Sales operations teams play a pivotal role in driving revenue, optimizing processes, and ensuring the overall efficiency of a sales organization. One of their key levers for achieving these goals - and one of their responsibilities as the sales ops team - is managing the sales tech stack, a collection of software tools and technologies that support sales functions. Regardless of the economic environment, optimizing the sales ops stack is important because it should help improve the efficiency of the sales team and the company as a whole. In a down market, it's more important than ever to ensure the sales team is maximizing the time they spend selling, rather than the time they spend with administrative tasks.
The promise of software is efficiency, scale, and access. In down markets, however, software quickly becomes perceived as an unnecessary expense, associated with bloated corporate budgets and public market bubbles. This ignores the reality that software, when used intelligently, should help companies do more with less. This is the same phenomenon which Marc Andreessen explained over a decade ago in his essay Why Software is Eating the World. These misperceptions, as Andreessen explains, are incredibly short-sighted and fail to realize the value that software products can bring.
Why You Need to Re-Evaluate Your Stack
SalesOps teams are tasked with improving efficiency on sales teams. Outdated tools can lead to inefficiencies, hindering the productivity of the sales team. The sales tech stack should be streamlined and tailored to the specific needs of the sales ops team. Regular updates enable the incorporation of automation, AI, and process enhancements, ultimately reducing manual tasks and streamlining the sales process. Sales ops teams need to ensure that their CRM, marketing automation, analytics, and sales automation tools work together cohesively. Regular updates help maintain compatibility between different elements of the stack, ensuring a unified and efficient sales ecosystem.
Modern sales tech stack components often come equipped with robust analytics and reporting capabilities. Regularly updating these tools ensures that the sales ops team has access to accurate and up-to-date data, allowing them to make informed decisions. This data-driven approach empowers sales ops to fine-tune strategies, set realistic targets, and optimize resource allocation.
Your sales tech stack often has a direct impact on customer experience. Staying connected with your customers through up-to-date tools allows sales ops to provide a better customer experience. It enables personalization, quicker responses, and a deeper understanding of customer needs. Regular updates enable you to incorporate customer-centric features and capabilities.
In addition to internal factors, external phenomena are also worth consideration as part of this process. Consumer behavior, market trends, and competitor strategies are in a constant state of flux. To maintain a competitive edge, a sales ops team must ensure their tech stack can adapt to these shifts. Regular updates help integrate the latest tools and technologies that align with the current market dynamics, ensuring that the sales team can respond effectively to changing customer demands.
Sales operations are an evolving discipline. Regular updates to the tech stack reflect a commitment to ongoing improvement. It allows sales ops teams to test and implement new strategies, adapt to industry trends, and enhance their sales operations continually.
How to Audit Your Ops Stack
To help realize this value, sales ops teams need a framework for evaluating their stack. Before conducting an audit of all of their tools, it's important for the team to develop a set of priorities based on the company business objectives - including short, medium, and long term objectives - and get alignment internally as well as across the sales and leadership teams. Once there is alignment on objectives, the sales ops team should develop more detailed criteria for evaluating software. There should be a layer of evaluation criteria which can be used across any type of infrastructure or software; this is less focused on a specific needs assessment and instead helps ensure that all types of software have a clear and consistent set of guidelines informing the purchase process. This can include, for example, target ROI thresholds, or requirements on how a new product will scale with the company as it grows.
Components of a Sales Tech Stack
There are lots of moving pieces when it comes to figuring out the right stack. Your company size, the complexity of your business, and the intricacies of your sales process will determine much about what makes sense for your team. Here are some of the foundational components of a sales tech stack.
1. CRM Software: this is the core of sales ops and helps manage customer and prospect data, contacts, sales activities, opportunity tracking, and more. Tools like Salesforce and Hubspot are complex and require significant implementation time and expertise to administer.
2. Sales Analytics and Reporting: reporting is essential to help sales ops teams analyze data, find ways for the sales team to improve performance, create report, and develop the insights that help move their business forward. This piece of the stack is often interdependent with other departments. If your company has a data or analytics team, they will likely weigh in or own software selection. Tools like Tableau and PowerBI are powerful enterprise solutions with complex implementations; meanwhile a number of softwares offer more lightweight solutions, many specifically created for revenue teams.
3. Sales Enablement: these tools help organize, share, and track sales content and training materials. This helps sales enablement teams determine which pieces of content are popular and helpful, and which deserve less attention. Softwares such as Seismic and Highspot can help these teams use their time more wisely.
4. Sales Automation: platforms such as Apollo, Outreach, and SalesLoft streamline outreach, email sequences, and repetitive tasks. This can be a huge efficiency driver, particularly for SDRs and outbound teams.
5. Data Enrichment and Lead Generation tools such as Clearbit and ZoomInfo are essential in supplementing contact information to help segment and target different groups and more effectively target your ICPs.
6. Incentive Compensation Management Software (ICMS) or Sales Commission Software: tools like Palette connect with your CRM, revenue management, and payroll software in order to automate the manual and time consuming task of administering your sales commissions, including commission calculations.
7. Forecasting and Pipeline Management: softwares such as Clari and InsightSquared can help predict future revenue, making forecasts more accurate and leading to better sales pipeline management.
8. Territory and Quota Management: territory management can quickly turn into a contentious issue for sales teams; softwares like Anaplan define territories and help set quotas.
9. Contract Management: having an esign tool such as Adobe Sign or DocuSign is essential for getting contract signed and creating, tracking, and managing them efficiently.
10. Marketing Automation Integration: while your marketing team will probably have a lot to say about this one, it's important to sync with them. Ensuring that your marketing automation has the right integrations will help make sure that your sales and marketing teams are aligned and that missed opportunities aren't slipping through the cracks.
11. Customer Support and Service: your success team may be the primary user of this system, but tools like Zendesk and Freshdesk area lso important for sales teams to maintain customer relationships and transition new customers over to the post-sales process.
While there can be some overlap between these categories, it's important to choose tools that complement each other and align with your specific sales ops objectives. For example, CRM software often includes forecasting features, but you might still use a dedicated forecasting tool for more advanced analytics. Likewise, sales enablement tools may include content management and training, which could overlap with aspects of a learning management system. Careful selection and integration of tools can optimize your sales ops tech stack.