A quick Google search for sales software will lead to a long list of options. How can you be sure you’re choosing the best sales software for your team?
Sales software is an indispensable tool for any sales team. From organizing email campaigns to improving customer relationships and automating menial tasks, the best sales software helps teams remove busy work and get back to closing that next sale or deal.
Plus, with hundreds of different providers, plenty of options are available. But which one(s) should you choose?
To help guide your decision, this article will run down the most important parts of choosing sales software, as well as our top five picks. Read on to learn more about sales software and the many options available.
Use the links below to jump ahead:
- What is the best software for sales?
- How to choose the best sales software
- Five best sales software for small businesses
What is the best software for sales?
Just as there are many parts of the sales process, there are equally as many types of sales software.
Though many providers promise massive boosts in efficiency and hyper-optimized pipelines, such results are rarely guaranteed. They also aren’t possible if you’re using only one type of sales software.
As we’ll learn shortly, sales software is rarely a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Instead, most software plays a specific role in the sales process, such as managing customer experience, performing sales analysis, document tracking, etc.
While those are just a few common examples, they already cover a pretty broad range of tasks. As a result, most sales teams use a wide range of software to optimize sales and manage critical parts of their pipelines.
But before we can dive into the functions and benefits of sales software, we first need to understand the types and options available.
What are the different types of sales software?
Though thousands of different sales software and tools are available, most fall into a handful of major categories. Here are the types of sales software you’re likely to encounter.
- Customer relationship management (CRM): This is what most people imagine when they think of “sales software.” And with customer service and relationship management at the heart of sales, CRM software is the essential software tool for sales teams.
CRM software keeps track of potential clients as they move through your sales pipeline. Whether collecting customer data, tracking customer interactions, or even sending automated emails, CRM software is the key to streamlining your customer relationship management.
- Sales pipeline: Where CRM software focuses on leads and potential customers as they move through your pipeline, sales pipeline software focuses on the pipeline itself. Usually featuring a variety of pipeline management tools, this software helps sales teams optimize and customize their pipelines while managing leads, sales forecasting, and more.
- Sales and business intelligence: Researching potential leads and customers can be a massive job, even for the most modestly-sized companies. Sales and business intelligence (BI) software automates some of the grunt work, automatically collecting and managing important data such as lead contacts, company size, employee names, revenues, and more.
- Sales analytics: Where sales and business intelligence software gather data, sales analytics software extracts trends and insights. While some BI software also performs sales analytics, it’s important to see them as separate tasks — especially when reviewing specialized data. Where most intelligence software performs only basic analytics, dedicated sales analytics software can be tailored to your company’s specific needs, data, and goals.
- Sales enablement: Even the best sales pipelines can suffer from limited visibility. You can bridge the gap between sales and marketing teams with sales enablement software, providing a fuller view of your campaigns. By tracking everything end-to-end, sales and marketing software can work together to fine-tune their ads and content.
- Sales training: Any effective sales team needs deep familiarity with their products and leads. Sales training software is one effective tool for ensuring that everybody isn’t only on the same page but also constantly receiving updated information as things change.
While there are many more types of sales software, the ones we’ve covered are enough to support sales teams in most industries and markets. As we’ll see shortly, however, not everyone needs a complete suite of sales software tools — in fact, most small businesses can meet their goals with just a CRM software platform.
How do small businesses keep track of sales?
While every small business tracks sales differently, most find themselves tracking the same things. Usually, these are some combinations of:
- Customer data
- Financial records
- Customer journeys
- Sales cycle tracking
- Results and outcomes
However, with limited sales tools, much of this information finds its way into spreadsheets and hand-written documents. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but these “traditional” systems can quickly become inefficient with growing sales.
As a result, many small businesses turn to sales CRM software to manage, track, and automate these crucial points. With many packages offering key features such as automated data entry, report generation, and lead follow-ups, adopting CRM software is logical for most small businesses.
What software do sales teams use?
Where small businesses can usually cover most administrative tasks with CRM software, teams are often better off with a more extensive suite of sales tools.
However, that’s not to say that small businesses can’t benefit from expanding beyond CRM software — it’s just that it’s not always necessary if you don’t need, say, extra-robust sales cycle analytics or training software.
In any case, knowing what you need can still be a challenge, even if you have a general idea of what’s out there. The following section will explain how anyone can choose the best sales software that meets their goals.
How to choose the best sales software
Whether it’s versatile CRM software, specialty sales intelligence, or analytics packages, the best sales software is whatever fits your needs.
As you explore different options, try to keep your goals and current workflows in mind, as well as the people who help you achieve them.
Identify your sales goals
Achieving your sales goals is the whole point of using sales software. As such, it should be the most significant factor in making your decision.
While it may sound like a no-brainer, it’s often overlooked — most small businesses don’t even have clear sales goals. Plus, you can be distracted by jargon like how many software providers promise perfect pipelines or a “well-honed sales funnel.”
Instead of chasing empty promises, try to identify precisely where certain software fits your needs and goals. For example, suppose improving conversions and closing rates are one of your sales goals. In that case, it may help to choose software that can automatically distribute leads to appropriate sales reps, nurture leads automatically, and calculate and track sales performance metrics.
Ideally, you want that very same software to offer analytics you can use to identify which strategies or campaigns are generating the highest conversions.
Check your current tools and find gaps
There’s a good chance you probably already use some tool to help with sales activities. And while that may be a good thing, they could be leaving gaps in your workflows.
Small businesses are a great example — especially those who don’t already use CRM tools or other types of sales software. Small business owners often keep track of sales activities using simple spreadsheets and other commonly available tools.
While there’s nothing wrong with spreadsheets, without sales-specific tools and features, it’s up to the person using the software to identify value and keep track of all customer and lead interactions. This becomes a lot of work once you’ve got more than five leads in your funnel at any given point.
If your tools aren’t serving your needs as well as they should, you’re probably already aware. But instead of simply replacing tools altogether, try to find software that fills your existing gaps and boosts sales productivity.
Ask your team
If you manage a sales team, your team members are the best source for identifying your company’s needs, goals, and gaps in terms of sales tools.
Even if you already have a good idea of what you need from your sales software, your team members can still offer valuable perspectives that might change your decisions. Plus, since your teammates are the ones who will be using the software you choose, their needs and opinions should hold priority.
You may also want to consider potential learning curves. Even if you’ve found the “perfect” sales software, it’ll be anything but perfect if your team has a hard time using it.
Narrow your options
With so many options to choose from, shopping for sales software can quickly lead to analysis paralysis. That’s especially true if you have several great options to choose from.
When several candidates offer similar features, you may need to narrow your options depending on what’s most valuable to you or your team. Again, be sure to consider your teammate’s needs and learning capabilities.
Try a demo or free trial
When in doubt, try a demo or, better yet, a free trial.
Even if a software package looks perfect on paper (or on-screen), using it is the best way to verify whether it’s a great fit. Thankfully, most leading sales software providers offer free demos or, in some cases, free trials.
Five best sales software platforms for small businesses
No matter your needs, CRM software is an essential tool for most sales teams. Here’s our list of the top 5 solutions for SMBs.
This may be a bit of a shameless plug, but what can we say? We’re proud of our CRM solution and confident that it’s the answer to your sales problems.
If you’ve been keeping track of leads in a spreadsheet or your head, we’re here to help. With a full suite of tools, our CRM software helps automate the most mundane tasks so you can spend more time with your leads.
With automated contact management, lead scoring, task tracking, and a complete view of your pipeline, you and your team can remove time-consuming manual tasks and get back to selling and closing deals.
Another leading CRM provider, Salesforce, offers a full suite of cloud-based sales processes and CRM tools.
“Full suite” is the keyword here. With users also having access to other Salesforce cloud solutions, including Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Data Cloud, and more, it’s a great all-in-one choice for large companies looking for solutions beyond the scope of a CRM. However, that may be too much (read: too costly) for small businesses.
Smaller sales teams looking to build their sales pipeline could consider Pipedrive.
Pipeline features a user-friendly interface that almost anyone can use in a basic but intuitive sales pipeline software package. This quality alone makes it an excellent option for a small team with an extensive range of capabilities and experience.
Built specifically for B2B businesses, Salesflare offers powerful automation and client management tools.
As many B2B sales activities occur through email, Salesflare’s features automatically gather information through email signatures, generate to-do lists, and log sales calls and emails. Though it’s not as robust as other CRMs, it’s a great niche option for B2B sales managers.
What better way to “close out” this guide than with Close?
Last but certainly not least, Close offers unique sales software solutions for those specifically trying to build and organize internal sales teams. With cutting-edge collaborative tools in addition to other basic features, it’s a great all-in-one option for teams of all sizes.
Shopping for sales software is hard – and choosing the best sales software is even harder.
However, almost every business process and sales team can benefit from CRM software. With CRM solutions from ActiveCampaign, you’ll enjoy a full dashboard of lead management and sales automation tools.
For more information on our software packages and schedule a demo, contact a CRM expert at ActiveCampaign today.