What value would you place on true insight? A tool that would make your life easier, your progress clearer, and your margin of error smaller? That’s the value of technology for sales teams. If asked outright, we’ll bet most executives would agree to invest more to get more sales. But when budget season rolls around, companies often fail to adequately invest in the tools needed to crush their goals.
In this post, we’re going to cover the value sales technology tools bring to the table, the most important tools for sales teams, how to strategically budget for these tools, and tips to help secure a budget.
Why Is Technology Important To Sales?
Why invest in technology? It’s a huge question, and there isn’t a simple answer. But let’s focus on the challenges sales reps are facing, and how technology helps overcome those challenges.
Sales Professionals Have More Responsibilities Than Ever Before
In our 2021 Annual Field Sales Benchmark Report, we asked nearly 200 sales professionals to share insights about their roles, responsibilities, and day-to-day behaviors. We learned that outside sales reps are responsible for sourcing two-thirds of their own leads. And on average, they are responsible for as many as 213 accounts!
Travel and Administrative Tasks swallow Up Time
Additionally, it takes time and a whole lot of driving to grow relationships with existing customers and to prospect and create new ones. Our research shows outside sales reps and managers spend around 22 hours a week on the road, driving from business to business. On top of all that, nearly 11 hours a week is dedicated solely to administrative tasks.
Between juggling accounts, hours behind the wheel, and completing administrative work, there's little time left in the day for actual selling. The sales reps know it and the managers know it: it’s not the best use of their time.
Many Time-Consuming Sales Activities Can Be Automated By Sales Technology
Sales tech lifts some mundane tasks off the shoulders of your most valuable assets – your sales reps. Your team may never be 100% free of admin tasks. But using tech to automate manual tasks, optimize the sales process, and organize sales data gives them more phone and face-to-face time with customers.
Utilizing A Shared System Makes Sales Teams Smarter And More Efficient
Beyond saving precious time, getting customer activity into a shared system can help eliminate redundancies and improve forecasting. It also helps reps and managers understand what activities lead to revenue, so they can be replicated and reported up to decision-makers.
The right technology can improve communication, competitive intelligence, efficiencies, buyer personas, customer relationship management, and so much more. Despite all of this, we found that 20% of teams are using just a spreadsheet – or nothing at all – to store customer data.
What Technology Does A Sales Team Need To Excel?
The world of sales technology is enormous, and it can feel overwhelming. You may be wondering what’s out there, how it works, and what’s right for you. Here’s a quick run-down of sales software tools to evaluate and factor into your sales budget:
A CRM system helps create and manage deeper customer relationships by gathering all interactions from all channels in one shared space. This includes growing relationships with existing customers and tracking touchpoints with potential customers. CRM sales software cost can vary based on your organization’s size and unique needs. For help finding the right system for you, read the pros and cons of all the major CRM players for outside sales here.
Contract Management Software
Creating and managing contracts is essential for any business. It’s also a major time-suck, and a process particularly vulnerable to errors. Mastering this piece of the sales puzzle can give your enterprise a huge competitive advantage. Contract management software helps maintain the integrity of templates, collect digital signatures, and store completed documents.
Sales Enablement Software
The goal of a sales enablement tool is simple: provide your reps with consistent talking points, proof points, and high-impact customer-facing collateral. With this software, your entire team can manage and utilize sales and marketing content with ease. Considering reps spend up to 33% of their day writing emails, the sales and marketing software cost is definitely worth the potential time saved.
Sales Engagement Software
Sales engagement software are tools that reps use to communicate with buyers. It helps manage the series of events, or engagements, reps have with customers throughout the sales cycle. They may be used to execute cadences, autodial phone calls, or plan and track field sales activities. These tools can significantly streamline a rep’s day-to-day through the automation of tasks, messages, and workflows.
We’ve just laid out a ton of options, but keep one thing in mind. Some tools in the sales tech world, like Map My Customers, can serve as an all-in-one solution for outside sales reps. Map My Customers integrates CRM, territory management, activity automation (like auto check-ins), optimized route planning, prospecting, cadence management, deal tracking, and more into one mobile platform.
How teams budget for the cost of sales software
The importance of technology to the success of a sales team is clear. Still, many companies seem reluctant to dedicate the resources required to build an effective tech stack. Our research showed 26% of respondents had no official budget for tech tools for their sales team. For those who did, the average tech budget was $27k.
It’s almost impossible to discuss the cost of sales software, and how money gets allocated to tech spend on a sales team, without discussing the annual sales budget.
Your annual sales budget drives many important business decisions that will impact your sales team and your company.
A sales budget is a plan determining your total expected sales revenue during a specified period and which products or services will generate that revenue. It’s achieved by multiplying the number of units expected to be sold by the selling price. A sales budget is invaluable when it comes to both setting sales goals and increasing the efficiency and productivity of your sales team.
While sales budgets don’t usually include the expected costs of conducting sales efforts, a sales budget template is often used to help prepare most of a company’s other budgets. It should be a major consideration in a sales team’s tech spend. However, our research showed that only 5% of respondents said their sales team’s tech budget was determined as a percentage of sales.
How to make the most of your sales budget
Sales tech budgets can vary widely based on the size of your company and the value leadership places on these tools. Whether your sales team’s tech budget is massive or miniscule, getting the most bang for your buck is the name of the game. Here are a few tips to help you properly leverage the dollars you have.
Consider Your Organization’s Overarching Goals
When preparing a tech budget for your sales team, examine your company’s priorities. Determine what issues you’re trying to solve for with every tool you’re considering, what company goal this helps accomplish, and what you expect the ROI will be.
Keep It Simple
More isn’t always better, especially if it leads to money wasted on tech tools that die on the shelf. Many tools offer free trials and test drives, so take them out for a spin before you pull the trigger.
Integration Is Key
This part is simple, but incredibly important. It doesn’t matter if you spend a boatload of money on the best tools if they don’t play nicely together. Integration saves time on data entry, reduces the chances of errors, and helps ensure all departments are accessing the right information. This leads into our next tip…
View Tech Holistically
There is often overlapping functionality between martech and sales tech, and rightly so. Marketing uses technology to help identify customer preferences and pain points, and then develops content addressing those needs. If teams are working off different data sets, it’s a recipe for chaos and confusion, not to mention inefficiency.
When marketing and sales are in sync, it enables marketing to be more targeted in its efforts, and makes it easier for sales to leverage those efforts and track their progress. If one solution can meet the needs of both the marketing team and the sales team – while improving overall synergy – it makes sense to consolidate.
Don’t Forget Training
When budgeting for new sales tools, the importance of implementation and adoption cannot be overstated. Always factor the cost of training your sales reps on new tech into your budget. A well-trained team is your best bet to maximize ROI. It saves time and money and boosts employee confidence. If a rep feels a tool is overly complicated or slowing them down, the odds of them properly leveraging it are pretty low.
Preparing sales budgets: How to advocate for more
Even companies who value great tech want to spend as little as possible. If your CFO isn’t making it rain at budget season — and let’s face it, most are not — you’re going to have to make a strong and sensible business case for every dollar you need to fund your sales tech stack. The best way to advocate for budget may be different at different companies, but these tips should help you get the buy-in you need from key stakeholders.
- Align every request with a business goal.
- Do your research. Come to the table with proof points that back up your needs.
- Lay out a plan for successful implementation, training, and maintenance.
- Partner up with colleagues who will champion your ideas and help support your claims.
- Present hard numbers, but don’t leave out the soft benefits (e.g., better collaboration).
Take advantage of sales tech or get left behind
Sales professionals juggle more responsibilities and accountability than ever before. Growing product complexity and increasing sales channels make sales a highly dynamic field. As more and more professionals vie for the attention of customers with higher expectations and more options, businesses who fail to leverage sales tech risk getting left behind.
The right sales technology helps teams streamline processes, organize information, and optimize productivity. Ultimately, it helps close more deals. Choose the right tools, plan your budget strategically, and effectively communicate your needs to leadership in a language they understand.