Sales Tech Stack Growing Beyond The CRM and Fast
The sales technology stack follows the strategy for how an organization goes to market. It is the collection of software tools that help sales teams develop, enable, implement, and manage sales programs that resonate with prospects and customers. A tech stack is built like a house, according to a plan, with every component designed to serve a specific purpose. The tools should interact with each other in ways that create maximum efficiency.
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 teams use technology today. TOPO fielded a series of online surveys to marketing, sales, and sales development leaders to learn about their technology usage. The survey was completed by 297 people at 273 high-growth companies, composed of a mix of TOPO clients and other companies.
Sales technology and sales professionals should work together harmoniously to drive sales success. Many of the technologies discussed here also serve marketing and sales development, and, in fact, can help drive alignment across go-to-market (GTM) functions.
THE TECHNOLOGY STACK IS ORGANIZED INTO FIVE CATEGORIES
The sales tech 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 that sales organizations take when investing in and implementing technology in their organizations. These are the five master categories:
- 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 update and enrich existing records in other systems
- Application: Core and shared systems that enable the processing of information in support of sales programs; there are dedicated sales applications as well as applications shared with other functions
- Execution: The digital and offline systems for implementing sales programs
- Measurement: Tools that track the success of sales programs in meeting organizational goals
TECHNOLOGY USAGE DIVIDES VENDOR CATEGORIES INTO THREE GROUPINGS
We surveyed high-growth companies on their usage of 14 technology categories in the sales tech stack. The usage pattern revealed aligns these technologies in three groups: most common technologies, leading technologies, and trailing technologies.
The most common technologies are the categories above 70% usage; many reps use these solutions as ubiquitously as they use the phone, email, or web conferencing. These include obvious tools used by nearly every modern organization, but especially by high-growth companies. Above all is CRM, which is the single source of information for contacts and accounts. Similarly, solutions for contact data (82%) and account data (78%) are key pillars of most companies’ sales tech environments, especially when these solutions integrate directly into the CRM. Meanwhile, many organizations rely on sales engagement technology (73%) to improve interactions between sales reps and prospects.
The middle of the technology pack runs from 70% down to 40%. These categories have wide adoption across the tech stacks of high-growth companies. Chat and messaging apps help reps communicate better with prospects, while forecast and pipeline management enables sales leaders, strategists, and ops specialists to accurately manage current opportunities and predict revenue impacts. Two of the fastest growing categories, intent data and sales enablement, have not reached 50% usage, yet both have great momentum in the marketplace.
The two categories below 40% are limited in their reach so far. Sales planning is an intriguing category, yet still nascent in its growth. Incentive management is a must for large, complex sales organizations, but outside of that customer profile it is not an urgent priority.
HALF OF SALES ORGANIZATIONS WILL SPEND SIGNIFICANTLY MORE ON SALES TECH
While 30% of those surveyed expect their sales tech spending to stay flat or even decrease in the next 12 months, about half (49%) of respondents expect spending to rise by more than 10%. These mixed signals suggest a market that has come down from the high period in sales tech spending of previous years, but in which most companies will continue to invest in technologies such as conversation intelligence or intent data that they believe will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of their sales organizations.
The median spend growth is an 11–20% increase, and there is no significant difference in the pattern of planned spending for small (under $100 million in revenue) or large (over $100 million) organizations. The median annual technology spend per sales rep reported by sales leaders was $10,000. That level of spending is right in the middle of TOPO’s recommendation range of $8,000–$12,000 per sales rep per year. However, organizations with fewer than 15 reps spent an average of $4,000–$5,000 per rep per year—well below the recommended range.
GUIDANCE FOR BUILDING OR EXPANDING A SALES TECHNOLOGY STACK
As the market for sales technology continues to expand and evolve, organizations should bear in mind the following for building or expanding a sales technology stack:
- Start by defining the strategy and the process, then match technology solutions to different aspects of the sales process that can be improved or automated, with a heavy emphasis on freeing up more of reps’ time to focus on sales-specific activities.
- Within sales tech, adoption by reps is vitally important. Reps will routinely reject technology that creates extra labor for them or that does not integrate easily into their daily workflows.
- Introducing new technology requires changes to business processes to be successful. Be judicious when considering new solutions for the technology stack, because unnecessary complexity often outweighs the benefits of individual tools.
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