March 21 by Nancy Nardin

sales stack

The following is a guest post by Nancy Nardin of Smart Selling Tools.

There’s a lot of talk these days about “The Sales Stack” and for good reason. With over 1,000 sales apps on the market, and more being released on a daily basis, the mad scramble to figure out which are the best of the breed is on. The fear of missing out and the corresponding threat of being left behind competitively is real.

You’d be right to think your sales organization should have some sort of technology strategy. It’s complicated because every organization has a unique DNA that’s comprised of things like culture, size, stage, and type of sale, and these unique markers are what will make one group of solutions work for you when an entirely different group of solutions might work best for another company.

What’s the best approach to learn about sales tools and decide which are right for you?

For everyone, there are 3 key undertakings that — while on the surface look easy — are in actuality, quite complex:

1. Understand your challenges
2. Understand your priorities
3. Understand your options

Starting from the top, let’s say that your main challenge, and the one with the highest priority, is to get more reps to quota. What tools should you consider?

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It depends on the base cause of missing quota.

sales reps talking

Is it a skills development issue? Maybe your sales reps need more product knowledge, or conversational fluency skills. In that case, a Capabilities Development & Management solution could be helpful.

Is it a matter of not being able to hold conversations around value? In that case, you might want a Value Visualization solution. Or perhaps you need a Sales Enablement solution that can surface relevant content based on the prospect’s job-title, industry, or challenges.

Maybe it’s that reps aren’t cross and upselling enough. So you need a solution that helps identify white-spaces at key accounts, or one that ensures reps include add-in options on their proposals.

Or maybe it’s an efficiency issue and you just need reps to be able to respond to inbound inquiries faster, or to make more outbound calls. Then you need a Lead Management solution.

Perhaps you, as a manager, can’t decipher when or which forecasted deals are at risk, so you can’t coach as effectively as you’d like. That’s when a Forecasting solution might be called for.

It could be that your competitors are beating you in the door, making it hard to win deals. In that case, a Sales Intelligence solution that alerts you to buying triggers would be critical. Or then again, maybe it’s a Marketing Automation solution you need.

Let’s stop and think about this for a minute. So far I’ve mentioned eight completely different sales tool categories, which together would easily include 100 or more options.

Now what? Where do you go next? So far, we’ve identified your top challenge and highest priority (steps 1 and 2). However, I then went right into laying out several technology options. That’s why it got confusing. You see, step 3 in the process, isn’t about considering technology options. Instead, it’s about considering your options for a starting point — your base.

That’s where the Smart Selling Tools Hierarchy of (Revenue) Needs comes in to play.

sales tools brainstorm

Introducing The Smart Selling Tools Hierarchy of (Revenue) Needs

When salespeople aren’t able to hit quota (to use the example from earlier) there’s a breakdown in process or ability somewhere along the hierarchy of needs. To identify what and where that is, you want to start from the base.

The base level of revenue needs is to have something to sell. The remaining levels of revenue needs starting from the bottom are:

1. To have someone to sell to
2. A way to engage with the prospect
3. A compelling proposition (one that the buyer values)
4. Consensus among decision makers
5. A decision to purchase
6. The receipt of payment
7. The ability to retain the customer, and finally,
8. A way to entice the customer to buy more or again.

When it comes to building your sales stack, you have to consider the underlying need that’s not being met on your hierarchy of revenue needs and the base cause of that issue. In other words, it’s all about that base.

I hope you can join me for my session at Apttus Accelerate. I’ll be giving attendees a copy of our Hierarchy of (Revenue) Needs and will step you through our Sales Stack Maturity model so you’ll have the tools you need to build your own Sales Stack.

State of Quote-to-Cash

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