|Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.|
Tech Tools for Small Business Sales Teams
Whether your small business sales process depends on one person, a dedicated team or outside reps, technology tools can provide leverage to help you coordinate information and tasks related to leads, prospects and current customers.
This coordination can help you improve sales team collaboration and, ultimately, reduce the amount of time needed to convert leads into active customers by integrating information from diverse sources.
Tracking Customer Data
One of the key considerations in streamlining your small business sales process is coordinating the flow of data about prospects and customers. Your sales team has to know how, when, and most of all why, a prospect has expressed information in your products or services, as well as previous contacts the prospect has had with your company.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps you prioritize your sales efforts by keeping track of this information. While features differ among specific software packages, CRM software tracks leads, interactions, previous orders, contact information, and other data to help you understand prospects and customers more effectively.
If your company is active on social media, many CRM tools integrate information from platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, allowing you to interact with customers and prospects easily and to monitor the ROI of your social media efforts.
Depending on your company's needs, you may want a full-featured productivity suite such as Salesforce or a CRM tool such as Zoho or Highrise. Companies with more basic needs can benefit from an email plug-in such as Rapporative or Streak that allows you to perform customer and prospect tracking directly in your inbox.
Most cloud-based CRM platforms also include mobile apps that allow reps to access and update information in the field. This can be valuable in sharing up-to-the-minute information immediately after interacting with a prospect or customer.
Cloud-based CRM tools are typically offered on a monthly or annual subscription, with many services providing free or low-cost versions for companies with basic needs.
File Sharing and Collaboration
Another valuable consideration in improving the effectiveness of sales reps based in different locations is leveraging cloud-based file sharing and collaboration tools to enhance their ability to exchange documents and information.
If your team members are routinely emailing proposals, contracts, presentations, or other files, using document-sharing resources such as Dropbox, Box or Evernote can provide a more effective way to exchange information. Team members can update and share files easily, making sure everyone is working with the latest version of a document and that they can access information easily when they need it most.
Staying in Touch
Sales reps and managers have long been active users of mobile communications technology, and many companies are integrating videoconferencing into their sales activities. While most sales meetings are more effective in person, videoconferencing features integrated into smartphones and tablets can allow reps to interact with colleagues or attend internal meetings without investing time and effort in traveling.
Allowing reps to attend meetings via videoconference helps companies achieve the goal of keeping their reps involved with the rest of the organization, without diluting time that could be spent more profitably in front of prospects and customers.
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