Wanna know something annoying?
If you’re working sales in a startup or small business, you’re using a bunch of awesome tools to get your work done. And when I say awesome, I mean affordable, easy-to-use, gets-a-particular-job-done, awesome.
Ok, so what’s annoying about that?
Well, if you’re doing it right, you’re evaluating the performance of your sales team by tracking sales activities completed and the quality of those sales activities – things they can control. The idea is that more high-quality sales activities equal more revenue.
Right. Still waiting on the annoying part…
Here it is:
All of those sales tools you’re using, those amazing tools that do one thing exceptionally well, don’t always play nice with your other sales tools.
“Not playing nice” is a nice way of saying you’re doing a lot manual data entry and copying/pasting to keep all of the tools in your sales stack in sync.
Hubspot’s, The State of Inbound Sales: 2014-2015 Report found that many sales professionals are spending more than 60 minutes per day keeping their CRM updated and humming along. That’s just one tool in your stack!
And that’s the annoying thing. Your manual data entry does not count as sales activity. It’s a necessary evil that interferes with your ability to hit and exceed your sales activity quotas. Fewer sales activities mean less sales, and less sales makes your company much less awesome.
Now that we’re on the same page…
Here are 3 ways to improve your sales stack & start smashing quotas.
- Get your developers to connect the apps for you
Try not to let your eyes dry up while I quickly walk you through this process at 30,000ft. You owe it to your dev team to know a bit about the work they’d actually have to do.
First, they have to work through pages upon pages of API documentation to hunt down the many different triggers and events that can be automated between one app and another. Every app has a different way of doing this.
Here’s a link to a fraction of Slack’s API documentation, and theirs is one of the most organized in the biz.
Your engineers have to go through documentation that is much worse than this for every single app in your sales stack and then figure out how to connect them to each other. No app-to-app integration is identical to another, so they’re always starting from zero.
Oh yeah, then they have to manage these integrations to make sure they don’t go down and keep up with any major API changes for every single integration.
If you’re in a startup or small business like I am, you just chuckled a little bit at the thought of asking your engineers to do this for you – didn’t you? If you’ve already asked like it’s no big deal, you might be blushing.
Your engineers already have black circles under their eyes, they’re not eating, and they are the only reason Red Bull was able to sponsor the space jump without batting an eyelash.
They are killing themselves for your company by doing some combination of the following:
- Getting your product to market.
- Keeping your product competitive in the market by adding new functionality.
- Keeping your product from imploding by fixing bugs.
- Responding to technical customer support inquiries.
- Not ripping their hair out (or yours) when you pivot…again.
Repeat after me: “I will not ask our developers to connect our sales stack.”
It’s insensitive and a terrible use of their talent. By asking them to reduce your manual work by integrating and maintaining your sales stack, you’re asking them to increase the mundane work they have to do. It’s work that takes them away from building your product – you know that thing you get paid to sell.
- Use an Integration-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform
Boy, do I have good news for you!
IaaS platforms, affectionately known as “SaaS Glue” by those in the know, let people like you and I get our workflows off the ground with basic integrations and automations.
A simple drag ‘n’ drop, point ‘n’ click workflow builder can help you fulfill some of your integration needs without harassing an engineer or learning to code.
Eureka! Problem Solved! End post.
Not so fast…
These general IaaS platforms don’t care whether you’re integrating a sales stack, a marketing stack, a developer stack or just some one-off admin tasks that are manual and repetitive.
They don’t care that you’re a sales pro, within a sales team, with sales problems, that require a solution focused on the sales process.
They don’t treat you like the unique snowflake that you are. After all, without sales there’s no business that pays salaries, and so you are kind of special, right?
Think of the places where you probably waste time doing manual data entry and not completing sales activities and closing more deals.
- Getting captured leads from sign-up forms, slide in pop-ups, exit pop-ups, lead capture bars, landing pages, and contextual micro-surveys into your CRM and email marketing apps.
- Enriching basic lead data with pieces like their name, company name, their social media profiles, where they’re from and so on.
- Moving customer data up, down, and around your sales stack to keep everything in sync.
- Creating and updating your sales activities. This is so annoying, am I right?!
- Tracking sales activities like emails sent, phone calls made, and demos given.
Geez, you’re doing a lot of manual data entry that gets in the way of the stuff your performance is actually judged on.
I apologize. That started out on a much more positive note than it ended. General purpose IaaS platforms are okay for some sales teams some of the time.
- A product with laser-like focus on helping sales pros save time and smash quotas
There’s a thought.
And a bit of a question…
Those pesky sales activities – have you been able to automate everything that is “computerly” possible (word borrowed from Loren Padelford, our mentor, and Head Sales Scientist at Shopify). Is your sales stack helping you destroy sales activity quotas to the point that they need to be reset?
And don’t underestimate what is “computerly” possible.
Many don’t even have the basics on lockdown. I’m talking capturing leads in the myriad of ways that you do (or should), automatically enriching that data so you’ve got detailed lead data to work with, and then getting that data to the two places it absolutely has to be – your CRM and email marketing apps.
I’m not pointing fingers. This is the other side of the double-edged sword that is a sales stack composed of tools that are the best at the one thing they do.
Doesn’t make it any less of a problem and time sink though.
At Blitzen, we’ve just started to experiment with the first part – capturing our leads and then automatically sending that data where it needs to be. Of course, this is just the very beginning. You can see what I mean here.
Basically, we created a simple sign-up form and a customer discovery survey, and then had that data flow into our CRM (Pipedrive), email marketing app (MailChimp), and send a Slack message, automatically upon submission.
I know, scratching the surface kind of stuff. It’s early. But we’re on a mission to give sales teams everything they need to have an unfair advantage and destroy sales quotas.
This is where you, fellow Sales Hackers, come in…
Blitzen launched in Novemeber 2015 and we’re continuously looking to improve to help sales and marketing teams around the globe. This is were feedback is golden. If you have a chance, sign up for a free 14-day trial at blitzen.com and send any of your feedback (good or bad) to email@example.com – we looove hearing from you guys!
Here’s what I’d love to discuss in the comments below:
- Have you eliminated most of the manual work in your sales process that isn’t a sales activity? If so, how’d you do it?
- Any experience with general IaaS platforms? What was amazing about it? What left you wanting more?
- What’s your dream sales stack solution do? What annoying work could you get off your plate for good? What would it help you do better?
Let’s rant and brainstorm in the comments!