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The New Wave of Sales Acceleration Technology It's time to ask yourself this question, Does my team have the right tools for selling?

By Howard Brown Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Imagine that you're managing an inside sales team. You see that the reps on your team, even the ones who were once top performers, aren't quite hitting their numbers. Upon investigation you see that your reps have been sticking to their sales playbook and there have been no major changes in the competitive landscape.

It's time to ask yourself this question, Does my sales team have the right tools?

For most sales teams, the last must-have sales technology was the customer relationship management software. Gartner has estimated that this type of software is now a $20 billion market, and that it will expand further to be a $36 billion market by 2017. Software like that offered by Salesforce, Zoho and InfusionSoft is now prevalent at startups and small businesses.

So what's the next essential sales technology? Sales teams have been demanding more from customer relationship management software. It has arrived as a category of cloud-based software first called "sales enablement" and "sales force automation" tools and now referred to as sales acceleration technology. If you haven't heard of it yet, take note. It's likely that some of your competitors are already using it in one way or another.

Sales acceleration technology, which is offered by my company, RingDNA, is a $12 billion category of software that's designed to do just what the name implies: increase the velocity of sales by helping reps identify hot prospects, connect with them more successfully and increase productivity during the selling process. Specific applications of sales acceleration software include specialized email applications for prospectors, dialers that let representatives connect with more key decision makers and tools that deliver contextual data about prospects during incoming sales calls.

Notable companies making waves in this space include Yesware (providing email for sales teams), Inside View (with enhanced prospect data) and SalesLoft (offering a tool allowing for sales via social media).

No matter how large or small your sales organization is, your sales team is probably going to need some kind of sales acceleration technology within the next three years to stay competitive.

Here are three key reasons why:

Related: The Key to Converting Online Sales Leads: Speed

1. Customer relationship management tools aren't enough.

Before the advent of customer relationship management platforms like those of Salesforce and Dynamics, businesses were run by use of spreadsheets, contact databases like Act! or Microsoft Outlook and sometimes even Post-it notes.

And while customer relationship management software has done wonders in recent years in storing client data and improving collaboration, it just doesn't do enough to influence the outcome of deals. Sales acceleration tools can bridge the gap between sales intelligence data and customer calls, by providing representatives with the right data in a useful context -- during sales calls.

Related: Finding Clients Who Are Open to Innovation Even in Risk-Averse Markets

2. Customers no longer want to meet sales reps.

Today many customers would rather not have an in-person meeting. And Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85 percent of customer relationships will be handled without talking to humans. Sales is becoming more objective. Prospects want to buy from representatives who can quickly provide the right answers.

To ensure a great customer experience, instantly connect callers with the most suitable representatives. It's likewise important to provide those reps with the data needed to quickly establish rapport, solve pain points and close deals. These functions can easily be accomplished with sales acceleration technology.

3. Keep a competitive edge.

Demand for sales representatives is up, according to The Bridge Group. And companies are recruiting less experienced sales reps as a result. The Bridge Group's Trish Bertuzzi reported in May, the experience level for a sales development representative fell to 1.2 years.

All inside sales reps, but especially those with less experience, need to leverage every advantage that they can. According to data from the TAS Group, 67 percent of reps don't hit their numbers. Sure there will always be all-star sales reps and underachievers. But these days technology can help far more reps perform like A players.

Related: Sleepwalking Through Sales -- How Vendors Are Ignoring Buyers' Intelligence

Howard Brown

CEO and Founder, RingDNA.com

Howard Brown is the founder and CEO of RingDNA, which aims to maximize inside sales performance. Previously he founded 4Therapy (acquired by CRC Health) and Senior Transitions (acquired by RealPage).

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