversion rates per pipeline stage or lead source, which is just basic reporting to most other CRMs. Close is aware of this – they have ablog post on their website which is essentially a guest-sponsored ad for a $60-$260 per month integration for advanced reporting.
Very little customization available. Close will look pretty much the same for any teams using it. You’re not able to change the user interface much, and while you can create custom fields and properties to record data, you can’t do much with them. Currently there are no extensions available at the Chrome Web Store.
Most small sales teams can use their Startup tier ($99/mo for three users), which includes a power dialer. Their Professional tier ($299/mo for three users) and Enterprise tier ($699/mo for the users) aren’t worth the price unless your sales reps need to make thousands of cold calls per day for high-ticket sales.
Loved by some for payment processing but known for a steep learning curve and bad UX
Keap (formerly Infusionsoft) is an all-in-one sales and marketing platform with solid CRM and payment processing capabilities. It’s more of a one-stop-shop for small business owners or freelancers than a high-powered CRM.
What you need to know about Keap:
Simple and polished UI. This sales software was clearly designed by someone with aesthetics in mind, which may be helpful in getting buy-in from users. However, this simplicity and compact design may be a downside for users looking for a full-suite CRM.
Great automations for the price, and easy to implement. In part due to its simple UI, it’s easy to automate workflows in Keap. There’s a vast number of automations you can use within Keap, and it’seasy to create automations from your sales pipeline. You won’t find more automations than in enterprise CRMs like HubSpot, but it’s easier for users to configure these automations on their own (in part due to their simplicity).
Strong and simple text messaging. Keap has a tab dedicated to text messaging and it’s easy to send quick texts to contacts from their file. Sales teams who rely heavily on texting may find this worth the price of admission.
Limited complexity, customization, and reporting. Companies with complex deals and detailed, data-driven sales processes simply cannot use Keap. In the sales pipeline, only basic properties like deal value, deal contacts, deal stage, and deal status are available. This is fine if you’re selling simple widgets, but teams selling complex products or services need more customization in their sales pipeline, contact, and company screens. You can’t create custom reports or dashboards based on metrics or custom properties you’re interested in.
The Pro tier ($149/mo for two users) is likely enough for most users. If you need more e-commerce features like promo codes or marketing analytics tools, get the Max tier at $199/mo for three users.
Every feature imaginable but exhausting to shop for, learn, and use
Salesforce is a multi-faceted CRM with extensive capabilities… at a price. Due to the availability of features, the user interface can feel busy and overwhelming. The learning curve is substantial and implementation often requires (paid) professional assistance.
What you need to know about Salesforce:
Unlimited functionality and scalability. Salesforce is ubiquitous in the sales and software industries. It’s everywhere because it can do everything. It’s designed for large, enterprise companies who want to invest in one super-powered CRM they’ll never grow out of. Salesforce is constantly adding new functionality, improving existing technology, and buying massive companies (e.g., Slack, Tableau) to roll into their offering. This has an absurd effect on the buying experience (detailed below), but if you’re okay with that and its other weaknesses, you will find everything you need in Salesforce.
Terrible user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). Salesforce is far too complex for its own good. You need a certified Salesforce consultant to set it up and extensive training for anyone using it. That’s not to say all enterprise CRMs are simple to use and set up, but if you care about an intuitive and easy-to-use CRM then HubSpot beats Salesforce in nearly every category.
Horrible buying experience. There are 13 different products, each with up to four tiers. Nearly all are designed to rope you into theirFIFTY-SIX PAGE list of add-ons. If you want to “sync your email, calendar, and customer data” – a feature that’s included free in every other CRM on this list – Salesforce has an add-on called “Inbox” for an extra $25 per person per month. But on their pricing page for Sales Cloud (which includes sales forecasting), their “Email Integration” feature, which is included in all tiers, is defined as “automatically sync email with CRM data.” And on theirSales Cloud Edition Comparison chart, the Inbox feature is included in the 1st tier (“Essentials”) and the 4th “Unlimited” tier, but is “available for purchase” with the 2nd and 3rd tier.
See above then buy HubSpot (or anything else) instead.
Affordable with extensive capabilities, but clunky and complicated UI/UX
Zoho One is an affordable all-in-one business solution that includes enterprise CRM, sales marketing, finance, and web features. It contains impressive automation and AI capabilities. However, the learning curve is significant and minimal training materials are available. If you’re going with Zoho, buy the bundled Zoho One instead of Zoho CRM.
What you need to know about Zoho:
Great value. The Zoho Bundle comes packed with 40+ “apps” with a wide array of functionality. It’s annoying that these are bundled as separate apps (discussed below), but Zoho One does pack an immense amount of functionality that’s well beyond every CRM on our list (aside from maybe Salesforce). To name a few: loyalty and affiliate management platform, surveys, e-commerce management, service desk, inventory, payroll, bookkeeping, recruiting, contracts, password manager, and more.
Terrible user interface (UI). Zoho looks terrible and is confusing to navigate. Similar to Salesforce, Zoho is far too complex for its own good. As HubSpot has shown for enterprise CRMs (and Pipedrive on the standard CRM level) it’s possible to display a lot of data without making sales reps’ eyes bleed.
Separating features into 40+ “apps” makes for a bad user experience (UX). Many of these are very basic features included in any other CRM, such as a meeting scheduler, forms, pipeline management, live chat, and a document library. Even the CRM in Zoho is considered an app. While some CRMs may charge extra for certain features, it’s insane to compartmentalize each one. Users need to constantly click to the main menu, find another app, open it, perform a task, click to the main menu, go back to the CRM, etc. Furthermore, since apps are separate modules, it’s often not possible to link tasks between two modules.
Zoho One’s Pricing:
Zoho has 40+ apps, including one Zoho CRM app. If you like Zoho we recommend just buying Zoho One. If you buy Zoho One for all of your employees the price is $37 per user per month. If you only want Zoho One for several employees the cost is $90 per user per month.
Once you’ve settled on your top three choices for CRM, it’s time to look at other parts of your tech stack. If targeting or prospecting are a big part of your sales process, you may want to consider a tool specifically for that task. Most targeting and prospecting tools are designed to work hand-in-hand with your CRM.
Sales Prospecting Tools
Prospecting tools explained:
If you’re reaching out to leads by cold calls or cold emails, you probably need a prospecting tool. This type of sales outreach is necessary for many companies, especially for startup sales with no inbound leads yet, but it must be done efficiently to make it worthwhile.
Some CRMs have a full suite of prospecting features, but if you try to use a CRM like Salesforce orHubSpot to match the prospecting power of a tool likeReply or Growbots, you’ll pay far more money with the full-suite CRM than you would with a specialized prospecting tool.
A good sales prospecting tool will:
Automate or semi-automate multichannel outreach through email, LinkedIn, and phone.
Provide better, more affordable outreach capabilities than what’s packaged with a CRM.
Be easy to integrate with CRMs and targeting tools.
How to choose a sales prospecting tool:
First decide which channels are important to you: email, LinkedIn, calling, texting, or a combination of multiple channels. Compare prospecting tools according to these key features:
Along with email automation, this is the most common use for prospecting tools. Every tool we recommend has this built in; it’s just a matter of how they do it.
Automatically personalize and send email templates and sequences. This is why most companies need a prospecting tool. Prospecting tools also help with email tracking by monitoring email open rates and clicks in real time. And they help you send automated emails in a way that maximizes deliverability, like with email sending limits. Most prospecting tools have settings for tweaking send habits and frequencies to improve deliverability and avoid spam filters. CRMs weren’t designed for outreach and don’t always have these settings.
Efficiently send LinkedIn connections and messages while prospecting. Email and LinkedIn always increase success when paired together, so this is important for everyone whose target market is on LinkedIn.
This is tough to fully automate since that’s technically against LinkedIn’s terms of service, but some (likeZopto) pull it off. Usually, sending LinkedIn connection requests as part of a multichannel sequence is semi-automated. For example, inReply to complete “tasks” for each LinkedIn connection, you click a button, which opens a new tab on your browser for that contact’s public LinkedIn page → it automatically clicks the “connection request” button → automatically pastes your pre-written message → automatically clicks send → then you close the tab and repeat for each request. This takes around 10 minutes per day since LinkedIn limits you to around 20 connection requests per day.
You need a native dialer in your prospecting tool if you want to add calling to your multi-channel sequences. Cold calling today is largely dependent on volume – if you’re not doing it efficiently then it’s probably not worth the effort. That said, if cold calling isn’t part of a multichannel sequence with email or LinkedIn, then a VoIP with apower dialer like Aircall is all you need.
Keep an eye out for capabilities such as call recording, click to call/click to dial, and the ability to bring your own VoIP or phone number versus needing to use one provided by the prospecting tool. If you’re required to use theirs then it’s likely a higher monthly fee.
Adding texting to multichannel sequences can be very effective, especially in B2C. But as with calling, it must be efficient to be worthwhile. If you plan on texting leads then make sure to choose a prospecting tool that has native texting and an SMS inbox. Some tools let you bring your own VoIP or phone number versus needing to use one provided by them. As will calling automation, if they require you to use theirs it’s likely a higher monthly fee.
Test multiple different copy options in your emails, LinkedIn messages, and SMS. A/B testing is necessary to figure out which subject lines, introductions, offers, and calls to action bring the best results. The best prospectors and marketers don’t magically write perfect sales messages – they start with a bunch of options then A/B test until they find the best.
Email domain warm-up
As described in thecold email guide, you need to warm up new emails and new email domains prior to sending 50+ sales emails per day. Many prospecting tools have this feature built-in, which is extremely useful for people launching their first automated prospecting campaign. This will take three to four weeks to finish (you won’t need to touch it once it’s set up).Google is requiring many prospecting tools to shut down email domain warm-up features, so if you use Gmail it may be tough to find this feature.
This is a comprehensive inbox for all sales channels, letting you read and respond to messages from email, LinkedIn, SMS, and more all in the same tab. This is only important if you do a lot of messaging across multiple sales cycle prospecting channels. This is fairly common in CRMs.
Reply is a simple prospecting tool for automating email, SMS, and WhatsApp campaigns, andsemi-automating LinkedIn outreach. Reply has a fantastic UI/UX and is easy to learn. Reply can be used as a lead generation tool as well, but its prospecting and outreach experience is unmatched for the price, making it one of our top sales tools overall and our top recommended sales prospecting software.
Amazing outreach and prospecting abilities
Good lead database for targeting and contact information
Best-in-class LinkedIn semi-automation in multichannel sequences
Texting, A/B testing, email domain warm up, and calling automation
Most users will need the $90/mo Professional tier. A free tier is available for trial and there is a $60/mo tier for email outreach only.
Growbots is a basic prospecting tool with a great lead database and targeting capabilities. These are better than other sales tools with both targeting and prospecting, but its outreach and prospecting aren’t as great as what’s possible with Reply. UI/UX is very good and customer support is great.
Great at finding targeted leads with contact information
Apollo is a good all-in-one sales technology for lead generation and beyond. Prospecting and lead targeting are both core functions. And while it may not be the best software for either prospecting or targeting, it’s priced well for an all-in-one software and the unlimited email credits at every tier are tough to beat. Apollo is great for managing nearly all sales activities prior to the sales process, and while it’s not a full-fledged CRM, it’s better than most prospecting software in terms of sales intelligence, sales automation, and general sales enablement.
Great prospecting/targeting combo tool for the price
AI-assisted cold email writing
Click-to-call dialer with call recording and calling automation
Buyer intent feature targets leads who may be searching for your product
No email warm-up, SMS texting, or multichannel inbox
We recommend the $99/mo Professional tier, which includes AI-assisted email writing, buyer intent, and calling automation.
Zopto is a LinkedIn automation tool – think of it like an automated version of LinkedIn Sales Navigator. It provides significantly more LinkedIn automation than other prospecting tools, but it isn’t helpful for email automation or other prospecting channels. You need a paid LinkedIn Sales Navigator account to get the most out of Zopto.
Fully automated lead targeting and outreach on LinkedIn
Automatically send connection requests to website visitors and form submissions
No email, phone, texting, or other social media prospecting capabilities
Great when using another tool for email marketing campaigns, but tough to coordinate timing perfectly
Pricing is simple and starts at $215/mo. If using Zopto for cold outreach, you’ll also need LinkedIn Sales Navigator for $99/mo.
Some prospecting tools have targeting capabilities which allow them to search for leads and contact info to be used in your prospecting campaigns. If it doesn’t have that capability, you’ll need to input your own lead lists or use a separate targeting tool.
Targeting tools explained
A targeting (or “lead generation”) tool is software for finding leads and their contact information. You enter the industry and characteristics you want to target, and the tool spits out results. This info is usually pulled from large databases or public information, but methods for sourcing data aren’t always transparent.
Find leads based on buyer personas and ICPs (ideal client profiles)
Provide contact data such as email addresses, phone numbers, job titles, collegiate affiliations, interests, and LinkedIn URLs
Provide company data such as revenue, number of employees or locations, years in business, funding acquired, ad spend, staff changes, and technologies used
The targeting software recommended below are specialized tools whose core function is finding leads and their contact information. If you’re also shopping for outreach software, all-in-one platforms likeReply or Growbots may be the right sales tools, especially for startups or small businesses on a budget.
There are targeting tools to fit just about any need. First figure out what features and capabilities you need, then begin your search.
How to choose a lead targeting tool:
The key distinctions and features to look at when choosing a lead generation software for your sales team are below.
Naturally, pricing is important. Targeting tools typically charge a monthly (or annual) fee in exchange for a number of leads per month (or year). Top tiers may have some extra features, but the biggest distinction is always with the number of leads you receive per month. Note that some software (e.g., Hunter, RocketReach) charges per search instead of per lead, so don’t compare these figures head to head with price per lead in other tools (e.g., LeadFuze, Dealfront).
Data quality is tough to determine without testing. Sign up for a trial or entry-level account or try this: come up with a list of 10 companies in your target market, preferably ones you’re familiar with (e.g., current customers) and can verify. Email the targeting tools you’re considering and ask them for contact information within those accounts. If they have no data on these companies they’ll deflect your answer. If they have data, they’ll tell you.
You need this feature to enrich existing lead lists with contact information. For example, if you have a spreadsheet with company and contact names but need contact email addresses or phone numbers. All targeting software on our list has this feature.
Search by Technologies Used
This feature analyzes target company domains to see which technologies are in use. This is huge if you sell products or services that work (or don’t work) with certain technologies. For example, if you work exclusively in WordPress this feature will target companies using WordPress, ensuring you don’t waste costly lead credits on those with Wix, Squarespace, etc.
Search by Buyer Intent
This feature (in theory) lets you know when companies in your target demographic are searching for services like yours. Typically this data is acquired from 3rd party sites that detect a spike in one company’s domain researching the same solution. We’ll have a higher opinion of this feature once the accuracy is proven to be better.
This feature tells you who reports to whom within your target organization. Similar to buyer intent, this is a feature that sounds great in theory but rarely lives up to the hype.
Once you’ve determined which features make the best sales tool for targeting in your industry and what customer data or lead data is important to you, it’s time to take a closer look at our recommended tools.
After a lot of trial and error, we’ve come up with a short list of options we’d recommend.
LeadFuze is an easy-to-use targeting tool specifically for outbound sales, marketing, and recruiting teams. It has excellent data quality and data volume for a reasonable price. We really like the AI-based feature that continuously matches and verifies new emails, numbers, and socials.
Hundreds of filters to fine-tune searches
Add contact info to existing lead lists through upload
Search for companies based on technologies used on their domain
AI feature constantly searches for new leads according to your saved searches
No buyer intent or inbound features like tracking web visitors
The first tier ($147/mo) is enough for around 25 emails per business day. Contact their sales department to increase leads per month or upgrade to their unlimited tier for $397/mo. Unlimited leads requires an annual subscription.
Dealfront (formerly Leadfeeder) is a robust option that generates cold leads for outbound sales plus inbound leads and ads. Their price per lead isn’t cheap, but the lead quality in our testing was excellent. Fully loaded Dealfront will cost more than other tools on our list, but it’s far stronger than most. We recommend Dealfront over ZoomInfo as the top premium lead gen tool.
Excellent data quality when finding outbound leads
Identify inbound leads and gather sales intelligence from website traffic
Retarget website visitors with ads and account based marketing (ABM)
Bulk enrichment of existing lead lists, search by buyer intent
AI-based targeting and deeper company profiles in the Pro tier
The base plan costs $199/mo for 208 credits per month. Credits are used for targeting outbound leads or tracking inbound web visitors. For more leads, upgrade to Pro ($999/mo for 1,250 credits per month) or buy lead credits in bulk (e.g., 1,200 credits for $999).
Hunter is a decent budget option for finding lead contact information. They boast a database of over 100 million email addresses, but the data quality can be dubious and many are guesses (e.g., “email@example.com”) rather than verified contacts.
Upload CSVs to bulk-enrich existing lead lists with new email addresses
Search for companies based on technologies used on their domain
Email outreach capabilities included in paid tiers
Pricing is based on searches and verifications, not leads provided. Users need one credit to search and another credit to confirm the information is correct (and the result may still be partial confidence). For this reason, the Starter tier ($49/mo for 500 searches) isn’t enough to send 25 emails per day. Most users will need the Growth tier ($149/mo for 5,000 searches).
RocketReach is fairly expensive and has a bit of a learning curve, but it has much better data quality and functionality than most targeting tools on the market. It’s a great choice if you need high-quality lead data without a ton of volume, since it gets expensive beyond 200 leads per month.
Massive database with over 700 million profiles
Bulk-enrich existing lead lists (Pro tier) and CRM leads (Ultimate tier)
Search based on technologies used
Organizational charts and company trends (Ultimate tier)
Similar to Hunter, RocketReach is pay per search. You may need multiple searches to find one lead. Their entry tier ($80/mo for 80 searches) is email-only and very limited in volume. Most users need their Pro tier ($150/mo for 200 searches) or Ultimate tier ($300/mo for 500 searches). Annual plans provide a 50% discount on these prices, but we recommend testing data first while on a monthly plan.
Other sales technology
The following tools aren’t sales-specific, but we’re including them here because they are an essential part of a streamlined and transparent sales engagement process.
Every sales team needs a dedicated phone system for their sales reps. Even if you have the most dedicated reps, cell phones are just too distracting and lack the transparency and recording capabilities of a good VoIP.
There are a ton of VoIP platforms to choose from, but here are three:
Aircall — industry leader with power dialer and advanced call center options. Integrates extremely well with any major CRM software.
Kixie— another high-powered VoIP platform with a power dialer, voicemail drop, and automated SMS. Integrates well with popular CRMs.
JustCall — budget-friendly option with a power dialer and nearly every capabilityAircall has, except for a few enterprise-focused call center options. Integrates well with most major CRMs.
If using HubSpot or need multiple phone numbers, we recommendAircall due to the excellent integration and overall ease of use. If you only need one phone number then we recommendJustCall since it’s more affordable, especially with fewer than three phone numbers.
A step above call transcripts and recordings, call intelligence gives you real time data you can use while you’re on the call (and after) to highlight key points, questions, and action items. Gong is a well-known call intelligence option, however, it can cost thousands per month, making it out of reach for many startups and small businesses. Fortunately, there are several more affordable options. While they’re not quite as full-featured as Gong, these platforms meet our minimum requirements for conversation intelligence software:
Automatically record calls on Zoom and Google Meet by joining the meeting as an attendee.
Transcribe sales calls using GPT to make the transcriptions much more accurate than anything pre-AI.
Automatically save meetings with timestamps for takeaways, topics, or questions covered in the call. Click on what you’re interested in and it plays that portion of the call.
We’ve tested several affordable conversation intelligence solutions, and have narrowed it down to two that we’d recommend:
Read.ai — Seems like it was designed for larger teams, or for sales managers reviewing rep performance en masse. Scores meeting performance and participation. Gives feedback on attendee engagement, talking pace, interruptions, non-inclusive terms, bias and more. For each meeting it documents: summary, chapters & topics, action items, and key questions. Recording can be glitchy.
Tl:dv — Simpler approach than Read.ai: meeting reports contain “takeaways” throughout the call. AI does a good job of recommending these, plus they place a button in your meeting client so you can manually set markers with one click during a call. Great for when you know in real-time that something is important. There are integrations for automatically logging calls and highlights in HubSpot, Salesforce or Slack, and you can easily create clips of takeaways or other key moments and share them.
Proposals, Contracts, and eSign
The tools in this category perform two or all three of these functions:
Proposals — present statements of work, pricing, and more to potential customers who haven’t yet entered the sales funnel
Contracts — upload full-length contracts for customers to enter their information into custom fields and create legally binding agreements
Clickwrap — lets users check a box to accept agreements, which is legally binding but not a full-service, robust contract manager like above
While there are a lot of options to choose from, these are some of the best options for small to midsize teams:
PandaDoc — full-service tool with proposals, contracts, clickwrap, and more. Easy to use drag-and-drop editor where proposals are fairly customizable, look good (not great), and the price is reasonable, starting around $25/mo.
Proposify — full-service tool with proposals, contracts, clickwrap, and more. Drag-and-drop editor allows for immense customization, but it’s clunky and buggy, and proposals look far from beautiful. Price is reasonable but starts at $50/mo, which is double the cost ofPandadoc.
Qwilr — only for proposals and clickwrap agreements. Users with zero design background can easily create beautiful proposals. Customization is lacking but the price is reasonable at $35/mo.
If you want the most complete all-around tool, go withPandaDoc. We’ve tried all three at IRC and this is the one we prefer (and still use).
Internal Processes and Communication
Some of the biggest challenges to being a sales rep have nothing to do with sales. Internal communication about products, processes, and expectations can make or break your team. Fortunately, there are a wide range of platforms that make it easier than ever to bridge this gap.
Here are several that we regularly use and recommend:
Clockify – This time-tracking app is simple, reliable, and has great reporting capabilities. You can also use it for scheduling and time-off requests.
1Password – This password manager is similar to LastPass but we think it’s easier to use. Along with upgrading your security, password managers will make you better prepared when sales reps leave or are terminated.
Slack – Slack brings internal and external teams together across locations, time zones, and working styles, instead of confining work to email’s siloed communication. We also love that all content in Slack channels is searchable, so it’s easy to find past conversations or get new team members up to speed.
Notion – Notion is the connected workspace where better, faster work happens. We use Notion to host our sales manual, SOPs, and working documents. It’s great for creating wikis, project trackers, and complex databases.
Scribe – Scribe allows you to turn any process into a step-by-step guide, instantly. It’s the easiest way to communicate processes and SOPs with ease.
Loom – Rather than taking the effort to document your progress in writing, simply hit the record button and update your team members with async video.This platform is also great for back-and-forth communication when email or Slack just won’t cut it.
Asana – Asana is the #1 software in product and project management. It works well for small teams and scales easily as you grow. Our favorite part about Asana? It makes communication and transparency about projects and tasks simple and searchable. Plus its Zoom integration allows video conferencing.
In today’s fast-paced business world, selecting the right sales technology can be the difference between failure and success. When choosing tech for your sales team look for tools that are high-quality, easy to use, and integrate well with other platforms. The goal is to create efficient, transparent processes that allow your team to spend less time on non-sales tasks and more time actually selling. Making the right choices in sales technology can provide the competitive edge needed to thrive in today’s highly competitive market.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is all over the news. Ever since the arrival of ChatGPT and AI art like Journey, everyone is asking one of two questions:
Will I be replaced by AI?
How can I use AI to get an edge?
Human sales reps won’t be replaced by AI anytime soon. AI can’t compete with humans when it comes to making phone calls, giving presentations, or providing a personal, confidence-inspiring sales experience. At least not yet.
Today’s buyers are the primary reason sales reps are safe for the time being. The technology will come, but when will humans be willing to interact solely with AI agents to close 6-figure deals? Similar to driverless cars, even if you’re told they’re safer, are you comfortable sharing the highway with 80,000 pound trucks driven by robots? People still prefer the company of other people.
So what is sales AI good for?
Today’s AI is incredible at comprehending language. This includes spoken languages and programing languages. This boils down to conditions and rules that, with enough training, AI can master. Since ChatGPT trained its AI model using pretty much the entire history of human text, it’s safe to say it’s receiving enough training. AI is excellent at researching as well.
Understanding language means AI can make the predictable aspects of sales much easier.
Digital sales experiences will change quickly. Well-trained AI can soon replace inbound reps who only work chatbots or inbound emails.
The same thing goes for operational sales processes like targeting or workflow automation. Targeting is a research task and automation is programming.
To clarify, the AI technology is already here (and improving rapidly), we’re more so waiting for companies to harness it and train it.
You can go on ChatGPT right now and teach it about your product, common objections and ideal responses, then have reps use those chat prompts to respond to leads. But, while that may improve response quality for some companies, it’s not convenient enough to be used at scale. We need products that interface with AI in order to use it at scale.
Here are some areas to keep an eye on:
Live Chat & Inbound Email — One of the most frustrating aspects of inbound sales is when reps find a way to mess up easy deals that should’ve been a quick close. AI does best with specific scenarios, reading and comprehension. So if buyers are coming to you ready to commit once you answer a few questions, AI can make a serious impact right away. One of my favorite prospecting tools, Reply.io has a conversational AI feature powered by ChatGPT that’s worth taking a look at.
Outbound Email — Writing personalized emails or introductions is time consuming, and most sales reps aren’t great writers. AI can do this much quicker than all sales reps, but the quality is inconsistent and therefore only better than some sales reps. Projects working on this include SalesGPT and Coldreach.ai but they’re not quite there yet. HubSpot is also working on an AI content assistant for prospecting emails, marketing emails and blogs.
Targeting — Check out this Twitter thread that uses ChatGPT to provide similar (if not better results) than a marketing research firm.
Operational Processes — Read.ai and tl;dv are AI meeting assistants that outperform non-AI competitors. Bardeen integrates in many ways that Zapier and Make can’t hack. Browse.ai replaces costly scraper bots capable of tracking your competitors websites and pricing. HubSpot’s ChatSpot (in beta) gathers reports and sends follow ups. All of these tools buy back more time for sales reps to sell.
This How Smart is ChatGPT graphic shows where AI lands in all major academic exams (99th percentile in the verbal GRE, around the 90th percentile in the reading & writing SAT, LSAT and bar exam.) I noticed a response saying this means AI is “only as good as a smart college kid.”
But hey, as long as it’s predictable and consistent, that’s not so bad.
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If you’ve ever lost a deal because you forgot to send a follow-up email, or you feel like there’s barely any time left for sales after trying to schedule meetings or logging information in your CRM, then sales automation is for you.
In fact, the average sales rep only spends 34% of their time selling. The rest of their time is spent on administrative tasks, such as:
Manual data entry
Prospecting, researching leads, and finding contact data
Attending internal meetings
Reading industry news and researching sales tips
By automating the small tasks involved in your sales processes, your sales reps will have more time to sell and reach their sales goals.
Sales reps aren’t the only ones being held back by administrative tasks. Sales managers also find themselves using their time to complete repetitive tasks that could be automated, especially time consuming sales tasks such as assigning leads to their reps.
In this article, we’ll go over what sales automation really is. After that, we’ll go over 10 ways you can automate your own sales process to maximize its efficiency.
What is sales automation?
Sales automation is the process of streamlining manual, tedious, repetitive tasks and time-consuming tasks in your sales process so that your sales reps can focus their time exclusively on selling. This is accomplished with the use of sales automation software, artificial intelligence (AI), and other sales automation tools.
The tasks that are automated are mostly things like data entry and customer relationship management, manual tasks that sales reps and their managers would otherwise do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
How does automation increase sales efficiency?
Proper automation of your sales process can improve your sales efficiency in a number of ways:
It allows your sales reps to focus more on sales and less on administrative tasks.
It can accelerate the sales cycle by expediting repetitive tasks like follow-ups.
It ensures that sales leads won’t fall through the cracks.
It maintains consistent sales data across your organization.
Can I use sales automation to replace my sales team?
Despite what the name may imply, the goal of sales automation isn’t to replace sales reps.
In fact, the goal is to extract as much value as possible from your sales reps by enabling them to focus on more important things, like building relationships, improving the sales process, working on new sales methodologies, and giving their leads more personal attention.
If you’re looking into using sales automation tools in an attempt to replace sales reps by blasting out generic emails or using autodialers, you’re doing it wrong.
Sales process automation – 10 ways to automate your sales process
Put your LinkedIn prospecting on autopilot
If you’re using LinkedIn for your sales prospecting, there’s a simple way to set it up so that you don’t have to constantly run the same types of searches.
LinkedIn only sends new profiles, so don’t worry, you won’t see the same ones again and again.
Once you get these emails all you have to do is go through each profile. For each one that’s a fit, get their contact information and put them through your sales cadence.
If you’re the type that likes to fully automate this type of thing, you can do so with a tool called Zopto.
To use Zopto, you’ll need to have an active LinkedIn Premium or Sales Navigator account. Once you create your Zopto account, you’ll use the same filters and data points from LinkedIn Premium or Sales Navigator to tell Zopto who your target markets are.
After you’ve filtered your ideal prospects, Zopto lets you automate different levels of engagement, such as Connection Invites, Sequential Messaging, Free InMails, Twitter Engagement, or Profile Views.
Pretty soon, you’ll find your LinkedIn inbox filling up with new leads on autopilot.
Lead enrichment is all about finding out everything you can about your prospects in order to properly target your sales pitch to them.
In this case, knowledge is power. The more you know your prospect’s industry and company, as well the challenges and goals they encounter on a daily basis, the better you can tailor your pitch to their needs.
Lead enrichment tools like LeadFuze work well for this kind of thing. LeadFuze is a tool that gathers information from hundreds or thousands of data sources on over 300 million people from over 14 million companies to give you a complete, up-to-date profile of your prospects.
If you’re looking for a specific prospect, you can use their “Account Based” search to gather more information about this individual.
You can also use LeadFuze to find new prospects using their “Market Based” search tool.
For example, if we’re selling a CRM tool for enterprise companies, we might want to use this tool to search for enterprise level companies that use SalesForce.
This would give us a list of qualified leads with all of the necessary data.
If you’re getting your leads through another channel such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you can leverage LeadFuze’s database to automatically gather powerful lead enrichment data with their Zapier integrations.
LeadFuze integrates natively (or via 3rd party integration like Zapier) with many CRMs. This means you can tell LeadFuze which leads you’re interested in, and every day it will find new leads for you and automatically place them right into your CRM. Which leads us to…
Create and manage CRM contacts
Many sales teams still create and update their CRM contacts manually. Thankfully, there’s a better way. Most of this can be automated.
For much of this, you’re going to have to get workflow automation capabilities in the CRM you choose. This will enable you to automatically create and edit records for leads who meet a certain criteria.
For example, maybe you want to define a lead as “Qualified” if they have a certain title or role in a company and have read specific articles on your blog.
Unfortunately, this typically comes at a higher price – especially with the more robust CRMs like HubSpot or Salesforce
If you have a decent sized team or a complex sales process, it’s worth taking the time to fit a more robust CRM into your budget and set it up properly.
However, if you’re operating on a tighter budget, Pipedrive is a good option that has a solid amount of sales automation for a decent price.
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It’s also important to integrate your various lead generation sources with your CRM. That might be Facebook ad respondents, new email subscribers, event attendees, or new website leads.
If native integration isn’t available in your CRM for this, you can always use Zapier – a tool that seamlessly connects apps.
Use templates to automate sales email outreach
Email templates are a great way to save your sales reps tons of time.
Rather than writing emails to every prospect, templating your emails allows your sales teams to focus only on the important parts of your email outreach campaigns – personalizing the emails and managing replies.
Be careful about overusing templates. Non-personalized templates are easy for your prospects to spot (and ignore) and make it harder for emails coming from your domain to avoid spam filters over time.
Finding a good balance between what should be personalized and what should be templated is important. These days, including the person’s first name and company simply isn’t enough. Everyone does that.
You can balance personalization and templating by writing customized opening sentences in your outreach email for each prospect and templating the rest.
You can personalize your opening sentences by noting one of their recent accomplishments, complimenting their work on a recent blog post, or addressing their pain point on a personal level.
By personalizing all of your emails in the same way, you can easily systemize your outreach process.
If you’re in need of some email templates, they’re available in nearly all CRMs – typically in their first pricing tier. You can also find plenty for free online.
You always use the old fashioned way of copying/pasting from a word document, but that can still be pretty distracting and surprisingly time consuming. So it’s probably worth just paying for it.
If you have a decent number of prospects in your sales pipeline, then it’s probably worth it to pay for an outreach sales automation tool like Reply or PitchBox. Reply also comes with some LinkedIn automation features, but it’s not 100% fully automated like Zopto
Many sales professionals are using these templates rather than creating their own, so your prospects may get an uncomfortable sense of familiarity from these. It’s worth writing your own templates rather than using the ones available online or via your CRM or email automation software. Just make sure you give your emails a grammar check before sending them out to avoid embarrassing mistakes.
To help you write your own outreach email templates, we put together the infographic below about what makes up a good sales email.
If you’d like to post this infographic on your site, please feel free to do so! We only ask that you credit us with a link. 🙂
Saving the infographic and reuploading it to your server is totally fine, but if you prefer to embed it, just copy the code below:
Schedule calls and meetings automatically
The process of scheduling a call or meeting with a prospect can feel like the email equivalent of a tennis match. You send them a time, they send back another, you send another, and so on.
This is extremely inefficient and kills the momentum of your deal.
Fortunately, many CRM tools include this in their free tier. If you’d prefer to use an external tool, you can leverage appointment and meeting scheduling tools like Calendly or Acuity Scheduling to combat this issue.
Simply send your calendar link to your prospect and they’ll see a page like this where they can pick a time that works best for them.
Once they choose a time, a calendar invite is automatically sent to both parties.
Scheduling tools can also ask people questions while they’re scheduling a call. These can collect prospect data such as name, email, company, or the reason for scheduling the call.
Making use of scheduling tools is one of the sneakiest ways to save time on a day to day basis. This type of automation tool is one of those things that once you have it and start using regularly, it immediately becomes something that you can’t fathom living without.
Automate sales call dialing and analysis
This is only really important for people who do a ton of outbound calling, which is admittedly becoming less of a priority for many companies in this day and age.
However, if you have appointment setters or other types of cold callers, this can be huge as it removes a ton of distractions from your workflow.
The CRM tool Close has an auto-dialer built into it, but it’s not always a feature represented in CRM’s well. If you have a CRM that doesn’t have a built-in auto-dialer, you can always use software that specializes in this such as Aircall, JustCall, or Kixie and integrate it with your CRM via Zapier.
If you’re looking to improve your outbound calling campaigns, then conversation intelligence tools are what you need. These tools let you quickly see summaries of all your sales calls — both transcribed and analyzed.
Platforms such as Gong, Chorus, and Wingman help with this by pulling out pieces of your conversation (topics you discussed, action items, competitors that were brought up, etc.) to give you insights about your opportunities.
Use sales automation tools to automate touchpoint tracking
You call a prospect, get sent to voicemail, and log the attempt in your CRM.
Call again the following week, have a short conversation with them, log the conversation in your CRM.
You follow up with an email, log it in your CRM.
Instead of manually logging the process of scoring a deal, you can automate these deal-related activities.
Many CRMs can handle this if they have features like automated email sequencing, tracking email opens and clicks, and automatic call logging.
For email tracking with a CRM, it’s often as easy as BCC’ing a unique address assigned to you by the CRM, and the emails will automatically appear in your CRM. If you’re using email outreach software, you can just set it up to always BCC that address so that the emails sync to your CRM automatically.
If your CRM doesn’t have these features, or you’d prefer to use a sales automation tool outside your CRM for something like email outreach, then make sure these tools can be integrated to log deal-driven activities in your CRM.
When it comes to CRM integrations with third party tools, native integrations are best since the developers of both apps got together to make their services work as seamlessly as possible. However, 3rd party integration like Zapier can be just as useful if a tool doesn’t integrate directly with your CRM.
For example, let’s say we want to use Close as our CRM, but we want to use a third party sales automation tool for email outreach.
First, we want to see what sort of things we can do with Close using Zapier, so let’s search for the app.
If we then scroll down to their integration details and click “Actions,” we’ll see that there’s an option to update leads.
If we do the same thing for one of the email outreach tools we might consider, like Reply, we can see if they have triggers that allow us to use Zapier to make changes within our CRM when prospects open or click a link inside an email sent with Reply.
In this case, if we search for Reply, scroll down to the Integration Details section of the page, and click “Triggers,” we can see that Reply has the triggers we’re looking for.
This means that we can set up automations in Zapier so that whenever a prospect opens an email, clicks a link, or replies to an email, we can update their lead data in our CRM automatically.
What you can do specifically to automate your deal management will depend on the complexity of your sales process and the length of your sales cycle, but keeping track of these small details can help you attribute specific actions to sales success.
Create documents and proposals automatically
Sales teams spend a ton of time on proposals.
Normally, this is because sales reps have to spend time on manual data entry, copying and pasting information from notes, emails, and various other sources to fill in accurate data on the proposal document.
Fortunately, here’s a wealth of excellent drag-and-drop editors that allow you to streamline this process and create beautiful, interactive proposals very quickly!
With many of them, you also get data insights. This means you’ll get an alert when your prospects open the proposals and how long they spend looking at the document (and in some cases, how long they spent looking at each page).
This also means you can further automate your sales process by, for example, scheduling your automated sales emails to be sent within minutes of the prospect opening it.
PandaDoc is a pretty great option for this. They have a free tier that gives you access to e-signs, so you don’t need to pay for alternatives like DocuSign anymore.
If you’re looking to create beautiful full-fledged proposals, then Qwilr is a great option for this. They even have a huge selection of templates you can choose from if you aren’t very design-savvy yourself.
Both of these (and many more) options will integrate fairly well into your CRM and with various workflow automations.
Use sales automation tools to automate lead rotation
This is most useful for decent sized teams that are used to having a sales manager assign leads manually.
Manually assigning leads takes up precious time that can otherwise be spent on more meaningful sales tasks. Plus, there’s the danger a lead will slip through the cracks, which definitely hurts your team’s ability to meet the sales quota.
Not only that, but manually rotating leads can increase the amount of time it takes to contact your leads, which can reduce your conversion rate.
According to research from Harvard Business Review, most companies are not responding nearly fast enough to online sales leads.
In fact, if companies did not respond to leads within a five-minute window, they were at a high risk of losing that lead entirely.
Rotating leads is fairly easy when you have a small outfit. You’ll soon notice that, as your team grows, it can become a very time-consuming task that really doesn’t bring too much (if any) added value by doing it manually.
If you spend a lot of time digging through leads and assigning them to your reps, then go for this, but otherwise it’s safe to skip it.
If, however, you are spending a lot of time digging through leads and assigning them to your sales reps, you can set up auto-rotation inside your CRM to assign leads by geographic territory, company size, vertical, or a combination of criteria. If it’s a free-for-all, use a round robin style.
Here’s a video that shows you how to do this with HubSpot.
Automate lead scoring and prioritization
Automating your lead scoring and prioritization is the best way to keep your sales reps laser-focused on the best opportunities.
Since, according to research from MarketingSherpa, most businesses don’t use any form of lead scoring, this alone can give you a leg up on your competitors since the ROI of this is so high.
This is done by making use of an automated lead scoring system. This type of sales automation software uses demographic and behavioral data to determine how qualified a lead is.
This way, sales reps know exactly which leads to prioritize.
Unfortunately, this kind of feature is typically in a higher pricing tier for most CRMs. This means that you need to have great data and a high volume of leads for it to be worthwhile.
The data is especially important since you’ll need to make rules for the leads to be scored. If you don’t have much data, then there’s really not much to score.
However, if you have the data and volume, and qualifying leads is important to you, then this is an extremely valuable form of automation. You end up spending less time speaking with leads who have a lower chance of converting.
If you prefer to use software outside of your CRM, you can do this with marketing automation software like Autopilot or ActiveCampaign. You can even connect these to your CRM with Zapier integrations.
With the best sales automation software on your side, your sales team will be able to accomplish so much more. Implement these systems, and the results will speak for themselves!
Have you set up any automations that have helped your sales team? Let me know in the comments!
If you need further guidance when it comes to setting up automations that will help your sales team, check out our self-paced workshop!
When people share their email addresses in Tweets, they often attempt to hide them from bots by replacing “.” and “@” with things like “dot” and “at,” or by separating the parts of their email with spaces.
So when using Twitter’s search, you can use words like “email,” “me,” “contact,” “reach,” “dot,” and “at” to find times they may have shared their email address in a tweet.
If you want to search for exact phrases, like “email me,” just surround that phrase in quotes.
5. Leverage Google search operators
Using Google, you might get lucky by typing your prospects name and “email address” into the search box.
Unfortunately, if your prospect has a common name, this may be difficult. This is where Google search operators can come in handy.
Basically, search operators are a way to further filter your search results in Google. For example, if you put “site:irc.me” into your search, it will only show results for that domain.
You can use some of these to your advantage when looking for email addresses.
Here are some examples of search strings you can use to find email addresses in Google:
[name] + email (or) email address
[name] + contact (or) contact information (or) contact me
[name] + email
[name] + contact
If you know what site your prospect is a part of, try these:
If these don’t prove successful in Google, try another search engine. Different search engines use different algorithms, meaning the results will be different.
6. Contact them through their email list
If the person you’re trying to contact has a website or blog, you can often reach them through their email list.
Usually, these emails are sent out using their personal email address at this domain.
This means that when you get emails about new blog posts from this email address, you can respond to it and they’ll get your email!
This can be a great way to build relationships.
Here’s an example of how I did this to connect with Neil Patel:
All I did was sign up for his newsletter, and when I noticed a typo in the article he sent out, I replied to the email.
Granted, I wasn’t pitching him anything here, but this is just to show that the concept works.
Keep in mind that, sometimes, these emails will be sent out from generic email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org or similar email addresses.
If you reply to these, your response might still forward to the contact’s personal email address, so it’s still worth a shot.
7. Ask for an introduction through their generic email or contact form
Most big websites and companies have generic email addresses listed on their site (such as email@example.com) or have contact forms on their site.
Usually, emails sent through these are handled by assistants or the company’s support team.
So to get in contact with the right person, just send a simple message through this channel asking for an introduction. Something like this will work:
For best results, it’s best to use a signature in your email that clearly describes who you are. If you’re using VA’s to collect contact information for you, make sure their signature mentions the fact that they work for you.
8. Check about us, contact, or author pages
Sometimes, finding an email address really is as simple as looking for the right page on your target’s website.
Many companies will list email addresses on contact, about us, or meet the team pages.
If the site is content heavy, they may even have author pages that contain the author’s email address.
Sometimes, finding these pages directly on their website can be difficult. If you’re having a hard time finding them, you can try typing the following search strings into Google:
site:example.com + your contact’s name
While I’ve found using Google to be the best approach for this, you can also try typing these common URL formats into your browser:
9. Use Facebook
When people set up a Facebook page, they often enter as much information as they can and then forget about it. This includes email addresses.
The email addresses they entered can usually be found on the “about” section of their Facebook page:
Since Facebook blocks web scrapers, this method can even work when the email finding tools mentioned above, like Hunter or Rocket Reach, don’t find anything.
10. Ask people in your network for referrals and introductions
If the person you’re trying to reach is on LinkedIn (as they probably are) you can check to see if someone in your network is connected to them.
Just pull up their LinkedIn profile and look for mutual connections in the “Highlights” section of their profile page.
Once you see which of your contacts might be able to connect you, shoot them an email or LinkedIn message and ask for an introduction.
In addition to asking for introductions to specific, targeted prospects, you can also use referrals as a way to expand your prospect list to gain more opportunities.
This is usually best done after you’ve delivered some kind of value.
For example, after writing a guest post for a site I often ask the editor of the site if they can refer me to anyone else who’d be interested in accepting a guest post from me.
If you’ve added lots of value over the course of your engagement, they’re often more than happy to help.
Did I miss anything?
There you have it – 10 ways to find anyone’s email address.