Sales relationships can’t be automated. There’s no streamlining the conversations that go into determining needs or the gentle probing that is often required. There simply is no denying – sales takes finesse. That being said, there are more tasks than ever that can be automated as salespeople grow reliant on mobile phones and tablets in their work. Here are three software tools that, after input from small business users, we have no hesitation recommending. The first is for companies that get leads from the Web, the second is for B2B sellers and the third is for wholesalers.
MyLeadResponder is one of the 25 software products chosen by PC Magazine as Best Small Business Apps for 2012. It was also chosen for a 2012 product of the year award from Internet Telephony magazine. MyLeadResponder is triggered when a web form is submitted or when an email comes in. Immediately, that lead is forwarded to a salesperson’s phone. The creator of this app, Ifbyphone, quotes Harvard Business Review research showing that a follow-up within one hour to an online lead is nearly seven times more likely to qualify the lead (that is, have a meaningful conversation with a decision-maker) as a follow-up that comes an hour later. And if you wait 24 hours to follow up, you’re lagging way behind: The person doing within-an-hour follow-up is 60 times more likely to have a good chat with the customer than you are.
“Companies are making big investments in order to obtain customer queries from the internet, and they should be responding at internet speed. Why aren’t they? Reasons include the practice of retrieving leads from CRM systems’ databases daily rather than continuously; sales forces focused on generating their own leads rather than reacting quickly to customer-driven signs of interest; and rules for distributing sales leads among agents and partners based on geography and ‘fairness,’” states the HBR article.
MyLeadResponder is designed to automate the process of getting the lead to a salesperson so it happens quickly. The client company decides how this will work. You can have some leads sent to the nearest retail location and others directly to a salesperson or to your cell phone. Ifbyphone will even “whisper” pertinent information to the salesperson just before connecting the call, so the salesperson has an idea what the call is about. The app is bundled with four others from Ifbyphone (call tracking, virtual receptionist, call forwarding, and click to call). Pricing begins at $49.95 per month.
SalesLoft. Details about prospects and current clients give salespeople not just reasons to call, but ways to deepen a relationship. Wouldn’t it be great to have a tool that combs the web for job changes, company news, and other info that would help your sales team develop good, solid relationships with your customers and prospects? Wouldn’t it be great if that tool predicted the best time to push that prospect or to back off and nurture them? The tool is SalesLoft, an app that works with Salesforce.com. It’s a sales intelligence product that goes well beyond such free offerings as Google alerts and LinkedIn job updates.
Once a user activates a clickable list to set up the types of information desired, SalesLoft scours the Web, social networks, internal company blogs, and internal news announcements to feed the user relevant items about the companies and contacts (leads, accounts, and opportunities) in the user’s Salesforce.com account. The customized feed of sales intelligence appears right on the Salesforce.com interface.
The cloud-based tool was developed by sales professionals and is now in its second version. SalesLoft CEO Kyle Porter was in software sales. If your company sells software, he’s got a feature in SalesLoft you’ll love. Called a technology scraper, it discovers what technology the prospect uses on its website, a great way to learn if the prospect’s current technology is complementary to what you sell before you make a call. In a couple of user reviews, the technology scraper was a big hit.
The cost is $60 per user per month. Discounts on year-long contracts and based on the number of seats (20 percent off for 20 sales reps) are also offered. Additionally, a free job-change tool that tracks LinkedIn for sales intelligence is available from SalesLoft. No need to use Salesforce.com to use this free tool.
SupeRep. SupeRep from WRNTY is an order-taking iPad app that eliminates the paper catalog. It’s part of a suite of products for wholesalers, and includes CRM, up-to-date inventory and pricing, and the ability to check credit limits and write and submit orders using a customer signature.
International jewelry wholesaler Prime Art & Jewel of Dallas has used SupeRep since June 2012. Previously, whenever the company wanted to update its 1,300-product inventory or its price list, the 16 sales reps had to send in their iPads and “our team would have to manually update each iPad,” said Jared Leshin, marketing manager, in an interview. The process was prone to errors. “Now I log into a website back end that lets me update anything from inventory to prices to customers. Since it’s Cloud-based, it’s propagated to every iPad and the reps just have to press the sync button on their iPad [to get] the latest update.”
Another feature Leshin likes is the reports. Both the home office and the iPad user can see sales history. The rep “can take an accounting of what they’ve sold in the past and we can gauge what to push in the future.”
He is also happy with the catalog interface. “It’s one tap to see a bigger image, which in the industry we’re in (fine and bridge jewelry) is important.”
Catalog setup is quick and allows for multiple view options. Even in the basic version ($8 per user per month), the catalog section is full-featured, allowing video links, smart searches, bookmarking of products, and much more. The basic version also offers the full CRM tool with location-based GPS and other cool features. To get the order-center tools (quick order, real-time stock levels, barcode ordering, customer signature, and much more), SupeRep professional edition is required ($38 per user per month). Full pricing details are here. A free trial is available.