This post is a response to the question “What are the best sales tools for inside sales?” over on Quora.
Good question. Inside Sales is so tools driven that you may actually want a list like this. I’ll write this as I go through my day with Indendent Sales Consultants both signing up customers and talking to partners and other Independent Sales Professionals. This answer is work in progress and more content will be added as I work through it.
Always wanted to make a list like this. Now I’ll go ahead and make it. This is meant as a full list of everything I wouldn’t miss as a Sales Professional.The day starts as I switch on my smartphone. It is really a mini office, bringing me in touch with nearly all aspects of doing my business: phone, email, social networks, CRM, news, instant messaging, VoIP services, contacts, notes, tasks, calendar, presentation tools, training material, proposals – and the list goes on.Once in the office I switch on my laptop. It’s probably the most important tool of all. It connects me to everything I need and allows me to run a bunch of the other tools I’ll list below.Most of the apps and tools I use are browser based. Therefore the browser is important. I prefer the Chrome Browser, but others will have different preferences. Firefox often comes up… It needs to be solid with tabs as you don’t want to be flicking through a bunch of windows to find what you were doing.In that browser i go over my social networks to check pending interaction. Note that I do this before checking my email. Different social networks may work for you depending on country or industry, but I use the following:
- LinkedIn – for real business networking (absolutely hard requirement for sales – you HAVE to be here!)
- Twitter – for more casual dialogue and perceptions around what’s going on right now
- Quora – for knowledge sharing, understanding the World, authority management, and networking
- Facebook – for me: expecting/waiting for Facebook becoming a business networking tool, building a network now.
- Google+ – see my reason for working with Facebook.
I work with a few social networks simply because I expect they will become players for business networking in the future. Networks are like opportunities: You need to build them before you need them. Too often I’ve seen people need a network, but having no structured way around working with networking they lost networking opportunity. Be structural and consistent in your networking – it will be one of your biggest strengths in sales.
Once social networks have been checked I’ll open the CRM system of choice. I work on contract, so I work with whatever my client prefers. My own preference is Salesforce.com, but I also have good experience with Zoho CRM and especially Pipedrive.
I’ll also get email going. As with everything else I prefer cloud based email. I have Outlook 2010 – never use it, and will always log on to Email from Google to make use of productivity and tracking tools I have installed in my browser – another benefit of working with Google Chrome.
If you prefer, go ahead and use Outlook. It’s just that to a large extent that will tie you to not only your computer, but also to your operating system. If you use cloud-based email you can work in similar ways on most devices and operating systems, making you more flexible.
For additional information – whitepapers on any topic, guides on any topic, I use Google Drive and Dropbox. With the Samsung Galaxy S3 I had a two-year deal for 50GB of storage with Dropbox, so I use that a lot, and for simple documents I tend to use Google Drive.
Now, with everything locked and loaded it’s time to put the headset on and make some calls.
- Smartphone. I use a Samsung Galaxy S3, but other high-end phones running iOS or Android will do the job as well. I would personally stay away from Windows Phone 8 for now
- Laptop. You want a laptop because you want to be able to work from anywhere. Your laptop should be your entire office.Something light, thin, transportable with a anti-glare or matte screen. You’ll be wanting to work under all sorts of conditions and a glossy screen will not help you. Make sure it’s a fast machine as you want it to be able to carry the load of all you throw at it. There’s nothing worse than a laptop that’s part of the problem instead of part of the solution.I’d go with no more and no less than a 13″ screen, but find out what works for you for a full days work.
- Monitor: At your base you’ll want a nice, good quality, flat screen set at the right height. Always working with a laptop is bad for posture and your physique in general. You may think that this has nothing to do with Inside Sales, but Inside Sales is all about having energy. Energy to think fast, energy to sound energetic through the phone. Your physical environment is important. This makes the monitor important.
- Phone App. To make calls.
Headset: You want to keep your hands free. The best headset for me that’s also transportable is the Plantronics .Audio 400 DSP.
Social networks: Quora, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+.
Email: Gmail incl Chrome plugins such as ActiveInbox, Rapportive and Yesware.
CRM and opportunity management: Salesforce.com, Zoho CRM, Pipedrive
Cloud storage: Google Drive, Dropbox.