Did you know that compared to their less productive competitors, high-performing sales teams use 3 times as many sales tools? There’s no question that sales teams that utilize applications effectively can generate more leads, therefore bringing in more sales, at a higher rate.
Although a sales team’s ultimate goal is to generate revenue, many of the tasks that get a salesperson to the finish line feel like they have little to do with selling: Salespeople spend 21% of their day writing emails, 17% prospecting and researching leads, 17% entering data, 12% going to internal meetings, and 12% scheduling calls. With the help of sales productivity tools, however, they can regain some of this time and use it for more important tasks. In fact, 79% of sales executives say improving productivity among their existing sales reps is key to hitting new targets.
In order to support a successful sales team, it’s important for an organization to be on top of the best tools to empower their salespeople, so I sat down with James “Saywhatsales” Buckley, Director of Business Development, Partner Manager at JB Sales, creator of #Saywhatsales, and podcast host of The UNCrushed Podcast, to get more insights on his favorite sales productivity tools. Buckley is an expert in all things sales—from prospecting to closing and time management—and we’ve rounded up the 11 apps he swears by for success:
SalesLoft is a sales engagement platform that helps revenue teams communicate with customers, navigate the sales process, guide and automate dynamic sales plays, facilitate coaching, and provide the dashboards and insights needed to achieve exceptional outcomes. “SalesLoft has been a game-changer for me. For cadence, engagement, invite deliveries, value deliveries, articles, and for getting people familiar with who you are, SalesLoft is the best in the business in my opinion,” Buckley says.
Gong is a revenue intelligence platform for B2B sales teams that records, transcribes, and analyzes all sales calls so they can drive sales effectiveness across the entire team. To Buckley, Gong has been enormous to both his team’s and his own success. “Being able to go back and listen to a call—and figure out where you can improve and why you should improve there—makes a big difference in your performance, growth, and development.” Not only that, Buckley also likes the fact that with Gong, you’re able to focus more during your live conversations with others.
“I think one of the use cases for Gong that people don’t often consider is that we get on these calls, and we’re so busy furiously taking notes, that we’re not engaged in the conversation. You’re so focused on capturing the information that you forget to look somebody in the eye, respond to their body language, understand where they’re coming from, or see that they’re uncomfortable in the conversation. So being able to share calls and being able to use it for improvement purposes make Gong very helpful.”
LinkBuddy is a text automation tool for Gmail that can instantly turn your keywords into hyperlinks and text snippets. Buckley highly recommends this tool for salespeople who use Gmail: “What you can do is set up a specific phrase, like if you always write ‘here’s my calendar,’ then you can create that phrase and tie your calendar to it so that every time you type it, the link automatically shows up in that phrase, hyperlinked to that phrase. It saves you a ton of CTRL+V, CTRL+C, copy, paste. I love this tool—my friend, Zach Meadors, built, owns, and operates this tool. It’s an incredibly valuable tool for salespeople that use Gmail.”
Crystal Knows, powered by the DISC framework, provides personality assessments, predictions, and coaching tools to support a variety of communication-oriented roles—leadership, sales, recruiting, management, and more.
Crystal Knows is “such an amazing piece of technology because it really highlights how people want to be spoken to,” says Buckley. In his coaching, he tells salespeople that when they stop at someone’s LinkedIn profile, “Look at their profile picture: Do they look serious or friendly? Look at their about section: What is their love language? How do they talk about themselves? Do they use data points, numbers, math, and metrics? If so, then that’s probably how you should talk to them, because that’s how they like to interpret information. But if they’re using words like ‘incredible, fantastic, amazing, wonderful, motivational, inspiring,’ these people don’t care about the numbers, they care about how you make them feel, so adjust your language accordingly.”
“Finally,” Buckley continues, “I tell people to stop at the job description. If they wrote it themselves and they talk about all the things they’re responsible for, you can kind of gauge what kind of person they are. Crystal Knows gives you a breakdown of their profile: It will tell you that ‘this person doesn’t like small talk, this person likes to be direct, this is how you should phrase your questions—they like deep questions, not surface-level ones.’ So it’s very useful when you can use that information to approach somebody in the right way.”
Owler crowdsources competitive insights by providing news alerts, company profiles, and polls and allows members to follow, track, and research companies in real-time.
“[Owler] gives a lot of information about a company, but it’ll also give you a list of their top 50 competitors and it’ll break that down for you and tell you where they stand compared to their competition,” says Buckley. “It’s really helpful for ‘Keeping up with the Joneses.’ If I was reaching out to SalesLoft about helping them with training, but I was a trainer at Outreach, then I might say to SalesLoft ‘Hey, Outreach is a unicorn in the business and they use our training, and you guys need to catch up to them. Let’s connect so we can talk about how we train Outreach.’”
“Owler will also give information like when a company got their last funding round, what their history of funding was, or recent news, so you can be topical and up-to-date with the trigger you might be using to reach out.”
LinkedIn Sales Navigator combines LinkedIn’s network data and relevant news sources along with your accounts, leads, and preferences to help you better connect and build relationships with the buyers you need to engage. According to Buckley, it is “probably the best sales tool in the game. Not because you can create a list, which is almost what every sales rep that uses it does with it, but because you can set alerts up that let you know when a key account does something, makes a change, posts something, has an incident that takes place, has an acquisition, or has a merger. This way the triggers are coming to you and you’re not having to chase them.” You can also choose to talk to the people that follow your company. “These people already know who you are, so it’s a warmer introduction and conversation, and typically you get a lot further with those people,” says Buckley.
- Asana, paired with time blocking
Asana is a task management tool that helps teams manage projects and tasks in one tool. Teams can create projects, assign work to teammates, specify deadlines, and communicate about tasks directly in Asana.
Sharing his own experience, Buckley says, “Everybody has a calendar, but not everybody has a task management system. When I say task management, what I’m talking about are tasks outside of pipeline maintenance. Every salesperson has things that are handed to them that have no impact on their pipeline, good or bad. They’re completely separate and they’re time-consuming. So I use a product called Asana for task management, but I couple it with time blocking on my calendar. So if I get handed something in Asana, I can look at my calendar and guesstimate how long is this task going to take, and I can allocate my time on my calendar accordingly so that it matches up with all the tasks that I have on Asana. This way I can manage my prospecting and my pipeline management around the other things that I have to get done, and I don’t miss a beat.”
RingLead is a cloud-based data orchestration platform that offers a unified suite of solutions to dedupe, standardize, normalize, segment, score, match leads-to-accounts, and enrich and route CRM and marketing automation data.
“A tool that everybody has but a skill that they need is list management. ‘How do I remove duplicates? How do I parse for existing customers? How do I run reports that don’t include people that I already have existing relationships with?’ If you don’t know how to manipulate that data and make it do what you want it to do, it can be really time-consuming to manage a list of even a hundred people. RingLead will do deduping, data standardization, and more. It’s been around for a long time and it’s a great tool,” says Buckley.
Introhive is an AI-powered SaaS platform designed to help organizations realize the full value of their relationships and underutilized data across their business to increase revenue and employee productivity, and to improve customer experience management. Buckley explains that Introhive “takes your existing infrastructure, CRM, social media, and data management sheets, and finds existing relationships that will allow you to get warm intros to your prospects. Salespeople don’t go search for history, they probably search for a couple of things, but it’s never like, ‘How far back do we go here?’ And if you do that, how long are you going to be sitting there reading a history in Salesforce or Zoho or whatever CRM you might use? So what Introhive will do is it’ll calculate all these ways that you can reach out to your prospects with warmer connections that are already connected to them.”
Lavender is an AI email assistant that helps you write better emails faster by comparing your email against millions of successful sales emails and suggesting ways to make your email more impactful. Founded just last year in 2020, Lavender has successfully made it on Buckley’s list of top sales tools. “Super interesting tool—takes the doubt out of your language. You couldn’t ask for something more effective for salespeople who do outreach. When I say ‘Perhaps this is interesting to you,’ Lavender will underline that and tell me to improve on that sentence and that using the word ‘perhaps’ doesn’t make me sound very confident. Lavender will then help me come up with something better,” explains Buckley.
Grammarly is an AI-powered writing assistant that helps people communicate more effectively—it not only corrects your grammatical mistakes but also makes your writing more understandable and helps you make the right impression on the reader based on your audience and goals. As someone who majored in writing, it baffles Buckley when salespeople don’t think that their writing matters. “I don’t know why salespeople became blind to the fact that they need to write well, persuasively, effectively, concisely. The reason why this is an important skill is because you see it all the time. Somebody will connect with you on social or send you an email that is like a The Lord of The Rings novel, and you’re like ‘Who would ever read this?’ I think what Grammarly does really well is that it highlights all the grammatical errors and forces salespeople to double down on what they know about effective writing skills.”
Curious to know what other tools are improving sales productivity? Join the RevOps group in the Systematic community to learn more!