Sales Tools – Choosing the Right Tech for Your Sales Team

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 than Reply 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.

Sales CRMs

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

HubSpot

Unlimited scalability, with a great user experience regardless of team size

Pipeline management and deal stages in HubSpot

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.

HubSpot’s Pricing:

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

Simple, affordable and easy to use

Visual sales pipelines in Pipedrive

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.

Pipedrive’s Pricing:

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.

See our full review of Pipedrive here.

ActiveCampaign

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.

ActiveCampaign’s pricing:

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.

Copper

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.

Copper’s Pricing:

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.

Close

Great for outbound sales calling, but seriously lacking in reporting and customization

Emailing, SMS, and calling in Close

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.

Close’s Pricing:

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.

Keap

Loved by some for payment processing but known for a steep learning curve and bad UX

Dashboards in Keap

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.

Keap’s Pricing:

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.

Salesforce

Every feature imaginable but exhausting to shop for, learn, and use

Information overload in Salesforce

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.

Salesforce’s Pricing:

See above then buy HubSpot (or anything else) instead.

Zoho One

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.

See our full review of Zoho One here.

Other CRM Options and Next Steps

Other popular CRM choices decision-makers should consider are Apptivo, Freshworks, Airtable, Notion, and Touchpoint.

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.

Higher efficiency leads to more outreach attempts, more leads, and eventually more deals

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:

Multichannel sequences

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.

Email automation

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.

LinkedIn semi-automation

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.

Calling automation

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.

Texting automation

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.

A/B testing

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.

Multichannel inbox

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

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.

Features:

  • 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

Pricing:

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

The Growbots user interface

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.

Features:

  • 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

Pricing:

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

A/B testing and managing outreach sequences in Apollo

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.

Features:

  • 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

Pricing:

We recommend the $99/mo Professional tier, which includes AI-assisted email writing, buyer intent, and calling automation.

Zopto

Fully automated LinkedIn lead generation with Zopto

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.

Features:

  • 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:

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

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. 

Targeting tools:

  • 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.

Pricing

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

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.

Bulk Enrich

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.

Organizational Charts

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

Searching a wide array of job titles in LeadFuze

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.

Features:

  • 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

PRICING:

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

Turning website visitors into enriched, inbound leads in Dealfront

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.

Features:

  • 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

PRICING:

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

Email searches in Hunter's Chrome extension

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., “firstname.lastname@domain.com”) rather than verified contacts.

Features:

  • 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:

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

Finding contact info in RocketReach

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.

Features:

  • 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)

PRICING:

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.

VoIP

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.

Conversation Intelligence

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 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).

Content Creation Tools

Targeting lead sources with carefully crafted content is an important avenue for attracting inbound sales leads. For example, creating more impactful blog content or videos for YouTube can equal higher conversions for landing pages, product pages, and other money pages you want to drive traffic to.

A user-friendly YouTube shorts video editor can lower the barriers to creating professional videos, and a generative AI tool for writing web and blog copy, can help more leads discover your content. These aren’t simply marketing tools, but powerful lead generation tools for advertisers.

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.

The Definitive Guide to Creating a Sales Manual in 2023

Before we jump into a step-by-step outline on how to create a sales manual, let’s answer a few questions you might be asking.

What size of company or sales team needs a sales manual?

The short answer is that all teams need a sales manual. Even if you only have one rep with a few simple processes, you need a written handbook documenting those steps. For growing businesses and those with larger sales teams or more complex sales cycles, having a detailed sales training document is even more vital.

Yes, gathering information and documenting your processes can be time-consuming. But by equipping your sales team with the tools they need, you’re setting your business up for success.

What essentials should I include in my sales training materials?

Your sales manual should be a one-stop-shop collecting every detail a sales rep needs to know, from their team structure and responsibilities, to how commissions are calculated and when they can expect to get paid.

We go into much more detail in the next section, but every sales manual should include:

  • Information about your business, structure, and key people to know.
  • Product information and your competition.
  • A detailed description of your targeting, prospecting, and sales processes.
  • Rep responsibilities, behavior expectations, and legal requirements.
  • How account ownership and dispute resolution is managed.
  • Training resources: scripts, playbooks, and tech platform use (VOIP, CRM).

What are the benefits of having a sales manual?

A great sales manual will fill three key functions:

  1. Sales knowledge — A sales rep’s knowledge is a key indicator of sales team success. A sales manual is the primary reference and training for all four types of sales knowledge: product, industry, customer, and sales process knowledge.
  2. Management efficiency — Without a single source of information and training, reps are forced to constantly ask management for information. This is inefficient for both sales managers and sales reps. Instead of answering the same questions over and over in a single-use format like emails or Slack, you can direct reps to your sales manual as the single source of truth.
  3. Enforcement — If reps can’t find (or remember) your rules and policies, they won’t follow them. By clearly defining their responsibilities and expected activities, you can hold them accountable.

As you can see, a well-written sales manual plays an essential role in your sales team. Now that you know why you need one, let’s walk step by step through everything you need to know about creating your own sales manual.

The Only Sales Manual Outline You’ll Ever Need

When writing your own sales manual it can be difficult to know where to start.

The good news is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. By filling out each of the sections listed below, you’ll end up with a working document that’s detailed, holds exactly the information your reps need, and is already organized and ready to share with your team.

Let’s get started.

Intro: The Basics

This introductory section of your sales manual should include the “how” and “why” of your business. At minimum this should include a brief company overview and history, and your product overview and pricing.

You may already have this information elsewhere. If it’s easy to read and nicely formatted you may be able to include the image files or document links directly in your sales manual. If this info is detailed in a business plan or a company website, you may be able to copy and paste. Just remember to edit so that the information you include is clear, concise, and relevant.

Also, be sure to either paste the information into your sales manual document, or link directly to the website page or online file. Avoid linking to a folder that they’ll have to sort through to find what they need. If your sales reps find your sales manual isn’t helpful (even just once or twice) they won’t use it.

Team Structure

When your sales reps have a comprehensive understanding of how your sales team functions and how it fits into your organization as a whole, it’s easier for them to collaborate and work together efficiently. That’s why detailing your sales team structure and people to know is an important part of your sales manual.

The Team Structure section should include:

  • A hierarchy chart of your sales team’s structure.
  • Each team member’s name, responsibility, and contact information.
  • Key people to know at your company and when/how to engage them.

It’s also important to include the roles and contact information of non-sales team members who your reps will need to interact with. Some examples include personnel in human resources, information technology, and accounting.

The Competition

The better sales reps can relate to their prospects, the easier it is to sell to them. Good sales reps help prospects make a successful buying decision – even if that means your company isn’t a good fit. To do this, reps need to understand the full range of options available to your prospects, and how your company fits in this lineup.

Depending on your business specifics, the info you cover in this section may include:

  • Your company’s value proposition, competitive advantages, and strengths and weaknesses compared to others in your industry.
  • Your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, pricing, and positioning.
  • Relevant (and up-to-date) market conditions or industry trends.

Be as detailed as you need to be, but still aim to keep the information clear and easy to understand. If you overwhelm your reps with unnecessary information, they’ll be more likely to miss the important points.

Rep Responsibilities

This section of your sales manual should detail three types of rep responsibilities: duties, quotas, and targets. Duties explain what to do, quotas say how often you need to do specific duties, and targets are goals typically rewarded with bonuses.

Ideally, the key activities reps need to accomplish will be tracked within your CRM, and your sales manual should include details on how to do so. Regardless, if there is something you want or expect your sales reps to do, it needs to be clearly defined in your sales manual.

Compensation

Most good sales reps are in it for the money and really care about commission. Make sure you spend ample effort explaining commission terms as clearly as possible. It’s an important topic for sales reps, so you don’t want to be seen as brushing it aside or not explaining it well.

This section should be highly detailed, and should include:

  • How commissions are earned — For example, is it when a sale is made to a new customer, or once a new customer pays for a product?
  • When commissions are paid — Explain whether commission is paid monthly, on the 10th day of the month following the commission period, etc.
  • How commissions are calculated — For example, a 10% commission on total invoiced amount, 10% commission on net profit, etc., with an explanation of how overhead and “net” is calculated.
  • Example scenarios — Give several examples (with increasing complexity) that demonstrate how commission is earned, calculated, and paid.
  • Additional commission terms — When applicable, such as rollover clauses or commission adjustments.

Again, when it comes to compensation, it’s always best to be as specific as you can. Don’t fill this section with unnecessary fluff, but be sure to cover every single aspect that affects rep compensation. Transparency and specificity on this topic are extremely important.

Targeting

Sales reps need to understand the target demographic and how to find usable contact information. This section gives them the tools they need to do so effectively. As with many other sections in your sales manual, this is going to be highly specific to your business and targeting process.

At the very least, this section should include who to target, who to avoid targeting, and how to source leads. Depending on the complexity of your targeting process, you may also need to add information on how to use a targeting tool or lead source properly, prompts for reps to come up with targeting strategy improvements, and (if some qualified prospects are more valuable than others) an explanation of the different tiers of ideal customers.

Prospecting

Along with targeting, your reps should know how to engage targeted leads.

Your Prospecting section should detail your strategy and process for reaching leads, and it should include the lead statuses that define a lead’s position in the prospecting process.

If applicable, you may also need to cover:

  • Details for the inbound prospecting process – goals, targets, conversion process, as well as templates and snippets for responding to inbound leads.
  • Details for the outbound prospecting process – goals, targets, and cadence and sequence for outreach to leads.

If you want new sales reps to be able to sell effectively, they need to understand how prospecting works in your company, field, or industry. Don’t leave this part of their skill set to chance.

Qualifying

How will your reps know who is worth sinking their time into? By defining your qualifying criteria and process in your sales manual, you’ll be answering this question for your reps.

The Qualifying section should explain both aspects of qualifying:

  • Qualifying criteria — What makes an opportunity qualified.
  • Qualifying process — How to properly qualify an opportunity.

In addition to the criteria and process for qualification, you should also explain what to do with leads once they’ve been qualified or de-qualified. These are usually pretty straightforward, such as creating a deal in the CRM and passing the baton to an Account Executive. But no matter what, they need to be explained in writing.

Sales Process

A sales process is a step-by-step process for turning interested prospects into customers. This is essential to creating a good sales manual, and should be explained as clearly as possible. The sales process begins after a lead has been generated from prospecting, or in some cases, once they’ve been qualified. This lead becomes a prospect and now enters the sales pipeline. The sales pipeline is a series of steps (deal stages) that need to happen in order for the prospect to complete the buying process.

A simple sales pipeline will almost always include a variation of the following stages:

  1. Qualified
  2. Negotiation
  3. Closed Won (Sale Complete)
  4. Closed Lost (No Sale)

Your sales process may look similar to the above, or it may be significantly more complicated. The best sales processes are highly customized to their company. Typically you’ll need more deal stages and more sales calls for complex and expensive products, as well as for deals with multiple decision makers or complex decision-making processes.

From there, explain your sales process and how each stage works.

  • Stage definition – Explanation of what it means for a deal to be in this stage. This may be as simple as repeating the stage name. For example: A contract has been sent to the prospect.
  • Stage activities – What tasks do we perform while a deal is in this stage? For example: Follow up with the prospect to remind them to sign the contract.
  • Goals – Every stage has a primary goal. Most have a secondary goal, and some have a tertiary goal. List these goals for each stage. For example: Receive a signed contract; Get prospect to commit to signing the contract by a specific date; Determine obstacle that’s preventing the contract from being signed.
  • Next action – After we’ve completed the Stage Activities above, what’s our next action? For example: Hand deal over to the customer success team once the contract has been signed.
  • Duration (optional) – How long should a deal remain in this stage? For example: A contract must be signed within 30 days.

Unless you already have a detailed sales process, this will probably be the most time-intensive part of creating your sales manual. But even if you need to adjust your sales pipeline and deal stages later on, defining your sales process in writing is a beneficial (and necessary) step.

Workflows and SOPs

Efficient and scalable businesses have efficient and scalable processes. The more these processes are automated, the better. But whenever a human (sales rep) is involved, the process needs to be written and easily accessible.

Here are some examples of processes to include in this section:

  • How to get set up on the required tech stack.
  • How to quote customers.
  • How to process an order.
  • How to update the CRM.
  • How to fill out forms or documents.
  • How to create an invoice or other documents.
  • How to explain our contract.
  • How to request PTO.

If these processes all have their own forms or documents then you don’t need to recreate them. List them all in this section with direct links to each file.

As you document each process, consider including:

  • Step-by-step instructions — Numeric, sequential instructions are much easier to follow than paragraphs of text.
  • Screenshots — Especially when describing how to use software or an app.
  • Flowcharts — For processes that differ depending on the situation or other variables.
  • Links — Rather than just mentioning the name of documents or forms and explaining where to find them, link directly to them.
  • Videos — For more complex processes, especially in apps or software, do a screen-record video showing the process step by step.

As a bonus, documenting your processes for your sales manual often leads to immediate improvements. Once processes are written down, problems and bottlenecks are often clear and impossible to ignore.

Account Ownership

These are rules that govern which sales rep can call on which accounts. In many organizations, only one sales rep may sell to each customer or account. These rules can be complex depending on the nature of your business, but most newer sales teams just need some basic, written rules.

Teams with multiple competing reps need Account Ownership rules in order to keep reps from stepping on each other’s toes, and to keep them from annoying customers with calls or emails from multiple reps.

Account ownership rules need to cover:

  • How reps gain ownership of accounts.
  • How reps lose ownership of accounts.

Again, these are going to vary widely depending on your business model. Be as detailed as you need to be to get the information across, but don’t make account ownership rules that you aren’t willing to actively enforce.

(Optional) Sales Methodology

A sales methodology is a set of guidelines or principles for interacting with prospects or customers. Methodologies are fairly complex and require dedicated training to experience the full benefit and really “follow” the methodology, but you can still learn many new skills from reviewing them.

If your organization has chosen to use a formal sales methodology such as the Challenger Model, Solution Selling, or Sandler Method then you’ll want to dedicate this section to explaining that methodology and how it works.

Objection Handling & Value Selling

This section should include information on common objections and how to overcome them, along with specific ways to provide value to your customers.

Objection Handling When building this section, you’ll want to take every objection and concern you can think of and highlight them here. For each of them you’ll want to include:

  1. The objection.
  2. An example response.
  3. An explanation for why the example response is an ideal response.
  4. (Optional) Background on the objection.

Try to explain each objection in as much detail as possible. The more context the sales reps understand behind the objection, the better they’ll be able to handle them on the fly and come from a place of mutual understanding when speaking to the prospect about that concern.

Value Selling

While objection handling is more about responding to objections properly, value selling is hearing customer pain points or buying criteria then matching them to features of your product and end-benefits to customers. Proper objection handling keeps you from losing deals whereas well-trained value selling enables you to win deals.

Value selling is easiest to create in a simple table with the following three columns:

  1. Pain point / buying criteria — A potential customer’s issue, need, or goal that can be solved with our product.
  2. Features — Our product features that solve this issue, fulfill this need, or reach this goal.
  3. Benefit — The end-benefit to customers who use this feature to resolve this point point or buying criteria.

When working on your value selling table, keep in mind the differences between capabilities, features, and benefits. For example, if your laptop has a fingerprint scanner, it saves you the trouble of needing to type in your password when you log in. The feature here is the fingerprint scanner, the capability is unlocking your computer, and the benefit is the few seconds that the fingerprint scanner saves you versus typing in your password manually.

Of course, if you haven’t already worked through value selling or objection handling, creating this section of your sales manual is going to be somewhat time-intensive but very beneficial in the long run.

Resources

The purpose of this section is to make this manual the one-and-only document sales reps need. Inevitably your reps are going to need to use other software, reference personal documents such as contracts, and more. If you can use this section to link to every other resource your reps will ever need, you’ll have made your sales manual a very usable single source of truth.

Some common resources to link to include:

  • Sales & marketing collateral (stored in CRM, Drive, Dropbox, etc.).
  • Personal documents (employee contract, commission reports, etc.).
  • HR platform.
  • Websites for CRM, targeting, or prospecting tools.
  • Industry publications or blogs.

Basically, if it’s something your reps are going to need to reference or access, link to it under Resources.

How to format your sales manual

Don’t use multiple documents in multiple locations with multiple versions. If helpful information is difficult to find, or in numerous locations, reps will spend unnecessary time looking for them (or won’t look at all). Your sales manual should be housed in one company-wide document with links to sales-relevant external docs, URLs, etc.

Use these sections as a foundation for creating your sales manual:

  • Basics — Introduction to the role and company.
  • Team Structure — Your current sales team and key people to know.
  • Competition — Where you stand among your competitors.
  • Responsibilities — Expectations and quotas for your sales reps.
  • Compensation — How commission is earned and paid.
  • Targeting – Your target demographic and how to find their contact information.
  • Prospecting — How to find leads and engage them.
  • Qualifying — Criteria and process for ensuring an opportunity is worth your time.
  • Sales Process — The stages and processes for turning prospects into customers.
  • Workflows & SOPs — Processes and guidelines reps need to follow on a daily basis.
  • Account Ownership Rules — Rules of the hunt.
  • Methodology — How to approach selling.
  • Value Selling & Objection Handling — Tips for overcoming objections and providing value.
  • Resources — Links to anything else reps may need.

Your sales manual is a dynamic document and should be updated regularly. For this reason we don’t recommend printing your sales manual or creating it as a static PDF file. Both Notion and Google Docs are easy to update, and offer sharing options that are simple and straightforward, but there are other software platforms that have similar capabilities. Online documents are also searchable using Cmd+F or Ctrl+F, making the information even more easily accessible for your team.

Whatever platform you use to store your sales manual, it’s important to keep it organized, accessible, and a dynamic single source of information for your sales team.

In Conclusion

Creating your own sales manual takes time, but in the long run it will make your job easier. By following the steps in this detailed outline, you’ll be able to write a sales manual that accurately reflects the sales practices and policies specific to your business. By keeping this document accessible and up to date, you’ll equip your sales team to work and sell effectively.

To learn how to build a sales plan check out this guide.

Want to have access to templates, examples, instructions, and more? View our Sales Team Starter today!

Predictable Revenue — How to Create a Successful Sales System

Order your copy: AmazonBookshopAudible

Need a Quick Overview of Predictable Revenue?

In the outline below, you’ll find highlights on:

  • The difference between different types of leads (and why it matters)
  • What to do instead of cold calling
  • Prospecting best practices
  • Sales best practices
  • The Predictable Revenue 3 Hour and 15 Minute Sales Process
  • How to increase call effectiveness without call scripts
  • How to create your own sales machine
  • Why specialization always wins
  • How to cultivate team talent
  • How to create alignment within your sales and leadership teams

Whether you don’t have time to read the book, or just need a quick refresher, this predictable revenue summary covers the key concepts you need to know to create your own successful sales system.

Know the Difference Between Seeds, Nets, and Spears

Before attempting to build your own sales machine capable of generating predictable revenue, it’s important to understand the different types of leads coming into your business. Leads fall into three categories: Seeds, Nets, and Spears.

Seeds are the most profitable type of lead, but they require a long-term approach and commitment. Seeds are created by developing happy customers and user groups, publishing helpful content online and on social media, boosting organic internet searches, and optimizing for SEO. All of these elements take time to cultivate, but once they’re in place you’ll enjoy a steady stream of word-of-mouth referrals and positive PR.

Nets generate leads through a one-size-fits-all, cast-it-out-and-see-what-you-catch approach. This style of lead generation is typically used by traditional marketing, including email campaigns, pay-per-click advertising, traditional advertising, and conferences. Nets can generate leads faster, but they still take time and don’t always generate predictable results.

Spears involve highly targeted outbound efforts, and a dedicated amount of human effort and interaction. Because of their time-intensive approach, it’s important to clearly define exactly what makes a lead a good fit. Otherwise, you may waste significant time “hunting” leads that won’t benefit from your offering after all.

The Better Alternative to Traditional Cold Calling

Traditional cold calling techniques involved dialing your way through poorly targeted lists, essentially rolling the dice over and over hoping to increase your odds of finding a good fit. Cold Calling 2.0 improves this process by leveraging technology to create highly targeted lists, using multichannel outreach to create a connection, and cultivating warm leads before you ever pick up the phone.

HOW TO IMPLEMENT COLD CALLING 2.0

Create Highly Targeted Prospect Lists. Using Ideal Customer Profiles, define the qualities and characteristics that make up the top 5-10% of your customer base, meaning the ones who are most likely to purchase at the highest revenue. Then create highly targeted lists of prospects whose companies match the qualities in your Ideal Customer Profile.

Overcome the Biggest Obstacle to Prospecting

The biggest obstacle in prospecting isn’t getting to the decision maker, it’s figuring out who they are in the first place. To overcome this, call low in the company to get information, and email high in the company to ask for a referral to the best person to contact. A referral from above will open the doors to the right person, who is often already expecting your call.

Run Highly Effective Outbound Email Campaigns

Instead of sending mass emails hundreds at a time, have each rep send 50-100 emails per day, a few days each week, to the prospects on your highly targeted list. The goal of these rolling campaigns is to generate 5-10 new responses per day, enough for a rep to handle without dropping the ball.

Emails should be:

  • Text based (not fancy HTML)
  • Brief and easily readable on a mobile device
  • Simple, friendly, and to the point
  • Ask just one easy to answer question

In short, create an email that looks like a quick note from a friend, not a lengthy sales pitch.

Sell the Dream, Not the Solution

Selling the dream, in this case, means to help the prospect create a vision of a dream solution for whatever problem or challenge they are facing, and then to connect your product or service to their key business issues as part of their dream solution.

Ask open-ended questions about your prospect’s business and challenges. Avoid becoming too eager until you’re certain there’s a mutual fit. Until then, your biggest challenge is to stay focused on the prospect’s business and not your own product or service.

Cold Calling 2.0 is best for:
  • Companies who can have at least one person fully dedicated to prospecting, and:
  • A sales automation system/CRM
  • Prospects who use email
  • A proven product or service that has generated revenue
  • Customer lifetime values of $10,000 or more

Will Cold Calling 2.0 work for companies with lower customer lifetime values or those without a dedicated prospecting team? It will, but it may not be as profitable as it will be for companies who are a better fit.

 

 

COLD CALLING 2.0 STEPS

Clarify Your Ideal Customer Profile

Define three to five key criteria that define your ideal customer, any red flags to watch out for, the type of ideal contact within that organization, and their core challenges.

Build Your Prospect List

You can DIY lead generation, but it’s better to use a hyper-targeted list creator like LeadFuze and other lead gen platforms to quickly generate lists that match your ideal customer profile.

Run Outbound Email Campaigns

Send 50-100 targeted mass emails a day. Use these emails to generate referrals to the right person in the company, then follow up on the referrals and responses with phone calls. Emails should be plain text, to the point, and ask just one simple question (for a referral).

Sell the Dream

The goal of selling the dream is not to “sell” them on your product or service. Instead, you want to help your prospect visualize a dream solution that will solve their problem, and then help them to connect your product to their issue as part of the solution.

Pass the Baton

Establish what exactly makes a lead qualified, then create and use a clearly defined process to hand off to the Account Executive who will then re-qualify and (ideally) close the prospect.

Ultimately, Cold Calling 2.0 is successful when sales reps use these systems consistently and focus their attention on actions that generate results.

Prospecting Best Practices

Intentionally design your day for success. To maintain enthusiasm, make sure to take a break every 90 minutes, take a full lunch break, and commit to stopping work at a set time every day.

Use these tactics to avoid common prospecting mistakes:

  • Make sure your expectations are realistic. Even short sales cycles can take upwards of two to four weeks.
  • Keep your emails bite-sized and honest, and only ask one question per message. Writing long, overly detailed emails, and/or using gimmicky sales tactics will only hurt you in the long run.
  • Send emails before 9am and after 5pm, and avoid sending on Fridays and Mondays.
  • Go deep instead of wide. Consistent effort with targeted accounts is going to be the best use of your time.
  • Don’t give up too quickly on targets that are a good fit.
  • Don’t linger too long with non-ideal targets that aren’t a good fit.
  • Make sure you’re tracking the right metrics. Don’t just throw activity at a goal; measure actions that are proven to get results.
  • Call low to learn about the company.
  • Email high to get referred down to the right person.
  • Remember you’re a non-threatening researcher, not an insensitive, pushy salesperson.

Carve out time each week for activities that are important but not urgent. Like eating right and exercising, if you don’t make time for something it won’t happen. Don’t fall into the trap of being so busy that you don’t get anything done.

Sales Best Practices

Sales used to be all about promotion, and involved controlling and manipulating prospects just to get a sale. The actual product didn’t matter. But the advent of the internet changed sales forever, putting power in the hands of the buyers.

Great companies and salespeople have recognized this change and switched to using attraction instead. Instead of pushing people toward a sale, attraction is a much gentler and respectful process that is focused on adding real value to the prospect before, during, and long after the sale. This creates long-term relationships, referrals, and goodwill and trust toward you and your company as a whole.

Instead of obsessing about closing, become passionate about helping your customers succeed. Selling with your prospects’ success in mind will help you pull them through a buying journey rather than push them through a sales cycle.

You’ll also want to focus on the decision-making process, rather than putting too much emphasis on the decision maker.

You can do this by asking questions like:

  • How have you evaluated similar products or services?
  • Who is involved in making this decision?
  • What are the most important factors in the purchase decision?

Don’t hold back on building a relationship with the decision maker, just keep your questions focused on learning the process and gathering information rather than instantly closing the deal.

The Predictable Revenue 3 Hour and 15 Minute Sales Process

The Predictable Revenue 3 Hour and 15 Minute Sales Process is based on answering three simple questions to determine fit and the prospect’s willingness and ability to move forward.

In a nutshell, the process looks like this:

STEP ONE: (15 MINUTES)

Connect with the prospect in a quick, 15 minute call. This is the time to ask targeted questions that will answer the question “Is this a waste of time?” If the answer is no, move on to Step Two.

STEP TWO: (ONE HOUR)

Schedule a one hour discovery call with one or two of the prospect’s point people. The purpose of this call is to determine “Is there a fit?” If the answer is no, the process stops here. If the answer is yes, move on.

STEP THREE: (TWO HOURS)

Set up an in-depth, two hour working session to answer the question “Should we work together?” Work together with the client to create a clearly defined and compelling vision that will pull them forward through the buying journey.

The 3 Hour and 15 Minute Sales Process is effective, because by eliminating poor fit prospects at the beginning of the sales process, you’ll be saving time for the prospects most likely to buy overall.

How to Increase Call Effectiveness Without Scripts

Call Scripts have been the gold standard for cold calling, and they have their place, but people are becoming increasingly attuned to canned questions. To address this, use call planning and call flows to increase the effectiveness of your calls without using call scripts.

CALL PLANNING

Consider using the AAA Call Planning technique. This involves making a quick list prior to a call that defines the answers you want to learn, the attitudes you want your prospects to feel, and the desired actions that should occur after the call.

CALL FLOWS

Ideally, you should take a research based approach with prospects, using the first half of the call to learn about their business and needs, and the second half of the call to position your service and value specifically as it relates to their business challenges and needs.

HOW TO LEAVE VOICEMAILS THAT GET RESULTS

Avoid being overly businesslike when leaving voicemail messages. Be warm and sincere, like you would talk to a family member or friend. Speak slowly and clearly, state your full name and phone number at the beginning and end of the message, and give them a clear and compelling reason to return your call. Voicemail is particularly effective when used in combination with email.

How to Create Your Own Sales Machine

A sales machine that generates consistent, predictable revenue involves three key parts: predictable lead generation, a specialized sales development team, and consistent sales systems (because without consistency, predictability is impossible).

9 BUILDING BLOCKS FOR CREATING YOUR OWN SALES MACHINE

  1. Patience. Creating predictable revenue can take a year or more. Keeping this in mind will help you avoid the temptation to throw in the towel before you experience measurable results.
  2. Experimentation. While there are many solid principles you can use to improve your sales results, the reality is that your business is unique. The best way to overcome this is to experiment, use A/B testing, and try different methods evenly across your prospect list and then measure the results.
  3. Prioritize repeatable projects. One-off projects can be tempting, but repeatable processes are where you’ll find predictable results.
  4. Use a CRM. Create a company-wide standard that if it’s not in the CRM, it doesn’t count. Spreadsheets just don’t cut it when it comes to the automation and reporting capabilities of even the most basic full-featured CRM.
  5. Visualize your process. If your sales process has too many steps to be sketched out on a piece of paper or whiteboard, it’s just too complicated. Simplify your process to three to seven high-level steps that answer the following questions: What is the desired outcome? What does the process have to look like to lead to this outcome? How are we already using the process today?
  6. Focus on results. Tracking activity feels good, but activity alone won’t get you where you need to go. Instead, focus on tracking the right activities that directly lead to your desired results.
  7. Track the right metrics. Avoid the temptation to over-build results and dashboards, as this makes it difficult to focus on what really matters. Work with your team to prioritize the metrics that will lead to measurable results.
  8. Pay attention to the handoffs. Problems or issues in the sales process pop up most often in the transitions between teams, so pay attention to the passing of batons within your sales process. Evaluate and redesign how these handoffs occur to minimize friction and reduce the chance of issues and balls being dropped.
  9. Prioritize small improvements. While it’s tempting to make sweeping changes, it’s baby steps taken over time that add up to the biggest results.

Remember, creating a predictable revenue sales machine takes time. Keep your expectations realistic, and give your company the room it needs to grow.

THE MOST IMPORTANT METRICS TO TRACK EACH MONTH FOR EFFECTIVE LEAD GENERATION AND SALES DEVELOPMENT

  • Number of new leads created
  • Number of qualified sales opportunities created
  • Total dollar amount of new qualified pipeline generated
  • Conversion rate percentage of leads to qualified opportunities
  • Total business or revenue, split into new business, add-on business, and renewals
  • Win rates

Tracking the right metrics will give you the data you need to adjust systems and processes over time, fine-tuning them for long-term success.

Specialization Always Wins

Specialization is key to creating predictable revenue within your company. While it might be tempting to lump lead generation, qualification, prospecting, closing, and account management into one general “sales” role, this blending of responsibilities is a huge productivity killer.

When you generalize sales responsibilities, you also run the risk of:

  • Distracted and disorganized sales reps who are spending their time on low-value tasks
  • Less opportunity to grow and develop talent
  • Unclear reporting and messy metrics
  • Lowered visibility into problems and their solutions

Specialization allows each member of the team to do their job with laser sharp focus and less task switching, improving their efficiency and effectiveness.

FOUR CORE SALES FUNCTIONS

There are four core sales functions in any sales team:

  1. Inbound lead qualifications: Qualifying leads from inbound web and phone leads.
  2. Outbound prospecting: Dedicated to proactive business development through developing lists of prospects into highly targeted leads.
  3. Account executives: Quota-carrying reps who close deals.
  4. Account management/Customer success: Dedicated to making sure customers stay successful after the sale.

In many companies, this division of responsibilities includes a Market Response Representative who qualifies inbound leads, a Sales Development Representative (or Business Development Representative) who is responsible for prospecting and qualifying targeted leads, an Account Executive who works the active sales cycle and closes leads, and a Customer Services Representative or Account Manager who nurtures customer relationships after the sale.

As your company grows, these core functions will likely become even more specialized, but they shouldn’t ever become less specialized. If you need to have one person take on more than one sales function, ensure that they’re batching responsibilities and setting aside dedicated time to work each “role.”

WHEN AND WHERE AN ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE SHOULD PROSPECT

It’s important to focus your highest value people on the highest value work. That’s why Account Executives should focus primarily on closing. When they do prospect, it’s best to focus on existing customers and a short, targeted list of vital accounts and channel partners.

When accepting leads from the qualifying team, the Account Executive should re-qualify the lead through a demo or discovery call before accepting it into their own pipeline.

THREE TYPES OF SALES PROFESSIONALS: QUALIFIERS, CLOSERS, AND FARMERS

The four core sales functions can be further divided into three types of sales professionals: Qualifiers, Closers, and Farmers.

As the name suggests, Qualifiers (like the Market Response and Sales Development Representatives listed above) are responsible for qualifying leads early in the sales process.

Closers (Account Executives) take these qualified leads through the active sales cycle, focusing their efforts on nurturing and closing deals. In general, a Sales Development Representative can support two to five quota-carrying Account Executives. In higher-value sales, a 2:1 or even 1:1 ratio of Sales Development Reps to Account Executives can still be VERY profitable.

While often overlooked, Farmers (Account Managers and Customer Service Reps) are also an essential part of the sales process. Ensuring customer success and satisfaction is crucial to creating happy customers who then generate referrals, renewals, and repeat business.

Cultivating Sales Team Talent

Great sales teams don’t happen automatically. Finding great salespeople is one thing, but keeping them engaged and productive is even more challenging. Focus on creating a great company culture that empowers your employees to learn and grow step by step.

HOW TO FIND AND HIRE GREAT SALES TALENT

It can be really challenging to find great sales talent, so often the best course of action is to grow them yourself. Your team should be made up of one part experienced veterans, and three parts young, smart, and adaptable new hires. The best salespeople are the ones who have grown up in your company culture and know your product, prospects, and priorities from the inside out.

Hire people who:

  • Are problem-solvers
  • Listen more than they talk
  • Know how to get things done
  • Understand the challenges and needs of customers in your industry
  • Believe in your product and company
  • Demonstrate personal and professional integrity

As you build your sales teams, be intentional about creating a defined career path so that each member of your team has space and incentive to develop personally and professionally. This will create happy employees, which will result in happy customers and more predictable revenue.

HOW TO KEEP YOUR SALES TEAM IN TOP SHAPE

Invest in your people, especially new hires, with consistent and cohesive training and coaching. For any program to work, your management team needs to be fully committed to consistency and follow through. If your management isn’t committed, your sales team won’t be committed either.

Effective sales training should include:

  • New hire training, including a sales boot camp
  • Internal training embedded into the career path
  • Regular role-playing
  • Self-managed internal training with leadership rotating through each member of your sales team

Implementing regular, consistent training with your sales team is one of the best ways to guarantee long-term success.

Create Sales Team Alignment with Leadership & Management

One of the most common issues for sales teams is misalignment. This can be corrected by careful hiring, training, and ongoing coaching and review.

BECOME A GREAT MANAGER

  1. Hire carefully. Hire for talent and adaptability rather than experience.
  2. Set expectations. Define roles based on desired results, not activities.
  3. Remove obstacles. Prioritize simplicity and clarity to improve productivity.
  4. Inspire your team. Understand what helps each member of your team find their own reasons to excel and achieve their full potential.
  5. Create room for growth. Work for your team by treating mistakes as learning and coaching opportunities, and by being intentional in creating room for career growth.
  6. Review and improve. Make a point to regularly review the previous five steps to look for ways you can improve and change as your company grows.

Being intentional about creating alignment within your sales teams will lead to improved productivity and predictable results.

UNDERSTAND WHAT IT TAKES TO SHIFT FROM ORGANIC TO PROACTIVE GROWTH

While organic growth is based on existing relationships and organic internet marketing, proactive growth involves investing time and resources into new systems, programs, and practices. It takes time, both from trial and error and from the delays and frustrations caused by learning and doing new things.

Understand that shifting from organic to proactive growth is an essential part of creating predictable revenue, but it’s also a process – it’s going to take time, energy, and discomfort. In order to be successful, you need to stay committed, persistent, and patient as you go through the hot coals of transition, whether it takes months or even years.

Predictable Revenue Summary

Creating your own predictable revenue sales machine starts with defining specialized roles and responsibilities within your sales team. Using prospecting and sales best practices, you’ll determine your ideal customer profile and use this to create highly targeted prospect lists. Your dedicated prospecting team of Sales Development Reps will reach out to these prospects using a combination of mass email campaigns using short, friendly emails, and phone outreach using call plans, call flows, and voicemails that get results.

Once leads have been qualified by the prospecting team, they’ll be transferred to an Account Executive whose time is dedicated to nurturing and closing high-value accounts. Eventually, your Account Manager/Customer Service Team will continue to farm these accounts, cultivating happy customers who then generate return and renewal business, along with referrals, reviews, and positive PR.

To ensure your employees are engaged and equipped, you’ll prioritize frequent and consistent training, with clearly defined career paths and room for growth. As you add new members to your sales team, you’ll look for talented and adaptable individuals who are hungry to learn and tackle new challenges. As your sales team grows, you’ll always look for ways to specialize to reduce distractions and optimize your reps’ productivity and performance.

Conclusion

While we’ve packed as much information as possible into this overview of predictable revenue, we’ve only scratched the surface of the book as a whole. As mentioned before, we highly recommend reading Predictable Revenue for yourself – in fact, we frequently recommend Predictable Revenue to our clients.

Buy the book here: AmazonBookshopAudible

Want professional guidance from industry experts? Check out our Sales Team Starter here!

Sales Follow-Up Statistics and Process – The Power of Follow-Ups

Unfortunately, due to fear of rejection, a difficult (or no) sales process, or a lack of sales automation, most salespeople never follow-up with prospects. When emails or phone calls are ignored, 44% of salespeople give up after just 1 attempt, and only 8% of salespeople follow-up more than 5 times.

There are a number of sales follow-up statistics that back up the fact that following up with your prospects should be integrated into your sales process, regardless of your sales methodology. Most notable is the fact that, at any given time, only 3% of your market is actively buying. Another 56% are not ready, while 40% are poised to begin.

To learn more about why following up is so important and how to implement it into your sales process, check out the infographic below.

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35 Sales follow-up statistics

If you’re interested in looking at more data about how following up can improve your sales performance, here are some additional statistics.

Sales follow-up productivity statistics

Productivity is essential in developing a powerful sales follow-up process. Here are some statistics to help you find ways to improve your sales team’s productivity.

  1. On average, 42.5% of sales reps take 10 months or longer to become productive enough to contribute to a company’s bottom line. This is after an average of 10 weeks of training and development (source).
  2. Salespeople only spend 34% of their time actually selling (source). The rest of their time is spent as follows:
    • Writing emails – 21%
    • Data entry – 17%
    • Prospecting, researching leads, and finding contact information – 17%
    • Attending internal meetings – 12%
    • Scheduling meetings – 12%
    • Training – 11%
    • Reading industry news and researching sales tips – 11%
  3. Sales development reps average 94.4 activities per day (source). These activities lead to an average of 14.1 conversations, 16.7 opportunities, and 3.7 deals closed, and are broken down as follows:
    • 32.6 emails.
    • 35.9 phone calls.
    • 15.3 voicemails.
    • 7 social media touches.
  4. The best sales onboarding programs help new sales hires become productive 3.4 months sooner, on average, than firms with low-performing programs – a time-to-productivity that’s 37% faster (source).
  5. Firms that use technology effectively were, on average, 57% more effective at sales training and development than ineffective technology users (source).

Sales channel follow-up statistics

The sales channel you’re using can influence the success of your follow-ups. Here’s a look into some sales channel follow-up statistics.

Email

  1. Email marketing has a 2x higher ROI than cold calling or trade shows (source).
  2. 33% of recipients open an email because of its subject line (source).
  3. Email usage statistics indicate that 91.5% of outreach emails are ignored. (source).
  4. 64% of workers make spelling or grammar errors in their emails, so it’s important to do a grammar check on them before sending (source).
  5. Including the recipient’s first name in the subject line can boost open rates by 29.3% (source).

Phone calls

  1. 55% of high growth companies stated that cold calling is very much alive (source).
  2. One study showed that telephone outreach out-converted emails by a significant margin – 8.21% vs 0.03% (source).
  3. The average sales development rep makes 52 calls daily (source).
  4. The average response rate for a voicemail is 4.8% (source).
  5. 80% of calls go to voicemail. 90% of first time voicemails are never returned (source).

Texting

  1. Prospects who are sent text messages have a 40% higher conversion rate than those who don’t receive texts (source).
  2. Texts are better used as a follow-up than an initial point of contact. Texting before having had a phone conversation decreases the likelihood of the prospect ever becoming a lead (source).
  3. Texting someone after having made contact leads to a 112.6% higher lead to engagement conversion (source).

Social media

  1. Sales reps who are active on social media get 45% more sales opportunities than those who aren’t (source).
  2. Sales reps that use social media as a sales channel are 51% more likely to hit their sales quota than those who don’t (source).
  3. 98% of sales reps with more than 5,000 LinkedIn connections meet or surpass their quota (source).
  4. 78% of salespeople who use social media perform better than their peers (source).

Multi-channel selling

  1. Sales development reps that leverage 3 or more touchpoints have 28% higher MQL-to-SQL rates than those who just make a phone call or send an email (source).
  2. Sending emails to leads in between phone contact attempts increases your chance of contacting them by 16% (source).

 

Sales follow-up cadence statistics

A well put together cadence makes following-up very easy for sales reps. Here are some data points about sales cadences to help you build one for your business.

  1. On average, high growth organizations report 16 touch points per prospect within a 2-4 week timespan (source).
  2. The most optimal number of follow-up emails to send is 2-3 (source).
  3. 95% of all converted leads are reached by the sixth call attempt (source).
  4. 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up attempt (source).
  5. 92% of salespeople give up after no sales on the 4th call. 60% of customers say no four times before saying yes (source).
  6. 50% of buyers choose the vendor that responds first (source).

 

Sales follow-up response time statistics

Sometimes, it takes prospects a while to respond to your follow-up efforts. Here’s some data on that.

  1. In a test of 433 companies, only 7% responded in the first five minutes after a form submission. Over 50% didn’t respond within five business days (source).
  2. Those who attempted to reach leads within one hour are 7x times more likely to have meaningful conversations with decision makers than those who waited even 60 minutes (source).
  3. On average, it takes 8 follow-up calls to reach a prospect (source).
  4. 50% of email responses occur within 60 minutes (source).
  5. If the recipient is going to reply to an email, there’s a 90% chance that it will happen within 2 days of the email being sent (source).

Looking to create your own follow-ups? Check out our Sales Team Starter here!