Account Governance — Tools

This is part 8 of an 8 part series on Account Governance

Tools, the heart of any professionals craft. Sales tools are no different.

What I like about sales tools is they provide insight into sales people. With few exceptions, specific tools are not required or mandated. Different sales people, find and use the tools that best work for them. The one tool traditionally required by most organizations is CRM. I posted about my thoughts on this subject a while back. Because they are mandated I’m not going to spend much time on CRM other than to list a few.

I am currently evaluating CRM’s. A couple that I like and am looking at include:

Landslide
Sugar CRM
Salesforce.com

When it comes to CRM, the single most important aspect is, it must be in the cloud. I see no value whatsoever in deploying a server based application.

Beyond CRM, there are a myriad of sales support tools available to sales people. Bill Rice of Better Closer had a great post up the other day called Sales Stack, that talked about tools. I’m going to use his term Sales Stack. I think it’s a good one.

A “Sales Stack” is the integration of the sales tools sales people use to be more effective at selling. Want to determine how good a sales person is, ask about the selling tools they use. The best use them, the not so good don’t.

The most important aspect of selling is information, information about your clients, your accounts, the competition, the industry, your relationships, the market and more. To find this information, to manage it, to get a competitive edge, the best sales people build unique processes leveraging different tools.

Today we have Sales 2.0. Sales 2.0 provides a slew of new tools and ways for us to engage, communicate, and get information. Information is a commodity now. Our customers and accounts have easy access to as much as we do. We can’t assume we know more than our customers or competition. We can’t wait on information. We can’t expect to ask our customer to give it to us. The days of getting with a customer to get information are over. Customers don’t have the time or the patience to be our research tool.

Beyond getting information, today’s environment requires we engage and connect to do business. It’s not good enough to be static.

Today’s effective “Sales Stack” must provide robust information about your customers and clients in a timely manner. It must allow you to find new customers and contacts. It needs to get you access to the people that can drive your business. It need must allow you to get better use out of the information. It needs to put you in the center of your industry. An effective sales stack will make the difference.

Here are some of the tools that are part of my Sales Stack.

Gist
LinkedIn
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google Reader
NetNewsWire
Google
JigSaw

If you know of any you want to add to the list, do so in the comments. I don’t think there can be too many.

The key with sales tools, is they are enablers. The are additive to the day to day selling and account management requirements. They are enhancements to the entire account governance model.

There are more tools available to sales people and account managers than anytime in the history of sales. This is just in time, because the need for good robust tools to augment selling and account management has never been greater.

Sales can happen without sales tools or a good sales stack. It’s just ugly.

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This was the final post in the 8 part Account Governance Series. I hope you found it valuable and beneficial. It was my first series. If you have suggestions for future topics or series let me know. I’m all over it.

If you missed any of the posts or just want to go back to review, here are the posts in order:

Account Governance — Part 1
Account Governance — Vision
Account Governance — Account Plans
Account Governance — Relationships
Account Governance — Cadence
Account Governance — Strategy
Account Governance — Reporting
Account Governance — Tools

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Keenan