With advances in martech, we saw B2B sales experts embrace a combination of old and new strategies to propel their companies forward with their own martech stacks.
While email continues to be the top choice for lead nurture and customer onboarding, emergent communication channels and media formats are slowly changing the game.
Video, for instance, went from being a useful part of a strategy to a central one, and improved access to AI and machine learning has altered the way businesses gather customer data and deploy it for sales.
A newer and more focused emphasis on customer engagement is also reshaping the way companies interact with their clients, as sales, marketing, and customer success continue to merge. This increased focus on longer-term, customer-centric sales relationships means that many B2B firms will need to change their marketing and lead generation strategies.
Even so, for companies looking to scale in the coming year, help is always a click away. Here are my picks for the top five B2B sales tools that every product-based company should have in their sights if they are looking to grow in 2019 and beyond.
1. Create a nerve center for all interactions with HubSpot’s CRM
HubSpot is already one of the most respected software providers in B2B marketing and sales, and its CRM continues to push that reputation forward. The platform, which you can use for free, includes a variety of standard features – contact management, email templates, document libraries, email client integrations – but adds important premium tools like live chat, AI bots, and traffic tracking for all registered leads.
This past year, we’ve seen an increasing focus on consolidating services, with CRM becoming a central hub for a variety of other services.
Moreover, automation is becoming a standard for many industries. Improvements in AI over the past few years will translate into better bots, improved analytics, and more precise monitoring of a variety of customer-based stats.
HubSpot’s tools already include many of these solutions, and its flexibility with regards to integration means companies can mold it to fit their unique needs. By employing an integrated CRM such as HubSpot’s, companies can still take advantage of advanced and powerful features.
2. Gain an edge in any conversation with Gong.io
Despite the many channels marketers use to nurture leads, at some point, in order to close a deal, your sales team probably still pitch with their voices. Be it over the phone or on a virtual meeting, having the right strategy to guide a conversation can make the difference between a sale and a lost lead. Gong.io recognizes the issue and focus on providing conversation intelligence tools that optimize the process.
In an age where engagement is becoming the central concern for most marketers, personalization is a must-have for any positive conversation. Moreover, understanding these conversations and how they go right (or wrong) is vital. Gong.io uses AI to analyze conversation histories to find important trends, keywords, mentions, and more to identify the patterns that matter.
What are your reps talking about when people pay the most and least attention?
Insights like these can help spread best practices company-wide by codifying them and showing tangible proof of effectiveness. By raising the level of sales and marketing, Gong.io can help you constantly upgrade your funnel.
3. Add self-service to your sales funnel with BigCommerce
Self-service B2B purchasing is a hot trend heading toward the end of the decade. According to one recent study, 75% of buyers find self-service convenient, while 67% actually prefer self-service over speaking with someone. Even if your prospects enjoy the human touch to close an initial order, they may still prefer an eCommerce experience for reorders.
Today’s sophisticated content personalization engines allow companies to segment audiences and surface individual experiences for each site visitor, optimizing the offers and reducing the need for human interaction at any point.
BigCommerce’s eCommerce platform helps businesses quickly build web-based sales solutions and provides administration tools to cover much of the back-office management. These include automated customer segmentation, content personalization and B2B-specific payment options like card-on-file transactions and settings for net payment terms. Additionally, it simplifies the process of bulk ordering and custom quotes, as well as dynamic shipping rates. With the platform’s set of APIs and new WordPress plugin, you can easily integrate its commerce engine into your existing site.
Adding a self-service option to your multi-channel sales strategy can boost your company’s growth by offering an easy way for customers to make purchases. BigCommerce lets businesses scale by allowing for a significant upgrade in sales volume with minimal overhead increases.
4. Personalize and automate cold email outreach with MailShake
Every year, experts tout the end of email’s dominance, and every year they’re proven wrong. Despite the consistent doomsaying, email remains on top when it comes to B2B initial outreach. Nearly 78% of marketers still use emails as the main communication strategy.
MailShake is designed to help companies optimize their email campaigns at the top of the funnel and improve cold email outreach. The company’s platform includes pre-written outreach messages, as well as personalized email generation. Sales teams can schedule follow-up based on customer triggers, include different users in campaigns, and even keep track of replies to see how each nurture flow is performing.
Adding a valuable cold outreach mechanism that can actively monitor success and adapt is vital to B2B sales. Finding new leads is already difficult, so including a proven channel that can automate the complex process of introductions and first impressions can help provide a wider pool of high-value leads to convert to sales.
5. Offer on-demand demos and webinars with ClickMeeting
Webinars are increasingly vital to most B2B companies’ strategies, due to their broad reach and effectiveness in nurturing and converting leads.
ClickMeeting, one of the top webinar solutions on the market, already offers an intriguing array of webinar tools and has been rapidly rolling out several new features. Namely, the company’s new evergreen, on-demand presentations and live simul-streaming to YouTube and Facebook are especially powerful for businesses looking to expand the reach of their nurture programs.
More and more, on-demand webinars are becoming a popular way for customers to approach a new company. One recent study shows that nearly 35% of audience members attend webinar replays exclusively, while engagement continues to grow for both live and on-demand webinars alike.
However, people prefer live video to recorded – a Facebook study found that people spend as much as three times more watching live videos, especially on social media. ClickMeeting’s platform is a solid option for sales teams seeking to cast a wider net for new leads with minimal effort.
Scaling up for the road ahead
What B2B sales tools, tips, and tactics are you counting on to take your B2B sales to the next level? If you aren’t sure where to start, the above list should at least get you thinking.
Guest author: Rohan is an experienced digital marketer who has worked both agency and in-house, developing data-driven strategies for SEO, PPC, social media and content marketing. He is also an avid business and tech blogger; his insights are frequently published in publications like Fast Company, Fortune, and Adweek.