This post originally appeared on the Focus.com Group, where InsideView regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology for sales organizations. [tweetmeme source= “insideview” only_single=false]

Sales professionals rely on many things to be successful, primarily the internal motivation to move a lead through the sales cycle using every available resource in order to provide value and close the deal. Technology plays a big part in that and it was an interesting string of responses to the question that brought this to my attention and create a post about this.

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by photographer padawan

Not all CRM applications are equal

One of the first things an inside sales team needs to be more effective in sales is a first class CRM in order to manage leads, contacts and accounts in a way that can be measured and can integrate with other divisions of the company like support and marketing. Salesforce.com is the CRM solution of choice for many companies but there are other solutions out there that can be customized in many of the same ways like Netsuite, SugarCRM and others. Before investing in any CRM solution you need to have a good idea of what you want the CRM to do. Because no company uses (or should use) the out of the box CRM configuration, you need to make sure that you know what data besides name, address, company name and other basic information that you want to collect. Spending the money and time to customize your CRM will pay big rewards as your company grows and in some cases will be the reason many companies are able to grow quickly.

This data will be used by your inside sales team to know as much as possible about the lead, contact or account they are working on. Salesforce.com also has a very extensive Appexchange marketplace where you can get additional functionality for your Salesforce CRM around everything from Sales Intelligence (where SalesView can be found), Project Management and Finance Administration where our friends from BigMachines has an application to configure, quote and generate proposals. Netsuite has a marketplace for these extended applications as well called SuiteApp.

You should take the time to evaluate your CRM options and make sure you find one that can be used with your existing business process or enhance it. I am a huge proponent of dashboards to get a view of revenue, pipeline and other sales related activities. I could write an entire post on the best practices for this but you need to make sure that your CRM solution can create these dashboards so you can see your company from a high level and be able to drill into details and deals.

Inside Sales Needs to Send Email

I’m not talking about Outlook but that will play a part in this. Your inside sales teams should be given some access to a marketing tool that they can use that sends customized communications to their leads and contacts. I highlight “customized“ because there is nothing a customer or prospect will hate more than getting an email from a sales rep that looks generic and not positioned to them as an individual. Make sure you can create a series of templates that can be customized for the sales team so they are not having to write the exact same email 50 times a day with minor variations. With most CRM solutions this is an option but again, this is something you should look into as you consider a new technology for your inside sales team.

Online Meeting Software

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Another must have for sales people is the ability to fire up a online meeting space. Sure there is more of a marketing and support need for these tools but I believe that sales people need this ability also. There are a few vendors out there like WebEx, Fuze Meeting and GoToMeeting that can give your inside sales people the ability to host a meeting and share their desktop with prospects and customers.

Enable Your Sales Team to be Successful

A company spends a lot of energy recruiting and building an inside sales team and as important as it is to hire effective sales people, you should invest in the best technology to make their jobs easier. This will give them the tools to engage with people on a more advanced level and also give management the ability to track the results of the sales team and make the process adjustments needed to drive even more revenue.

Leave a comment and let us know what other technologies you think an inside sales team should have at their disposal?

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