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5 digital sales enablement tools to boost productivity

Sales enablement tools and processes can help sales agents be more productive. Some items in the toolbox include live chat, email automation and digital asset management.

Today's sales professionals face a competitive environment and changing landscape in the ways that buyers make purchasing decisions. The internet provides buyers a venue to self-navigate the sales process, where potential customers research solutions to their problems, find vendor websites and do their initial education gathering.

Many SaaS companies are deploying self-service models for customers to purchase their products; however, it's also very likely that at some point customers will require human contact, and digital sales enablement tools can help agents streamline those interactions.

Sales enablement tools can help sales representatives quickly qualify prospects, decrease time to lead interaction and decrease time to close.

Here are the top five digital sales enablement tools and practices to help increase agent efficiency:

1. Live chat

Prospective buyers have a number of ways to digitally engage with businesses -- including form fills, social media and email -- and the latest addition to the digital ecosystem is live chat. Sometimes customers just want to ask a quick question without picking up the phone, and live chat provides a way to interact with businesses right through their websites.

Using a live chat prompt, customers can enter their question and are then routed to either a human agent or chatbot to initiate a conversation. This is known as reactive chat. Alternatively, sitting on a webpage for too long or leaving an item unattended in a shopping cart can trigger business rules to automatically initiate a chat between the business and customer, asking if the customer needs assistance. This is known as proactive chat. Some of the best live chat systems even enable prebuilt chatbots to initiate conversations to help qualify leads before sending customers to human sales agents.

Various studies show an increase in customer satisfaction with brands using live chat, as well as a significant increase in conversions and repeat buying behavior. Some live chat vendors include HubSpot LiveChat, Drift, Intercom and Acquire.io.

2. Digital asset management

Often when sales agents are ending a prospecting call, the potential customer might ask, "Could you send me over some materials to review, and we can follow up later?" While this question is often used as a deflecting tactic, representatives can use digital asset management (DAM) systems to better deliver the right content to the right user, as well as track the engagement with that content.

Sales enablement tools can help sales representatives quickly qualify prospects, decrease time to lead interaction and decrease time to close.

At one time, businesses used DAM systems primarily in marketing and creative departments, but today's tools can extend insight and functionality to sales agents. Using tagging, AI recommendations and tracking functionality, sales representatives can deliver individual or groups of content relevant to a buyer.

For example, if a business is a DAM software vendor, that company likely has resources to address the various stages of a buyer's journey. Content within the DAM platform may include a white papers such as, "Why a DAM system," "How to select the right DAM system" and even an assessment of "How a DAM system can help your sales team be more productive." Being able to readily access and deliver these assets to potential buyers then use reporting to track their engagement enables sales agents to be more informed and reactive when it is appropriate.

Some DAM industry leaders include Aprimo, Widen, Cloudinary and Bynder.

3. Email automation and tracking

Many digital sales enablement tools offer the ability to queue up an agent's next call, but the best also offer the ability to set up triggers that automatically queue, send and track emails. Businesses can automate emails by manually building out workflows to warm up prospects and get ready for qualification calls, but organizations can also use this with leads they are actively working through the pipeline.

The ability to track prospect engagement with automated emails is also crucial for sales representatives. For example, if a potential buyer opens an email a week after receiving it, the agent now has an opportunity to reach out to "touch base." The email recipient doesn't know this call is due to an action they took on their end, but it provides sales agents an opportunity to catch them while the business is at the forefront of the prospect's mind.

Some email automation and tracking programs include Outreach, Bloomfire, SalesLoft and Highspot.

4. Appointment scheduling

Nothing is a stronger buying signal than someone taking the time to reserve a time slot on a sales agent's calendar. Businesses that offer sales prospects the ability to schedule an appointment for a time that is convenient for them cuts down on back-and-forth emails, manually creating calendar invites and generating conference call bridges for remote face-to-face sessions or calls.

Many sales enablement vendors offer appointment scheduling software, including HubSpot. Other appointment-setting tools that sales agents can integrate into their calendars include Calendly, YouCanBook.me and Picktime.

5. Marketing and sales alignment

This last one isn't a tool so much as it is a resource that often goes untapped. Alignment between sales and marketing teams is often crucial for success on both sides, and this alignment is all about the customer.

Sales can provide marketing with a lot of insight from boots-on-the-ground interactions or conversations that businesses can deploy on the next marketing campaign to attract the right customer or answer the right question. There are trends and data that marketing teams collect that they can share with sales to better identify the ideal customer profile. AI in marketing automation software can also recommend content for a sales agent to share with a prospect, which it bases on other content buyers engaged with before becoming a customer.

Marketing can help sales with trade show preparations, collateral and new ways to use lead capture forms to better prequalify a prospect. Marketing also knows when a lead is "sales ready" and can provide all the information sales agents need to go into a meeting well-informed about a customer's needs, engagement activities with the brand and where they are in their customer journey.

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