Published: August 7, 2017
The old ways of doing things — such as cold-calling and regular in-person rounds of meetings — no longer work in a business environment in which most customers and businesses make their purchasing decisions online, well before an initial contact by a salesperson.
Sales apps provide the crucial edge: They help track prospects, provide data along the way, enable connections, add efficiencies and improve the likelihood of closing a deal. At least that's the promise.
So, what are the best apps for salespeople? What are key mobile sales apps, the best sales tracking app, the best sales apps for Android or IOS?
Before we get into specifics, let's look at how businesses are using sales apps and technology in 2017.
Sales tech and you
LinkedIn's State of Sales 2017 report* provides strong evidence that companies are continuing to spend on technology:
- Use of sales tech is accelerating. From professional social networking platforms to customer relationship management (or CRM) and productivity apps, sales teams are increasing their spending year over year on new technology.
- Social tech is rising dramatically. Over the years, the leveraging of social networks has grown from a little-known tactic to an approach embraced by a majority of sales professionals. While it is being used regularly today and has proven instrumental in helping top sales people exceed their targets, indications suggest that it will be used even more frequently in the future.
- Technology builds trust, the crucial ingredient in the sales process. Good relationships are the cornerstone of a successful sale. Compared to economic considerations — such as price or the return on investment — trust comes out as the most important factor when closing a deal.
More than 91 percent of sales professionals said that they used technology to shorten lengthy sales cycles, close bigger deals and grow their revenue in 2017. Only 9 percent reported that they used no sales technology.
Looking ahead, 55 percent of all sales professionals surveyed said that they expect their companies will increase technology investments in 2017, an increase from 36 percent over 2016.
The result is even higher among top sales people, or those who exceeded their projected target revenue by more than 25 percent. About 73 percent said they will increase tech investments.
About 90 percent of sales professionals report that sales technology is either “important” or “very important” for closing deals.
Why is sales technology so important?
Respondents said it is the insights that technology can provide into their prospects that make the biggest difference. By leveraging professional and social networks, sales people can gain a clearer understanding of customers and their needs.
Top performing sales people are more likely to use a multilayered, technology-first approach that leverages sales intelligence tools for deep research, CRM to manage relationships, and enterprise communication tools to work across their teams:
- Sales tools are used by nearly all top sales professionals: 98 percent of top sales people report using sales technology on the job.
- The type of sales role influences which tools they use. Inside sales account executives are particularly tech savvy. About 46 percent said they use CRM tools. Forty percent said they use productivity apps.
- Lead-generating sales professionals are among the biggest tech users: 60 percent of sales professionals whose job is generating new accounts report using collaboration tools.
- And 50 percent of sales people who are focused on managing and growing accounts said they use collaboration tools to maintain and nurture relationships.
The digital sales stack
The digital sales stack has become just as essential to sales as the time-honored handshake.
The technology sales stack has three primary layers:
- Professional and social networking platforms, which offer crucial insights and build engagement (e.g., LinkedIn and Facebook)
- CRM tools, which build stronger and more productive relationships (e.g., Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics)
- Communication and collaboration tools, which facilitate work between large teams (e.g., email, Dropbox and Google Drive)
Seven apps for highly effective B2B sales people
- Account Research: Market Mapper. Broadlook's app is a company list generation solution. It uses SIC codes and enables you to build your own targeted sales and marketing list within any niche. Once you build a list, you own it.
- Lead Research: Capture. RingLead’s Capture tool automates prospect research and eliminates the need to manually collect, organize and input customer data into your CRM.
- Salesforce Tracking: SalesLoft. This app is marketed as a platform for sales engagement. It lets your sales team personalize sales communication; connect, qualify and convert target accounts into customer accounts; tap into the "sales engagement cloud, " an open and flexible technology ecosystem with your favorite workflow and data providers; and create data to drive decision-making.
- Proposals: Tinderbox. Tinderbox stores and organizes your notes, plans and ideas and can help you analyze and understand them over the coming months and years. You build Tinderbox documents that help organize themselves and that keep your data clean.
- Email Outreach: SalesLoft.
- Social Selling: Rapportive. Kosturos said that LinkedIn's own Rapportive app is responsible for growing his LinkedIn network to more than 5,000 connections.
- Scheduling Meetings: ScheduleOnce. ScheduleOnce is a field-proven solution for powering online scheduling with your customers and prospects.
Five sales functions that can be streamlined with sales apps.
Here are five sales-related functions for which sales apps can make life easier, as recommended by LinkedIn for B2B marketers.
- Social media management: Hootsuite Mobile lets you take full control of your social presence from anywhere. You can schedule posts, track their performance and create custom searches to cut down on scrolling through feeds, all from your pocket.
- Collaboration and Online Meeting: It is now the norm for marketing and cross functional teams to span many countries and regions, with different time zones and technology that complicate coordinating meetings. Collaboration tools such as BlueJeans, iMeet and WebEx enable you to overcome such issues with video conferencing and file sharing from almost anywhere. Check out this excellent video on mobility from BlueJeans.
- File Sharing: The value of file-sharing services increases when you can access them through a mobile as well as a desktop machine. Apps such as Box, Dropbox and Google Drive let you do both. You can access, edit and share files from the palm of your hand.
- Analytics: Google Analytics for iPhone and Android has become an important part of the vocabulary in marketing conversations. Having instant access to the numbers you need on your phone is a huge help.
- Connecting on LinkedIn: Your LinkedIn feed gives you access to the world’s largest source of professional content wherever and whenever you need it.
Social media sales apps
Here are a few social selling apps you can use to increase your sales productivity, according to a recent LinkedIn blog post.
Evernote: Have a good idea you want to remember? Did you find an interesting article you’ll want to reference later? Don’t chance losing it. Instead, remember it forever with Evernote. Many sales pros use the popular note-taking app to ensure they have all the information they need, exactly when they need it. If you’re haven’t used Evernote yet, here’s a good primer for using Evernote to organize your workflow.
Clearslide: Clearslide helps sales teams engage more customers and close more business. How? Clearslide helps you improve your web, email and face-to-face customer interactions by providing both sellers and managers with real-time visibility and analytics. Not only do you get a full suite of presentation tools, you also get the valuable data that explains when and how prospects are interacting with your communications and content.
Even more sales apps
Several sites have done roundups of the best and most useful sales apps. We'll run down a few of the lists.
"The following mobile sales apps put the portability in sales intelligence, putting the data, evidence and social proof at your sales reps’ fingertips that they need to transition prospects through the buying process with ease. Whether you’re looking for a mobile solution that makes CRM data easily accessible, a robust solution for delivering presentations on the road, a sales tracker tool, or an app to process orders with a whole host of third-party vendors on the fly, there’s an app on this list that’s a perfect match for your requirements."
"This list includes apps that are available for both platforms [iPhone and Android]."
"Combine over 3,000 apps in the AppExchange inventory, with seven [frequent] sales challenges, and you’ve got a math equation that only some of the most app-savvy Salesforce customers can solve. The good news is you don’t need to be a mathematical genius to whiteboard this answer, because we’ve got the results right here, plus even more in the new guide, Sales Apps as Reviewed by Our Customers."
"The days of lugging around a laptop to every meeting are diminishing, and we have the rise of business apps to thank for that. Here are my Top Ten Sales Apps that I use on a regular basis."
"Sales reps are increasingly finding the iPad very useful in their work. This is quite easy to figure out: the iPad has some of the best apps for sales people. These include document processors, payment processors, catalog apps, CRMs and much much more."
A note about generational differences in technology usage
LinkedIn's State of Sales 2017 report found differences among baby boomers, generation X and millennials when it comes to adoption and use of sales tech.
- Collaboration tools such as Box, Google Docs, Microsoft Office and Dropbox are now used by 59 pecent of millennials, compared to just 40 percent of baby boomers.
- Not suprisingly, younger sales professionals champion productivity apps at much higher rate than their older counterparts. Tools such as Asana, Smartsheet and Trello are more frequently used by millennials (40 percent use them), compared to 24 percent of generation X and a paltry 17 percent of baby boomers.
- Similarly, 39 percent of millennials use enterprise communication tools, such as Salesforce, Chatter and Slack. By contrast, only 15 percent of baby boomers use these tools to talk internally with colleagues.
- On the client side, millennial decision makers turn to social media more readily than their older colleagues.
- 62 percent of millennials regularly look up sales professionals on social media, compared to 54 percent of generation X and 31 percent of baby boomers.
- Additionally, 69 percent of millennials are more likely to speak with a sales professional who has a professional social media presence, compared to 58 percent of generation X and 33 percent of baby boomers.
The lesson: If you want to engage the younger customer, you'd better become familiar with the tech they're using or find yourself out of the game.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn offers its own proprietary sales app called the LinkedIn Sales Navigator:
- Target the right buyers and companies. Find the right people quickly with LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Easily save leads and create a sales lead list to focus on buyers that matter. This sales tool also features a sophisticated algorithm to give you lead recommendations that are tailored to you.
- Understand what buyers value. Get sales insights for more effective selling. LinkedIn Sales Navigator has the tools to help you stay informed and up to date on contacts and accounts. Be in the know with timely and accurate information to turn cold calling into warm conversations. Research buyers wherever you work.
- Engage buyers with personalized outreach. Sales is all about building relationships. Designed for sales professionals, this sales tool helps you build trust even before the initial conversation. Maintain a professional, trusted brand and engage with confidence by leveraging your and your company’s networks. Understand buyer intent and follow up effectively.
*LinkedIn's State of Sales 2017 report is based on research by CensusWide, a global research field work and consultancy company. CensusWide conducted two online surveys between April 13 and 28. The first sampled 1,086 professionals from the U.S. who primarily work in B2B sales. The second sampled 1,015 business decision makers from the U.S. who have influence over purchasing decisions. Both samples comprised respondents older than 21 who were employed at companies of different sizes and functions.
More from around the web:
- 48 Best Mobile Sales Apps to Track & Manage Sales Operations - Docurated
- 28 Apps Every Sales Rep Needs on Their Phone in 2017 - HubSpot
- 7 Must-Have Apps for Salespeople - Inc.
- Ten Apps To Help You Sell Better This Year And Beyond - Forbes
- 8 Mobile Sales Apps Every B2B Sales Rep Should Download - Apttus