Sales Development Tech Stack, Here is What’s Hot and What’s Not
The sales development technology stack supports how an organization prospects, regardless of the go-to-market (GTM) strategy used. It is the collection of software tools that help sales development leaders develop programs and processes for the sales development representatives (SDRs) who—in turn—plan, execute, track, and optimize their interactions with prospects and customers.
Organizations often purchase technology as they need it. However, a tech stack should be built according to a plan with every component designed to serve a specific purpose. The tools interact with each other in ways that provide maximum efficiency.
Technology, along with people and process, is responsible for delivering results. Many sales development technologies also serve sales and marketing teams, and implementation and management of these software tools can encourage alignment across all three functions.
TOPO studied marketing, sales, and sales development teams to understand how they build and manage their technology stacks. We sought to answer the question of how the best sales development teams use technology today, considering both account based and volume/velocity approaches.
TOPO fielded a series of online surveys to leaders to understand their technology usage. The survey was completed by 297 respondents at 273 high-growth companies, composed of a mix of TOPO clients and other high-performing companies.
THE TECHNOLOGY STACK IS ORGANIZED INTO FIVE CATEGORIES
The sales development technology stack is organized into five master categories that interact with each other in specific ways. Each vendor category reviewed is part of one master category. This view of the stack standardizes the approach sales development take when investing in and implementing technology in their organizations.
- Infrastructure: The foundation of the tech stack, which contains the contact database and serves as the central repository of information for the organization
- Data: External sources of information about accounts, contacts, and prospect intent that provide, update, and enrich existing records in other systems
- Application: Core and shared systems that enable the processing of information in support of sales development programs
- Execution: The digital, media/advertising, and offline systems that implement sales development programs
- Measurement: Tools that track the success of sales development programs in meeting organizational goals
TECHNOLOGY USAGE DIVIDES VENDOR CATEGORIES INTO TWO GROUPINGS
The usage patterns of 10 technology categories in the sales development tech stack shows that these technologies fall into two groups: most common technologies and emerging technologies.
The most common technologies are the categories with usage rates above 70%. These include the tools that nearly every modern organization uses, but especially high-growth companies—the CRM, which is the single source of information for contacts and accounts and the basis for digital tracking of all sales activities. Contact data and account data solutions come in at 82% and 78%, respectively. Every GTM organization needs up-to-date contact and account information to connect with prospects, and the most robust of these solutions integrate with the CRM. Sales engagement platforms are used by 73% of organizations. These are the day-to-day activity consoles for all SDRs.
The group of emerging technologies includes the fastest growing category, intent data. This technology has not reached 70% usage yet but as the third and arguably most significant data category, it stands among other technologies on the verge of explosive growth. Sales enablement platforms and conversation intelligence, at 44% and 43%, are also poised for huge growth as they provide transformational technologies to companies.
THE MAJORITY OF SALES DEVELOPMENT LEADERS DO NOT ANTICIPATE AN INCREASE IN TECH SPEND IN THE COMING YEAR
More than 60% of sales development leaders expect to not increase their technology spend or to increase it only slightly over the next year. That is 10% more than sales leaders responding to the same question. This suggests a market that is leveling out from the high period in sales development tech spending of previous years.
This limited spend expectation is driven by a number of factors:
- Innovation in the sales development tech stack is being addressed by foundational platforms
- Trend toward maximizing use and results from currently installed platforms
- Existing solutions expanding their core functions with product updates and acquisitions
- Shared technology ownership with marketing or other functions
Sales development leaders who have not yet invested in technologies such as conversation intelligence or intent data need to do so in the next 18 months, as that will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of their teams.
The median annual technology spend per SDR reported by sales development leaders was $7,500. This spend was the same for small and large teams. These results are on the low end of TOPO’s recommended range of $7,000-$9,000 per SDR per year.
In this environment, it is incumbent upon technology vendors to sell hard to their best prospects, emphasizing a compelling value message that ties their solutions to increased sales success for the customer.
GUIDANCE FOR BUILDING OR EXPANDING A SALES DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGY STACK
As the market for sales development technology continues to expand and evolve, organizations should bear in mind the following for building a sales development tech stack:
- Start by defining the strategy and the process, then match technology solutions to different components that can be improved or automated.
- Focus on the technology that impacts an SDR’s daily activities; at least 70%+ of an SDR’s day should be spent on engaging prospects and customers with more relevant and resonant messages.
- Be judicious when adding new solutions to the technology stack, as too many tools are a distraction for the SDRs and slow down their productivity. Where possible, add in technology that simplifies the SDR’s job without the SDR ever having to interact with the tool directly (e.g., lead routing).
- Prioritize ease of use and integration when evaluating new technologies. The more technology is integrated within the SDR’s workflow, the more likely it is that a SDR will adopt it.
To learn more about TOPO’s latest research into the sales development technology stack, register for our Sales Development Technology Report webinar on Tuesday, January 21, at 10 a.m. PT.