When it comes to B2Bs, getting the sales process to run as smoothly and effectively as possible from start to finish, is the ultimate dream - as the more great leads that are generated and the quicker they are converted, the more the tills are going to ring!
Anything that can help streamline and improve the process is a must, and that means having the right tools in place that will support teams to achieve maximum results.
So what kind of tools should you invest in? Here we run through the best of the best and the tools that could be useful at each different stage.
1) Tools for project management and productivity
Top of the list is an often overlooked necessity - tools that can help you get jobs organized and managed. These are particularly important if you are working with a team spread across different locations. In that scenario, without the right tools in place, using emails and spreadsheets alone to try and manage campaigns can quickly become a logistical nightmare.
Thankfully, a whole host of different tools are now available that can make managing projects child’s play. In fact, with the huge growth in apps and digital innovations, the number of possible solutions is staggering. So the place to start when deciding which tool is going to be best for you is to look at those which are easy to adapt and can grow with you.
It may sound obvious, but the secret to success when using any tool is to use it fully. If you invest in project management tools then avoid emailing about tasks, instead, make sure you always communicate through your productivity tool. It may take a bit of time in the beginning to make this a habit, particularly as you also need to get everyone on the team on board too, but in the long run, it’s worth the effort. Here are some of the top tools to get you started.
5 task management tools worth checking out:
Asana – created by one of the co-founders of Facebook, Asana claims to be ‘the easiest way for teams to track their work’ and get results. From tasks and projects to conversations and notifications, Asana enables teams to move work from start to finish. It’s simple to get started, powerful enough to run your entire business and free.
Teamwork - is all about getting things done by creating task lists and tasks and assigning them to the team. It increases visibility across each project as well as aligning every dependent function within the business. It has a HubSpot integration and easy to use design.
Basecamp - one of the first tools of this nature to be launched but it has limitations. Basecamp is a private, secure space online where people working together can organize and discuss everything they need to get a project done. Tasks, discussions, deadlines, and files - everything’s predictably organized.
Trello - loved for its simple, visual design, Trello lets you create ‘boards’ and drag and drop items. You can see everything about your project just by glancing at the board, and it all updates in real-time. There’s nothing to set up and everyone gets it instantly.
dapulse – this tool takes a highly visual approach. It offers a place to centralize all communication and keep everyone engaged and focused on what matters. It shows who's responsible for what and gives people recognition and accountability for their work.
In terms of tools to increase personal productivity, look into audio tools like brain.fm and focus@will, and time management tools like the Pomodoro technique.
2) Tools for content creation
Once you know what needs to be done, when, and by whom, it’s time to start creating all the amazing content you need. In many cases, you may choose to get in external support, such as writers, designers and video makers. But there will still be occasions when you need a quick fix solution yourself, or an easy way to collaborate with your outsourced talent.
In the cloud – Word, Pages and Google Docs are the staple tools everyone knows. The newer online versions of these tools now make collaboration even easier. You can stop sending files via email and instead work together on one document saved in the cloud.
Scrivener - for more elaborate writing needs it’s worth a look at tools like Scrivener, which is used by book writers. It's a powerful content-generation tool that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents.
Image creation - for getting professional logos and other brand materials you will want to engage a specialist agency, but for quick hits, like a social media meme, there are now loads of apps around that can help you create simple images. Canva is one such tool you can use to easily create visual content.
Mind mapping – plus it’s worth thinking about mind mapping tools. They can provide an easy way to organize the ideas in your head. As with productivity tools, there are loads of options out there, so try out a few and see which suits you best.
3) Tools for streamlining marketing
For creating landing pages, forms and blogs you need a modern content management system (CMS). This system allows you to easily manage the content on your website. Again, many options are available - from ‘open source’ systems like WordPress, to ‘proprietary’ websites that are built and maintained by a single company. You can learn more here about whether WordPress is the right choice for your company. Whichever CMS you choose, it needs to be easy for marketing to manage and update the content.
There are loads of choices when it comes to email management tools - both for you as an individual and for broader marketing campaigns. Clever features include everything from customisable templates to automation and intelligent scheduling that can help to target customers based on their behaviour, preferences, and previous sales.
For sorting your inbox take a look at:
- Taskforce - lets you convert emails into to-dos, so you can set reminders, add due dates, assign them to others, and check them off when they're done.
- Streak – allows you to organize your emails into specific "pipelines" such as sales, fundraising, PR, etc. These pipelines can also be shared with teammates
- SaneBox - learns what email is important to you and filters out what isn't, saving you hours.
For your marketing campaigns try:
- Infusionsoft – lets you automate your small business sales and marketing, while combining your CRM, email marketing, lead capture and e-commerce all in one place.
- Constant Contact – features include customizable templates, to email scheduling so they go to the right person at the right time and the ability to create a series of emails for contacts to automatically receive
- Mailchimp – used by more than 12 million people, with MailChimp you can create targeted campaigns, automate helpful product follow-ups, and send back-in-stock messaging.
Check out this blog for a more in-depth comparison of different email service providers.
There are many different tools around that can help you ensure that your social media campaigns run like clockwork. They can give you options to schedule your posts in advance, to monitor mentions, topics and conversations across multiple social platforms and to jump on the latest trends. Just remember that if you do schedule posts then you still need someone to be checking them 24/7 365, in case things change, news breaks or they become inappropriate for any other reason.
Entrepreneur.com lists Top 20 Social-Media Tools to Add to Your Arsenal in 2016 which includes some of the big names, as well as newer players in the field.
With all things marketing and sales, being able to monitor what’s happening online is always going to be a huge advantage and will be vital for most teams. Whether its social media monitoring tools or website visitor tracking, the key is to have the right tools in place. Make sure you set up triggers so alerts go to the appropriate people, who can then act quickly on the information.
Find out more about the top social media monitoring tools and when you may need them, and how website visitor tracking tools can help take your ROI to a whole new level.
The volume of data being generated is growing more and more each day. With this noise there comes a need to be able to quickly and easily extract the most valuable insights and information.
Simply using Google Analytics and a tool like Lead Forensics will put you in a great position to find out what’s happening on your website and how well your campaigns are working. If you are using a marketing automation software or business intelligence tool then you will be able to tie in even more information and analyse the data.
Marketing Automation Software
You may find that the best solution for your business, and one that could save you even more time, is going to be opting for an all-in-one marketing automation tool, such as HubSpot or Marketo. Rather than using many different individual tools, these solutions can provide some or all of the functions in one place. Depending on which features you need most, compare the options and find out if using such a tool might be more feasible for you than putting together all the separate ones.
Online lead generation doesn’t stop at your website, in fact, that is only the start. The issue of what happens with your leads once they have been generated is a very important one, especially in terms of creating positive ROI.
Choosing the perfect CRM for your business is the first step. You also need to make sure that everyone on the sales team is fully equipped with the tools they need to be able to manage their job as effectively and efficiently as possible. Sales reps want to sell, not to drown in admin. To get the best out of them you need to let them concentrate on what they do best and that means supporting them with the right tools and resources.
Lead Forensics can help increase sales efficiency, simply by providing key information at the right time about the people who visit your website. Instead of calling cold contacts your team can concentrate on those who have already shown some interest and help them along the buyer journey. Find out more about the top 5 ways lead generation software can enhance B2B sales, here.
Choosing the right solutions
And there you have it. From tools that can help you improve your project management and productivity to tools that can streamline your marketing and social media campaigns, clever software that can boost the sales process, and all-in-ones that offer a total solution in one place, the options are endless.
It may appear like there's a lot to work on here, but don't worry. Don't feel like you have to try and tackle everything at once, instead, take it one step at a time. Start with one element of the process and test out a few different options until you find the best fit for your business. It won’t take long for you to start reaping the benefits and even making just a few refinements will see your efforts quickly rewarded.