In his article “Sales Stack 2017: All the Tools,” Jakob Thusgaard puts together a phenomenal, comprehensive list of sales software tools.

“Keeping an overview of the flood of new tools in the sales stack is increasingly difficult,” Thusgaard says. “But sales is accelerated by tools. Use - or fall behind!

This list will be updated as the year goes on, removing outdated (or assimilated) products and adding new tools as they hit the market. So if you’re looking to update you sales tech stack in the near future, look no further than this one-stop shop.

Find Jakob: LinkedIn

2. Selling in 2017: Three Trends to Watch

As you can see from the article above, there are more options than ever when it comes to sales rep enablement. “Sales technology is already changing the way we sell - from delivering social selling capabilities to automated follow-up reminders and predictive analytics - but it’s still in its relative infancy.” Russell Sachs explains. He lists three trends he believes will continue to gain traction in 2017.

  1. Social Selling Will Force Sales to Evolve its Outbounding Efforts. Over-reliance on social selling can backfire, as many buyers will be trained to tune out LinkedIn messages and direct tweets. Successful sales reps will adopt a more consultative approach, providing valuable data to their prospects, rather than sales pitches.
  2. Customization Is The Key To Revenue Growth. Solutions will need to be tuned for each individual client, from pitch to close. Improving retention rates with customized solutions will be key to long-term business success.
  3. Sales Technology Will Continue Its Maturation Process. “If 2016 was the year of sales tech innovation, then 2017 will be the year of sales tech refinement - especially around AI,” Sachs says. “It is exciting to see how predictive capabilities will drive efficiency into a sales rep’s day.”

Find Russell: Twitter

3. Is Science Killing Your Art?

With increasing automation, the witty and personable email is a dying art. “A successful Sales Development function is equal parts Art and Science,” Peter Gracy explains. There needs to be a balance between the emerging science of selling (call cadence, database management function, etc) and art (what SDRs say, how they think about and respond to prospects, etc).

“The human aspect has been automated out of it in so many companies,” Gracy laments. He proposes Rules for Science and Guidelines for Art.

Science, by its nature, can take little deviation from the norm before things start to go haywire. That is why it needs rules, else it become unpredictable. Art, on the other hand, require guidelines: “guideposts on how to message, communicate, and build rapport.”

As science has gained dominance in the sales mindset, the necessity of rules has been transcribed to art- and SDRs are unnecessarily restricted as a result. Don’t let science kill your art- people sell, not robots.

Find Peter: Twitter

4. 4 Ways to Increase Customer Loyalty Now and for the Long Haul

“Lasting businesses are built on customer retention,” Heike Young explains. But in the information age, “the margin for error for crafting long-term customer relationship is razor-thin. Consider these stats:

  • 65% of consumers expect companies to interact with them in real time.
  • 7 in 10 consumers say technology has made it easier than ever for them to take their business elsewhere.
  • Only 15% of companies have advanced analytics, processes, and tools to engage in a digital economy.

What’s more, “a 5% increase in customer retention can impact profits bey 25-95%.” Building customer loyalty is basically a necessity. Young reflects on the Marketing Cloudcast’s interview with Noah Fleming and enumerates four ways to increase customer loyalty, both in the short and long term:

  1. Make customer loyalty core to your marketing strategy. Marketing departments tend to focus on the latest customer acquisition strategies, forgetting about the customers they’ve already worked to acquire. Keep customers engaged long after they’ve purchased.
  2. Start thinking like a movie director and plan for the ending. If the final product experience is not what a customer was promised, they will be far less loyal than if their expectations are fulfilled.
  3. Check in with customers about their experience and use their stories. This builds case studies (for new customer acquisition) and maintains relationships.
  4. Use the four stages of the Customer Loyalty Loop. Deliver on your promises and create powerful, lasting memories: 
  • Imagination before persuasion
  • Conversion not coercion
  • Experience choreography
  • Happily ever after

Find Heike: LinkedIn

5. Are Information Silos Hurting the Productivity of Your Sales Team?

“If your sales reps lack the information - and the ability to access critical information - it impacts every aspect of the sales process,” Mark Hammer begins. Organizing information by department and siloing it off from the rest of the organization, creates unnecessary headaches for reps required to answer questions with immediacy.

Hammer provides three signs indicative of harmful information silos:

  1. Too Much Time Spent on Repetitive Questions. If sales reps are researching information known to other members of the same sales team, there is a problem. Make sure that “once a question is answered, that information is accessible to every member of the team.”
  2. The Wrong Content Gets Created. If commonly asked questions never leave the sales team and are never forwarded to other departments, you’ve got a silo problem. Improve the flow of information across departments.
  3. Reps Aren’t Keeping Up with Product Releases. “When sales reps are disconnected from the rest of the organization, the result is outdated or limited product knowledge,” Hammer says. Enable departments to share this crucial information- you’re all on the same team, after all.

Find Mark: Twitter

When evaluating your sales tech stack for 2017, consider a coaching technology that can grow pipeline by 65% and increase close rates by 25%.

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