Customer Success, Lead Generation, Prospecting, Sales Development, Sales Management, Sales Operations 13 Comments

Welcome to The Era of The Sales Stack

Max Altschuler

January 14th, 2015

What's in Your Sales Stack?

Developers and marketers have had their individual stacks for years. Developers have had the benefit of being able to build their own products, solving problems and filling in the gaps within their workflow. Developers who have mastered the multiple programing languages are now labeled Full Stack Developers.

The Marketing Automation era was a boon for marketers everywhere, once developers realized the Marketing industry was white-hot. This attention made top marketers even more technical, hence the title, Growth Hackers. Now it’s our turn.

Salespeople are finally starting to get the love from developers, and are increasingly becoming more technical every day. Today, there are enough sales tools for salespeople to build their own stack of technology. Embracing these technologies gives us an unfair advantage over our peers who come late to the party.

Understanding Your Sales Process and Pipeline

The first thing you need to do is understand the process from a bird’s-eye view. A sales process is a repeatable and scalable system in which you engage and facilitate potential buyers through the stages of your pipeline. This runs from the top of the funnel (the lead) down to the closed deal and handoff to the Customer Success rep, after they buyer has signed the contract.

When creating a pipeline, you may want to ask yourself: what are the stages of the pipeline that matter most to you? What are the milestones you’d like to hit along the way? Don’t make too many stages as it can get confusing as you scale.

It might look something like this:

Contacted –> Qualified –> Demo –> Proposal –> Closed

I recommend that each stage have its own checklist. For example, in the “Closed” stage, make sure you ask for referrals.

The main things that matter when managing a pipeline are:

  • Total number of deals in the pipeline.
  • Average deal size.
  • Percent of deals that move from stage to stage until close.
  • Average time a deal stays in the pipeline.

You’ll want to find baseline numbers to measure each stage of the sales process. Be extremely diligent about staying on top of these numbers as deals move from stage to stage. Using a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool should help you to keep your finger on the pulse of the health of your pipeline.

Let’s take the example pipeline from above and break it down even further.

Contacted

  • List Building
  • Contact Info
  • Lead Research
  • Segmenting
  • Email Tracking
  • etc

Qualified

  • Pre-call Research
  • CRM
  • Note Taking
  • Dialer
  • etc

Demo

  • Demo Software
  • CRM updating
  • 
Content management
etc
  • Proposal
  • Proposal creation
  • E-signature
  • 
etc

Closed

  • Contract management
  • Referral
  • etc

Now that we’ve figured out what we need to accomplish for each stage, we can find the solutions that will provide us with the help we need. This is how we create our Sales Stack.

Here are some example solutions that fill the needs in each stage.

Contacted

  • List Building – Datanyze/Import.io
  • Contact Info – SalesLoft/Toofr
  • Lead Research – InsideView/GageIn/LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  • Segmenting – Google Spreadsheets
  • Email Tracking – ToutApp/Yesware/Outreach/Cadence

Qualified

  • Pre-call Research  – Charlie App
  • CRM – Salesforce
  • Note Taking – Evernote
  • Dialer – InsideSales

Demo

  • Demo Software – Join.me
  • CRM updating – Cirrus Insights
  • Content management – Dropbox/Box

Proposal

  • Proposal creation – Tinderbox
  • E-signature – Echosign/PandaDoc

Closed

  • Contract management – SpringCM
  • Referral – Influitive

This is a very advanced Sales Stack. For small sales orgs or startups, a Sales Stack can be extremely simple like: Import.io, SalesLoft, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, ToutApp, Salesforce, Join.me, Echosign.

The great thing about these new tools is that they connect together in various ways. I use a series of API integrations, manual virtual assistant work, and spreadsheets to piece it together.

We recommend finding the best subset of tools for your business and make sure to be diligent about connecting them properly. You can try out integrations tools like Zapier, IFTTT, or Bedrock Data if you need help.

You can hire Virtual Assistants on oDesk to automate basic and tedious tasks within the process. The less you have to do manually, the more efficient you can become.

Again, we’ve seen the rise of the Full Stack Developer. Then the rise of the Growth Hacker or in some cases, the Full Stack Marketer. As science and product continues to integrate it’s self into sales, we’ll continue to see the he rise of the Sales Hacker.

This is just the beginning.

This article is an excerpt from the upcoming Sales Hacker Guide book in which we take you through the sales process and showcase 100’s of sales tools to give you an unfair advantage. Sign up on the right side of the page for updates on the release.

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About the author

Max Altschuler

Max Altschuler is the founder, organizer, and editor for Saleshacker.com and the Sales Hacker Conferences. Previously he led BD at Attorneyfee (acquired by Legalzoom) and built the supply side of Udemy as their first sales hire.

  • Ryan McBride

    Great stuff Max!

  • Max – this conversation is critical to salespeople that want to outpace their peers in 2015 and sales leaders needing to ramp up their teams’ results.

    I like your framework for discussion and approach, but I might say that there is one common thread that cross pollinates each stage. That’s communication. The benefits of having a great communication tool goes beyond the “Contacted” stage. If that tool automates touches and allows you to measure effectiveness of each touch (and a group of touches tied together in an automated process), then you have something that can have multi-stage, multiplicative effect on your sales.

    Outreach is the only tool that does that with a level of accuracy you can bet your quota on and allows you to make on-the-fly tactical decisions to maximize results.

    Apologize for the self-promotion, but sometimes when you know you can help salespeople be more effective, you gotta step up and share.

  • Pingback: 11 Keys to Hack Sales Management()

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  • Max, great post! Thank you for sharing! We are also helping companies generate more revenue from referrals. Would love your feedback on Auctio.

  • Max, great post! Thank you for sharing! We are also helping companies generate more revenue from referrals. Would love your feedback on Auctio.

  • Gopi A.

    Does this mean you don’t keep outbound leads in Salesforce / other CRM till they respond to an email?

    • Sachin Bhatia

      Great point Gopi. Remember you might be calling in / re purposing old leads also. CRM (if you have one) would sort of become the System of Record. The tools presented would solve very specific purpose.

      – Sachin | Texo – Inside Sales Software

  • Gopi A.

    Does this mean you don’t keep outbound leads in Salesforce / other CRM till they respond to an email?

    • Sachin Bhatia

      Great point Gopi. Remember you might be calling in / re purposing old leads also. CRM (if you have one) would sort of become the System of Record. The tools presented would solve very specific purpose.

      – Sachin | Texo – Inside Sales Software

  • Awesome research Max. Thats an amazing list of tools for sales pipeline and process. Here is the another nice article which I found on TechCrunch while researching, Increase sales stack by addressing eight competencies – http://techcrunch.com/2015/11/14/2016-will-be-the-year-of-the-sales-stack/. I would like to add one more tool to this list named SalesHandy – http://www.saleshandy.com/ which fits in first three sales processes mentioned in your blog. (Mentioned on tech.co http://tech.co/6-must-tools-sales-teams-2016-2015-12).

  • hemant kumar arya

    Awesome post. This is really helpfull. You made it really easy to understand.
    Thank you.. ?
    Letstrick.com

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