How To Build A Sales Funnel That Sells

Creating a sales funnel is much like dating. It happens in stages.

You don’t try to get her in your bed on the first date.
You don’t ask what their five-year plan is after two dinners.
You don’t give him/her the key to your place after a couple of sleepovers.
You don’t propose when you’ve only known each other for three months.

Building meaningful relationships takes patience, generous nurturing, hard work, and time. We all know that.

Customer relationships are no different.

Have you ever bought something off a dead cold email from a total stranger? Have you ever bought something off a Facebook Ad the very first time you laid eyes on it?

buy it, buy it now – skip all the sales funnel stages
Way too often do I see salespeople and marketers bombard people they don’t know with sales pitches for products they don’t need.

And no: customizing first name, last name, and company name in your automated cold email doesn’t count as personalization.

The goal of marketing is not to make sales. The goal of marketing is to build value-based relationships with an audience. A sale is merely the logical consequence of such a relationship.

Without a relationship, there can be no sale. A sale is your lead acting on their trust in you to solve a problem they’re having, to reach a goal they care about.

It’s the equivalent of your better half committing to a long-term relationship with you. That stuff doesn’t happen overnight.

The marketing equivalent of the process that sees you trying to win the heart of that special someone is called a sales funnel.

Like dating, the first vacation together, meeting the parents, moving in together, and eventually committing, the sales funnel is a multi-step, multi-modality step that gets prospects from not knowing nor you nor your product/service to buying that very product/service.

The sales funnel is the actualization of the wisdom that you should never sell at first sight. Other than your prospect having the problem you can solve, the one factor that drives this transformation process is trust. To get from lead to deal, you need to get your prospect to trust you and finally act on that trust.

There are different models to conceptualize this process. The traditional version outlines four sales funnel stages going from awareness to interest, decision, and finally action. Growth hacking teams prefer Dave McClure’s pirate funnel, portraying awareness, acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue as the six sales funnel stages a customer goes through on his buying journey.

For the sake of keeping it simple, we’re going to stick to the basics:

awareness: the prospect learns about your existence
interest: the prospect checks out your value
decision: the prospect decides they trust you to solve their problems and acts on that trust by making a purchase decision
long-term relationship: the prospect has become a customer
People learn about you, they check you out, they make the decision to become your customer and stay your customer. As a marketer, you’re responsible for getting a prospect to learn about you, getting them to check you out, driving them towards commitment, and honoring that commitment for a longer period of time. Sounds a lot like the stages of your love life, doesn’t it?

#1. Awareness
As with dating, you’re starting out from a position where you and your prospect don’t know each other. You do — or should — however, have a clear-cut idea of who your type is, who your buyer persona is. These are the people you know you can provide value to. Showing them that you can is what will enable you to build trust and establish a relationship.

This is the stage where they enter your sales funnel.

Conceptually, there are two ways this can happen. Either your prospect comes to you (inbound) or you go to your prospect (outbound).

Outbound is what most people know as traditional marketing: tv, radio, direct mail, billboards. Digital examples of outbound marketing include PPC, banner ads, and cold email. It’s pushy, unaligned, impersonal, and doesn’t take the context of individual recipients into account. The idea behind this kind of marketing is if a large enough audience is reached, a small minority will identify with your message and convert. Small, but big enough to make it worth the investment. You push answers and hope to capture people that have the questions.

anything is possible with inbound marketing – I’m on a unicorn
Inbound turns that idea upside-down. It’s prospects acting to solve their problems and ending up on your doorstep because you have the answers. As an inbound marketer, it’s your job to make it easy for people with questions to find your answers. You do this by finding out where they look and being there with your value (SEO, social media).

Forget inbound and outbound. Focus on giving value.
For many people, outbound marketing and spam are two names for the same thing, and understandably so. Unsolicited emails with content that’s not relevant don’t do anything but waste your time and energy. They’re stealing your attention and you don’t get anything in return.

Back when I was still in my marketing diapers, I’d sent out cold emails blatantly pitching Salesflare to unsegmented lists, asking recipients to check it out and get back to me with feedback. This won’t come as a surprise to you: no one replied.

Why would they? Who in their right mind would take out valuable time out of their day to do something for someone who’s a total stranger to them?

Especially if that stranger is clearly a marketer.

excuse me, who the fuck are you – when you skipped the first stage
Now watch what happens if you send them something that is worth their time, like a piece of content that directly addresses a problem they’re struggling with within their business or an invite to your Facebook community with lots of people like them. That last one tends to work particularly well: it takes little effort to join a Facebook group and getting a personal invitation makes people feel special. Once in your group, they’ve effectively entered the first stage of your sales funnel.

Are you selling marketing automation software and targeting founders from design agencies with around 20 employees? Send them an article with actionable tactics they can use to get more clients. Or what about an interview with a founder of a design agency that doubled its business over the last year? I know I’d want to read that if I were a design agency founder.

Will everyone reply to your email now? No. You’re still targeting people you don’t know anything about other than superficial characteristics like role, industry, and company size. Their unique context is unknown to you and that context may still cause them to reject you or at least not reply. Not every girl or guy you’re asking out is going to say yes, even though you have many shared interests — but hey, they can’t blame you for trying.

Even if they don’t reply, by offering relevant value you drastically reduce the risk of people resenting you for sending them something they didn’t ask for. There’ll always be people who want to bitch about it, but overall you’ll have made a positive first impression with your brand.

This is another way of thinking about inbound and outbound.

Once you have a value that is relevant to your audience, it’s merely about who the conversation starts. You can make it easy for people to find it (inbound) or you can offer it to them (outbound). Or both. The point is that neither one is going to work if you don’t have content that is of value to the people you’re targeting.

Know your audience
To know what kind of value you should create, you first need to know what is of value to your target audience. This takes empathy and diligence. This takes being wherever your audience is and putting yourself in their shoes.

Never before in history has that been so easy as it is today. Social media is like real-time market research: people will come out and express their problems, pains, struggles, wishes, and desires. You just need to be there and keep your ears open.

Aside from immersing yourself in online tribes, you can look at a site like AnswerThePublic to find out what kind of questions people are asking around a given keyword. Here’s a peek at questions revolving around the keyword ‘CRM’:

CRM questions – the stage of searching
Another great resource to find out what people want to know is Quora.

When starting out at Salesflare, we’d get tons of leads from simply answering to CRM recommendations asked on Quora. People ask questions of all sorts on there and that makes it a great inspiration for content creation.

While view and follower count provide a good indication of how sought-after a question is, the best way to identify valuable topics on Quora is to link them to SEO keywords and check the search volume.

ahrefs – the stage of searching
Using an SEO tool like Ahrefs, Moz.com, or SEMrush, you can track down the questions most sought-after Quora questions as shown in the screenshot. You can also do this for Reddit, another place on the internet that can give you loads of inspiration on what value to create.

Ultimately, the best way to find out what is of value to a group of people is to become part of that group of people. It’s no coincidence the best entrepreneurial stories start with founders scratching their own itches. If you yourself are part of the target audience, you’ll know exactly what kind of value is needed. Friends make very good customers.

Creating content and promoting it are two very different things
Marketing has finally caught up with an understanding that targeted value beats unsolicited ads. Competition in the organic content marketing space is growing fierce. Great content isn’t going to read itself the same way great products don’t sell themselves. If you want eyeballs on your value, you need a strategy.

The money is on the list. The bigger and more targeted your lists, the more people will read and share your content, fueling its spread and unique traffic.

Email list
Facebook chatbot list
Retargeting list
If you’re not building a Facebook chatbot list, now’s the time. Messenger is the lowest-threshold medium to deliver content through right now. Its open rates make your emails’ look ridiculous but they will go down as more businesses start to use them. If you jump on the train today and build up a big fat list by the time that happens, you’ll beat everyone else who didn’t. Apps like Chatfuel and ManyChat make it dead easy to build a chatbot without coding in minutes so no excuses there.

Your retargeting list isn’t going to get you a lot of unique traffic but it will get people to buy, which is the whole point of doing content and basically anything else anyway.

build lists of prospects to fill your first sales funnel stage
Technically, list building happens further down the sales funnel stages. They’re about capturing interest, which awareness is meant to trigger. You can build lists without having your prospect’s approval (opt-in), but I don’t recommend this. This takes you down to the level of unsolicited mass cold emailing, a.k.a. throwing $#*! and see what sticks without caring what the people you threw $#*! at now think about you.

The reason we need to talk about lists already is that they’re an essential building block of your content promotion strategy and thus key to triggering word-of-mouth over the internet. Getting new people to read your content passes through the ones that are already likely to dig and share it.

We’ll go over capturing interest and getting people to sign up for your email list in a bit. First, you’ll want to focus on a distribution strategy that triggers the interest of more people so more people sign up for your lists.

so meta
As soon as you finish a new piece of content, go all out on distribution.

Send it out to your email list. State that it’s an article in the subject line and make a short introduction. And remember: you’re sharing, not selling.
Send it out to your Facebook bot subscribers. Same idea.
Run your content as Facebook Ads to any audience that may be relevant. This is how you beat hundreds of thousands of other pieces of content battling for your audience’s attention. Use paid traffic to fuel organic traffic and build your lists.
Repurpose your content. Quora answers, Reddit threads, LinkedIn posts, tweets, Google Docs in Facebook Groups, microblogs on Instagram: wherever your target audience is and whatever floats their boats.
Submit your content to relevant directories with big audiences. In my case, this is GrowthHackers.com and Zest. is. Zest is a Chrome extension for marketers with curated articles.
Zest
Zest turns your ‘New Tab’ in Chrome into a beacon of marketing inspiration
6. See the guy on the top-left? That’s Daniel Kempe, the founder of Quuu. You can use Quuu to automate sharing great articles relevant to your niche on your social media channels. The articles that get into your feed are curated from the input the guys at Quuu get from QuuuPromote. If you want your articles to be automatically shared by influencers from all over the world, submit your article there.

Become a familiar face
People often say they see my content everywhere.

They mean that in a good way. At least I think they do.

This is no coincidence. I designed it to be that way.

you can’t ignore me, I’m everywhere, like God
Put a face to your content by being everywhere your target audience is. People buy from people they know, like and trust — give them the opportunity to build that kind of relationship with you. Serve your helpful content with a friendly face.

I connect with prospects on LinkedIn. I also follow them on Twitter and on Quora, lots of them follow me back. Now everywhere they look, they’ll see my face. And my content.

Sounds a bit stalky? Maybe. But don’t underestimate how special people feel when they see that notification telling them someone’s following them. Besides, platforms like LinkedIn were conceived for this purpose: to make business personal. Growing an online network is about connection, value, and nurturing. The principles of human rapport building apply everywhere.

You can avoid being weird by letting them take the first step. Only connect with people who have given you some kind of signal your value resonates with them: a reply to an email, a subscribe to your email list, a like on your Facebook page. If they’ve done any of these things, they’ll know who you are and they’ll appreciate you wanting to become friends on social media.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you here is to treat every profile you have on the internet as a landing page. Similar to how you optimize landing pages to get people to sign up or perform another kind of action, you can optimize your landing page to maximize the follow-back ratio. Make people want to hit that ‘Follow’ or ‘Connect’ button when they land on your profile. This is about headline, tagline, profile picture, background picture, and everything else you have available on a particular profile page. Establish yourself as a giver, a helper, a creator without diluting your own personality. Above all, you need to come across as authentic and valuable.

If you don’t feel like going through the trouble of going to LinkedIn, look up your prospect, hit ‘Connect’ and write a note — you can automate sending LinkedIn invites to people you’ve emailed with by connecting your business email from the ‘My Network’ tab.

personal contacts LinkedIn
add connections LinkedIn
Periodically automating this may however cause you to lose momentum with a prospect. Reaching out after an email exchange solidifies the young relationship and keeps your prospect warm. A little trick that can help out here is to link your LinkedIn in your email signature. You’d be surprised how many people will click it.

In case you want to turn it up a notch: most people that are active on Twitter list their profile on LinkedIn so you can follow them on Twitter in about two clicks.

Note that if you’re going to be everywhere, you better make a good impression. Establish yourself as a helper and a giver. Someone people can easily connect to. Being all over their newsfeeds isn’t a good thing if they think you’re in it to take something from them (sell to them).

Now that we’re on the subject: don’t you ever dare to unsolicitedly pitch your business to prospects on LinkedIn.

Once someone is in your LinkedIn network, you can also nurture them on Facebook running ads with your content.

Click your avatar and head to ‘Setting and Privacy’. From Account > Account, choose ‘Download your data’.

download LinkedIn data
You’ll get an export with all sorts of stuff, amongst which all your connections with their primary LinkedIn email addresses. You can turn these into a custom audience to run Facebook ads to.

Consistently providing value on different platforms at the same time is a great way to quickly build up your know, like, and trust factor. You’ll stop being the gazillionth founder that wants to desperately sell his beloved baby product and become recognized as someone people can trust to solve a particular problem.

Establishing personal social media connections with prospects in the awareness stage of the sales funnel helps trigger people’s interest in your product or service. Once the interest is there, you’ll already have a connection in place to develop into a relationship. A customer relationship, for example.

Automate your reach
A question people often ask me is how they can pull off creating great content consistently.

The answer is simple: automate everything else.

In order to go all-in on mindful work like creating value and building human connections, you need to outsource as much mindless work as possible. Technology has matured up to a point where it doesn’t need your supervision anymore. Take advantage of that. Have the robots take care of the robot work so you can focus on stuff that matters.

you can’t lose your job to automation if you’re the one automating jobs
The one tool you should know about here is Zapier.

Zapier allows you to connect a whole bunch of apps (750+) and make ’em work together without you having anything to do with it. Just tell it what you’d like it to do.

The idea is pretty simple: each app has a series of triggers and a series of actions. You can create a flow where a specific trigger in one app triggers an action in the other one.

Such an automatic flow is a ‘Zap’.

make a zap
What to automate? Everything that doesn’t need your human touch.

This notion goes beyond the sales funnel stage of awareness. It’s valid for everything in your business, your life even.

We of course use Salesflare (straight from the CRM) to automate our email outreach. In a manual world, we’d have to feed leads by importing. CSV files with data every time again. You can just as easily have Zapier take care of this for you.

The most basic example here would be to use Zapier to hook up your Salesflare contacts to a Google Sheet. Every time you’d add a lead to the Google Sheet, it will be added as a Salesflare contact with a specific tag and the email workflow will start.

A more advanced example: connect an email finding tool like VoilaNorbert to Salesflare and trigger the creation of a new recipient in a Salesflare email workflow each time VoilaNorbert found a new email address.

Tread carefully when you’re doing email automation, however. Email automation tools can personalize the copy of your emails using data like name, company, and more but just getting someone’s name right isn’t quite what ‘personalization’ is about. Most people stop there and then act all surprised that their emails aren’t working.

You got my name right, guess I need to buy your product now?
Personalization is about getting the right value and message to the right person. If you want to rhyme getting a piece of content outlining how design agency founders can get more leads to actual design founders with email automation, you’re going to need to segment your list thoroughly. Segment lead lists on characteristics like role, industry, company size and then match these lists to a piece of value that is perfectly aligned with them. That’s how you get the right value to the right person. That’s how you properly personalize an automated email.

And that’s how it’s done!
Further up in the sales funnel stages, but worth mentioning while in the realm of automation: use Zapier to set up a meeting scheduler (like YouCanBook.me or Calendly) to capture leads if they end up booking a meeting with you and then have these leads automatically pushed into Salesflare or another CRM, all ready for efficient follow-up. For more inspiration on this, check out our post on The Subtle Art Of Following Up With Automation.

Here’s another one: send out automated emails to customers giving you an NPS-score of 8 and higher, asking them if they would like to write a review on a review website or Product Hunt. Growthscore.io is NPS-software that has this feature built-in.

Think beyond processes that are directly linked to your sales funnel: anything that doesn’t need your own personal attention and talent is eligible for automation. It’s all about freeing up time for stuff that really matters: creating value and building meaningful relations.

If you’d like to automate something but can’t see how you can always hire a freelancer to do it for you on Upwork. There are tons of talented people from all over the world who’d love to work with you.

#2. Interest
Somebody clicked on your link and is now on your landing page.

Whoa!

He/she clicked on my link, I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious – moving up sales funnel stages
Not so fast.

A prospect clicking through to your landing page is like a first date. It’s great that they agreed upon that first date, it shows interest. But the game is only just beginning: you now have a shot at proving that interest is justified. Your price: their permission to contact you again for more value: a new date, a new piece of content, an offer. Whatever you want to call it.

What you’re after is the marketing game’s equivalent of getting someone’s phone number: their email address. Interest-only becomes real once you manage to capture it.

Build an email (or chatbot) list
An email list is so much more than just a list with email addresses you can send messages to. It’s your audience, your fan base, a lifeline that helps you thrive when times are good and keeps you above the water when times are bad. Empires have been built on email lists.

When people opt-in to your email list, they give you permission to contact them with value. It’s them effectively entering the first stage of your sales funnel. The game is on.

Building email lists is typically done using lead magnets. This is where you trade-in value for email addresses, also known as the ‘want access to my FREE ebook on making a million dollars in one day?!’ tactic.

The problem with bombarding people with such a lead magnet is that it can feel deceptive. The title may sound great but that doesn’t guarantee the value behind it, is too. If your leads give in and give up their email address to then discover the content doesn’t deliver on its promise at all, they’ll feel tricked.

This is the clickbait phenomenon.

Yes, you’ll have their email address but instead of capturing interest, you have now sown aversion, making that email address utterly useless. And if they did like the value, there’s no way to know — you’re in the dark either way.

You can be more subtle. Notice how Sumo.com tries to get people to opt-in to their email list from this great article on Intercom by offering them bonus content.

Sumo growth study
The article in question is an awesome breakdown of Intercom’s marketing tactics. They give you an inspiring story with tons of takeaways you can use in your business but leave out the cherry on top of the pie. Not only is this way more effective in building up your goodwill, but Sumo’s marketers can also rest assured that people really did think the value they got from Sumo was great. Their interest is as real as it can get and deserves to be captured.

It doesn’t always have to be an article, whitepaper, or ebook. One of the greatest lead magnet examples of all time is HubSpot’s WebsiteGrader, an online tool that assesses the quality of your website and turns its findings into free advice on how to get it right. Since its launch in 2006, this gimmick has graded over 4 million websites. Getting HubSpot not just a huge email list, but also a lot of valuable data that can be used to identify and qualify prospects.

Or you can just keep it simple and put engaging CTAs to ‘never miss anything’ on strategic places, next to that great content you’re consistently putting out.

The email list of the future looks like a chatbot list. Prospects can sign up to it by clicking a CTA like the one below (not a real one) and get your updates automatically in their inbox.

Your sales pipeline on autopilot
As a channel, it has less friction than email. For some reason, people seem to find it less painful to clean up their Messenger inbox than their email one. Open rates on messages broadcasted via Messenger are reported to be around 85–90% — huge compared to email.

The email list is not dead yet and won’t be for a long time. For now, I’d advise you to use both alongside each other. Chatbots are a fun, low-threshold way to keep the conversation alive and regularly nudge your audience with small chunks of value— though it heavily depends on your target audience. Email on the other hand is still more universal, the backbone of the internet.

However, keep in mind what Andrew Chen once said:

Over time, all marketing strategies result in $h*tty click-through rates.

Chatbots are the next big thing. They’ve become easy to use and they work. You can either wait until everyone uses them and your audience has grown annoyed with them or you can be an early adopter, jump on the boat today, and have a loyal audience built up by that time.

Unleash the Facebook Pixel
Not everyone bites the very first time you lower your lure.

That’s okay, sometimes love needs some nurturing to grow and blossom. Besides, nothing worth-while comes easy. Hard-to-get just makes it all the sweeter when you do eventually get it.

Challenge accepted
The good news is that in online marketing you can automate keeping the spark alive. It’s called retargeting and Facebook made it ridiculously easy.

Let’s put it this way: you don’t need your prospect to budge for your awesome lead magnet in order to keep on nurturing them with great value. They lost the power to deny you that the second they clicked through to your landing page or blog post.

More specifically, the Facebook Pixel allows you to segment website visitors into Custom Audiences you can then target with ads.

Some examples:

Retargeting sales funnel on website traffic
people who have visited your website in the past 24 hours
people who have visited your website in the past 180 days but have not been back in 30 days
people who have visited a specific page on your website
people who have visited a specific page on your website but not another specific page
These options enable you to show the right value to the right audience. Say you’re creating a series on dos and don’ts for job interviews. The Facebook Pixel makes it dead easy to show the second blog post to just the people who read the first one. Pro tip: avoid having the Facebook Pixel capturing users by setting a delay time. You don’t want to spend your money on bounced users.

You can use the Time Since Last Visit — filter of your Pixel to create a smart retargeting sales funnel for website visitors. Gently guiding them towards conversion.

It’ll take some time to figure out the sequence that converts best, but once you do, you can just sit back on your couch, play Mario Kart and watch it happen.

Visit my website, fall into my retargeting funnel
The stages of a basic retargeting sales funnel would look something like this

Day 0–6 since the last visit: promotion for free trial signup
Day 7–11: offer lead magnet to get email address (ebook, etc)
Day 12–16: highlight benefit #1 of a product with CTA to signup for trial
Day 17–21: testimonial video highlighting the value of the product with CTA to signup for trial
Day 21–25: highlight benefit #2 of a product with CTA to signup for trial
Day 26–30: promotion for free trial signup with new image in the ad
Just to give you an idea.

You’ll need to figure out what works best for your conversion process. Play around with times since the last visit and different types of content. Try to build a narrative into the sequence to make it stick more.

The practical side of this boils down to creating Custom Audiences for each of the time windows you‘d want to target with different ads. Then create ad sets for each Custom Audience.

Another way is to automatically launch retargeting campaigns from the data in your CRM using software like LeadsBridge. LeadsBridge can make Custom Audiences out of customer segments in your CRM and target them with specific ads. For example, at Salesflare we use LeadsBridge to retarget our trial users with onboarding videos.

Making creative use of the Facebook Pixel will make it easy to keep on nurturing the part of your audience that is still on the verge in a targeted and automated way. If you keep this up, they should eventually cave and sign up for your list. Or immediately go for purchasing whatever it is you have to offer. Not wanting to opt-in doesn’t always equal not being interested.

If they do stay idle, it just wasn’t meant to be. Good thing you barely spent energy on it.

Come running when they need you
My female friends often tell me to play hard-to-get, counteract my instincts and ignore girls I’m interested in. They say it‘ll make me more desirable.

I have no idea if it works. I’ve never tried, or am too weak to try — you decide. Whatever it is, don’t take this advice if you’re serious about keeping your sales funnel alive.

Why you play hard to get when you are hard to want
It’s your prospect who gets to do the ignoring. You better make sure you’re available whenever they call upon you for whatever.

Forms are so 2016, 2015, 2014… ‘Prehistorical’ is the word we’re looking for. Today you can have a direct line with your prospects and customers using live chat software like Intercom or Drift. This is a key element of establishing yourself as someone your leads can trust to solve their problems. They have a problem, you solve it. In real-time.

Both Intercom and Drift aren’t your everyday chat-services anymore. They have matured into intelligent specimens that can cover for you when you’re not around. At present this doesn’t go much beyond some auto-responses, but they’re getting smarter by the day.

Enable prospects to help themselves
I’m a resourceful guy. Whenever I look for a piece of information on a website, I first check out the Help or FAQ section before I’d turn to reach out to customer support. Some people just like to find things out on their own, you know.

There’ll always be people who don’t like calling, chatting, or even emailing. That doesn’t mean you can’t get them as a customer. Provide them with an elaborated self-help section, whatever that means for your product or service.

You can easily merge this tactic with your live chat support. Solving customer problems goes a lot quicker if you can refer them to articles that answer exactly the question they have. It doesn’t even have to be you the one referring them. Whenever our live chat at Salesflare isn’t manned (we sleep sometimes, you know), the bot will suggest the customer check out articles from the HowTo section. Creating tons of content around your product is also great for SEO.

We build our HowTo section within Intercom. If you’re using Drift or something else, you can take a look at SupportHero.

And then, if we take it another step further, there’s also digital user feedback. User feedback is ideal for identifying pain points within your sales funnel, thus giving you around-the-clock insights into the customer experience. And this isn’t limited to just your website. Digital solutions such as Mopinion enable organizations to collect and analyze this feedback on multiple digital channels such as websites, mobile apps, and email campaigns.

Bring it all together in your CRM
CRM systems were once conceived as a hub where all your customer relations came together. Somewhere amidst the suffering of manual data input and the likings, that essence was lost. Salesflare is our way of getting it back. One central place to bring your data together and enable you to build meaningful relations with multiple prospects at the same time, easy and effortlessly.

Whether you use Salesflare or something else, think of your CRM as your Batcave. It’s the base from where you reflect on your actions, contemplate your next move, and pull the strings. The one thing that allows you to do all of that, is data.

Contact data, company info, social profiles, and networks of contacts. Emails you’ve exchanged, pages on your websites they’ve visited, links they’ve clicked, phone calls you’ve had, and meetings you’ve held. Your sales funnel. All in one place.

Salesflare gets you this without you having to lift a finger. But it’s only when you link it up to other tools that it becomes really powerful. In addition to all the other data, we pull in Intercom conversations, NPS scores, and trial data to get a full-fledged in-depth overview of every lead and customer in our sales funnel, organized by stage.

If you think we’ve reached that stage of our relationship, here’s a CTA  If not, no hard feelings.

“Love Salesflare. Simple but elegant and always improving. Love the UI. Great team to work with. Also, appreciating the Gmail integration and other 3rd party integrations.”

Lonnie Mayne, Red Shoes Living
easy to use CRM
More about CTAs in a second…

For more inspiration on how to use your CRM to win at follow-up and drive leads through your sales funnel, check out The Subtle Art Of Following Up With Automation.

#3. Action
You can go on a lot of cute dates, but eventually, you want something to happen. The friend zone is a dark place to be.

Friendzone stage of the sales funnel
You can be putting out great content over and over, at some point you’re going to need to get serious and make your move.

Make your intentions clear with CTAs
You’re flirting, you’re having a good time, they’re enjoying your stuff. But at some point, this relationship has to land. You started this whole thing looking to get a commitment. It’s your responsibility to drive your prospect down the sales funnel stages towards that commitment with clear call-to-actions.

Have a goal in mind with everything you create and have your prospect lay eyes upon. Be it an email, a piece of content, a landing page, or a Facebook Ad — you want your prospect to perform a certain action. Make it easy for them to do just that. You can use software like Poptin to make the CTAs on your website as attractive as possible.

Make them fearful of missing out
FOMO or ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ is more than just a pop culture buzzword. It’s a real psychological occurrence, driving behaviors in people of all sorts, especially in millennials.

It’s cool, I’ll just sit here nursing my FOMO.
As a marketer, you don’t want to miss out on FOMO to drive decisions.

Few things drive decisions more than the fear of not being able to later on. Discounts are most powerful when limited in time. This is why Black Friday is the craziest shopping day of the year: the chance to finish all your Christmas shopping in one day. Not the next day, only on that day.

You need to be subtle about it though. Trying to create FOMO can give people the feeling that they’re being sold to and nobody likes that. The secret is to instill FOMO in your prospects without them being aware of it, gradually along the lines of all that value you’re giving them across channels.

Slip in some customer testimonials
Your best tactic to avoid giving people the feeling that they’re being sold to is having someone else tell them how awesome your product is (and how sucky it would be to miss out on it). Beyond all tools, channels, hacks, and techniques, the strongest driver of sales is and will always be word-of-mouth.

If you paid attention before, you’ll have noticed that there’s a customer testimonial in the example Facebook Ads retargeting sales funnel stages laid out before. Ideally, the customer testimonial represents a case many among your target audience can relate to. The testimonial then becomes both relevant value and a decision-driver to your prospect. They see someone like them solving a problem they’re having too and will start asking themselves what they are doing about that problem.

Testimonials from customers
Infolinks.com
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a Facebook Ad. Testimonials are a great way to back up the claims you’re making on your landing pages too like Unbounce is doing here.

testimonials from customers
Create scarcity and urgency
The Black Friday technique. Drive decision by making prospects feel it’s ‘now or never’. It’s a ‘limited’ edition. There’s ‘only a few left in stock’. This deal ‘ends tomorrow’.

Flash sale Groupon
You can use data to make sure you only show these kinds of deals to the people who are right there in the third stage of the sales funnel, on the tipping point of going for the purchase.

When asked about the essence of growth marketing, Sean Ellis, the godfather of the concept, said:

Sustainable growth comes from understanding the best customers and figuring out how to find and acquire more of them.

What this means in the context of creating urgency is that you should have a clear idea of the signs a prospect shows when they’re close to cutting the knot and just need one last push, that last push being your CTA with a limited offer.

For a SaaS product like Salesflare, you can deduct this from the actions users are performing in their trial accounts: daily activity, a number of accounts created, users added to their teams. For eCommerce, this can be about users returning multiple times to view a particular item.

This kind of data will tell you who to create urgency for. It’s like your date seeking a lot of eye contact and giving you little touches with every opportunity they get. It tells you that if you would make a move now, your chances of success are pretty fair.

I’m going in the last stage of the sales funnel
#4. The long-term relationship
Congratulations, you’re married now.

Wait… what?
This is not a one-time thing kind of deal. You and your prospect committed to each other and are in it for the long run.

Don’t worry, you still get to date and marry other prospects. On the condition that you honor your standing commitments, that is. Don’t get carried away chasing other prospects and neglecting existing customers, it will come back to bite you in the ass.

Driving traffic to your website isn’t hard. Getting them to sign up for your email list is fairly easy. You don’t have to be world-class to get them to buy your product or subscribe to your service.

Just as with marriages, the hard part is what comes after. Keeping them happy, getting them to come back — over and over again.

Take a look at this graph on retention for Android apps Andrew Chen shared on his blog a couple of years ago.

Retention curve for Android apps
Source
If 100 users download your Android app, you’ll have about 20 left after three days. About 80% of those will have you left you 90 days later.

This is as much about activating users as it is about retaining them, but you get the message: you can’t afford to only focus on driving purchases to new customers. Keeping current customers happy is at least as crucial for sustainable growth.

Not convinced? How about this report from eConsultancy saying that “the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70 percent, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only about 5–20 percent.”

Loyal customers are worth way more than new ones and creating loyalty takes consistent hard work just like a long and happy marriage takes consistent hard work. Don’t just engage, stay engaged.

Make sure you know how to get this right before you scale up your marketing strategies. Customers you can’t retain aren’t just gone, they’re often also not very good ambassadors of your brand. Staying friends with your ex isn’t for everyone.

Leverage your Net Promotors
“On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this app to a friend or colleague?”

NPS
This question helps measure customer satisfaction and identify Net Promotors, people who like your product so much they’d happily refer it to other people.

Net Promotors are people who voted 9 or higher. 6 or lower indicates Detractors, customers that aren’t very happy with your product and are likely to file for divorce in the near future. They won’t exactly recommend you as a satisfying party to peers either.

First and foremost, the NPS score will tell you if your product and retention strategy still needs work or if you’re ready to scale up and unleash marketing mayhem. It will tell you if you’re marriage material.

If you are, it may be worth encouraging your happiest partners (Net Promotors who gave you a rating of 9 and higher) to spread the word on how great of a party you are.

We hooked up NPS-software Growthscore.io with our referral software to automate outreach to Net Promotors asking if they would consider referring in exchange for a commission on the sales they bring us. There are also automated emails going out asking them if they would do us the favor of phrasing their contentment in a review on G2Crowd or Product Hunt.

5-star reviews everywhere
And just like that, you’ve closed the loop. Now you have happy customers pushing new prospects into the first stage of your sales funnel.

There’s a lot more to say about making customers happy and keeping them that way. We’ll keep that for our next date

We hope you liked this post. And maybe Salesflare a bit more too.

If so, here’s another CTA

“I received an email from a prospect from many months ago. I was able to find him on the Opportunity pipeline, and immediately knew who he was, and where he had stopped in the pipeline.”

How to Align Your B2B Email Automation to Sales & Marketing

The search for alignment between B2B sales and marketing teams is nothing new.

Ask sales why they keep missing quotas and the finger points to the lack of volume and quality leads produced by marketing.

Throw that same question to marketing and they’re likely to paint a different picture: one that involves a lack of follow-up and finesses from those in sales to close the deal.

This isn’t to say that both groups aren’t willing to look inward and own up to their mistakes.

But there’s no denying the tension that exists between these teams puts members at odds with each other as they work toward similar goals.

With the average B2B sales cycle ranging from four to seven months to close, nurturing customer relationships while staying top-of-mind is crucial. And also, not impossible.

In fact, you probably already have the ingredients for successful customer acquisition on hand with your developed content and email marketing strategies.

Now, you need to automate tactics and work together as one team.

Let’s dig into how to align your B2B email automation to sales and marketing.

What is B2B email marketing?
B2B email marketing is fairly straightforward in concept. Think of it as a conversational exchange between at least two companies over email.

The keyword here is conversational.

For a channel that 59% of B2B marketers argue is their most effective for revenue generation, it’s important to approach messaging strategically.

This is true for everything from the first welcome email to a nurturing email full of curated content.

The example provided by CoSchedule.
In the face of competitive marketplaces and high expectations around personalization, it’s even more important for sales and marketing teams to align their efforts with email automation.

Automation makes it possible for teams to identify high-quality leads and quickly move them through the funnel.

It centralizes messaging around preset customer journey triggers and makes it possible for teams to maintain fast response times.

7 B2B Automated Emails And How to Align Them to Both Sales & Marketing
At this point, you probably don’t need any more convincing as to why sales and marketing teams need to align themselves with email automation. You want to understand how.

Cue these seven B2B automated email use cases.

#1: Improve cold email outreach
There’s a reason why cold email outreach is often ineffective in B2B sales: it’s because you’re essentially talking to a stranger. And a very busy stranger at that.

People don’t have time for small talk in a sales email. They want to see that you’ve done your research around who they are and what they want.

If you are starting from scratch with a cold email, there are some golden rules you can follow in warming them up a bit. Among them, find some commonality.

An example provided by Drift.
Alternatively, consider investing in a tool that’ll help you on the research front by providing context around who your website visitors are.

Like I did below.

I created an email workflow in Salesflare!
To make this your own, replace each bold section with details related to what you’re selling.

Create one email template per target customer type, then merge tags can take care of the rest of the details (just don’t forget to customize date and time information as necessary).

Here’s an example:

“Hi, Paul,

You recently visited Salesflare.com and downloaded our whitepaper, ‘The augmented sales team.’

If you’re interested in learning more about running a top sales organization then I can recommend the following additional resources:
– Remote Sales: How to Sell Successfully From Wherever You Are
– Why You Want an Easy to Use CRM for Your Small Business

Our company also offers a CRM that sales reps love to use which could help you to make more sales by not letting any follow-ups slip through the cracks.

Are you free for a call on Tuesday at 12pm MST to talk about this?”

The more information you can gather around who your customers are, the more effective cold email templates you can create for automating and replicating across common scenarios.

#2: Increase conversions from trial to sign up
The average number of legitimate business emails received every day has remained static since 2015.

This is good in the sense that you can easily help your brand stand out with highly relevant, targeted email automation.

It’s not so great if you’re simply adding to the clutter.

When someone signs up for a trial of your product, it’s a no-brainer to automate the sending of helpful emails throughout the course of their trial. Use that window of time as an opportunity.

Send an email at the beginning of the trial that shows appreciation and sets up the next steps.

Link out to valuable resources that will guide them towards getting the most out of the product in the shortest amount of time.

An example provided by UserTesting.
#3: Drive higher engagements with onboarding emails
There’s a difference between signing up for a service and actually using it.

If it takes too much time to figure out how to just get started, you’re not helping the cause from a customer retention standpoint.

Keep in mind that acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one.

Have your sales and marketing teams work together to determine some of the most frequent new customer pain points with the product. There are plenty of sales tools available to help uncover and take action on customer insights.

This information can be used to create a flow of automated onboarding emails that provide a clear path for getting started.

Above all else, you want customers to know they’re more than just a dollar sign: they’re welcome users backed by relevant resources and support.

An example provided by Asana.
#4: Increase conversions with behavioral-triggered campaigns
Studies have shown that follow-up emails typically get a better response rate from customers than the first email.

So why are they so often neglected?

The short answer is time and human error.

When sales teams are manually trying to keep up with messages coming in, going out, and everything in between, stuff is bound to fall between the cracks.

This is why automating sales follow-ups are so important.

Behavioral-triggered campaigns make it easy to generate follow-up emails based on everything from an open to a link click. You can tailor templates accordingly with hyper-relevant information.

Example from SalesHandy.
#5: Engage new users after a webinar
73% of B2B marketers and sales leaders say webinars are the best way to generate high-quality leads.

These are people that have not only taken the time to fill out a form. They’ve shown up day-of to spend 30-minutes to an hour of their time watching your content.

As you begin to plan out the webinar itself, create follow-up assets in advance. Create a flow within your CRM targeting a list of webinar attendees with relevant content based on what was covered.

This is also a great time to tout potential trial offerings and engagement with your sales team.

The example provided by Silverpop.
#6: Cross-selling/up-selling
When you monitor and track customer engagement with a product or service, something magical happens.

You make room for opportunity.

And by that, we mean you’re more readily able to identify the potential for up-sells.

For example, someone who’s been a customer for a while and uses your platform regularly has an established level of loyalty. They find value in your product.

Set up triggers to identify your most loyal customers and target them accordingly with special offers and opportunities to upgrade.

The example provided by Buffer.
#7: Customer retention
We’ve already discussed the difference in cost between acquisition and retention. Current customers have gone through the rigmarole.

They’ve been convinced to the point of opening their wallet and investing in what it is you have to sell. This just doesn’t happen with many of the prospects that come through the metaphorical door.

The last thing you want to do as a sales and marketing team is to take these people for granted. Your job isn’t done just because they’ve signed the dotted line.

In fact, it’s just beginning. It’s when you have to convince them that their actions were worth taking. And that there’s continued benefit to be found in your service month after month.

For content-driven marketing teams, you have the materials at your fingertips to continuously engage current customers.

Curate a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter. Make them aware of new product launches (offering exclusive access to new features when relevant before they hit the masses).

You can also utilize your customer base as a source of feedback. Automate regular survey sends to your core user segments, using the information to improve current offerings.

The example provided by Zest.
Final Thoughts: Sales & Marketing Maximize Email ROI When Aligned
It goes without saying that when teams work together, positive things happen. Nowhere is this truer than for sales and marketing.

After all, both operate with the same goal in mind: to bring on and keep customers.

Neither of those outcomes can occur in a way that’s effective and sustainable when both groups are working in silos. Especially when they each possess valuable insights vital for driving each other’s efforts forward.

Marketers have the back-end. They can look at website visitors, leads generated through forms, advertising engagement rates, etc., and figure out what triggers action.

And then, they can replicate what works across a variety of channels.

Salespeople have the front-end. Through regular conversation and relationship-building expertise, they know what works in moving a deal forward.

And they know every product pain point and excuse in the book for stopping a contract in its tracks.

Opening the lines of communication between both sides is the first step.

With a shared understanding of customer interests and triggers established, email automation serves as the final link.

It creates a bridge between company and customer — making it possible to not only exchange a series of triggered messages but to establish a real connection driven by a genuine interest in providing solutions.

Salesforce vs Zoho vs HubSpot vs Pipedrive vs Salesflare: what’s the best sales CRM for small businesses?

With 640+ CRMs available in 2021, finding the right CRM for your small business can be quite daunting.

You’re now comparing a few alternatives and might want to know which one will be best for you, without having to try each of them extensively.

Even though we’d recommend you to actually do that, we have gone through that pain on your behalf and have gone through trials of Salesforce, Zoho, HubSpot, Pipedrive, and – of course – Salesflare.

We’ve structured each of the CRM reviews by criteria, so you can easily see how each CRM compares.

Additionally, we’ve added the honest review of a small business sales pro, who took the time to test 4 of the 5 covered CRMs actively in parallel for a week.

Here’s what we’ll cover
First off, we’ll have a look at each CRM alternative in detail:

About X: No good software comparison is possible without understanding the company offering this software. We’ll analyze the company, which customers they serve, and why they do what they do.
User experience: If you’re a small business, user experience should be top of your requirements. What good is software if you’re not using it and getting practical benefits from it?
Mobile accessibility: In 2019, one expects to be able to run his/her business from the phone. Even if you spend most of your day at the computer, nobody likes to be tied to it at all times.
Automation capabilities: Want to make more sales in less time? Of course, you do, and a CRM can/should help. Its main role is to help you to organize and automate your sales work.
Pricing: What money do you have to pay for all this value? As every app prices differently, we’ll take a dive into the pricing plans and how they actually compare.
Support: Finally, what can you expect if you need help? What type of support can you expect, how quickly will they respond, and what will it cost you?
After this we’ll briefly compare each set of CRMs separately:

Salesforce vs Zoho
Salesforce vs HubSpot
Salesforce vs Pipedrive
Salesforce vs Salesflare
Zoho vs HubSpot
Zoho vs Pipedrive
Zoho vs Salesflare
HubSpot vs Pipedrive
HubSpot vs Salesflare
Pipedrive vs Salesflare
Don’t want to read up on any details? Just click on your comparison of choice above. You can always get back to the details.

Don’t take only our word for it
However unbiased we tried to write this comparison, we wouldn’t expect you to base your decision only on what we believe makes the best sales CRM for small business.

That’s why we included a complete, honest, and uncensored review of an independent party (now a happy Salesflare user) at the end of each CRM section.

To make the right decision for his business, Stephen Sexton, Director of Partnerships at NowADays Media, tried 4 different CRMs in parallel for a week.

Here’s the review he published after his grueling trial marathon:

A few weeks ago, I posted in a few groups on Facebook asking for advice on a CRM for a small agency I had just joined. I got some great feedback, but ultimately decided I’d have to figure it out myself. Based on feedback from the members of those groups, my final four were:

– Zoho
– HubSpot
– Pipedrive
– Salesflare

After pouring through reviews, demo videos, free trials, and all the like, I decided the best way to make a decision was to test each CRM individually, simultaneously, and side-by-side. So, I set up and ran my sales ops on 4 different CRMs simultaneously for a week (you read that correctly), and yes it was a huge pain in the ass and a terrible idea to begin with. But hey – my pain is your gain.

Quick business context and shameless plug/ I recently joined an influencer marketing agency to establish and scale their outbound sales. We essentially fabricate social media virality for our clients. We create and run large-scale guerrilla social media influencer campaigns that create organic viral buzz about our clients. This typically snowballs into some pretty crazy ROAS for our clients. Message me if you’re curious about it. /shameless plug.

The challenge with the above business model is that we usually work with big, complex companies, doing big, complex campaigns, we have a long, complex sales cycle, and we take a pretty personalized approach to sales on top of that.

The reason our model makes finding a CRM challenge is that most CRMs seem to cater to high-volume and high-velocity sales. My experience has been that most CRMs develop their tools with SaaS-type companies in mind.

With all that in mind, here were the results.

Read on at the end of each CRM section to learn more about Stephen’s verdict on that CRM.

You can also analyze this breakdown of the review scores by hundreds of users on G2 to find out how they score each CRM in this comparison (excluding Zoho; we left it out as it scored significantly lower than the 4 others and we could only select 4 CRMs in the comparison):

comparison Hubspot vs Pipedrive vs Salesforce vs Salesflare

Salesforce
About Salesforce
Salesforce is by far the biggest CRM company in the world, controlling about 19% of the market in 2019.

It was founded in 1999 in California by an ex-Oracle executive.

In the first few years of its existence, Salesforce focused on serving small businesses, helping them bring their old school on-premise CRM databases to the cloud.

Over the years, however, its focus has primarily shifted to larger companies, adapting their software for the big corporates of this world.

Nowadays, Salesforce offers a huge platform to enterprises that basically consists of a set of building blocks with which you can build anything, gives the possibility to customize everything, and the promise to connect to whatever other software you’re using.

A Salesforce implementation typically requires a consulting company to map the business needs and workflow, build all this in Salesforce, connect with other software, train the employees and follow up with additional changes afterward.

This doesn’t hold Salesforce back to also offer their software to small businesses in a version called Salesforce Essentials, which is essentially a limited version of the full platform.

User experience
While around the year 2000 Salesforce’s user experience would be a revolution versus existing players, it had slowly traded its user experience for extreme customizability.

In 2015, Salesforce overhauled its user interface to bring a bright new Lightning Experience to its customers.

A contact in the classic Salesforce experience looked like this:

100%
Since the introduction of the Lightning experience, it looks like this:

And here’s how an account looks:

While the look and feel clearly have changed, the basics and the focus on extreme customizability have remained in place.

Screens are built up with a series of blocks in which you can find more blocks, tabs, and links to other screens.

This is of course inherent to Salesforce’s extreme customizability. You can’t both have generic and adaptable screens… and also provide a seamless and pragmatic user experience.

It’s always important to keep in mind that Salesforce prioritizes the needs of (usually larger) organizations over the needs of its end users.

Nonetheless, compared to competing enterprise CRMs from SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle, it still provides one of the more modern experiences.

Mobile accessibility
Salesforce offers a simplified mobile app, which has a similar design to its Lightning Experience shown above.

It allows you to do basic actions on contacts, accounts, and opportunities; this includes editing, deleting, creating a task, logging a call, and more.

Sending list emails, changing settings, creating reports, etc. is not possible from the mobile app. For these things, you are always dependent on your laptop.

Still, the navigation menu with things you can access is quite long (about 2,5 screens long on a larger phone).

Automation capabilities
The possibilities in terms of automation with Salesforce are endless: from automating workflows and approval processes within Sales Cloud, over automated sales campaigns with Salesforce Engage, marketing automation with Pardot, and automated dialing with Salesforce Lightning Dialer, to outbound sales automation with High-Velocity Sales.

You will probably need a consultant to come in to set it up for you and a trainer to get your sales team up and running, but whatever you need, it’s there. And if it isn’t, you can still search for the right software in the Salesforce AppExchange.

Do note however that every of the above-mentioned automation tools comes at an extra price on top of your Sales Cloud plan of choice ($25-$300 per user per month). To give you a quick idea: High-Velocity Sales will set you back $75 per user per month, and Pardot up from $1,250 per month (for the basic functionality and up to 10k contacts).

Pricing
As just mentioned, a plan on Salesforce Sales Cloud will set you back between $25 to $300 per user per month, depending on the feature set.

Connecting to Salesforce’s API is for instance possible from the Enterprise plan at $150 per user per month, or on the Professional plan if you pay an extra $25 on top of its $75 per user per month.

Depending on what features you need on top of Sales Cloud (like the automation features) or next to Sales Cloud, the package you’ll have to go with may be different.

It’s frankly hard to summarize and we, therefore, have to refer you to Salesforce’s very own pricing wizard.

Support
Just like with the automation features, the level of support you get very much depends on how much you are willing to pay.

Salesforce’s pricing pages are not very clear about this topic. What is clear is that “24/7 Support and Configuration Services” only come on Salesforce Sales Cloud’s Unlimited Plan, at $300 per user per month.

The standard support on the lower plans is online support during weekdays and has a response time of 2 days. For additional and quicker support, you can buy one of the 3 support packages, starting at “20% net”. More info on the Success Plans pricing page.

How one of our users put it
Stephen Sexton, Director of Partnerships at NowADays Media, tried Zoho, HubSpot, Pipedrive, and Salesflare in parallel for a week, but did not take Salesforce into his comparison.

He shortly explains why he didn’t include Salesforce in his comparison:

It didn’t fit our use case. Salesforce has a super robust offering, but it’s not well equipped to satisfy a small team. It’s way too overpowered and overpriced for what we need.

Zoho
About Zoho
Zoho Corporation is an Indian software development company.

It’s the oldest company in this comparison, as it was founded in 1996 by Sridhar Vembu (owning 88% of the stock with his family) along with two siblings and three friends.

It only launched Zoho CRM in 2005, followed by a large series of applications, like Projects, Creator, Sheet, Docs, Meeting, and many more.

Zoho virtually makes everything, from accounting software, over bug trackers, and HR solutions, to a mobile device management suite. You name it, they make it.

In the CRM space, Zoho has historically been positioning itself as a cheaper alternative to Salesforce.

Like Salesforce, its primary focus is on and its primary revenue stream comes from large enterprises.

Just like with Salesforce, you can have yourself be assisted by system integration partners and trainers, providing the necessary consultancy to get you up to speed.

Still, they also target startups and small businesses with Zoho One, a package that promises to offer you every single app you need in one place.

You can either sign up for this, or Zoho CRM or Zoho CRM Plus. For the purpose of this comparison, we’ll focus on Zoho CRM, which is the most comparable software compared to the other sales CRMs in terms of functionality and price levels.

User experience
Zoho’s interface has changed a lot over the years. Its latest design has a dark navigation bar at the top and a classic white-grey interface below.

The navigation bar contains more tabs than we’ve ever seen on a navigation bar. And when you think you’ve seen it all: most of the tabs have been hidden behind the 3 dot menu.

Adding the 7 buttons at the top right and 9 more in the additional bar at the bottom, there’s a whole lot to explore and navigate through.

The sheer amount of options seems to be what Zoho excels at. They won’t shy back from showing it to you.

When going to the Contacts page next, we’re greeted with a plethora of options yet again.

We land in canvas view and are immediately quite mind blown by the fact that we can create our own views. We don’t particularly enjoy the fact that it’s showing “n/a” everywhere, but that might just be us.

The accounts view has a similar look (with even more “n/a” mentions):

When opening up this account it looks like this:

As you can see by observing the scrollbar, this is a long page that lists all of the entities that are potentially linked to the account, all below each other, grouped by entity type.

It took us a moment to find out where the timeline was hidden, but we eventually found it in the newly introduced grey navigation menu on the left under “Timeline”. While all other buttons in this navigation menu make that you scroll to a certain place in the right part of the window, the “Timeline” button brings you to a new page.

Again, if you need something with a ton of configuration options and buttons, you probably will find the right partner in Zoho’s CRM. If we had to rank the CRMs in this comparison by the ease of use (or by pleasure to use) however, Zoho would come in last.

Mobile accessibility
Just like Salesforce, Zoho offers a simplified mobile app. Compared with Salesforce, its design is quite plain.

It also has a weird bug that shows pink on every record and all over the navigation. We, unfortunately, could not solve it by restarting the app or changing the themes, so we had to include it in the screenshots.

Here’s how the contacts look:

When checking out this contact, it looks like this:

You can do all the basic operations from the mobile app, like creating, updating, deleting, … entities and also adding notes, attaching files, viewing reports, and more.

More advanced things like sending email campaigns or checking up on their results are not possible from the mobile app. Nor is creating reports, changing settings, making exports, …

This means you’re still dependent on your laptop when you’re on the move.

Automation capabilities
Zoho comes with a ton of features, which include automation capabilities too.

It may become a bit overwhelming to research and understand what’s on which plan, so let us give you a quick overview of the main data automation and email automation features (at the time of writing):

Mass emails start from the Standard plan, although the amount you can send depends on the plan you’re on
Scheduling these mass emails starts from the Professional plan
An Outlook plugin comes from the Professional plan (we found no mention of a Gmail plugin on the pricing pages, but we did find it on the help website)
Synchronizing Google Calendar starts from the Standard plan
Synchronizing your email inbox starts from the Professional plan

Pricing
As mentioned, Zoho CRM comes in different plans with increasing levels of functionality.

Assuming you’d like to get email sync, which is probably one of the main things you should expect from a good sales CRM, you’ll end up on the Professional plan, which costs $30 per user per month.

If you however would like enriched customer data like in Salesflare, you’ll immediately need to get on Zoho CRM’s Ultimate Edition, which will set you back $100 per user per month and is only available with an annual contract.

Don’t be surprised either if when subscribing you need to select an add-on to have your data backed up weekly (this confused us a lot: we thought that it was standard nowadays to always back up all data with point-in-time recovery, so you can restore it to the exact moment the database failed, without charging anything extra for this – apparently we were mistaken) for an extra $20 per month, or to get online training for $699 per user or to get Premium support for $6 per user per month.

Support
If you’re as confused as we were when putting Zoho to the test, you’ll probably want to get support.

Zoho CRM comes with 4 different support tiers, depending on the kind of support you’d like to get.

If you don’t like paying extra on top of the subscription price, you get an email, chat, and phone support during weekdays with a response time of 8 hours.

If you like to get the response time down to 3 hours, you need to get on a Premium support plan, which will add 20% to your license fee. Do note also that this option is only available if you are on an annual contract.

If you have more than 25 users, you can also opt for an Enterprise support plan that brings down the waiting time to 1 hour, but as this is a CRM comparison for small businesses, we assume that you will not be eligible for this.

How one of our users put it
This is how Stephen Sexton, Director of Partnerships at NowADays Media, put it after a full week of trying 4 different CRMs in parallel:

Zoho was easily the best value of the four. The CRM is functional and simple, and very easy to get started with. They demo the CRM with demo data, which gives you a great idea of how to set it up and use it. It’s a very robust system – it has everything that I could possibly need a CRM to do functionally.

The UI is alright, pretty similar to HubSpot. Nothing too special. Zoho does have an extremely comprehensive offering built into the CRM – including quotes, vendors, POs, invoicing, etc. I could see it being particularly useful to sole proprietors and freelancers. Very robust.

It features some sweet reporting and analytics dashboards that seem very comprehensive and customizable. It also offers some cool gamification capabilities for people managing a team. Zoho has an insane suite of integrated apps that could be useful down the road, as well as many key integrations with 3rd party apps, and their own app marketplace – lots of good stuff, especially for specialized businesses. The price point is cake at $12 for a standard subscription, but in all honesty, I would plop down the $30 for Zoho One and get the full suite of apps. Their G Suite integration was pretty seamless and robust as well – a major plus for my company.

Where Zoho fell short for me was in pipeline management. The activity and deal views are straight up the ass. Even when switched to Kanban, they both look awful and cluttered. I had this same issue with the UI for contacts, leads, and accounts. It just looks messy and the navigation was slow for me. This little rub seemed to keep popping up – the user interface feels difficult, unintuitive, and cluttered. With a few weeks or months of practice and usage, I’m sure I could make it work powerfully, but it just felt…. meh. Workflow automation is limited to a pro plan as well, so I couldn’t simplify my process much.

HubSpot
About HubSpot
HubSpot was founded in 2005 in Boston, by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. Prior to HubSpot, both were mainly active in the computer software industry; Halligan for instance used to be VP of Sales for the product that is now known as Microsoft SharePoint Workspace.

HubSpot started as a marketing automation company and was focused on only this for about a decade until it launched its CRM and sales platform at the end of 2014.

While HubSpot historically has focused on medium-sized companies, it has barged into smaller companies and enterprises as well after its IPO, working on both a freemium model and an enterprise sales approach to capture part of these markets.

Its goal is to provide an easier to implement CRM suite to non-enterprise customers. This suite is built up from a series of packages, which in turn have different pricing plans with different levels of functionality.

When comparing HubSpot to directly competing CRMs like Salesflare and Pipedrive, we have to consider that what’s normally offered in one package, is split up between two different packages in the free CRM and the paid Sales Hub: features like email tracking, email sequences, email scheduling, calling, multiple pipelines, … are only available when getting the Sales Hub next to the CRM.

This immediately answers the question: why is HubSpot CRM free and why aren’t others too? To properly compare with other CRMs, you need to take the paid Sales Hub into the comparison.

User experience
In HubSpot, everything starts from the Sales Dashboard. Above it, there’s a big navigation menu containing all of the different packages in its suite. Things you didn’t buy access to are indicated with a lock.

A typical contact record looks like this, with details on the left, a timeline in the middle, and a bunch of other related things on the right.

An account record looks pretty much the same:

And lists of deals, contacts, accounts, tasks, … look like this:

Switching screens, for instance from contacts to deals or tasks, requires that you know your way around the large navigation menu and its submenus, which at times can feel daunting.

Creating entities, linking entities, attaching files, … works through a myriad of different mid-screen dialog windows or sidebars, like this one:

In general, we would say that HubSpot is rather straightforward to work with. If you are however looking for a lightweight experience, it might not be what you’re looking for.

Mobile accessibility
HubSpot offers a much simplified mobile app, which allows basic actions on contacts, companies, deals, and tasks.

You however can’t view reports, track or create email sequences, upload files, …

This means you’re dependent on your computer for many of the things you would expect to do from your phone in this day and age.

Automation capabilities
HubSpot has always offered quite some automation features, like email sequences, task automation, predictive lead scoring, …

Here’s for instance how the email sequences look:

HubSpot has been at it for a while and most of its automation features are well implemented.

Most, if not almost all, of these features, are however only available on higher plans.

This immediately brings us to the next point:

Pricing
As mentioned in the introduction “About HubSpot”, when comparing HubSpot to competing CRMs like Salesflare and Pipedrive, we have to consider that what’s normally offered in one package, is split up between the free CRM and the paid Sales Hub: features like email tracking, email sequences, email scheduling, calling, multiple pipelines, … are only available when getting the Sales Hub next to the CRM.

To get started with the most basic Starter plan of the Sales Hub, HubSpot will set you back $50 per user per month.

If you want to make use of the above-mentioned automation capabilities like task automation, or if you want to make fields required or use the Slack integration, you have to get the Professional plan that starts at $400 per month ($80 per user per month with minimum 5 users).

For quotas or lead scoring, you need an Enterprise plan, starting at $1200 per month ($120 per user per month with a minimum of 10 users).

Support
The free CRM comes with community support only, which means you only have access to forums to resolve your question. And to sales for sales questions.

In the CRM + Sales Hub situation, you get email support from the Starter plan. If you like phone support too, you will need a Professional or Enterprise plan. Pricing as laid out above.

How one of our users put it
This is how Stephen Sexton, Director of Partnerships at NowADays Media, put it after a full week of trying 4 different CRMs in parallel:

HubSpot also happens to be a solid value, mostly because it’s free. I received a lot of recommendations for the HubSpot CRM, but after using it for a week, I couldn’t understand why anyone would recommend it, other than the fact that it’s free. The UI suffers from many of the same issues as Zoho, but with a much less robust offering and suite of apps to compensate.

There were some upsides to it though: the UI felt slightly cleaner and less cluttered than Zoho. It also had an inbox built into the platform, which means fewer open tabs and (usually) better email integration. Workflow automation is unfortunately a paid feature, as is email sequencing.

One annoyance I had was that the CRM dashboard also has tabs for Customer Service and Marketing permanently attached and intermingled into the home bar, instead of only having sales-related tabs. You have to click the “sales” dropdown to find deal and activity views. Seems dumb. This immediately meant more clicking to find what I need. The deals view was much cleaner than Zoho however, as was the tasks/activities view. The Gmail integration was tight, and the free HubSpot Chrome extension was immediately helpful.

The thing I appreciated most from HubSpot was the cleaner UI, lots of open space while navigating so you don’t feel claustrophobic, and its ease of use and setup

Overall, however, HubSpot seemed like a great choice for companies/users where sales are ONE of the primary focuses, not THE focus. It didn’t feel like it was truly developed to make salespeople happy and make their jobs easier – it felt like it was developed to get people using a HubSpot product before pushing them to new HubSpot products.

As a sales professional, that bugged me enough to pass on the good ol’ free CRM.

Pipedrive
About Pipedrive
Back in 2010, Pipedrive was founded by two partners of a training and consultancy company, Timo Rein and Urmas Purde, who were fed up with enterprise CRMs that were built for organizations and managers, rather than for the end-users (cf. our own review of Salesforce above).

They teamed up with three developers, who together with them form the 5-headed co-founding team of Pipedrive.

Until 2016, Pipedrive sold their simple solution at throwaway prices and in that way competed successfully with bigger and more complicated CRMs in the small business market.

Under the competitive pressure of many newer software companies and to not get too far behind in an increasingly fast-evolving market of sales solutions, they have since been focused on adding higher pricing plans with more functionality (after increasing their original prices as well).

While Pipedrive was very much focused on small businesses for most of its lifetime, recently Pipedrive has mostly been adding its new features to its higher plans to get into bigger companies and increase the return for its investors.

When comparing Pipedrive with other CRMs, one needs to focus on the Advanced plan and leave the bare bones Essential plan outside the comparison.

User experience
Pipedrive’s main and most popular screen has always been the sales pipeline:

While Pipedrive certainly did not invent Kanban boards, it might have helped to popularize this type of visualization in a CRM, to the extent that all CRMs in this review currently sport the same view.

Wherever you click from here – to deals, contacts/people, or organizations – you’ll be met with a screen that has a bar on the top with a few buttons, a series of blocks with details on the left, and a timeline on the right.

This is how a contact/person (we’re not sure how to name it, as they have “people” stacked below “contacts” in the navigation) screen looks:

And this is how an organization looks:

All lists have a similar Excel-like look:

Not bad for people migrating from Excel, but nothing particularly inspiring either.

The dashboard feature hiding behind “Progress” in the navigation looks like this:

Everything is quite easy to find unless you need to change something in the Settings, which has a series of tabs at the top, navigation, and sub-navigations.

Overall, it’s a pretty simple system to use and set up for salespeople.

Its layout hasn’t changed much over the years, so what you see is what you get.

Mobile accessibility
Just like HubSpot, Pipedrive offers a much simplified mobile app, which allows basic actions on contacts/people, organizations, deals, and activities.

You can’t view reports, track or create email sequences, change any of the settings, get email activity notifications, …

This means you’re dependent on your computer for many of the things you would expect to do from your phone nowadays.

Automation capabilities
While Pipedrive didn’t have any serious automation capabilities for a long time, they have recently been developing features to catch up.

While email integration and automation are now advertised as two main pillars of Pipedrive on the website, next to its sales pipeline view, we can’t help but admit that we often ask ourselves why Pipedrive isn’t putting in a more serious effort in these fields.

On email integration:

The email synchronization with Gmail and Office 365 is not a native one and often lags behind on the actual inbox situation. It never is instant.
The way it handles email open and clicks tracking is not on par with most email tracking solutions on the market, including free solutions.
The email sidebar for Gmail only shows some simplified Pipedrive data. There is no email sidebar available for Outlook at the time of writing.
On automation:

Most of the customer data (the very basis of all automation) still has to be inputted manually. There’s very little intelligence going on.
The main automation feature offered and advertised is workflow automation. It’s like a very basic Zapier or Integromat version within Pipedrive, without the cross-application appeal of these systems.
As long as Pipedrive doesn’t work more on the main functionality it advertises on its homepage, it strikes us as very confusing messaging.

Pricing
Pipedrive enters the market with its most basic plan at a very low price point, at $15 per user per month.

However, the first plan that starts being competitive with the other CRMs in this comparison is the Advanced plan, priced at $29 per user per month.

If you’re interested to send mass email campaigns (called “email distribution lists” or “group emailing” in Pipedrive’s case) or do one-click calls, you need to get on its “recommended” Professional plan which will set you back $59 per user per month.

Support
Pipedrive advertises 24/7 support via chat or email on all plans.

When we tried their support (just once, obviously not a statistically relevant test), we first chatted for a while with their chatbot, after which we got the message that their support staff was over capacity. Pipedrive support was marked as “Away”.

On the Enterprise plan, at $99 per user per month, you can get yourself phone support and help with your set-up.

How one of our users put it
This is how Stephen Sexton, Director of Partnerships at NowADays Media, put it after a full week of trying 4 different CRMs in parallel:

This one was very tough. I initially started my search being pretty confident that Pipedrive would win. Pipedrive is a great product, and I had always suggested it to my sales leaders when working for bigger companies because of how easy it was to use, and how intuitive the design and functionality are. Initially, I started ONLY a Pipedrive trial because I was convinced it was all I needed. It wasn’t until I had used it for a few days that I identified a few major shortcomings that were difficult to overlook.

At a high level, Pipedrive does everything you need a CRM to do. It has many of the functionalities of the big dogs like Salesforce, but it’s way easier to use, way more intuitive, and less clunky. The customizability was pretty fantastic. It had an inbox built-in. It had a Gmail integration, a full marketplace of apps, and prebuilt Zapier integration templates. It didn’t LOOK like a poor CRM used as biz dev for other apps, like what Zoho and HubSpot felt like. It felt like it was built by salespeople to accomplish sales functions in a simple way.

The main view is a deal flow view, which I love. Importing data, updating deals, contacts, and accounts, inputting activity… it was all very straightforward and simple. To me, Pipedrive took the best parts of Salesforce and flushed the stuff that really sucks. It might sound like I’m a Pipedrive rep or something – if that’s the case, it’s because Pipedrive is THAT much of an improvement from most CRMs.

The decision ended up coming down to Pipedrive or Salesflare, and it was an extremely tough one. I really liked the company’s brand personality. It’s pro-sales and pro-easy. If you google “promo codes for Pipedrive”, they even built a hidden page on their website that says “We like smart people who search for promo codes. Here you go.” It checked all the boxes and improved on all the gripes I had with HubSpot and Zoho.

What ended up tripping me up on Pipedrive turned out to be their email integration. Even though they had a 2-way integration, it was wacky, and if I wanted to do any kind of email or link tracking, I had to send the email out of Pipedrive. Not only that, but there was no kind of desktop notification for email opens, replies, link clicks, etc.

The reason that sucks is that unless I have the Pipedrive app open at all times, I might miss a hot lead who is clicking on my email/website. It also means if I had to respond to an email with my cell, that email wouldn’t get tracked at all. It ALSO meant I could no longer use Gmail as my guiding productivity tool – my life had to be run out of Pipedrive if I wanted it to be effective.

To add to that downside, I had a very hard time getting support from Pipedrive outside of live chat. I was never offered a rep, I was sent a YouTube video when I requested a demo, and overall it felt like I was just a little fish in a sea of other Pipedrive clients. Which, granted, is true. But ultimately, it helped me make my decision.

Salesflare
About Salesflare
In 2014, Salesflare was founded by Jeroen Corthout and Lieven Janssen, after they grew frustrated with the different CRM tools they tried to use for their business intelligence software company.

Inspired by both the lacking user experience of enterprise CRM systems and the large dependency on manual data input in sales CRMs for small businesses, they set out to build a super easy to use CRM that automated all the customer data.

They figured that the data they were tracking in their CRM was actually already available in lots of other places: they could sync emails and detect email signatures, track opens and clicks, read email signatures, pull in meetings, automatically detect new sales contacts, integrate social data, enrich contacts and companies with publicly available information, and much more.

From the very start until today, Salesflare has been automating and simplifying CRM for small businesses, ranging from fast-growing tech startups to marketing agencies.

Despite being the smaller player in this comparison, Salesflare is actively used by thousands of professionals in 60+ countries.

As a newer player in the market, it has been able to adapt better to modern needs. It also garners consistently high review scores on major review platforms like G2Crowd, across all different product measures, including implementation, relationship, usability, and the total result.

User experience
When you try Salesflare for the first time, you are greeted by an interactive walkthrough that guides you through the essentials in a few minutes:

At the end of this walkthrough, you land on the sales pipeline screen:

Every different screen in Salesflare has a custom layout, adapted to visualize the specific entity you’re looking at.

The contacts screen looks like this:

The accounts screen looks like this:

And the tasks like this:

Each screen is focused on its specific use. You never feel like you’re (still) working out of an Excel file.

The navigation on the left makes every different screen is easy to find and just one clicks away.

Mobile accessibility
Unlike every other CRM in this comparison, Salesflare offers all its functionality on every device.

Whether you’re on your computer, your phone, your tablet, or even inside your email inbox with the email sidebar, all functionality is at your fingertips.

Want to send an email campaign or check up on its results? No problem at all.

The design is largely consistent across devices, which makes switching a breeze.

This is for instance how the opportunities pipeline looks on your phone:

The mobile app can also keep you up to date on everything that happens with live push notifications: whether it’s a lead visiting your website live, a colleague sending a message about a customer, … you’ll never miss it.

Automation capabilities
While most other CRMs offer automation on top of their basic experience, automation is the very basis of how Salesflare works.

Among other things, Salesflare automatically:

Creates contacts you have at prospective accounts and suggests them
Imports email signatures and social data for contacts and accounts
Reminds you to follow up accounts that go inactive, or to respond to emails you’re forgetting
Keeps track of email opens, email clicks, and website visits, whether you’re emailing from Gmail/Outlook, or from Salesflare’s desktop or mobile app
Can send emails (and even email sequences!) when deals reach a certain stage, a contact gets a certain tag, an account becomes inactive, …
Compiles timelines with all the touchpoints you had with customers from emails, meetings, calls, … even if those happened before you started using Salesflare or added the account
Salesflare’s email integration with Gmail and Office 365 is fully native and pulls in emails before you even know they hit your inbox, without fault.

If you like to automate data and workflows across apps, Salesflare easily connects with Zapier, PieSync and Integromat.

On top of all its core of automated customer data, Salesflare keeps building more automation into the app, while always focusing to keep all this complex automation as easy to use as possible.

Pricing
Salesflare’s pricing (per user per month) is simple:

Its Growth plan packs almost all of the features. It’s $35 on the monthly plan, or $29 on the annual plan.
Its Pro plan takes it one level further with email sequences, permissions, and custom dashboards. It’s $55 on the monthly plan, or $49 on the annual plan.
Need enterprise-level support? The Enterprise plan comes at $99, an annual plan only.
These plans pack absolutely everything, no surprises guaranteed. That means no arbitrary limits, no additional support charges, etc.

If you’re an early-stage startup, you can apply for Salesflare’s early-stage startup program. Just ask on the chat.

Support
Salesflare guarantees live support via chat and email on weekdays.

This is however not restrictive. For things that cannot be resolved through the chat, or for training of teams with multiple people attending, the Salesflare team can jump on a video call with you. And urgent conversations can also be picked up outside the usual support times.

Next to your support contact, there’s a support engineer standby to check out any more technical issues that you may be facing, so you’re never left in the cold if things are more complicated.

How one of our users put it
This is how Stephen Sexton, Director of Partnerships at NowADays Media, put it after a full week of trying 4 different CRMs in parallel:

I stumbled across Salesflare on Product Hunt and was initially extremely skeptical. It was difficult to find reviews, press, or anything about the company at all. But after reading through the positive comments on Product Hunt (and then Reddit) I decided I should give it a shot alongside the others.

The first thing I noticed was how simple the UI and layout was. It felt similar to Pipedrive, but even cleaner. It didn’t feel stifling, like Zoho, it didn’t feel half-assed like HubSpot, and it didn’t feel quite as heavy as Pipedrive. It felt light, simple, and clean.

The second thing I noticed was how easy it was to set up. I literally plugged in my work email, and it immediately started offering suggestions on contacts and accounts from scraping my inbox. I clicked over to tasks – my full schedule was already imported and ready to be checked off. It even had suggested tasks based on email content and length of time since an interaction.

I clicked over to accounts and contacts. There was a full suggestion list already ready for me based on my inbox. After adding a few, the CRM started suggesting OTHER contacts at the same company, without me having to lift a finger. People I didn’t even know existed. In a matter of minutes, and with no major data imports, I had fleshed out my entire pipeline and contact list.

The G Suite integration was flawless – the best I’ve seen in a CRM (rivaled only by HubSpot), and easily the most useful. Also, it alerted me with desktop notifications whenever an email was opened or a link clicked. Salesflare also had a proprietary tracking script to receive notifications when a prospect was on my website.

Then I clicked back to accounts, selected an account, and audibly exclaimed. Salesflare had not only suggested all the contacts, but it had also automatically logged every interaction I had had with anyone at the company. It was about that point that I knew who I was going to pick.

The real clincher for me though was their support and upkeep. They released an awesome update during my trial that was based on user feedback. They also included a list of upcoming features. It was very clear that this software was growing, and had a long development roadmap full of upgrades ahead of it.

Then, I spoke to their support via Intercom. What support rep ended up answering my question within 3 minutes, you ask? The founder of Salesflare. After some back and forth, questions, and providing my own feedback on the software, my decision was made for me. Salesflare clearly cared about their product, their customer, and making sales management as easy and pain-free as humanly possible. I was sold.

And that’s that! I ended up going with Salesflare and so far, have been extremely pleased. Feel free to leave any feedback or questions for me below! Would love to hear what you thought of my ill-advised experiment, and I’m happy to answer what I can.

Want to discuss further with Stephen? You can find his original post here.

Salesforce vs Zoho vs HubSpot vs Pipedrive vs Salesflare: quick pointers to choose between two of them
Salesforce vs Zoho
If you’re choosing between Salesforce and Zoho, you’re either looking for a CRM for a big enterprise or a small business owner prioritizing amount of functionality over ease of use.

Our verdict is simple: if you can and want to spend money, go for Salesforce and invest in the real thing. If you don’t, give the low-cost alternative of Zoho a try. But don’t blame us if you don’t like it.

Salesforce vs HubSpot
While Salesforce can do literally everything, HubSpot will also offer you a lot of functionality in one place out of the box, containing functionality for sales, marketing and service departments… but not everything.

Salesforce is 100x more customizable and functionality rich, but will probably require consultants to set it up. HubSpot also has an army of consultants available to help you, but it’s way easier to get going yourself.

Both software companies will make your bank account quite a lot lighter. Which one is more successful at that will depend on what you need and buy.

If you’re an SMB looking for sales, marketing and service software, HubSpot may be the better choice. If you’re looking for more and/or require enterprise grade customizability, Salesforce is what you need.

Salesforce vs Pipedrive
The question here is essentially: do you want something your management (and IT department) will like? Or something your salespeople will actually use?

Do you need a CRM that spans all departments? Or a CRM that is specialized for sales teams?

In case you prefer question number one more often, go Salesforce. Otherwise, go Pipedrive.

Salesforce vs Salesflare
The Force or the Flare? The comparison here is the same as with “Salesforce vs Pipedrive”, where Salesflare is a sales CRM like Pipedrive, but even easier to use and more automated.

So, if you want the best CRM for your sales team, go Salesflare. If you want a big enterprise CRM that can do everything, go Salesforce.

Zoho vs HubSpot
While both software companies try to do a lot of things at once, Zoho covers way more ground than HubSpot. As soon their limited free plans don’t serve you (anymore), you’ll usually also pay way less at Zoho than at HubSpot for the same functionality,

Overall, we prefer HubSpot’s user experience over Zoho’s. But it’s up to your wallet. If you really want one of these two CRMs of course.

Zoho vs Pipedrive
Talking about user experience, this is probably the main factor to consider when choosing between Zoho and Pipedrive.

It’s a bit like when choosing between Salesforce and Pipedrive: do you want every possible feature on the never-ending list? Or do you want a sales CRM that your sales team will use?

Zoho vs Salesflare
Also here, user experience will probably be the guiding factor to decide between Zoho and Salesflare.

While Zoho might tick a few more boxes on your specs list, your sales team will almost invariably prefer Salesflare… and the chance they will actually use it will be much higher.

HubSpot vs Pipedrive
A CRM suite of “hubs”? Or a specialized sales CRM?

A limited free CRM with expensive upsells? Or a free trial and overall cheaper pricing plans?

These questions will ultimately guide your decision between HubSpot and Pipedrive.

HubSpot vs Salesflare
The same questions as above will guide your decision:

A CRM suite of “hubs”? Or a specialized sales CRM?

A limited free CRM with expensive upsells? Or a free trial and overall cheaper pricing plans?

If you need more than HubSpot’s free offering, it will invariably be cheaper and better for your sales team to use a sales CRM like Salesflare.

This stays true when you start complementing Salesflare with other solutions, like for instance landing pages or email newsletter marketing. You’ll be able to choose the best solution for everything, instead of only working with what HubSpot sells you. You can tie it together easily and in a more customized way with Zapier (or Integromat). And it’ll end up cheaper.

Hit us up on the chat with what you need and we’ll suggest the right solutions.

Pipedrive vs Salesflare
Salesflare and Pipedrive are both sales CRMs. They’re essentially practical CRMs that enable sales teams to organize their sales and close more deals.

Both are easy to use and easy to set up. And they both have a lightweight experience.

If you want a better email integration, extensive data automation, full functionality on your mobile phone, … Salesflare is your new best friend.

If you don’t like automation and prefer inputting data manually, then Pipedrive is for you.

The 35+ Best Sales Training Programs in the World

Joining a sales training program is a smart idea when you’re ready to take your sales to the next level.

We noticed that there aren’t any really great resources out there that showcase a wide range of sales training programs and their details when you Google for this.

So we set out to create this resource for you to feature the top sales training programs out there right now.

We’ve organized the list by target and/or topic, so you can easily find the right program for your needs:

For sales managers
For salespeople in tech
On prospecting, lead generation & phone sales
On remote/virtual selling
On sales methodologies
On sales skills, techniques, and mindset
On sales strategy & pipeline
On-the-job sales training
Let’s explore

1. For sales managers
High-Impact Sales Manager
Because building an elite sales team starts with training effective sales managers

Give your frontline sales managers a complete framework, essential skills, and practical tools they need to build, coach, and lead high-performing sales teams.

Program details:

Company: Sales Readiness Group (SRG)
Duration: not disclosed
Location: ILT, VILT, On-Demand, or Blended.
Virtual option: Yes
Price: not disclosed
Sales Management Training
Creating inspiring & motivational sales leaders

This ISM certified program will provide you with the knowledge, skills, and behaviors to be an outstanding sales leader. Learn how to drive sales performance and coach your sales teams to a higher level. Learn how to create sales plans and maximize the closing ratios of every salesperson within your team. Become an inspirational sales manager capable of developing high-performance teams.

Program details:

Company: MTD Sales Training
Duration: 2 Days
Location: London, Manchester, Coventry, Birmingham
Virtual option: Yes
Price: £495
30 Minutes or Fewer Sales Training Meetings
Engage, Energize, and Elevate Sales in 30 Minutes or Less

Done-for-you sales meeting outlines to lead your team to drive results into the future, overcome obstacles, and coach for success along with superior performance in all parts of the sales cycle – all in 30 minutes or less! If you are a committed and high achieving sales manager – who recognizes the need for sales training – and want to catapult a sales team to 5 – 35% sales increases and deliver on meeting the company’s revenue targets all year long – this is for you.

Program details:

Company: Sales Training Werks
Duration: 30 Minutes or less
Location: Your choice – Virtual or live
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $379 for 52 weekly sales meeting outlines
The Tailored Fit
Hire Right. Train Smart.

There is a 3-step process for conducting BCI’s Tailored Fit Analysis: STEP 1: Sales Leader completes an online “Selling Profile/Role Specification” questionnaire (10 min); STEP 2: Send the assessment link to 3-5 top performers and 3-5 bottom performers (35 min. on average); STEP 3: Schedule a 60-minute review meeting with our experts to debrief and share results.

Program details:

Company: Baker Communications, Inc.
Duration: Not disclosed
Location: At your company.
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Free
Sales Management Training
The skills necessary for coaching and leading others are very different from sales skills.

The skills necessary for coaching and leading others are very different from sales skills. Anthony Cole Training Group understands this and has a sales performance management program that trains managers on how to get the best from their salespeople. A front-end infusion of Performance Management, Coaching and Motivating–Sales leaders will make immediate impact on salespeople and the bottom line. QuickStart is designed to get leaders ahead of salespeople before sales training begins.

Program details:

Company: Anthony Cole Training Group
Duration: 1-2 days on-site training, live webcasts & online learning options
Location: Virtual or in-person
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Contact us for a quote
2. For salespeople in tech
The T-shaped Sales Development Accelerator
8-week accelerator program for tech salespeople

If you are struggling at prospecting, this accelerator program will help you discover innovative tactics to generate business opportunities. You will also learn how to attract prospects and start more conversations, through proactive network building and content building. Finally, you’ll obtain tactical knowledge on how to build prospecting experiments and keep crushing your sales targets.

Program details:

Company: SalesLabs
Duration: 8 weeks, on-demand
Location: Online
Virtual option: Yes
Price: 699€ or 4x 199€ payments
Uvaro
The Tech Sales Career Accelerator

Uvaro’s 12-week tech sales training program immerses participants in the world of software-as-a-service, preparing them for great jobs at growing software companies across North America. Uvaro uses a flipped-classroom model, with a focus on solving problems instead of listening to lectures. It includes ongoing career coaching, job hunt support, and the option for paid sales internships.

Program details:

Company: Uvaro
Duration: 12 weeks
Location: Online/remote
Virtual option: Yes
Price: 10% of new base salary (postpay) or $5,000 (prepay)
Sales Bootcamp
Free, online, part-time Sales Bootcamp

Free, online, part-time Sales Bootcamp teaching the skills you need to earn your first job in tech sales. Online sales training, personalized live coaching, and job opportunities.

Program details:

Company: Sales Bootcamp
Duration: 5 days
Location: Online
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $0 – Free

3. On prospecting, lead generation & phone sales
Tenbound Sales Dev Manager and SDR Training
Research and Advisory 100% Focused on Sales Development

Tenbound provides virtual training programs designed specifically for both Sales Development Managers and Individual Sales Development Representatives (SDR/BDR/LDR) focused on delivering the skills necessary to do their jobs in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Program details:

Company: Tenbound
Duration: Initial classes 2 days (via Zoom) plus optional monthly 1:1 coaching
Location: Virtual
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $3600 for initial class (up to 8 people) and $875 per person per month for 1:1 coaching
Costigan Training
Costigan Companies. We do Sales Training “Live.”

The Problem: Salespeople are skeptical. They have to see it to believe it. The Solution? Prove it in the real world: real Prospects, real objections, in real-time. The Program: People would rather be entertained than educated. If you can do both, you empower them. It’s not just sales training. It’s “Live” sales training.

Program details:

Company: Costigan Companies, Inc.
Duration: Online up to 12 months
Location: Raleigh/Durham NC
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $1000 to 250,000
Outbound Consult
Ensure you have a successful outbound program

Outbound recommendations after a 2-hour session with Aaron Ross, the author of the book “Predictable Revenue”.

Program details:

Company: PredictableRevenue.com
Duration: 2 hours + follow-up
Location: Virtual
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $3500
The Smart Calling College
The complete phone prospecting and inside sales virtual training program

Join a complete step-by-step training course for professional sales representatives who use the phone as their main method of communication–or for any outside or inside sales pro who prospects for new business–using a conversational, common-sense sales process. Participants go through each step of the call process, learning step-by-step, what-to-say and how-to-say its ideas, strategies, and techniques for initial calls, follow-up calls, account management calls, and more.

Program details:

Company: Art Sobczak’s Business By Phone Inc.
Duration: 12 modules, 45 videos, nine hours running time.
Location: Virtual online video, 24/7 lifetime access.
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $895 for first participant, $795 each additional
B2B Growth Hacking
More conversations and conversions

In this program, we will set up growth hacking systems that will help generate more conversations every week. Once these systems are in place we work on calibrating the sales process (first call, demo, POC, etc.) to have a high conversion rate. We aim to get you a full return on investment within the program.

Program details:

Company: StartupSales.io
Duration: 4 months
Location: Online
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Speak with us
4. On remote/virtual selling
Virtual Selling Skills
Are your reps struggling to get meetings and fill their pipelines?

This brand new 5 module course will help those transitioning from field sales to remote selling through ASLAN’s proven methods formulated since 1996. Your team will learn to leverage technology to engage decision-makers and move them through discovery to build value virtually!

Program details:

Company: ASLAN Training and Development
Duration: Online self-paced or multi-session virtual-instructor-ed Workshop
Location: Virtual or in-person
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Depending on customization, # of students, etc.: $250-$1250 per student
Phone Sales Training & Certification Program
Eliminate Call Reluctance, Get Decision-Makers on the Phone & Close More Sales.

Inside sales professionals will learn the step-by-step sales process of how to engage, book appointments, qualify, present, and close. There’s a graded exam after every training session, so reps can gauge their understanding, and sales managers can monitor progress and include certification upon passing the final exam.

Program details:

Company: SalesBuzz.com
Duration: 12-Month subscription
Location: Online
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Contact for a free quote
Virtual Selling Imperatives
Learn how to win more sales in a virtual environment

In the Virtual Selling Imperatives program, we teach sellers how to master the 4 Virtual Selling Imperatives through 8 core modular blocks: 1. Take the Lead 2. Master the Medium 3. Amplify Your Reputation 4. Engage Buyers Virtually with Graphics 5. Master Virtual Collaborating with Buyers 6. Deepen and Strengthen Relationships Virtually 7. Virtual Meeting Technology8. Increase Your Influence

Program details:

Company: RAIN Group
Duration: 8x 90-minute modules
Location: We serve clients around the world from our 9 global locations
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Varies greatly depending on the customer’s needs and desired outcomes
Selling with Video for Teams
Start more sales conversations with personalized video

This 100% virtual sales training program trains your sales team from home over the span of 2 months. During the 2-month training program, your sellers will learn how to: 1. Differentiate themselves, 2. Be irresistible on camera, 3. Leverage verbal and non-verbal cues, 4. Send personalized video messages, 5. Learn to Use a video messaging platform, 6. Know the best times to send videos, 7. Write effective scripts, 8. Create landing pages, 9. Track the results

Program details:

Company: Vengreso
Duration: 2 months with 12 months of support and coaching
Location: Virtual
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Annual license fee per participant
Remote Selling in B2B
A flywheel for better conversations & revenue opportunities in B2B

As a commercial director or entrepreneur, you increasingly have to achieve remote success in B2B. How do you do that personally and successfully? This program with team sessions, 1-on-1 coaching, and online modules gives you the best basis to – get more RETURN from distance selling and social selling – get started with the best tips and opportunities in social NETWORKS – better put yourself and your TEAM of experts on the map – get more and BETTER LEADS from LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter – achieve more CONVERSATIONS, CONVERSION and higher customer value.

Program details:

Company: dutchmarq
Duration: Blended program of online self-guided learning with support: 4 weeks
Location: Online & by phone
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Investment: € 799 excl. VAT per participant. Teams by request.
Virtual Selling Training
Help your salespeople connect with their customer’s new reality

Our Virtual Selling curriculum, including virtual half-day courses, will give your salespeople the key skills needed to grow and defend revenue in a virtual setting. Your team will leave with a clear set of actions and the commitment to implement them.

Program details:

Company: Imparta Ltd.
Duration: Bespoke
Location: Virtual or in-person
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Pricing varies, contact us today for more information
Strategic Selling Done Virtually™ Workshop
Build Sales Momentum in a Virtual World

This three-and-a-half-hour workshop focuses on how to leverage a repeatable approach to selling in a virtual environment. It will enable you to develop sales momentum and achieve desired outcomes as you engage with customers and prospects. You will walk away knowing how to fully prepare for your virtual meetings and navigate unique situations.

Program details:

Company: Revenue Storm Corporation
Duration: 3.5 hours
Location: Virtual
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Contact us for a quote
Virtual selling with IMPACT
Train your salespeople with a straightforward sales process that will get them to close more deals virtually.

Our virtual instructor-led training is delivered by our expert sales effectiveness trainers so your sales team can learn a process for prospecting, presenting, and closing virtually.

Program details:

Company: The Brooks Group
Duration: Six 2-hour sessions
Location: Virtual
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $1,990
Mastering Digital B2B Sales
Former LinkedIn sales professionals enabling organizations globally to master digital selling.

Blue Square Collective provides virtual training programs for both Sales Representatives, Managers and Executives focused on implementing the skills necessary to build meaningful relationships and a revenue pipeline via the power of LinkedIn, which today is synonymous with Social Selling. We have fine-tuned a proven methodology that will transform your sales organization’s behaviors and drive success in the modern era.

Program details:

Company: Blue Square Collective
Duration: 3 months
Location: Virtual
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Contact us for a free quote

5. On sales methodologies
Value-Based Selling
Price is what you pay, value is what you get.

Customers now expect more than just a great product – they expect solutions to their business challenges. Therefore, in today’s challenging selling situations, a traditional sales approach is not enough. Value is defined as the difference between the benefit of your solution to a specific customer and its price. If you can quantify this benefit in terms of higher revenues or cost savings, it becomes that much easier to close the sale. Get your customers to perceive the true value of your offer by getting your message across clearly and convincingly.

Program details:

Company: Mercuri International
Duration: 23 or 35 hours depending on preferences of format
Location: Globally
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Price depends on multiple variables
Gap Selling Online Training
No-Gap No Sale

Typical, product-centric pitching has salespeople appearing tone-deaf and self-absorbed. We want to help you be a better resource to your customers at the time when they need it most. The Gap Selling methodology will give you the framework needed to become problem-centric and buyer-centric to elevate your sales game and to help your customers achieve their goals especially during challenging times like today.

Program details:

Company: A Sales Guy
Duration: 6-8 hours of sales training
Location: Online
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $499/year – Individual, $2,599/year – Team Work, $5,299/ year – Small Company, $14,999/year – Large Company
MEDDIC Academy
Enterprise Sales Made Easy

The full MEDDIC course is composed of 10 mini-courses and a comprehensive quiz, totaling near 3 hours (if binge-watched), representing not only the original MEDDIC Sales and Qualification techniques as developed and practiced at PTC, modernized and adapted by MEDDIC Academy, but also new modules such as “How to Develop Champions”, “ROI, Return on Investment” and “Say No”.

Program details:

Company: MEDDIC Academy
Duration: 4 hours self-paced, followed by 2 hours virtual instructor-led training (VILT)
Location: Anywhere around the globe
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Depends on the size of the sales force
River of Referrals
2x, 4x, 10x net new logos by getting your company’s “river of referrals” flowing.

88% of clients are willing to give referrals. Yet, only 8 percent are ever asked. Developing a referral-based business will outsell cold calling or any other form of prospecting and approaching 4 to 20 times over. In this program, we’ll cover the best way to ask for and receive referrals through various channels. We promise a new and complete methodology that is scalable, repeatable, and likely to crush any method your team is currently utilizing.

Program details:

Company: New Velocity
Duration: 90 days
Location: Onsite (your location) or live remote from our SuperStudio
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Our programs are typical $1,200 per learner. However, pricing is always customized, so be sure to reach out for a quote.
DISCOVER Questions to Advance the Sale
Now you can become the ONE seller buyers actually WANT to talk to

This workshop is based on the award-winning sales book of the same name. Like the book, the workshop focuses on buyer research to show you how to: Build trust and form strong bonds with buyers. Create value with a dialogic vs. diagnostic approach. Advance the sale to a close more quickly and more often. Workshop participants will learn to amplify their effectiveness and strengthen customer relations

Program details:

Company: People First Productivity Solutions
Duration: 14 hours
Location: Onsite or online
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $159 per seat (e-learning)
Critical Selling® Skills
Janek helps sales teams win more often

Critical Selling Skills is a proven sales methodology that teaches sales professionals how to stimulate interest, quickly build trust, create value in their offerings, close with confidence, and dramatically improve their effectiveness with modern customers. Participants will benefit from a truly holistic, research-based program that prepares sales professionals with the skills, best practices, and behaviors that are essential to building long-lasting and profitable business relationships.

Program details:

Company: Janek Performance Group
Duration: One and two-day training options are available.
Location: In-person delivery based on client preference as well as online
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Depends on variables such as group size, customization, duration, and reinforcement options.
ValueSelling Framework & Vortex Prospecting
Keep it simple. Drive results.

The ValueSelling Framework is a proven, practical sales methodology to engage, qualify, advance, and close opportunities through value-focused questioning. Workshops are tailored to your industry, target audience, and role. Learn how to better engage with customers, discover what they value, and link your solutions with their world. Sell on value, not price.Program details:

Company: ValueSelling Associates
Duration: Instructor-led 2-3 days; virtual instructor-led training (VILT) 4 half-days
Location: Workshops held at a client site or virtually
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Pricing and packages customized based on client needs and requirements
6. On sales skills, techniques, and mindset
Integrity Selling
Fuel performance. Grow talent. Lift up, customers. Elevate leaders.

Integrity Selling® is a comprehensive sales training solution, grounded in strong values and ethics, that simultaneously elevates the two essential components to sales success: Skillset: Being able to understand, influence and advance buying decisions. Mindset: Attitudes, motivation, and self-belief; the critical emotional factors that drive high-achievement.

Program details:

Company: Integrity Solutions
Duration: Manager overview, online prework, 1-2 day workshop, weekly sustainment
Location: On-site at a client location, virtual or at our Nashville headquarters
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Varies depending on client agreement, size of a sales organization
THOUGHT PATTERNS FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE®
Results-Driven Sales Mindset Program That Builds Grit and Increases Revenue

Change the way your team sells by encouraging the development, and sustainment, of a growth mindset for sales. Facilitated discussions will help your sellers target customer mindset issues and focus on keeping customers engaged in the sales process. They’ll gain tools and develop a growth mindset that will optimize resiliency, maximize confidence, and equip sales professionals to exceed their quota.

Program details:

Company: The Sales Evangelist
Duration: 2 weeks, 6 hours per week.
Location: Online
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $1,299
Winning with Relationship Selling
Forge essential relationships with your clients to ensure long-term, positive results.

We are uniquely positioned to prepare sales professionals to transition into the new world where collaboration, confidence, and credibility are the way to connect with customers to increase business. Today’s customers are just too savvy for old tricks. Dale Carnegie’s proven selling process includes human relations skills grounded in timeless fundamentals from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.

Program details:

Company: Dale Carnegie
Duration: 3 full days
Location: UK: London, US: all across the US
Virtual option: Yes
Price: UK: £1895, US: $1,795 – $2,195
The Science of Selling
Science That Will Help You Sell More

In this powerful, highly customized workshop, you will learn the real science behind selling. You’ll be given science-backed insights and guided through different application exercises and customized case studies that will show you how to competently guide potential clients through their decision process.

Program details:

Company: Hoffeld Group
Duration: Customized sessions up to one day
Location: Flexible – at Hoffeld Group location or client’s
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Depends on the number of people and delivery method
Selling With Authentic Persuasion
Transform from Order Taker to Quota Breaker

During this program, you will learn how to apply the 5-part Sales Success Fundamentals to your sales process, how to use persuasion as your duty and responsibility, help your prospects overcome their greatest fear, and most importantly use your most powerful sales tool – your authentic self.

Program details:

Company: Cutter Consulting Group
Duration: 6 Hours + ongoing coaching
Location: Anywhere in person + virtual option
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $8,000
The Transparency Sale (Messaging, Presenting & Negotiations)
Transparency Sells Better Than Perfection.

Todd Caponi delivers easy to consume & implement, immediately actionable, and often counterintuitive programs leveraging behavioral science to help you optimize your processes, prospecting, positioning, presenting & negotiations for the buying brain (plus sales leadership programs).

Program details:

Company: Sales Melon LLC
Duration: On-site = 2-4 hours, Virtual = 90-120 minutes
Location: Come-to-you on-site or virtual
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Find out more here
School of Sales
Learn how to win in sales and marketing

Learn how to WIN with the School of Sales. We inspire, teach and do. Your go-to resource for scaling your sales and marketing skills to escape the lake of rejection. Given by leading sales experts like Michael Humblet but also many others.

Program details:

Company: Chaomatic
Duration: 1 day to multiple day courses available
Location: Online and classroom in Belgium
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Prices vary between 50 to 1.500 euro
JB Sales OnDemand
Sell Better.

Get unlimited access to all our popular courses, videos, webinars, podcasts, live casts, and all the other crazy things we come up with. OnDemand includes access to all training, events, live sessions, videos, etc. New content weekly!

Program details:

Company: JB Sales Training
Duration: Infinite – constantly updated
Location: Online
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $420 per year
Continued Education for a Virtual World
Hone your craft, build your confidence, exceed your targets

We help more salespeople succeed in their sales careers by leveraging our experience and proven scientific techniques to build confidence, hone skills, and increase motivation in sales professionals. We create custom training to impact the KPIs that matter most. We leverage expert instruction, peer collaboration, application-based activities, and role-play scenarios to ensure we aren’t just training for the sake of learning, but empowering the students to implement our methods immediately!

Program details:

Company: Victory Lap
Duration: Custom engagements – single, quarterly, or monthly sessions
Location: Virtual Zoom classroom
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Based on cadence, length, attendee role(s), and class size
Warrior Selling
Mindset, Process, Language of a Sales Warrior

Unleash your sales by adopting the mindset, process, and language of the Ultimate Sales Warrior. We are the cross fit of sales training.

Program details:

Company: Forrest Performance Group
Duration: 4 days, 2.5 hours per week, 90 days
Location: Virtual dojo sessions via Zoom
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $5,000
N.E.A.T. Selling™
N.E.A.T. Selling 5-Week Training and Reinforcement Program

Teaching reps how to earn the right to ask questions, which questions to ask, and when to ask them.

Program details:

Company: The Harris Consulting Group
Duration: Live – 5 weeks, online – 4 hours
Location: Zoom, in-person, self-paced online portal
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Contact us for a quote
Professional Selling – Navigating Thru The Pandemic & Beyond
We are all done with “coping” with this crisis. Now, it’s about looking forward.

Success comes to those who go above and beyond what others are doing, regardless of whether you are employed, lost your job, or on furlough, it’s how you spend your day today and every day that counts. Don’t wait for the storm to pass, instead, ride the waves and create your new normal. In this program, you will learn how to rebound- both in life and business– building resilience to be better as a result of the pandemic.

Program details:

Company: Jack Daly Sales
Duration: 4 hours
Location: Zoom
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $499
Shari Levitin Group
Ignite your results & transform your sales process

Virtual and live sales training, sales coaching, keynote speeches, training resources/books.

Program details:

Company: Shari Levitin Group
Duration: Bespoke
Location: Online or in-person
Virtual option: Yes
Price: Contact us for a quote

7. On sales strategy & pipeline
Create Pipeline
Learn how to consistently build a quality sales pipeline with proven strategies.

Outcomes you will achieve 1. Create consistent pipeline coverage with self-generated leads and opportunities. 2. Increase win rates with proactive, elevated engagement to the C-Suite and your target buyer personas. 3. Improve sales efficiency with a stronger return on sales investments. 4 Elevate engagement with decision-makers and shorten the sales cycle. 5 Reduce cost per customer acquisition. 6. Improve results from marketing spend.

Program details:

Company: Sales IQ
Duration: Self-paced
Location: Delivered virtually
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $1,375 up to 10 users / discounts for 10+
Ignite Your Sales Strategy
Strategic Account Planning that Drives Pipeline Acceleration

With the Virtual Strategic Planning Simulation, your salespeople will be able to: Develop a proactive strategy to drive urgency and build consensus to get the customer to act this fiscal year. Assess the individual influencers around specific opportunity and develop strategies to leverage their advocates and neutralize their adversaries. Identify the critical decision criteria the customer is using to compare their solutions to the competitive alternative.

Program details:

Company: Ignite Selling, Inc.
Duration: Three 2-hour virtual classroom modules
Location: This program is virtual!
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $250 per module
Outcome Scales
Close Every Sales Opportunity, Every Time

You will be left with a complete, self-functioning sales organization for your company. You, as the owner will no longer need to be involved in new business sales, and, when you are ready, you will be able to sell your business fast for top dollar.

Program details:

Company: Sales Arbiter
Duration: 6 months
Location: Online or in-person
Virtual option: Yes
Price: $18,000
8. On-the-job sales training
Vendition Sales Apprenticeship
We find you a job, train you, and pay you. No income share. No catch.

We find you a job, train you, and pay you. We call it an apprenticeship. Vendition provides actual on-the-job training for individuals with little or no sales experience.

Program details:

Company: Vendition
Duration: Not disclosed
Location: Anywhere in the US.
Virtual option: Yes
Price: No cost. No income share. We pay you $7,500.
There you have it, an overview of the top sales training programs in the market.

We hope this list helps you find the right training for your business!

13 TED Talks every sales and marketing pro should watch

TED Talks are a treasure trove of information and different perspectives.

And since you can watch a TED video on just about any topic, we’ve listed 13 of the most interesting and enlightening videos for sales and marketing professionals!

While not all of these videos are about sales and/or marketing specifically, they can certainly apply to your functions (and maybe even just make you a more well-rounded person) — this collection includes useful advice both for interpersonal and practical skills.

With that said, check out these TED hits!

easy to use CRM
If you’ve had sex, you know how to sell: Mace Horcoff at TEDxBocaRaton
Despite the clickbait-y title, this talk actually gives quite a few interesting parallels in how sales work and how people use similar tactics when navigating the world of dating.

According to Horoff, “The question isn’t whether you can sell or not — the question is, ‘What motivates you to sell?’”

This talk is perfect for salespeople who want to explore the psychology of selling in a strange, funny, and slightly raunchy way.

The Secrets That Drive Us To Greater Success: Jon Gordon at TEDxHilliard
Gordon is a fantastic storyteller that gets to the heart of what it takes to be successful. It’s easier said than done but crucial: never give up.

He even references “grit,” which Angela Lee Duckworth discusses in her TED Talk (more on her toward the end of this post) and the importance of perseverance.

This is an inspiring talk for anyone who needs a bit of motivation to keep running and to not just go through the motions of life.

Creative thinking — how to get out of the box and generate ideas: Giovanni Corazza at TEDxRoma
This TED Talk explores — you guessed it — creative thinking. It dives into the idea of practicing out-of-the-box thinking and offers advice on how to think more creatively in your everyday life.

Corazza also discusses the idea of applying theories and concepts to areas that were never applied before, finding the best answers, and working in the right environment, among many other points.

This talk is perfect for any marketer or salesperson who is feeling stuck creatively or is just in need of a fresh perspective.

You are contagious: Vanessa Van Edwards at TEDxLondon
There are very few (if any) TED speakers as charming as Van Edwards. In this talk, learn more about human behavior, and how our actions can influence those around us.

There are a lot of fascinating psychological and sociological aspects of this talk, and it’s perfect for salespeople who want to better understand the science of body language and verbal cues.

The skill of self-confidence: Dr. Ivan Joseph at TEDxRyersonU
Dr. Joseph talks about what self-confidence means, and how you can acquire this skill.

He explains that the key to self-confidence is repetition, repetition, repetition — also referenced simply as persistence. There’s no magic button, it’s just about believing that you can do something and going for it.

This talk is perfect for anyone who wants to work on their confidence and tackle adversity head-on.

The greatest TED Talk ever sold: Morgan Spurlock at TED
Spurlock, of Super Size Me fame, took a humorous and eye-opening approach to his TED Talk.

He decided to put the naming rights for his talk up for sale and goes into his quest to make a sponsored film about sponsorship, which in turn becomes a shameless plug for his own sponsored film — so meta.

This talk gives a fascinating look into the world of brand marketing and how things work behind the scenes — an entertaining 20 minutes that just about any marketer will appreciate.

Is There a Buy Button Inside the Brain: Patrick Renvoise at TEDxBend
This talk goes deep into the psychology of consumer behavior in a fun, approachable way.

Renvoise explores the reptilian brain vs. the new brain and gives marketers a four-step plan to get to the heart of what your customers want.

In the end, following this process can supposedly trigger the “buy button” in your customers’ brains — sounds cool, right?

How to Sell Without Selling Your Soul: Steve Harrison at TEDxWilmingtonSalon
In this talk, Harrison explains how you can persuade more people to say “yes” to what you offer without feeling as if you’re being a high-pressure salesperson.

Both inspiring and humorous, this marketing and sales expert helps redefine what it really means to sell.

Harrison gets into a four-step method that can help any salesperson or marketer unleash their potential so that they can be more comfortable, confident, and convincing.

The best salespeople are the best listeners — not the best talkers.

What I learned from 100 days of rejection: Jia Jiang at TEDxMtHood
This talk adventures into one of the most terrifying of territories: rejection.

Jiang sought out rejection for 100 days. He did everything from asking a stranger to borrow $100 to requesting donuts in the shape of the Olympic rings.

This led to Jiang desensitizing himself to the pain and shame that rejection can bring and, as a result, found that simply asking for what you want can open up possibilities where you expect to find dead ends — something all of us can learn from.

Smart Failure for a Fast-Changing World: Eddie Obeng at TED
The world is rapidly changing— yeah, shocking.

But because of the speed at which the world is changing, creative output just isn’t keeping up. That’s why in this talk, Obeng focuses on three changes we should apply in order to be more productive and the importance of having a stronger culture of “smart” failure.

This is perfect for sales and marketing professionals who need some inspiration for their professional growth in an ever-changing world.

How to speak so that people want to listen: Julian Treasure at TED
Have you ever felt like you’re talking, but nobody is listening? I think we’ve all been there.

Treasure is a sound expert, and in his talk, he demonstrates some useful vocal exercises and shares tips on how to speak with empathy. He offers his vision for a world full of listening and understanding.

It essentially comes down to human intelligence combined with higher levels of awareness — interpersonal skills are key to being great at sales and/or marketing!

The Skill of Humor: Andrew Tarvin at TEDxTAMU
Humor is something that transcends most barriers — it’s something that is understood by virtually everyone.

However, there are a lot of people out there that do not think they can utilize humor or lack playfulness in their lives.

Tarvin uses his talk to show how everyone can use humor in their everyday lives. He explains that humor gets people to listen, increases long-term memory retention, improves understanding, and more.

It’s an entertaining, fun talk that reminds us to not take things too seriously all the time and to try to use humor to our benefit.

Grit — The Power of Passion and Perseverance: Angela Lee Duckworth at TED
In this TED classic, Duckworth explains how she left her job in management consulting to teach math in New York City’s public school system.

During this challenging and eye-opening experience, she began to observe why some students succeeded and some just became frustrated. She carried out an extensive study as a result, and found that the top predictor for success was “grit.”

It’s about more than just intelligence to be successful — check out this talk to learn more about what it means to be gritty.

We hope you found something enlightening and helpful in these videos, and are ready to tackle your next challenge!

The 25+ Best Sales Tools to Help Your Team Be Successful

A supporting suite of sales tools can make the difference between a successful sales team and a less successful one.

Here are some of the things a suite of sales tools can do:

Help you to flawlessly follow up your sales leads
Give you insights into your numbers and how to improve
Provide you with whole new ways to communicate and operate
Make prospecting more efficient
Understand your customers better
… and so much more.
At Salesflare, we often hear how a better product doing each of these jobs can be defined to a salesperson’s daily routine and success.

easy to use CRM
That’s why we created this list of sales tools, organized by category, with the top sales tools that will support you best.

Note of course that many of these tools fit into multiple categories and can cover a variety of tasks.

Alright, let’s get started. 🏁

Sales enablement tools
Loom

The loom is a new kind of work communication tool that helps you get your message across through instantly shareable videos. It’s a great tool for sales enablement in that every 10 seconds of video you record is equivalent to 81 seconds of typing. So with this sales tool, that means no more super long emails that take forever to write. Simply click Loom to record and start saving time! 📹

Intercom

An intercom is a great tool for a myriad of reasons, but it’s also the perfect way to target prospects. No matter your company size, Intercom allows you to automatically send targeted messages to visitors 24/7 and live chat with the best leads on your website. Maybe you want to see if someone has a question on pricing, or you want to tailor your messages based on their company size – the possibilities are virtually endless!

ProProfs Chat

ProProfs Chat enables your business to capture sales qualified leads in real-time. With the ability to communicate and engage instantly with leads, your sales team can track and identify the right prospects and save lead data in favorite CRM integration. This real-time engagement also helps your sales team to grab the opportunity to convert leads into customers during the same chat session.

Showpad

Showpad is described as a leading sales enablement platform for the modern seller. Its all-in-one platform empowers sales and marketing teams to engage buyers by integrating industry-leading training and coaching software with innovative content solutions. Using comprehensive data on successful sales interactions, Showpad uses AI to discover, replicate and automate what works for top performers.

Demodesk

If you’re in sales and want a dedicated tool for your sales meetings, have a look at Demodesk. It’s an online video conferencing app with an integrated scheduling feature, allowing you to do video calls and screen sharing/co-browsing, without asking your customer to download anything.

sales enablement tools
Sales prospecting tools
EasyLeadz

EasyLeadz builds sales intelligence and prospects for your business by tracking sales signals. Identify the right prospects, reach out to decision-makers and send automated emails at the right time all from a single dashboard.

Snov.io

Snov.io is a cold outreach automation platform that helps salespeople find, validate, and email prospects with better conversion rates. It offers a variety of features, included drip email campaigns, an email verifier, professional email search, and more.

sales prospecting tools
Sales management tools
SalesLoft

SalesLoft is a leading sales engagement and management platform, helping sales organizations deliver better sales experiences for their customers. More than 2,000 customers use the company’s category-leading sales engagement platform to engage in more relevant, authentic, and sincere ways, including Square, MuleSoft, Alteryx, and Dell.

Ambition

Ambition helps sales organizations get real-time performance insights and create revenue-driving culture. Clients use the Ambition platform to create transparent, goal-oriented, and inspired sales teams and call centers.

sales management tools
Sales mobile tools
DocuSign

DocuSign helps organizations connect and automate how they prepare, sign, act upon and manage agreements. As part of their cloud-based System of Agreement Platform, DocuSign offers eSignature, one of the most efficient ways to sign documents electronically on practically any device, from almost anywhere, at any time. This tool is perfect for salespeople on the go who need to have documents signed on the spot, without needing to worry about using a printer and sending documents back and forth.

Slack

Slack is the perfect tool for keeping in touch with your sales team, no matter where business takes you. In short, Slack is a collaboration hub for teamwork, where the right people are always kept in the loop and key information is always at their fingertips. Work in Slack happens in channels, so all the right people can be included, all relevant information is kept in one place and new team members are able to get up to speed easily.

sales mobile tools
Sales productivity tools
Datanyze Insider (Chrome extension)

Used by more than 50,000 sales professionals, Datanyze Insider is a great sales tool that helps you efficiently research accounts, build highly targeted prospect lists, and export contacts where they need to go in a fraction of the time. And the best part: it’s free! 💸

G Suite

It’s hard to beat Google’s collaboration and productivity apps – from docs to sheets to shareable folders to Gmail, G Suite has businesses covered with the tools they need to create, communicate, collaborate, and more.

Dropbox

Dropbox is a great alternative to G Suite if you’re looking for a place to store files and collaborate with colleagues. The company’s mission is to unleash the world’s creative energy by designing a more enlightened way of working.

CloudTalk

If your sales process revolves around phone-based support in any way, CloudTalk can help you take it to the next level. Basically, it was designed to make and receive more calls, and do it much faster – so that your sales reps have more opportunities (and time) to close deals. Plus, it keeps track of every conversation, so you can easily leverage the insights on your customers and sales agents.

sales productivity tools
Sales automation tools
Mailshake

This tool offers powerful analytics, automation, and enhancements for your outbound communications. With email tracking, one-click templates, and scheduled sending, Mailshake is a good tool for anyone wanting to send effective emails.

Or, if you want all this right within your CRM itself, you can check out Salesflare‘s email workflows now too. Let our customers inspire you with how they use email workflows in these videos:

LeadExporter

A tool that also offers a free Chrome extension, LeadExporter allows you to gather relevant data from LinkedIn profiles in a single form, automatically (note: LinkedIn has been cracking down on automation tools such as Dux-Soup recently, so proceed with caution with sales tools like this).

Outreach.io

Outreach is a leading sales engagement platform that accelerates revenue growth by optimizing every interaction throughout the customer lifecycle. The platform manages all customer interactions across email, voice, and social, and leverages machine learning to guide reps to take the right actions – saving you time and resources.

Zapier

Zapier gives people internet superpowers by letting them easily connect and automate the apps they use. Partners utilize Zapier to offer their customers integrations with 1,000+ apps. The Zapier Developer Platform enables developers to add APIs for private or public use. Connect your sales toolkit and save your sales team time.

LeadIQ

LeadIQ enables your sales team to reach the right prospects at the ideal companies. Capture leads directly from LinkedIn Sales Navigator or any website with one click and adds them straight into your favorite sales tools, whether you use HubSpot CRM, Salesforce, etc. It takes 25 clicks, on average, to create an account in Salesforce; LeadIQ does it in 3. Your sales reps will reach the right prospects faster.

sales automation tools
Sales CRM tools
Salesflare

Imagine loving your CRM. Salesflare is built to be the easiest-to-use sales machine of your dreams. Centralize customer information, build a clear view of your sales funnel, know what to do and when to do it, collaborate with your team flawlessly, keep track of all the customer data you can imagine and so much more. Biased? Yes. Truthful? Also yes.

sales CRM tools
Sales promotion tools
Mailchimp

Looking to send insightful, beautiful emails to your prospects or customers? Mailchimp is an always-on marketing platform for small businesses. They make innovative, beautiful products that empower businesses to communicate effectively with their audiences.

Buffer

If you’re wanting to connect to prospects and customers via social media, there isn’t a better free sales tool out there than Buffer. This tool lets you schedule and plans social media content with ease. Keep in mind: if you want reporting tools, you’ll have to pay for Buffer. The free version is quite limited overall, but there are some relatively inexpensive paid subscriptions for the tool.

Kontentino

When your team needs to create and organize the posts for social media there’s an all-in-one solution. Kontentino is an intuitive social media tool for the effective management of social media accounts. Except for a flawless workflow within the team, Kontentino will manage multiple business profiles in one calendar, offer a live post preview, and plan to boost of your company’s Facebook posts in advance. It’s a management and cooperation tool for every agency.

sales promotion tools
Sales forecasting tools
MoData

Using AI, MoData helps high-growth B2B enterprises accelerate revenue acquisition, conversion, and retention. Their products empower sales and marketing executives to make a real difference to their company’s top line with modules such as pipeline management, account-based sales, forecasting, and more.

Intuendi

Intuendi is a new solution for sales forecasting: login to the platform, load your catalog and sales history, push a button and you will easily get a demand forecast for your products. The sales tool is a demand forecasting SaaS platform for manufacturing and e-commerce, offering you and your sales team valuable insights.

sales forecasting tools
Sales intelligence tools
LinkedIn Sales Navigator

A must-have for many sales teams, this sales tool helps you target the right buyers, offers key insights, and helps you engage with personalized outreach capabilities. Features include advanced search options, lead recommendations, integrations with sales tools, and more.

Crunchbase

Crunchbase is the place for learning about companies, discovering investments, tracking industry trends, and finding news about hundreds of thousands of public and private companies globally. From startups to Fortune 500 companies, Crunchbase provides the depth and breadth of knowledge that ensures its data is recognized as the primary source of business information by millions of users globally. Crunchbase is the perfect place for salespeople to gather additional insights into prospects and current customers.

DiscoverOrg

DiscoverOrg’s solutions provide a stream of accurate and actionable company, contact, and buying intelligence that can be used to find, connect with and sell to target buyers more effectively – as well as the ability to integrate with other sales tools.

Leadfeeder

Leadfeeder is lead generation software that increases your sales intelligence by integrating your sales and marketing data. Leadfeeder shows you the companies visiting your website, how they found you, and what they’re interested in. Leadfeeder uses machine learning to filter data in your Google Analytics. Leadfeeder gets the network names and locations of the visitor from Google Analytics, and the lead generation is done based on this. Additionally, Leadfeeder provides LinkedIn Sales Navigator integration and a contacts section to give you more information on who you should reach out to from a specific company.

sales intelligence tools
Sales closing tools
Better Proposals

If you’re looking for a sales tool that will help you send beautiful proposals and win more business, Better Proposals is the one for you. Their web-based, trackable proposals with modern design will impress your clients and skyrocket your conversion rate. Knowing when the proposals are opened, forwarded, and downloaded helps you follow up at the right time, and you will also get a notification when the proposal is e-signed and paid online.

There you have it – utilizing sales tools can take good salespeople and make them great, so go into 2020 organized, prepared, and ready to sell!

Sales Quotas: How to Make your Sales More Predictable

Looking to learn more about sales quotas?

I recently Googled “sales quota” and couldn’t find too much useful information in the first articles I read.

That’s why I decided to write this article, a quick and helpful guide on sales quotas. It will tell you all you need to know in 5 minutes.

If you still have questions, you can hit me up in the comments or send a message to our team on the chat. We’re happy to think along with you!

What we’ll cover in this guide:

A clear definition of sales quotas
Why you absolutely need to set sales quotas
Which different types of sales quotas you need
How to set and use sales quota successfully
And finally, how to keep track of sales quotas
Let’s dive right in!

What is a sales quota?
When reading up on sales quota definitions, you’ll find that many definitions reduce a sales quota to one specific type, while there are in fact many levels on which you can set quotas.

A sales quota refers to a sales-related target number that is set within a specific period.

This time period can be yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, or even daily.

The number can be defined for an individual sales rep and/or for a sales team as a whole.

It can be set on the input level (activities, e.g. calls, meetings, …), on the output level (sales results, e.g. revenue, gross margin, …), or on any level in between (lead-to-deal metrics, e.g. amount of new opportunities, sales cycle duration, closing ratio, …).

Now, why do you need these sales quotas?

Why set sales quotas?
In short, to get higher and more predictable sales.

Isn’t that everyone’s dream?

Here’s how sales quotas will make your sales dreams become real.

Sales quotas are goals to work towards
If you tell your salespeople to “close some deals” without specifying how many deals to close and by when they won’t know at any moment whether they have to up their game or not. Chances are high you will find them sitting around drinking coffee.

If you don’t set goals for your company, then you can’t rally the team behind it. You also don’t know when to celebrate success together.

It may seem like stating the obvious, but it’s extremely important and sales teams often miss out on so much by not setting sales quotas.

Measure performance, fix/improve it and reward based on it
Want to also get better at sales? Sales quotas are key.

Quotas allow you to contrast expectations with reality. They’ll tell you when things are off track.

All you’ll need to do in the morning is open up your sales dashboard.

Have a look at your sales dashboard to know how you’re doing.
If metrics are off, you can dig into the issue further and see how you can fix it.

If all is good, it’s business as usual. Or even better: you can see how you can up the numbers even further!

Drive a balanced/healthy sales pipeline
Without sales quotas on both input and output levels (or levels in between), you’ll quickly find that at any given time a sales rep will typically be focusing on either the start or the end of the pipeline.

There will be times when they’ll primarily be prospecting to fill the pipeline with leads and times that they’ll be focusing on closing deals, but forget to keep generating these new leads.

A healthy sales pipeline should always be filled with fresh leads.
As most B2B sales cycles tend to take a while, this will result in times with lots of sales and times with almost nothing being closed. It’s not an ideal situation for most businesses… which brings us to the next point:

Forecast sales (for financial planning, resource planning, …)
Setting sales quotas will make sales way more predictable, as your whole team will work together to achieve these numbers and build a way more balanced sales pipeline.

This has numerous advantages:

You’ll know better how much money you’ll have on your bank account at what point and deal with any shortages or – you never know – overages.
You’ll be able to plan your resources better, as you’ll know more accurately how many you’ll need to fulfill the signed contracts and when.
You’ll be able to raise funding from investors based on hard figures.
If you’re thinking “Ok, you can stop Jeroen, I’m convinced…” then let’s move on to the different types of sales quotas you can and should define. (If not, well, I don’t know. I like to believe I tried my best.

What types of sales quotas do you need?
As we laid out when defining sales quotas above, they can be for one person or for a team and for any possible time span. The main difference in terms of sales quota type, however, is on which level they are applied.

Output level: sales results
If you go Googling for “sales quota”, you’ll find a series of articles like this one.

However, most of them make a critical mistake: when discussing sales quotas, they only talk about the output level – sales results.

While achieving sales results is usually the goal, it isn’t the most effective quota you can set to increase sales and make it more predictable.

What is most effective? It’s maintaining consistent sales activity. More on that below.

While quotas on sales results are still the most popular, there’s also an extensive range of possibilities for output level sales quotas:

Revenue
Gross margin
Profit
Deals closed

It all depends on the business you’re in and on what exact behavior you want to incentivize with your sales team.

If you’re for instance working in a marketing agency that sells projects which have external costs to them, your goal might be best represented by the gross margin generated. Whereas when you’re a solo copywriter selling your own time, you’ll just want to maximize revenue.

Input level: sales activity metrics
While output level sales quotas are most often the end goal, they don’t effectively increase sales or make them more predictable.

Sales are not about chasing some revenue target. It’s about consistently placing those x calls, sending those x emails, booking those x meetings, … every single day.

Surely, the output won’t be exactly the same every single month, but setting input level metrics will have a dramatic effect on your results.

The psychological effect is also not to be underestimated: if sales cycles take a bit longer in your industry or if you sell slightly larger deals, you most probably won’t close a deal every day (or maybe even week or month).

The best way to stay motivated is to quantify sales activity and reaching your goals every day.

Which sales activity quotas are best for you obviously depends on your sales process and mode(s) of communication. It can be:

Amount of calls placed
Amount of meetings scheduled
Amount of meetings done
Amount of emails sent
Amount of chat conversations had
Amount of leads talked to

Track sales activity metrics to know what work your team is putting in.
In-between level: lead-to-deal metrics
Using input level quotas and output level quotas can often grossly oversimplify the sales process. Placing a certain amount of calls will not directly lead to your desired revenue.

That’s why setting quotas on the in-between level, on the process that generates leads and converts them to deals, is super important as well.

The most common metrics that are tracked here are:

The number of new opportunities created: the number of leads generated
The duration of the sales cycle: how long does it take to go from lead to deal?
The closing ratio: how many leads are converted into deals?
The average deal value: how big are the deals I’m closing on average?
Setting quotas for these, tracking changes over time, zooming in on differences between sales reps, … will give you the necessary levers to take control of your sales process and be successful at it.

How to set and use sales quotas successfully?
Now that we know sales quotas are important and what types of sales quotas you should use, the question remains: how to set and use these quotas successfully?

Here are a few guidelines.

Define output level sales quotas both top-down and bottom-up
You might have an idea of how much your sales reps are able to sell based on their past performance, assigned key accounts or territory, or another relevant indicator.

You might also have a goal on team or company level for how much you want to sell.

The first approach will define your quotas bottom-up, while the second will define them top-down.

It’s your job to make both meets.

And if you can’t make those two approaches meet, then you’ll obviously have to take action, because your quotas won’t be realistic otherwise.

Make quotas ambitious but achievable
While “BHAGs” (big hairy audacious goals) have been popularized by Jim Collins in his book “Built to Last”, this approach is rarely a good idea when setting sales quotas.

When hubris kicks in and you’re a tad too ambitious with setting quotas, this may lead to:

A demotivated sales team
A wrong idea about their performance
No proper compensation for this performance
Or even things like sales reps overselling your products and services, leading to disgruntled customers and excessive amounts of pressure on the team who needs to deliver on the made promises.
Of course, sales quotas should be ambitious. It’s important for everyone that you keep moving forward together. Standing still is moving backward.

But if you don’t keep the quotas achievable, you’ll be setting yourself up to fail as well.

Learn from your top performers
A proven way to boost the performance of your sales team is to learn from your top performers and try to replicate their behavior across the whole team.

Are they placing a lot of calls? Or focusing on sitting down with clients in meetings?

Are they focusing on a few big deals? Or generating a large volume of smaller leads?

Analyzing this will tell you a lot about the dynamics of your sales process and how to go about it successfully.

And if you know what numbers are important, you know where to set your quotas to maximize your results.

Finally, how to keep track of sales quotas?
So, do you now need to start keeping Excel files full of sales calls, emails, meetings, lists of deals, etc.?

Thankfully not, as man has invented automated CRM systems.

Beware, however: most CRMs are not automated.

Nope, they’ll require you to log every single thing you do. Manually.

And of course, most sales reps won’t do this. Or at least not for long. And you’ll find that those who do are mostly the ones who don’t have much else to do. And as soon as they start getting traction in their sales pipeline, they’ll start slacking off in the CRM.

In my previous jobs, I’ve gone through this myself, working with some of the more famous but highly manual CRM systems. And then we started Salesflare to solve this.

Salesflare lives on top of the email inbox, calendar, phone, social media, company databases, email signatures, … and automatically collects and organizes the data your team needs to follow up their leads. ⚙️

… and contact & company data is automatically collected too!
And it automatically analyzes this data so you can keep track of your sales quota.

On top of that, you’ll be able to create accountability and transparency within the team, as you can easily share sales pipelines, an (automated) address book of contacts, and timelines of all activity (emails, meetings, calls, tracking activity, …).

Salesflare also directly solves some of the issues we’ve discussed above. For instance, as one of our customers, Simon Lovegrove said:

Salesflare improves my mood as I can see the wins. It also recently alerted me to a lack of early-stage opportunities.

If you’d like to try us, just head here.

Trying Salesflare is entirely free. Setting up an account literally takes only minutes. If it works for you the pricing is affordable. And our support team is ready to help you with anything. Even with deciding on the right sales quota!

So if you have any further questions about sales quotas, hit me up in the comments or send a message to the team on the chat.

Let’s boost those sales and make them more predictable!

What is a Sales Pipeline? How do I Build an Unbeatable One?

Hoping to find out about deals pipelines?

We’ve summed up everything to think about building a top notch deals pipeline in this post. 👇

It covers the accompanying focuses (you can snap to a particular one as well):

What is a business pipeline? (How can it contrast with a business channel?)

Run of the mill deals pipeline stages

Instructions to fabricate your own business pipeline

Tips and deceives to effectively deal with your business pipeline

Talk pipeline like a star: a portion of the slang you may hear among deals experts

Reward: a free deals pipeline format

Effective salesmen ace their business pipeline to ensure reliable achievement, rather than the unplanned success.

So in case you’re in it to win it, hold on for us. We guarantee it’ll be 10 minutes all around spent. 👊

1. What is a business pipeline?

A business pipeline is a way to deal with selling that accepts that business openings experience a run of the mill set of stages before they are shut.

These business pipeline stages rely upon the business cycle that is followed, which in a perfect world lines up with the purchaser’s choice cycle.

The objective inside a business pipeline is to move deals openings through it, either to the following stage or quickly to “lost”. Sporadically a business opportunity may likewise skip stages. More about this when discussing deals pipeline stages.

A business pipeline is frequently outwardly addressed in a CRM in a Kanban load up view, so the outreach group can keep a simple outline on what arrangements are in the pipeline whenever.

Here’s the means by which such view searches inside Salesflare.

visual deals pipeline

Picture your business pipeline to improve hold on it.

You can see which salesman is chipping away at which deals opportunity, with which possibilities, and what the worth is of every likely arrangement. 👀

At the highest point of each stage, you can see the complete estimation of the chances in that stage, which gives a smart thought of the normal income your business pipeline will produce. More on this later on.

What is the distinction: deals pipeline versus deals pipe?

You’ll frequently hear individuals talk about their “business pipe” rather than their “business pipeline”. What’s more, when they do, they generally mean something very similar.

The expression “deals channel” (versus deals pipeline) alludes to the way that a sound deals pipeline will frequently contain a lot bigger measure of chances in the previous stages, as many don’t move to the following stage and are lost.

The pipeline accordingly doesn’t look precisely like a line, yet more like a channel, similar to this one:

channel

Note that the ideal channel ought to have its emphasis point at the capability stage (more about this in a moment). After this stage, the transformation rate from stage to stage ought to significantly improve, as you’ve discovered that the chances are capable and the possibilities are probably going to wind up purchasing.

A V-molded channel portrayal, which you will regularly see around the web and inside programming, is consequently deceptive. 😏 It might prompt the bogus impression that it’s typical that salesmen still miss out on a great deal of deals openings after they have been qualified. What’s more, it’s most certainly not.

2. Average deals pipeline stages

Despite the fact that each B2B deals measure is extraordinary, it’s conceivable to distinguish a typical arrangement of deals pipeline stages. Most deals pipelines will just have to shift somewhat from this standard arrangement of stages.

Here’s these standard stages, which we offer in Salesflare when you make a pipeline.

Lead

You’ve discovered a decent possibility, who appears to fit every one of your rules, however you haven’t reached them yet.

Reached

You’re in contact with a possibility. Possibly they’ve reached you with a business opportunity, or you’ve reached them to see whether there’s a chance to sell your item or administrations.

Qualified

This stage is critical. In the event that business openings arrive at the “qualified” stage, it implies that you have qualified them as a chance you can win.

The most known capability models and a decent spot to begin is BANT:

Financial plan: Do they have a spending plan to spend on your answer?

Authority: Are you conversing with the correct individual at the organization?

Need: Are they needing your answer?

Course of events: Do they have an unequivocal timetable as a primary concern to purchase? Or on the other hand is it just “sometime in the future”?

In the event that a business opportunity is qualified, it proceeds onward to the “qualified” stage. On the off chance that it’s precluded, you shouldn’t invest any further energy on it.

Your time is valuable, and it’s better went through with possibilities who will presumably purchase.

Genius tip: It may be that you’re in a business where it frequently happens that you’re not conversing with your possibility at the opportune time. Furthermore, despite the fact that you shouldn’t invest your energy on them now, you would prefer not to dismiss them by the same token. All things considered, make an additional stage “Refrigerator” behind the “Lost” stage for these possibilities. That way you can without much of a stretch return to them later. ❄️

cooler stage in the business pipeline

Consider adding a “Cooler” stage for promising circumstances you ought to return to later.

Proposition made

On the off chance that a possibility is qualified, you can fire making up a proposition for them.

When you’ve made this proposition, you are basically hanging tight for them to choose; or to demand changes to your proposition obviously. 😅

Won/Lost

This is the place where you close the arrangement.

Did they purchase? Well done, you won the arrangement. 🎉

Did they exit the business pipeline at any stage? Imprint the chance as lost and proceed onward.

3. Construct your own business pipeline

Since we’ve set up the default organizes, it’s an ideal opportunity to fabricate your own pipeline.

Ask yourself the accompanying inquiries: 🤔

What are the means a possibility needs to experience prior to choosing to purchase?

How would you need to manage a possibility inside that cycle?

What are the key advances you can distinguish?

In case you’re so point by point, you may find that you control your possibilities through 15-20 or significantly more strides before they purchase.

A business pipeline with that number of steps will anyway not be truly usable. Also, the estimation of a business pipeline stands or falls with if you use it.

That is the reason you should have a go at keeping the quantity of stages in your business pipeline restricted to 7-10 phases. You can take note of the stages you precluded as errands that you need to finish to arrive at the following stage.

Are you game? Time to arrange and redo your business pipeline in your CRM’s Settings.

alter deals pipeline

Make stages, alter them, make additional pipelines. Cause your business pipeline to address your business cycle as well as could be expected.

You may locate that various items or distinctive client fragments require moving the business opportunity through an alternate arrangement of stages.

On the off chance that these distinctions are critical, it very well may be shrewd to make a different pipeline in your CRM. Else you’ll be attempting to move (part of your) chances through an off-base arrangement of stages.

Making an additional pipeline can likewise be convenient on the off chance that you need to isolate pipeline outlines per office or per country. Or then again on the off chance that you need to isolate deals from account the executives.

Ensure in this way that your CRM underpins different pipelines (like Salesflare).

4. How would you effectively deal with your business pipeline?

Since you’re good to go up, we should begin with the genuine work: dealing with that business pipeline. 💪

While we’ve spoken generally about building the business pipeline itself, really dealing with this pipeline requires a couple of a greater number of things than this straightforward outline alone.

How about we currently jump into what else you’ll have to blow away your business targets.

Work with an unmistakable errands framework

Each prospect has her very own necessities, wishes and timetables. Each and every one of them needs to feel extraordinary and thought often about, similar to she’s the solitary possibility you have.

This may feel overwhelming when you have tens or even many deals openings in your pipeline. Furthermore, the nonattendance of a reasonable framework will lead you from the one disillusioned possibility to the next. Also, many lost chances… that you likely might have won.

A basic, clear assignment framework can tackle this all. ✨

Two key principles:

Continuously think subsequent stages. At the point when you complete an errand, make the following one right away.

Stay coordinated, don’t begin freestyling. At the point when you adhere to your undertaking show, you stay in charge of your business pipeline. Without it, you’ll lose it.

This assignment list is best kept along with the remainder of your client information, in your CRM.

To ensure you’ll reliably continue to utilize the undertakings usefulness of your CRM, it ought to:

Be not difficult to utilize. In the event that it’s an excess of work, you won’t stay aware of it (rule nr. 2).

Send you notices (on your PC and telephone) when you need to accomplish something.

Here’s the means by which this for example glances in Salesflare:

use assignments to deal with your pipeline

The simple to-utilize errands framework inside Salesflare.

It shows the portrayal of the undertaking, the record/organization it is identified with, when the errand is expected, and who is relegated to it (especially convenient when you’re working in a group).

With the catches on the right, you can without much of a stretch total, nap, appoint, alter or excuse an assignment.

It’s additionally convenient on the off chance that you can see these undertakings per explicit record also.

use undertakings explicit to a record to deal with your pipeline

The rundown of undertakings for a particular record. This permits you to zoom in and see the historical backdrop of activities taken.

You may take note of different kinds of assignments in this screen capture. These are “recommended undertakings”: programmed errands (which you can kill on or) that help you to:

Follow up records that go idle

Answer to messages from possibilities that you’ve disregarded

Make sure to add notes to gatherings

“Salesflare’s multi day latency update prompts me to not disregard a record.”

Ken Tran, Telemedic

Monitor your cooperations

While it’s acceptable to understand what you need to do straightaway, understanding the unique situation and course of events is likewise basic.

This implies knowing:

W

Everything You Need to Know About Sales Prospecting

While we frequently talk about customer maintenance being the huge cash producer for your business, there’s no denying the significance of keeping a constant flow of new possibilities. Deals is an always evolving undertaking, and this has been especially evident in 2020. To prevail with your objectives, it’s urgent that you utilize the entirety of the devices you have available to you to catch new leads and sustain them into clients. What’s more, deals prospecting is a major piece of that.

In excess of 40% of deals experts refer to prospecting as the most testing an aspect of their responsibilities, considerably more so than shutting bargains (36 percent) and qualifying drives (22 percent). But since in any event 50% of your possibilities won’t transform into clients, it’s urgent that you’re continually attempting to carry new possibilities into the overlap.

There’s a great deal contingent upon getting deals prospecting right. So what’s everything about? Here’s a speedy manual for deals prospecting to kick you off, including the key strategies you need to know to dominate at it.

What is Sales Prospecting?

Deals prospecting alludes to any move that you make with the particular objective of finding new expected clients for your item or administration. All the more along these lines, it’s tied in with finding the top possibilities, focusing on the individuals and organizations who are well on the way to profit and draw in with what you’re selling.

It’s presumably not a major amazement then that such countless salespeople consider prospecting to be their greatest obstacle. All things considered, you can’t qualify a lead — and you unquestionably can’t finalize a negotiation — until you’ve prospected somebody in any case.

Lead versus Qualified Lead versus Prospect versus Client

As an individual travels through the channel, their assignment changes — thus does the most ideal approach to draw in with them. While there is some cover between the essential assignments, here are a portion of the fundamental changes that set them apart.

A potential purchaser begins as a lead, which is a person who is a possible client for your image and who has communicated some level of interest in your item or administration. This can be something direct like connecting for more data, yet is all the more frequently through things like visiting your blog, pursuing your email pamphlet, or following you via web-based media.

A certified lead is somebody who has taken their appearance of interest up a score, maybe by pursuing a demo or taking part in some to and fro with your outreach group. On the off chance that all works out positively, they become a possibility, which is a kind of lead who is destined to close. Notwithstanding offering key hints of interest in pushing ahead, possibilities line up with your client persona and target crowd, and they’re prepared (or practically prepared) to settle on a choice.

On the off chance that all works out, a possibility transforms into a client or somebody who has proceeded to wrap everything up with a buy. Nonetheless, you could in any case consider a client as a possibility since they’re a profoundly qualified lead who you could offer to once more.

Step by step instructions to Qualify Leads

Having the option to qualify leads is a need for prospecting since it encourages you choose who’s truly worth your endeavors and consideration.

To do it, start by thinking about what phase of the purchaser’s excursion an individual is in. Most of leads are hanging out in the mindfulness stage, while more qualified leads are in the thought stage. Possibilities are in the choice stage and simply should be supported to pull the trigger on a deal.

There are likewise various qualifying attributes to consider. Does your lead line up with your purchaser personas as far as:

District

Industry

Occupation title

Organization size

Organization financial plan

The a greater amount of these attributes you can scratch off, the more qualified a lead is. Hence, it’s consistently a smart thought to think about a lead’s socioeconomics against existing purchaser personas as you choose whether or not they’re probably going to turn into a possibility.

On the off chance that you are utilizing advertising mechanization programming (which we strongly suggest), qualifying your leads is very simple since it’s done consequently. Utilizing programming, as BenchmarkONE, you can fragment and label your leads dependent on qualifying factors, so you can send more customized trickle crusades that will move them through the pipe.

Prospecting Tactics

There are two essential techniques for prospecting: outbound and inbound.

Outbound deals are started by you, as opposed to the possible purchaser — think cold effort, directed showcasing and advertisements, visitor contributed content, and different systems administration strategies. Basically, it’s tied in with giving a role as wide of a net as you can, qualifying the “fish” that you get, and sustaining them to a deal.

Inbound deals are started by drives themselves, especially the individuals who are past the mindfulness stage and prepared for thought or choice. The way to pulling in inbound leads is to have outbound substance that leads back to your site, just as execute a SEO methodology that gets your site to populate in query items. It’s additionally significant that your site has excellent substance that keeps guests connected with and keen on pursuing your email outreach.

Compelling deals prospecting requires a touch of the two strategies joined with appropriately qualifying the leads that come in. The better you get at it, the simpler time you’ll have sorting out who your best leads are, and, naturally, the simpler time you’ll have meeting your business objectives.

6 Tips for Generating and Converting More Leads This Year

The finish of a year — and the beginning of another one — consistently puts deals top of psyche. It’s your last opportunity to accomplish any objectives that you set for yourself, just as to set the bar you’re focusing on later on. It’s the best an ideal opportunity to consider which strategies have been a major win for you and what kinds of things you should add to your collection pushing ahead.

2020 was unpleasant, and numerous private ventures didn’t meet their deals and promoting objectives. In case you’re one of them, you realize that to keep your business above water, continually searching for new and inventive approaches to advance, extend, and keep the cash coming in has a significant effect.

Independent ventures are precious to us, and we’re zeroing in some substance on the best way to help them tackle their business issues head-on. Some portion of doing so is building another business pipeline that centers around various methodologies that will yield however much return as could be expected. Another is guaranteeing you’re prospecting endeavors are exhaustive and top notch.

Be that as it may, another enormous segment to turning deals around is doing all that you can to produce and change over those on location guests. At the point when you execute your outer endeavors the correct way, you’ll produce huge loads of traffic back to your site, and you’ll need to profit by that traffic.

So as we look forward, here are a portion of our best thoughts for producing and changing over a greater amount of your leads in the year to come.

1. Tap Into Your Existing Customers

Upbeat clients are the best clients. In addition to the fact that they spend more cash all the more reliably, however the connections that you work with them additionally open up new chances for getting more leads. Furthermore, presently like never before, it’s critical to develop your associations with your current clients and to search for approaches to fan out those huge successes into new roads for transformations.

A few different ways that you can gain by effective connections for additional deals include:

Upselling your current clients on bundles or items that will give them more worth

Composing intensive contextual investigations and distributing them on your site, online media, and adding them to your trickle crusades

Client reference or customer appreciation programs that urge existing clients to allude individuals from their organization

Utilize an advertising robotization stage joined with a CRM to disentangle the cycle of both following your client victories and fulfillment and finding exactly that it is so natural to transform one extraordinary chance into a few. You can delve into your client records to see past exchanges and keep tabs on their development to decide whether they’re a solid match to connect with for references. You can even make another rundown inside your showcasing robotization and CRM device assigned for the leads got from client references and contextual analyses. This will empower you to send them dynamic and customized content that centers around their necessities and in the end changes them over to clients.

2. Make New Content

Making substance ought to consistently be a piece of your showcasing plan. Yet, with regards to multiplying down on specific endeavors, it’s brilliant to take a gander at the substance you’re making and change it dependent on your new objectives. Also, there’s no better strategy at connecting new leads and sustaining them towards a transformation than excellent substance.

Adjust your deals and promoting endeavors so your advertising group can make content that tends to your crowd’s huge difficulties, problem areas, and interests. At that point, utilize that content in deals discussions and email outreach, including both individual effort and trickle crusades or other sustain procedures. Presently is additionally an opportunity to bring online media further into the crease, utilizing it not similarly as a spot to associate with more leads however as a stage for putting your substance to additional utilization (more on that later).

3. Make Gated Assets

Gated resources can be massively powerful at assisting you with producing leads. Once more, look to the two deals and showcasing to adjust this substance to your bigger objectives. Additionally inspect well-performing content that you as of now have that may work well for as a gated piece or as motivation for comparable substance.

For the most accomplishment with your gated resources, ensure they offer something of remarkable worth that your crowd won’t have the option to discover somewhere else. A few models incorporate unique detailing, top to bottom how-to guides, digital books, just as thorough, research-driven profound plunges into the points that issue most to your client base.

Basically adding these gated resources for your site isn’t sufficient. Without a doubt, they’ll create a few leads all alone, yet it won’t be numerous except if you make it clear to your crowd where they can get to them. You need to bring these resources into your web-based media technique with devoted and insightful social presents on your organizations. It’s additionally savvy to have online classes that advance them and collaborate with different brands on these online courses to take advantage of their organization. Ensure you additionally put some paid promotion behind your most basic gated resources for create whatever number new leads as could reasonably be expected.

4. Update Your Social Media Strategy

Searching for an extraordinary method to project a more extensive net and get more leads? Go to online media. Your social channels present an immense scene that is loaded up with imminent customers — you simply need to try to put it to utilize.

Investigate your present online media procedure and ensure you consolidate fundamental lead-producing content from your webpage. As referenced in the past point, share gated content on your social pages routinely, just as connections for setting up demos or potentially booking a call with you to study your item or administration contributions. The more lines you cast, the more nibbles you’re probably going to have.

Try not to be hesitant to get innovative, all things considered. Energize commitment by utilizing hashtags and by labeling different brands with comparable crowds. Ensure you likewise follow the correct brands and accounts and associate with their substance through remarks or reshares. By making your image known on the pages of different records, you can get them to share your substance, just as placed your image before their adherents.

5. Get Links Back to Your Site

Getting joins back to your site is definitely not an upbeat mishap. Truly, brands will connect to your substance in their articles in case you’re making convincing, detail driven pieces. However, that doesn’t mean you actually shouldn’t utilize certain strategies to get more connections back to your substance.

Tap into the distributions and online journals that your crowd peruses, at that point contact them to check whether you would be able to contribute unique substance. What’s fundamental here is to pitch them excellent, extraordinary substance that you realize their crowd will discover helpful. When you stretch their go-beyond, ensure you incorporate in any event one connection back to your website, ideally a material blog entry. This will make a path for new prompts pursue your messages as well as see what else you’re about.

Related to these endeavors, watch out for promising circumstances for your substance to be remembered for articles different brands are making. Pursue different pamphlets and routinely check distribution destinations, following articles that relate here and there to content you’ve made. At that point, contact these locales to check whether they’d be happy to incorporate a connect to your substance, clarifying why your substance will help increment the piece’s worth.

6. Use Videos

Individuals love recordings. Truth be told, over portion of customers will connect with a brand in the wake of survey one of their recordings. In the event that you don’t have video content remembering for your showcasing methodology, it’s an ideal opportunity to begin investigating it.

Start by making advertising or instructional exercise recordings that give prospects a more inside and out perspective on your organization, your administration offering, as well as your item. Make these recordings effectively open on your site and offer them to make commitment and interest. Keep the tone light however useful, and adhere to some essential standards to make them as drawing in as could really be expected — including brilliant tones, eye to eye connection with the camera (in the event that you’ll have anybody on camera), and subtitles to make your video available to individuals with hearing debilitations.

There is video programming out there that even amateurs can use to make and alter wonderful, excellent video content. You don’t need to be a specialist to consolidate this methodology, be that as it may, if your group is little and you have the promoting dollars, you can generally investigate re-appropriating these endeavors, as well.

Try not to stall out with a not exactly energizing inbound channel. Keep the leads coming in so you can think back on 2021 as quite possibly the best a long time for your independent company. There will consistently be better approaches to discover new leads, however the tips above will help guarantee you’re beginning the correct way.