18 Dec 2012

Connecting and Prospecting Tools – How do you choose?

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With all the web-based sales tools out there, it’s hard to figure out which ones are most useful for your sales organization.  Some of the organizations we’ve worked with recently are in “tool overload”. They’ve embraced sales tools, but with so many point solutions, their Reps are spending all their time surfing from one tool to another, without an effective strategy for prioritizing their activities. It’s another form of a very common problem – spending too much time researching prospects and not enough time calling them. Or worse they aren’t using the tools at all because they view them as cumbersome, or a waste of time, thus they are just throwing money down the drain.


Determining the right tool strategy for your organization requires a thorough assessment of your Sales Reps, marketing resources, go-to-market strategy, and prospect behavior. For example, if your prospects are mid-level HR Managers, you might utilize tools that increase you phone interactions, as these folks might be more likely to give you 5 minutes on the phone, whereas IT Managers might prefer email interactions. Take a serious look at your sales organization and assess what areas can benefit the most from automated sales tools. There is no set formula that says you must purchase 5 tools to be successful; you don’t even need to purchase one from each of the categories below. Find the one tool that you think would have the most impact on your biggest sales challenge, and start there.


If you are already using a slew of sales tools, but still aren’t seeing the productivity from your Reps, consider scaling back, or swapping some of your existing tools for new tools. Figure out the most important tool based on prospect behavior and coach your Sales Reps on how to utilize the tool in a time-effective way.


Also, talk to your high-performing Sales Reps, find out what tools they are using that may or may not be provided by your company. Ask the Reps where they have had the most success in the past, and how they feel about tools you are considering using in the future. Involving the Reps as much as possible in these discussions can significantly improve user adoption of the tools.


Below is a list of the commonly used tools we’ve come across, and a brief summary of what they can do. Use this list to figure out the best tool strategy for your sales organization. For the purposes of this post, we are going to focus on tools related to lead qualification since filling the front end of the pipeline is a persistent problem.


Automate Lead Generation

Eloqua – A marketing automation platform for building and managing your prospect database, scoring and routing leads to sales, and measuring marketing’s impact on the business. There are modules for campaign management, lead management, contact management, and marketing measurement.


Marketo – A marketing automation platform that allows users to automate demand generation campaigns and deliver high quality leads to Sales. Marketo helps Sales understand, prioritize and interact with the hottest leads and opportunities.


Silverpop – Provider of web-based marketing tools for creating, automating, and delivering online messaging. The platform also scores leads and measures campaign ROI.


Genius.com  – A demand management software platform that automates marketing workflows and provides real-time sales alerts on qualified lead activity. The platform includes solutions such as email marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring, website tracking, instant alerts, and closed-loop reporting capabilities.


Find Prospects

ZoomInfo – A subscription based database of company and individual profiles. Allows you to search by geography, title, company size, industry, or keywords; build lists for finding and nurturing leads; or find comprehensive profiles for select individuals.


Data.com – A database of contacts and company information that allows users to buy contact information and research companies for prospecting activities.


InsideView – A sales intelligence application that aggregates and analyzes relevant executive and corporate data from thousands of social media and traditional editorial content sources to uncover new sales opportunities.


Dow Jones – A subscription-based database that allows Sales Reps to search company and executive profiles, build lists, and get notifications of important changes within target companies that might signal buying activities.


Hoovers – A subscription-based database of proprietary business information available through the Internet, data feeds, wireless devices, and co-branding agreements with other online services. You can search contacts, build lists, and view organization hierarchies.


OneSourceiSell – A subscription-based database of proprietary business information solutions, including company, executive, and industry intelligence. You can search contacts by title, industry, geography, and company size, and build lists for marketing campaigns..


Improve Phone Connect Rate

ConnectAndSell – Enables Sales Reps to connect with more prospects in a given timeframe than they would otherwise be able to reach. This is done through a combination of patented switching technology and virtual sales agents that connect your Rep to live prospects. The company guarantees at least 5 connects per hour, or the hour is free.



Find Mutual Connections to your Leads

PeopleMaps – Allows Sales Reps to use their contacts and the contacts of their coworkers to find warm connections to prospects and companies.


LinkedIn –This is an online professional directory of individuals and companies.  It allows Sales Reps to use their immediate connections to reveal how they might create warm introductions to prospects and companies.  Premium and Recruiter memberships are recommended for best results.



Create Sales Presentations

ClearSlide – Allows Sales Reps to give virtual presentations via a url address, and track the viewing of those presentations for follow-up.


Brainshark– Provider of on-demand, multimedia-rich presentations. Users can easily create content, deliver their presentations, and track the viewer’s behavior to measure the effectiveness of the presentation.


Outsource Sales Activities

The Lead Dogs – A provider of outsourced sales services for lead generation, lead nurturing, inquiry management, and customer base selling. They produce qualified leads for your sales team.


Rainmaker Systems – A provider of outsourced sales and marketing solutions for converting web visitors to leads, generating appointments, increasing sales of subscriptions/warranties, renewing maintenance contracts, telesales, etc. via their Revenue Delivery Platform.


BAO, By Appointment Only – A provider of outsourced lead generation services that call prospects and set up meetings on a pay-for-performance basis.


Improve Sales Enablement

iCentara – A sales enablement software platform allows users to create intranet sales portals along with extranet channel partner and customer portals that deliver a consistent marketing voice across the entire organization and beyond.


SAVO Group – Sales Enablement software that connects employees from every department – Sales, Marketing, IT, Subject Matter Experts – with the best materials, insights and expertise.


Kadient – An on-demand sales enablement platform for creating sales content, developing sales playbooks, and tracking sales performance analytics.


What tools do you find effective and efficient in your connecting and prospecting efforts?  Are there some great tools we’ve missed?


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