“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important,” wrote Steven Covey in his business/self-help book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

SiriusDecisions wrote a great article that explains how sales professionals should apply Covey’s four-quadrant approach to increase productivity. The article is titled, Where does time go for your reps?

Sales reps spend an average of 30% of their time on core selling activities. The key to improving sales productivity is to reduce the time spent on non-core activities by minimizing and delegating. At the same time, you’ll want to streamline the internal core selling activities (research, proposals) so you can maximize the external core selling activities (prospecting, sales calls).

Source: SiriusDecisions

Source: SiriusDecisions


My post today, is focused on internal core selling activities, which is the top left quadrant called “Streamline.” Activities that you should streamline are core to selling even though they’re non-client facing. Lead/contact/account research, pre-call planning, proposal writing, responding to a request for proposals, finding/creating sales content, opportunity strategy, account planning, all fit into the category of activities that should be streamlined.

What follows are 7 apps for streamlining core selling activities.

1. Account Research (Ideal Customer Profile)

“The high art of getting your best buyers. This is the fastest, least expensive way for you to dramatically increase sales. The following strategy has probably helped more companies double their sales faster than any other concept. In a single sentence, there’s always a smaller number of best buyers than there are all buyers. That means that marketing and selling to them is cheaper than marketing and selling to all buyers.” Chet Holmes

Best buyers buy more, buy faster, and buy more often than other buyers. These are your ideal clients. No matter what else your reps do, they should expend the most effort on ideal clients. Don’t let your sales team flounder because they prospect to whoever they want. Every salesperson should know exactly what types of companies and personas they should be calling on.

To identify your ideal customer profile, start by running these Salesforce Account Reports (90 days, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years):

  • Accounts who make the largest transactions
  • Accounts with the highest lifetime value
  • Accounts that buy most often
  • Accounts with the least number of activities from MQL to SQL
  • Accounts with the least number of activities from SQL to Close
  • Accounts with the least number of support cases
  • Accounts with the fastest velocity from Inquiry to MQL
  • Accounts with the fastest velocity from MQL to SQL
  • Accounts with the fastest velocity from SQL to Close Won
  • Accounts with lowest lead acquisition costs

Then filter each of the 10 reports to display Accounts in the top 20 percentile. Find Account trends by adding the below fields to your reports:

  • Geography (State, Country, Zip)
  • Company Size
  • # of locations
  • Annual Revenue
  • Industry + SIC & Duns
  • Other characteristics important to your business
  • Website keywords
  • Technologies used

Build a heat map of all the trends to identify your top three to five customer segments. Then use a tool like Market Mapper to build a list of all the companies that match your Ideal Account Profile. Master this, and you will see breathtaking growth in your revenue. The fastest way to grow any company is to focus a special and dedicated effort on your dream clients.

2. Lead & Contact Research (Ideal Persona Profile)

Similar to finding your ideal Account profile, finding your ideal Lead & Contact personas starts with research. Run reports on your top Accounts to identify consistent contact roles (job titles). Most B2B sales have 4-5 decision makers. Try to identify what stage each contact role typically engages. This information should be driven into the sales team so they know exactly who to target/research and when.

Tools like data.com and ZoomInfo are databases with millions of contacts—but it’s hard for those databases to stay up to date. Contact information typically decays at a rate of 5% per month when it’s warehoused. LinkedIn and other public web resources have become the best sources for fresh Lead & Contact data. The only problem with web sources is that it’s a pain to copy & paste and cross reference multiple sources for accurate contact information.

Capture is a must have tool for any salesperson. It allows users to parse contact data off any web page (LinkedIn, Company Websites, Spreadsheets, Directories, Etc.). It also fills in missing contact, social, and company data with the click of a button. Lastly, Capture connects to most of the top CRM and Marketing Automation systems. This tools saves a ton of time and I wouldn’t want to work in sales without it. There is a fremium version available.

Profiler is a must have tool for sales ops teams. It runs a full web crawl on any company. Starting with the website, then heading out to the open web. Profiler aggregates all the people associated with the business in real time. This tool is amazing because it always supplies the freshest contact lists you can buy. There is no data decay because the tool runs on demand. This is a great tool for building large target lead lists quickly.

3. Tracking Activities in Salesforce

If your reps aren’t auto syncing phone calls, emails, and events in Salesforce it’s a major problem. Manually logging activities takes forever and not logging activities destroys analytics. Cirrus Insight is the app I use for logging emails, tracking opens, updating opportunities, sending mail merges, and syncing google docs with Salesforce. It’s one of the apps, along with Capture and ScheduleOnce, that I would not be able to live without.

Logging phone calls to Salesforce can be accomplished with a few different apps. I’ve been using 8×8 for many years and would highly recommend their service. My reps like their click to dial feature. It can also be paired with dialer apps like SalesLoft & InsideSales.

4. Proposals and Quotes

There’s nothing worse than seeing a sales rep lose valuable selling time crafting a quote, agreement, or proposal—manually. TinderBox makes it a breeze to put together a good looking quote with information feeding from Salesforce. It also tracks who is viewing, and alerts reps when someone is engaging with their proposal. This tool is a total game changer. Lastly, Tinderbox allows you to use its digital signature or integrate other platforms like Adobe Sign (formerly EchoSign). You’ve gotta give these tools a try.

5. Email, Call, and Social Cadences

In my view, SalesLoft is the clear leader in this space. They incorporate email, social, and phone calls into a single cadence platform for sales reps. The tool allows reps to drop target Leads and Contact lists into workflows that send multiple emails over a period of time. It also drops phone call and social media alerts into the cadences. Talk about sales productivity… Instead of connecting to 20-30 prospects per day, salespeople can effectively communicate with hundreds.

6. Social Media Lookup Tools

Rapportive, Capture, and Clearbit are all no brainers. They all have freemium packages and make it easy for you to find someone’s social media profile. Salespeople need to be leveraging multiple communication channels to be as effective as possible. Rapportive is responsible for growing my LinkedIn network to 5000+ connections.

7. Scheduling Meetings

One of my favorite sales apps is ScheduleOnce. I can’t even begin to explain how much time this app saves my team. It also reduces the number of prospects that disappear after requesting a meeting. Going back and forth with a prospect to find a good meeting time is annoying for both parties. ScheduleOnce allows me to embed a link in an email and other communication channels that prospects can use to schedule a meeting with me. The app integrates with GoToMeeting, automatically scheduling the meeting logistics. It also gives me the option to include my colleague’s availability. I set up multiple, customized links to display different availability and options.

I’ve spent the last eight years trying to find the perfect sales stack for highly effective selling. I’ve used Salesforce as a BDR, SDR, AE, Manager, and executive. Hopefully this blog will help you and or your team to streamline internal core selling activities so they can spend more time engaging with prospects. Feel free to leave me some feedback in the comments section.

John kosturos


Today’s post is by guest author, John Kosturos, Chief Revenue Officer for RingLead, an end-to-end suite of products to clean, protect and enhance company and contact information.