Ever since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, more and more businesses have embraced remote work to keep operations stable and running optimally. The rise of remote work was so astronomical that 88% of organizations in the U.S.A have encouraged employees to work from home while another 91% of organizations in the Asia Pacific implemented work-from-home arrangements since March.
However, as organizations scurried to find solutions to maintain operational stability in the aftermath of the pandemic, there is one organizational function that has deeply suffered because of it all: sales. The outbreak has wrought nothing but more and more challenging times for salespeople who are not used to remote selling.
But remote selling doesn’t mean that you have to be out of your depth just because the situation defines it so. In fact, there are a variety of sales tools that can help you improve business growth as a result of enhanced efficiency, visibility, communication. When used right, these tools can expedite your selling process, boost your team’s productivity, and fill your sales pipeline. Here, we will see how remote selling in the times of COVID-19 can be navigated with the use of helpful sales tools by aiding you in effectively managing external and internal and external communications within distributed teams.
What Is Remote Selling?
Also known as virtual sales or inside sales, remote selling as a concept was born in the early 2000s to distinguish it from conservative sales, otherwise known as outside or field sales. It was defined as the practice of selling that took place when the salesperson and the prospect are not physically in each other’s presence during the entirety of the sales process.
Remote selling, apart from this obvious difference, is otherwise similar to on-field sales. It involves the use of technology, such as the internet, phone, and various SaaS-based solutions today to reach out to prospective clients and close deals virtually without having to conduct in-person meetings.
Advantages of Remote Selling:
This practice has given rise to many benefits, chief of which are:
1. Increased cost savings
In any case, the best and most ready benefit of virtual or remote selling is that it helps you save huge amounts of capital that would have otherwise been spent on necessary equipment, venue rental services, and other miscellaneous charges.
However, while the costs of virtual selling are significantly lower, it doesn’t mean that they will come for free. You will still need to allot capital to buy the necessary tools, set up your home office, and more.
2. Enhanced efficiency
When you factor in the eliminated hours that don’t involve you fixing meetings, engaging prospects for appointments, and traveling to them for the sales pitch, you free up a lot of valuable time on your calendar.
This time can be used well to qualify more leads, engage more people, and refine your sales pitch. It will also help you engage more prospects than you would have otherwise been able to, increasing your chances of making a successful pitch and converting a prospect into a customer. The more you pitch, the more you can hone your selling skills and redefine your strategies, leading you to nurture hot leads through the buying journey and close more deals.
3. Increased reach
Remote selling opens up windows of opportunities everywhere, literally. With it, you can overcome geographical limitations and reach out to prospects across borders. It also helps you scale your business and grow your sales consequently.
4. Empower sales professionals
Embracing remote selling not only provides the above benefits, but it also encourages your reps and boosts their morale. Virtual selling tools help sales reps by providing them with the autonomy needed to do their work better. It also puts a host of resources at their disposal to aid them in their sales efforts so that they can keep producing impressive results.
This also furthers their confidence and productivity. So much so that a survey carried out by FlexJobs reported that 65% of respondents claimed feeling more productive in their home office than at a traditional workplace. Yet another research by Stanford University found that employees were 13% more productive when they worked remotely.
How to Manage a Remote Sales Team
However, while remote selling does invariably ease a host of selling processes, it still poses a lot of challenges, and if your organization has its salespeople travel for work more than others, it means that you have a remote team and have to head many of the tasks of managing one.
Of course, this doesn’t change the basic premise of sales management; however, when problems arise, you will need to have measures put in place that allows you to effectively manage everything from customer relationships to prospecting to emailing and more. At such times, you can make the use of sales tools to simplify sales management and monitor operations so that they don’t get out of hand. Here, we will take a look at the variety of such tools and the best options available for each of them to improve your management of your remote sales team.
7 Best Inside Sales Tools to Manage Remote Sales in 2020
1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Irrespective of whether you are a large enterprise or a startup, a CRM is a vital sales tool integral for your growth. It lets you consolidate all of your relevant business information on your systems in a central location.
What this does is that it helps enhance enterprise-wide collaboration among departments, align sales with marketing and customer support, better engage with prospects and leads, and improve communication among sales personnel. Additionally, CRMs also provide access to lots of other sales tools as well, many of which draw on your essential business data to assist you with your reach, marketing, and selling efforts.
# 1: Zoho
A comprehensive CRM solution, Zoho CRM, helps you manage customers and sales prospects across a variety of multi-channel touchpoints. Offering a host of email marketing features, it allows sales reps to automate emails, manage contacts, track engagement, and automate responses. It also lets you filter leads on the basis of engagement actions, such as opened, not opened, sent, not sent, and effectively come up with follow-up strategies.
Zoho also offers lead generation & management capabilities in the form of a drag-and-drop email builder that lets you build new templates and designs for email drip sequences. Beyond this, it also enables sales reps with tools for integrating AI solutions such as live chat on their host website, and other lead generation & management tools.
It has a form builder that allows you to create forms without needing to code and lets you deploy them at the most important areas of your website. The form builder is very intuitive and lets you auto-assign leads to team members upon signup. It also eases the creation of sales automation workflows, thus letting you automatically send email responses to fresh leads, rear prospects and make different email lists on the basis of their responses to find the right approach to move them along the sales cycle.
# 2: Freshsales
One of the best inside sales software out there, Freshsales, is designed to help you manage the various aspects of the sales process. With it, you have the best features of legacy CRM solutions at your disposal, in addition to its unique features that focus on pipeline opportunities to boost sales. The CRM helps sales professionals learn of those email addresses that open their mails and those that don’t. It also lets sales reps know which people are interested in their product so that they can conduct targeted nurturing of these prospects.
Its primary features include bulk email tools that enable sales reps to create personalized templates, syncing calendars, and scheduling meetings. By exporting relevant information to contact records, it also links automatically. It allows the direct transfer of calls to it so that there is no need for any software or hardware installations for any task. Sales reps can assign numbers or notes to their contacts and call them automatically from the app. It also has the ability to track previous events and use them as a basis to schedule future communication.
Freshsales also equips sales reps with contact management capabilities by providing a 360° view of the relevant conversations and details of the client and helps you distinguish between them. It makes use of an AI-based lead scoring system that expedites the process of capturing leads and works together with a customer view feature that aids you in the timely and proactive engagement of leads. Apart from offering complete visibility of all the stages of the sales process, it also helps users filter close dates, single out stagnant deals, and make the necessary changes.
2. Sales Prospecting
Sales prospecting tools are indispensable when it comes to remote and virtual engagement as they provide a range of functions to aid reps finding and engaging prospective buyers. Sales prospecting tools work in real-time to help you track prospects who arrive at your website, identify the most-engaged visitors, and create personalized email notifications to help you set up email drip sequences to engage clients.
#1: LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is the remote sales prospecting tool. Renowned among B2B organizations for its versatility, this tool offers businesses and users advanced search capabilities coupled with highly customizable filters that help them gain comprehensive visibility of their operations and draw actionable insights.
It has two versions; a free and a paid version. For the paid version, there are three main account types, namely Professional, Team, and Enterprise. It also offers a free version with limited capabilities. All of the three account types offer, in varying capabilities, an InMail feature that lets you establish contact with profile holders on LinkedIn directly. It also provides effective search and filtering options depending on the vertical, industry, location, position, and various other parameters to narrow down prospecting lists to a concentration of high-quality leads.
Apart from that, users also have the option to save leads and create triggers to remain updated on industry changes and keep abreast of the latest trends. It allows CRM integration with platforms like Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce to help sales reps carry out granular searches on, narrow down on leads, and identify related connections. It also offers a feature called Lead Recommendations, which is an automated lead generation feature that lets you save you time by filling the organizational pipeline with connections.
3. Sales Intelligence
Sales intelligence tools let sales reps conduct highly granular searches for organizations with a specific real-time data-points, including technographic, firmographics, and buying signals. Simply speaking, sales intelligence tools help you find organizations that match your ideal buyer profile in one search.
Sales intelligence tools collect information from millions of data sources like the contextual information surrounding these contacts, such as purchase history, current contracts, business objectives, and digital footprints and make sense of it to identify your ideal customer persona so that you don’t have to spend time developing it yourself.
A B2B sales intelligence platform, Clodura, is a revolutionary new software that leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to drive high-quality leads to your sales pipeline. A fully SaaS platform, it also helps you with lead generation and sales sequence efforts by making actionable sales data accessible to all members of your sales team.
It has two kinds of accounts: Standard and Professional accounts. Providing value-added global coverage, it offers organizations accessing it more than 90 million direct dials, 200 million verified contacts, and emails. It provides you with the option of 25 sales intelligence filters to set personalized sales triggers so that you can set up granular level alerts and increase sales by capturing sales-ready leads. Clodura also allows you to run effective email sequences and gain timely follow-ups to ensure that you get the maximum replies and thus can set up more meetings.
4. Sales Email Automation & Tracking
Sales email automation and tracking tools automatically simplify complex tasks and remove various tasks from the sales cycle, such as contact and deal creation, email sequence creations, lead enrichment, proposal creation, and meeting & scheduling to free up valuable time for reps.
Arguably the most well-known and most loved sales tool, HubSpot CRM is many organizations’ go-to tools because of its most affable facet - it’s free.
However, more than that, the reason why HubSpot CRM is the leading CRM tool available today is that it gives organizations the flexibility to analyze and process customer interactions by automatically generating sales funnels, extracting insights to paint opportunities, and implementing campaigns. It is also natively integrated with various HubSpot marketing tools, thus allowing for a smoother and better transition of leads from sales to marketing and leading to more seamless communication between departments.
It automatically tracks customer interactions and offers valuable information about customer behavior, thus making follow-ups easier. It also lets you track email opens and clicks with extensions such as Gmail and Outlook to see how people are interacting with your emails.
5. Sales Data
Sales data tools are software that provides you with contact information such as emails and direct dials of clients and organizations. These tools provide the resources needed for sales reps to find information about prospective clients and build a network of like-minded professionals with common goals to enhance future sales opportunities.
Clodura is an AI-powered B2B sales data tool that provides unlimited access to 200 million contacts & 20 million companies clean prospect data. Clodura’s business data is verified to deliver 95% accuracy so that sales teams hit their target with ultra-precision. Clodura sources its email data from multiple reputed sources and runs email validation checks on them to ensure that sales emails do not bounce and hit the inboxes.
An open and online database of information on investors, entrepreneurs, salespeople, and other sales professionals, Crunchbase allows for highly targeted and competitive market research on industry professionals. Professionals can also make submissions on the platform to register company details. It offers two kinds of accounts: CrunchBase Basic Free and CrunchBase Pro.
Crunchbase allows sales reps with detailed firmographic data and M&A to extract relevant insights into the client organization and its interests. It also offers feature-based filters to sieve through, save, and download reports and search results. Its “Trending” section also provides suggestions on companies that fall under the purview of your search categories.
With its “My Follow” feature, it lets you add individuals and companies to a list of investors and board members. It also contains updated information on any mergers, funding, and acquisitions, so that you can identify sales triggers ahead of time. Apart from helping you simplify sales efforts, it also aids you in building credibility and brand awareness.
Sales call tracking software are among the hottest sales tools now for their flexibility and useful features that allow reps to make and record calls directly from their browsers, catalog calls automatically, and build email lists and notifications to share them among team members.
The premier communication service, Skype, is among the most well-known call tracking software and allows its users to make free A/V calls to other Skype users. It also facilitates file sharing and instant messages for free and provides monthly subscription services to help make Skype calls to phone numbers.
Its primary advantage is its feature that helps you call anyone in the world without charging you anything. It makes presenting sales pitches remotely very easy with screen sharing options. Meetings can be scheduled and conducted with the help of this service, and information can be shared individually among each participant. This eases discussions, creates individualized impact, and helps relay information in a much more meaningful way.
One of its more commendable features is that it allows people on a single connection to speak to each other without needing any additional services, equipment, or charges. It has really low subscription charges as well, with fees in U.S.A and China starting at as low as $2.99 per month and $1.19 per month, respectively. This makes it one of the most affordable VoIP services available today.
#2: Call Hippo
A virtual phone solution that is increasingly climbing the popularity ranks, CallHippo is the perfect fit for small businesses and enterprises and allows them and their customers to connect with each other efficiently while keeping expenditure low. It is an ideal platform for businesses looking to host sales support phone numbers so that they can serve their customers better, capture more business opportunities, and generate greater sales.
It comes with a horde of features that lets businesses connect and engage their clients with local phone numbers. It also allows businesses to purchase local numbers in 50 countries and make the provision to allocate certain numbers to departments. Apart from customer communication, it can also be used to enhance team collaboration and communication.
It also centralizes calls and related information such as call history, contact details, and records. It comes replete with various useful features such as call forwarding, call recording, voice mails, call analytics, and more. It also allows you to assess the quality of your team’s performance and analyze indicators like the answered and unanswered calls and their duration. CallHippo also allows you to retain your existing phone number should you ever choose to switch to another phone provider.
7. Online Meeting
Overtaking calling software in popularity since March of this year, online meeting software solutions have established themselves as the new favorites for conducting meetings. These software simplify tasks like sharing educational and marketing content, conducting product demos, hosting, and webinars. They also empower sales reps by making the process of building relationships with prospects relatively straightforward.
Emerging as the favorite sales tool of businesses in the pandemic, Zoom is a cloud-based online calling software that offers the room needed for you to make sales-marketing or interdepartmental collaboration simpler. It provides people with many useful features such as the electronic hand-raising feature, which allows sales reps to call for their turn during an online meeting.
Smartly mimicking the real-life feeling of meetings; it offers a waiting room for meeting attendees so that they can wait there before the meeting starts. Attendees are also provided with and can choose dedicated Meeting IDs to conduct video meetings. Offering a vast array of useful features such as meeting recordings, screen sharing, presentation tools, scheduling, and on-demand webcasting, Zoom is one of the best inside sales tools out there.
In addition to providing a meeting ground for interacting with prospects and engaging them, organizations can also use Zoom for training purposes, conducting online inductions, and giving pep-talks to teams. Sales reps can also conduct live Q&A sessions, polls, and broadcast streaming content to guarantee prospect engagement.
#2: Google Meet
Google Meet is an advanced business application app and offers features like video conferencing and webinars. Depending upon your service plan, it can help you host video calls with up to 150 people. It also offers valuable, practical features like recording, screen sharing, dial-in.
Google Meet also allows you to access HD video feeds depending upon the kind of computer you have. Available across iOS and Android devices, it helps attendees join meetings with the help of the click of a link provided by the host of the meeting. Participants can also be invited to a meeting from the Google calendar. Once in Google Calendar, you can create an event, assign the email addresses of the participants to it, and copy the link to send it to them. It also allows joining meetings by phone for those who can’t attend meetings via a video feed.
In the on-demand economy of today, businesses should always be on their toes to enable themselves to stay ahead of the competition. If you want to make the most of remote selling, it will pay to remain abreast of the latest industry trends and processes to prepare yourself to sell better, especially in the current climate.
The key to achieving this is with the help of the best inside sales tools, many of which have been enumerated in the post above for the processes that they ease the most. These sales tools help you construct a common ground for ensuring effective communication with clients and team members alike.
Educating employees about the power of sales tools and enabling them with it can help you effectively prepare for your future in digital sales. Once you have carried an enterprise-wide overhaul of sales processes with regards to sales tools, you will find your sales team more productive, leading to accelerated growth and the furthering of your business opportunities.