Not Using a Sales Stack? Your Competitors Are. What Is It, and Why Do You Need One? If you don't yet know what a 'sales stack' is, now's the time to learn more about it.

By Lucas Miller

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The days when salespeople would rely on a Rolodex and a phone are long gone. In today's tech-driven world, the most effective sales teams rely heavily on a variety of sales software that streamlines their work and helps them engage more effectively with prospects and leads.

In the broadest sense, the sales stack refers to all sales software that a company might use as part of its operations. But to build out a sales stack that truly drives results, a deeper understanding is needed.

What goes into a sales stack?

A sales stack may include several different types of software, all of which are designed to help representatives at different stages of the sales process.

For most companies, the core part of their sales stack is a customer resource management (CRM) platform. This software is designed to store information for all leads and contacts, including contact information, previous interactions with your team, purchase history and more.

CRM software can often be integrated with other tools to streamline operations further. For example, email automation software can help sales reps contact and qualify leads. Proposal software and appointment booking software can be used to set up sales calls and product demos, even for geographically distant prospects.

Other common software programs found in sales stacks include sales enablement software, such as live chat or email automation, appointment scheduling software, product demo tools and e-signature tools for managing proposals and contracts.

Sales stacks aren't all customer-facing. Real-time sales dashboards, KPI tracking and call monitoring tools can help managers evaluate their sales team's performance and fine-tune their strategy. Internal communication tools such as Slack can also be considered part of your sales stack, as they help your team digitally coordinate their efforts.

Related: How CRMs Can Spark (or Continue) Fast Growth

Why your company needs a sales stack in today's business environment

Access to quality data is key to improving sales results — and this is one area where a sales stack certainly delivers.

By tracking a customer or lead in a CRM system, your team can provide more personalized communications thanks to the unique insights gleaned from this software. By enabling your team to provide better customer service, you can increase sales and improve retention rates. The sales stack helps reps work smarter by enabling them to deliver experiences that are customized to the unique needs of each client.

As Yoav Vilner, co-founder and CEO of Walnut, explains in an Entrepreneur interview, "Providing the same experience to several different verticals of clients is a major mistake. If you think about it from the consumer world, Google matches search results according to your location, age and browsing history. I think it's time for B2B companies to start keeping up and matching with the consumer space. There's a lot of room for low-touch sales. There's a lot of room for customized experiences. And this is where everything is going. You've just got to do it right."

Just how big of an impact can CRM tools make? According to SuperOffice, while 65% of companies that use mobile CRM software reach their sales quotas, only 22% of those who don't use CRMs hit their sales targets.

How to build an effective sales stack

While a quality CRM is the foundation of an effective sales stack, it isn't the be-all-end-all of the technology your team can use to improve its results. In fact, a survey of sales and marketing professionals by GetAccept and Pavilion found that 67% use between four and 10 sales tools.

So, which tools should your company use? There is no one-size-fits-all solution that works for every organization. Instead, you should consult with your sales team to identify their pain points. Where are they experiencing inefficiencies? Where are they losing prospects? What mundane tasks are taking up too much of their time? The answers to these questions can point you in the right direction to determine which tools will best serve your needs. For example, if you sell software as a service (SaaS), your team would likely benefit from the ability to provide interactive product demos to give prospects a more engaging experience with your product.

On the other hand, if your sales team frequently experiences delays in getting customer signatures for contracts and proposals, investing in an e-signature tool might be the right solution. Allowing prospects to instantly submit a digital signature, rather than waiting for them to print out, sign and fax the completed documents back to your team, can significantly speed up the closing process.

Start by focusing on your team's top pain points to improve their productivity and make it easier for them to hit quotas and performance goals. Remember, these tools are ultimately an investment that will drive your bottom line.

Related: What's a Sales Lab, and How It Can Help Your Business?

Using your resources

Even if you are reluctant to adopt sales tech for yourself, you can be certain that many of your competitors are taking advantage of customized sales stacks to improve productivity and grow sales. A sales stack is no longer optional — it is an essential investment for any organization.

By working with your team to build out a sales stack that addresses key issues in your sales funnel, you can experience more successful engagement with prospects and repeat customers alike. Use the tools that complement your needs, and gain the competitive advantage that will help you thrive.

Lucas Miller

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder of Echelon Copy LLC

Lucas Miller is the founder and CEO of Echelon Copy LLC, a media relations agency based in Provo, Utah that helps brands improve visibility, enhance reputation and generate leads through authentic storytelling.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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