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The Sales Technology Stack Revealed - Part 1

The Sales Technology Stack

We are living in the golden age of technology for sales teams.  There are thousands of web-based software applications available to help source and close more deals.  The goal of this article is to provide an overview of the current “Sales Technology Stack” showcasing the types of tools that match with the buying process. There’s much to cover so this will be a three part series in the coming weeks.

The Stack

What is a stack? Well it’s a term used by engineers to describe the layers of underlining components used for a software application. I’m going to be applying this term to the world of sales technology allowing us to view technology as it relates to the buying process.

And now without further delay, the Sales Technology Stack:

Let’s dive in to the top layer:

Prospecting Tools

In a traditional B2B company, Sales is (usually) connected to a Marketing team that helps to provide leads to the Sales team that Marketing would categorize as “warm” and ready for sales to close. This term is also known as a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). Those types of leads are generated by many sources such as paid media (PPC, CPL, display ads, retargeting), webinars, content, blog posts, events, tradeshows, contact requests, etc. In addition to working on MQLs, Sales reps can also fill their own lead pipeline by self-sourcing leads, known as prospecting.

This brings us to our first sales technology, the prospecting tools. The goal of prospecting is to find contact details for a potential customer for your company’s product so that a sales rep can cold email or call. Here’s the general technology areas for Prospecting Tools:

  • Export contact details from social networks - These tools connect to social network via Application Programming Interface and extract user profile information out such as first name, last name, email, phone number, country, job role, industry, etc. These tools may also allow you to target specific people by demographic. This is used as a self-service for a sales rep.
  • Export contact details from a vendor database - As opposed to self-service extraction from a social network, you can export contract data out of a curated database of contacts. This model is predicated on the vendor keeping the database up to date.
  • Reverse email lookup - This technology attempts to determine the email address of a prospect by taking in first name, last name and the domain of the company. The tool then generates combinations of a potential email address, for example, and tests it for deliverability usually via the SMTP protocol. If the mail server accepts a connection by that address combination, then the tool will confirm that the email address exists. In addition to the SMTP verification method, some tools also check registrations for social networks to also confirm that the email address is real.
  • Reverse IP address lookup - These tools attempt to infer the company that has visited your website by reverse lookup on the IP address of the visitor.  It works by adding a piece of javascript code to the bottom of each page on your website. From there each time someone visits your website, the javascript code fires and transfers the IP address information back to a vendor’s software. The software then uses a large database to match known IP addresses against a company. Now that the company is known, some tools also attach the links to the employee’s social profiles for export.

As you can see, the upper part of the sales technology "stack" is mainly focused on capturing contact level data - either out of social networks or from a database. These can be extremely effective methods to source leads for a sales rep because specific people can be targeted by firmographic information and it's a fully self-service model.

Activity Tracking

Once you have the contact information and you begin to email a prospected cold lead or a warm lead from marketing, the next area of focus is to be able to track the activity and engagement of your efforts. We call this the activity tracking part of the sales technology stack.

  • Email Tracking - Wouldn’t it be a great if you could know that a sent email has been opened? Or how about if the person clicked on a link in an email, or better yet the specific link that was clicked on? Well dream no more - this technology already exists and it is pretty awesome. Email tracking tools integrate into your email platform via a browser extension and install a “tracking pixel” inside of every email that you send. This tracking pixel allows you to know when an email is opened or when a link is clicked. It also allows you get an instant, real-time notification when either of those events occur keeping you up to date on what’s going on. 
  • Content Engagement - Say you have a piece of marketing material you want to send to a prospect. Traditionally, a PDF would be attached to an email and sent over. Simply sending a PDF brings up a lot of questions for a sales rep - Did he open it? Did he read it? How long did he spend reading it? Did he stay on one section in particular? And the answer to these questions is usually “I have no idea.” Now instead of sending a PDF you could use a Content Engagement tool to send a link to the material. If the prospect clicks into the link, you would then have the ability to see all the analytics associated with their interaction. This tool is useful because it provides in real-time, all the data behind how a prospect is engaging with the content. Maybe they are reading the security section of your content more than any other section - you now can use that piece of information to message and sell on. It gives a sales rep the ability to have insight that would normally be unknown regarding content engagement.

These tools have a powerful role to play in the sales technology stack because it gives insight into behavior and engagement. Those pieces of valuable information can help to better inform a sales rep of a prospect’s activity in order to sell more effectively.

This concludes our first installment of the Sales Technology Stack blog series. As mentioned, there is much more to cover, so check back in next week to as we dive into Customer Relationship Management tools.

Also check out LinkSquares, a sales acceleration technology that we’re building for sales team to close deals faster and sign up for updates.

Vishal Sunak is the co-founder and CEO of LinkSquares.