Working in sales is cool (again). Thanks to specialization and high-tech tools, reps are more efficient than ever.The modern sales rep looks nothing like yesterday’s used car salesman. Sales has become sexy. Possibly driven by rocket-ship technology companies selling complex products to large customers, ambitious business folks - young and old - are clamoring for quota-carrying seats.
A look at the Stanford Graduate School of Business employment reports shows this case in point: MBA grads have been ditching finance jobs for sales & marketing jobs since 2011.
The trend continues: The class of 2015 (not shown on this graph) saw 38% opt for sales & marketing internships, versus 34% in the summer of 2014.
The Sales Stack: Unbundling a Complex Process
The sales rep’s renaissance has coincided (and partially been driven by) the emergence of the “sales stack.” Recently coined by Max Altschuler, founder of Saleshacker.com, the sales stack is an intuitive way to visualize and segment your sales pipeline. The sales stack ties the sales pipeline to the technologies enabling the sales reps at each stage in the sales process.
Altschuler separates the sales funnel into five stages, which can be further broken down based on a company’s pipeline and processes. Here’s a sample funnel:
Powerful Tools for the Modern Sales Rep
Even in recent history, sales reps have relied on spreadsheets and clunky CRMs to organize and keep track of potential clients.
Says Altschuler, “salespeople are finally getting love from developers, and are becoming increasingly technical every day.” To take advantage of these emerging technologies, Altschuler suggests unbundling the sales funnel and finding the best combination of solutions to support the sales stack.
Here’s a list of some of the reigning and up-and-coming solutions in the space:
This list is by no means exhaustive, and no sales team should try using all these solutions at once. Sales teams should focus on implementing the pieces that move the needle most. Are there too few leads? Is it too difficult to prioritize them? Is the team challenged in engaging trial customers? Find the weak spots, and prioritize tools accordingly. Also, please note that some of these solutions straddle multiple stages of the funnel.
Finally, modern tools like these offer APIs and data exports/imports, so they can and should be tied together in one seamless sales process.
In another great example of “software eating the world,” we’re witnessing rapid strides forward in enabling the modern sales rep. This renaissance is drawing a lot of people into the profession. Though the tables may some day turn. The sales process is becomes more and more automated.
For a complete overview of these and other sales tools, check out this list of Sales Enablement Solutions, which include key metrics like total revenue, headcount, and web traffic rates.