Software tools have become essential parts of our daily lives and businesses. Every department needs at least one good tool to aid their process, save time, and make communication easier.
If you’re building an inbound sales team to field new business leads and guide them towards becoming a customer, you need systems in place to manage that activity and track and measure how your salespeople are performing.
Every sales team is different, and everyone has their personal favourites. If I made an exhaustive list of “the best CRM platforms”, it would be a bore to read, and I’d likely be barraged with comments like, “You left out my favourite! ” or “That product sucks!”.
Instead, I’ll outline the tools we rely on here at Proposify for our sales process and show you how to use integrations to tie them together, making life easier for both your sales reps and the person managing those reps.
Before digging in, let me point out that my focus for this post is on inbound sales tools. In other words, the sales reps are not required to cold email or call prospects, or attend networking events and hand out business cards to gather leads — they only deal with warm leads who have already expressed an interest in the business and volunteered their contact information.
For the purpose of this article, I’m assuming you have a marketing team responsible for generating leads using inbound and paid tactics, so I won’t clutter this post with marketing tools.
Manage and track conversations with sales leads
90% of sales is about communication. You’re either emailing, DMing, or calling a prospect, so sales tools that help you manage your contacts and facilitate communication are super important to your sales process.
Intercom is a platform to communicate with your sales leads and existing customers. You’ve probably already been on a website today that uses Intercom, whether you realized it or not. They’ve built a solid product and one that’s tough to compete with.
We use Intercom as our help desk, so messages from customers who email email@example.com go into Intercom where our support team can respond. People can have live chats right on our website or within our app, and Intercom keeps all the conversations together.
Using Intercom, we’re able to send automated emails and in-app messages to targeted users based on a variety of behaviours. For example, when someone starts a free trial, they receive a drip sequence of messages based on what actions they’ve taken within the product. If they respond to any of the messages, someone on our team can continue the conversation.
People who visit our marketing website can also ask questions in a pop-up message box and then leave their email address if they want us to follow up. Their messages go into Intercom in a special folder specifically for sales leads. From there, one of our sales reps will get in touch to answer sales questions and, if appropriate, schedule a call.
Intercom is at the very top of the sales funnel for us.
While phone calls are nothing new, it’s surprisingly difficult to make customer calling simple when you run a small business.
Tools like Skype are easy enough for one-on-one, but it’s not enough when you have multiple sales reps and you need it to be easy for customers to call one phone number and be routed to the appropriate person.
Thankfully, you no longer need to invest in a complex and fancy (read: expensive) phone system made for large companies. We’ve been using Aircall for about a year, and it’s an incredible tool.
First, you can purchase phone numbers for different locales. In our case, we bought three numbers for the countries where most of our customers live: USA, UK, and Australia.
Someone from another country can still call these numbers, but it won’t be toll-free.
Next, Aircall lets you configure things like your opening hours so that if customers call when no one is around, they receive a customizable “out of office” message.
We uploaded custom hold music and voice recordings, and you can specify all of this for each country phone number.
Once your numbers are all set up, you can start making and receiving calls.
Each member of your team needs to download one of Aircall’s free desktop or mobile apps.
After you’re logged into the app, you can use a headset or earbuds to start taking calls right from your computer.
Your team has a shared inbox, and all your contacts are stored in Aircall, so you can see the names of people who are calling if they are already customers.
With Aircall, you can do anything you would do with a fancy phone system, like call forwarding or extension numbers for each rep. But Aircall is much less expensive and much more efficient.
The final tool in our contact communication set is Hubspot CRM. We use Hubspot to qualify leads for larger tier packages, create a deal pipeline, and track conversations that happen outside of Intercom.
When you enter a new contact into Hubspot, their email address imports some company details, things like company size, industry, and annual revenue.
While the data isn’t 100% accurate all the time, it does give you a good way to find the leads most closely aligned with your target personas.
Now, I bet you’re wondering with all these contacts how we sync them up so you don’t need to manually reenter the same data across multiple systems.
Thankfully, Intercom, Aircall, and Hubspot CRM can all be integrated together. Sometimes the apps natively integrate with each other, and other times we need to use Zapier to do it.
For those who don’t know, Zapier lets you connect other apps together with an “if this, then that” type of workflow. In Zapier they’re called ‘triggers’ and ‘actions’. For example, when this happens in app 1 (trigger), make something happen in app 2 (action).
Here’s how we do it:
First, using Zapier, I have a zap set up so that anyone who goes into Intercom as a lead is automatically pushed into Hubspot CRM as well. (Remember, leads are people who visit our website and leave a question with their email address, not customers with accounts).
This pushes all the information into Hubspot so our sales team can easily validate the lead for a potentially larger subscription plan and demo, and not have to manually copy and paste over the data.
Next, we’ve integrated Aircall natively with Intercom so that missed calls and voicemails go into Intercom as notes under the contact name.
We’ve also connected Aircall with Hubspot so you can make Aircall phone calls directly from within Hubspot.
With these three tools all communicating with each other, it makes it very easy and streamlined to call and email leads.
With all of this talking going on, hopefully, at some point, our sales reps will have found a few qualified leads who want demos of our software. For select people, our sales reps offer them a one-on-one call where they share their screen and show them how our product works.
If you’re running a service agency, this could be running a qualified lead through a pitch deck or a series of case studies.
We use two tools for this:
In the days before Calendly, arranging times with people across different time zones was a huge pain in the ass.
Now it’s super simple: Each person on your sales team can create time slots and customize when they are available for meetings. When your event type is all set up, you share a link with people who have agreed to a demo, and they can see all your available time slots (converted to their own timezone, of course)
Once they book a time, it gets added to both your calendars, so you don’t forget the day and time.
Our sales reps prefer using UberConference to host their demo. All they need to do is schedule a meeting in UberConference, add their lead’s email address, and they’ll be notified with a link to join at the specified time.
It’s super easy for the prospect because they can call in on their phone, or just click a link and view it in the browser - no software to install or pin numbers needed. From there, the sales reps can share their screen with the person and walk through how to use our product.
Send and sign proposals/agreements
Most sales teams need to send documents to clients for sign-off. Call it a quote, proposal, pitch deck, service-level agreement, or what have you - document signing is often a critical part of closing a deal.
Obviously, as the makers of Proposify, we’re biased, but it’s a product that thousands of customers around the world rely on to save time writing and managing business proposals.
I’ll lay out the basics for how sales teams can use Proposify, and try to avoid being too sales pitchy as much as possible.
First, you need to create or customize a proposal template(s). If you need some help, we have a gallery of pre-designed and written proposal templates you can start with and customize for your specific business, project, and client.
You can completely customize the content, images, and design using our WYSIWYG editor.
Your sales team will likely need to have access to the same templates, sections, and images, so you can store it all in your content library where anyone on your team can search, find, drag and drop into their specific business proposal.
When you send out your proposal to a client, you get notified when the client opens it along with a breakdown of what they looked at in the document. You can view these metrics in a web browser or use our free IOS app.
The client can easily sign the proposal on their computer or phone with our legally binding e-signature feature, so you can close the deal without printing or faxing anything!
You and your team then get access to the sales pipeline, which also integrates with Hubspot and a number of other CRMs, so that proposals and deals/opportunities are linked up. Once a proposal moves to another stage in Proposify, it updates the deal in your CRM. We also integrate with Zapier.
So now you’ve got tools for managing contacts and communication, and sending and closing deals.
What’s next? Reports, of course!
Because we’re a SaaS company, people buy our product within the app itself by entering their credit card details.
We use Recurly to process the credit card subscriptions and to apply things like coupons, discounts, and refunds. The revenue itself goes into our Stripe account. We love these products, but they don’t offer very meaningful reports. In comes ChartMogul to the rescue!
At first, our salespeople manually tracked their closed deals in spreadsheets. This works for one or two reps, but as you begin to scale it’s extremely cumbersome and inaccurate. Software really is needed, especially when you factor in the complexity that comes with subscription sales.
For example, if you bring in a new customer who pays $100/month, that’s not just $100 in cash revenue for a one-time purchase, that’s $1,200 in annual recurring revenue (ARR). On the other hand, if a customer pays $1,000 upfront for the year, that’s $83.3 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR).
So what happens if a customer churns (cancels) part way through the year? ChartMogul is amazing at calculating all of your SaaS metrics like churn, lifetime value, cohort analysis, and other things related to subscription billing.
Calculating SaaS metrics is complicated on its own, but especially once you try to tie your metrics to lead sources, like sales reps or marketing channels.
Thankfully, you can create custom attributes in ChartMogul and then filter your reports. We set this up so that when a sales rep closes a deal in Hubspot CRM, it automatically updates ChartMogul with the rep’s name.
Now we can generate granular sales reports in ChartMogul by sales rep, so we know exactly what each rep has closed in cash revenue, MRR, and lifetime value!
We are big fans of SaaS products that help us do things easier at Proposify, and so far, these are the sales tools that are helping our inbound team work their magic. It’s definitely been a case of trial and error though, as we experimented with different products to get the right fit for our business model. Don’t be afraid to try new tools - that’s what free trials are for!