Today's sales professionals face a competitive environment and changing landscape in how buyers make purchasing decisions. The internet provides buyers a venue to self-navigate the sales process, where potential customers research solutions to their problems, find vendor websites and do their initial information gathering.
Many SaaS companies are deploying self-service models for customers to purchase their products; however, it's also very likely that customers will require human interaction with a rep at the organization, and digital sales enablement tools can help agents streamline those interactions.
Sales enablement tools can help sales representatives quickly qualify prospects, decrease time to lead interaction and decrease time to close. All of which can result in higher revenue, shorter sales cycles and efficient forecasting for revenue growth.
Here are the top five digital sales enablement tools and practices to help increase agent efficiency:
1. Live chat
Prospective buyers have many ways to digitally engage with businesses -- including form fills, social media and email -- and live chat is one of the fastest-growing additions. Sometimes, customers want to ask a quick question without picking up the phone, and live chat provides a way to interact with businesses through their websites.
Using live chat, customers can enter their question and get routed to a human agent or chatbot to initiate a conversation in a process known as reactive chat. Alternatively, sitting on a webpage for too long or leaving an item unattended in a shopping cart can trigger business rules to automatically initiate a chat between the business and the customer, asking if the customer needs assistance. This type is known as proactive chat. Some of the best live chat systems even enable prebuilt chatbots to initiate conversations to help qualify leads before sending customers to human sales agents.
Some key features of using chat for sales enablement include the hybrid approach to automated chatbots and live agent discussions. Chatbots with automated prompts and branches can lead customers through the prequalification journey, assist them with finding information relevant to their interest in the brand or direct users to follow a path through the website that informs sales reps about the user and their intent. This enables the sales members to have more information about the prospect before a live chat interaction, a follow-up discussion or a product demo.
Various studies show increased customer satisfaction with brands using live chat and a significant increase in conversions and repeat buying behavior. Some live chat vendors include HubSpot, LiveChat, Drift, Zendesk Chat and LiveAgent.
2. Digital asset management
When sales agents end a prospecting call, the potential customer might ask, "Could you send me some materials to review, and we can follow up later?" While this question is often a deflecting tactic, representatives can use digital asset management (DAM) systems to deliver the right content to the right user and track engagement with that content.
At one time, businesses used DAM systems primarily in marketing and creative departments, but today's tools can extend insight and functionality to sales agents. Using tags, AI recommendations and tracking functionality, sales representatives can deliver individual or groups of content relevant to a buyer and track their engagement with those assets.
For example, if a business is a DAM software vendor, that company likely has the resources to address the various stages of a buyer's journey. Content within the DAM platform may include white papers such as "Why a DAM system," "How to select the right DAM system" and "How a DAM system can help your sales team be more productive." Being able to readily access and deliver these assets to potential buyers and then use reporting to track their engagement enables sales agents to be more informed and reactive when appropriate.
Key features of DAM are easy organization and tagging of different assets, searchability within the tool, downloading or sharing assets, version control and document history for a single source of truth on the asset and access control for internal or external users.
Some DAM industry leaders include Adobe Experience Manager, Bynder, Brandfolder and Acquia DAM.
3. Email automation and tracking
Many digital sales enablement tools offer the ability to queue up an agent's next call. The best also set up triggers that automatically queue, send and track emails. Businesses can automate emails by manually building out workflows to warm up prospects and get ready for qualification calls, but organizations can also use this with leads they are actively working through the pipeline.
Tracking prospect engagement with automated emails is crucial for sales representatives. For example, if a potential buyer opens an email a week after receiving it, the agent now has an opportunity to reach out to "touch base." The email recipient doesn't know this call is due to an action they took on their end, but it provides sales agents an opportunity to catch them while the business is at the forefront of the prospect's mind.
Features that sales teams like about email automation and tracking tools are that teams can create predefined sequences to enroll a small or large number of prospects into. This cuts down on the manual effort a sales member may need to perform to begin and complete an outreach series. Other features include the ability to unenroll contacts from these sequences based on an action they may take and the ability to measure interaction through advanced analytics. Sales teams can also use that data to track open rates and clicks in emails to know when to initiate additional outreach to users showing higher intent from the emails.
Some email automation and tracking programs include Outreach, Bloomreach, Salesloft and Highspot.
4. Appointment scheduling
Nothing is a stronger buying signal than someone reserving a time slot on a sales agent's calendar. Businesses that offer sales prospects the ability to schedule an appointment for a convenient time cut down on back-and-forth emails, manually creating calendar invites and generating conference call bridges for remote face-to-face sessions or calls.
A great way to encourage appointment scheduling is to include scheduling links in emails and signature lines. This can reduce back-and-forth communications and indicates higher intent from buyers when they book the meeting themselves. Sales can connect these tools directly to their calendars to show available times to book, and they can also have multiple meeting links for different purposes, like demo requests, general introduction calls and more. Reps can choose to select certain days of the week or "office hours" to show their availability, reducing scheduling conflicts and giving more control to sales for when they are available. Lastly, these appointment scheduling tools allow sales reps to collect information about the user's interest in the meeting or topics they would like to discuss from form submissions used to schedule an appointment.
Many sales enablement vendors offer appointment scheduling software, including HubSpot. Other appointment-setting tools that sales agents can integrate into their calendars include Calendly, YouCanBookMe and Picktime.
5. Marketing automation software
Marketing automation software empowers sales teams to better engage prospects in today's dynamic sales environment. With buyers taking the initiative to research and explore solutions online during the initial stages of their purchasing journey, marketing automation tools can enhance the sales process. Marketing automation isn't just a tool for marketers; it's a strategic asset that empowers sales teams to engage prospects more effectively, ultimately driving revenue growth and delivering a better customer experience.
With buyers being more informed and self-sufficient, marketing automation software equips sales teams with the tools they need to engage prospects. Through marketing automation, sales teams can deliver more personalized content, nurture leads in the sales funnel, provide the ability for timely follow-up and be more tightly integrated with the CRM database. The output of these campaigns allows sales to see engagement and make more data-driven decisions on how and when to engage with prospects.
Industry leaders in this space include HubSpot, Pardot, Marketo and ActiveCampaign.