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 3: HubSpot Sales Starter (sales for $50/mo) + Growbots (prospecting and targeting for $200/mo). Total fee = $250 per month.
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 processes, 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 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, and Close.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.
Popular Sales CRMs:
The most popular sales CRMs are:
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 a content 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.
Simple, affordable and easy to use
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 is visually 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.
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 a blog 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’s easy 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 their FIFTY-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 their Sales 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.
Other CRM Options and Next Steps
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 or HubSpot to match the prospecting power of a tool like Reply 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 (like Zopto) pull it off. Usually, sending LinkedIn connection requests as part of a multichannel sequence is semi-automated. For example, in Reply 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 a power 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 the cold 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.
Best Sales Prospecting Tools
Reply is a simple prospecting tool for automating email, SMS, and WhatsApp campaigns, and semi-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 UI/UX
- 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
- Good outreach and prospecting capabilities
- Email automation, A/B testing, email domain warm-up
- Multichannel sequences with LinkedIn
- No texting, multichannel inbox, or calling automation
A $49/mo tier is available for outreach efforts only, but since Growbots shines most as an all-in-one targeting and prospecting tool, we recommend the $199/mo tier.
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 like Reply 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.
Popular targeting tools
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 capability Aircall 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 recommend Aircall due to the excellent integration and overall ease of use. If you only need one phone number then we recommend JustCall since it’s more affordable, especially with fewer than three phone numbers.
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 of Pandadoc.
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 with PandaDoc. 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.