The sales stack marketplace is exploding. From 2000 to 2015, 244 inside sales technology companies were founded, and 2016 continues to be “the year of the sales stack.”

3 types of sales stack toolsAs a sales leader, this means your inbox is restless and your voicemail remains perpetually full. Every day you hear about a new type of technology that promises to help you sell more. It’s exhausting. And half the time you just want to understand how this new sales software is different than the one you just bought.

We get it, and we’re here to help. Here’s a simple rundown of three sales stack tools we often get asked to define.

Popular sales stack categories

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence refers to reporting tools. The software transforms convoluted business data into digestible charts, graphs and datasets. Sales leaders use BI tools to generate automated dashboards, as well as reports.

While the term “business intelligence” has been around for a couple decades, the category is still relevant. Companies using business analytics are five times more likely to make faster decisions. In addition, the BI and analytics market is expected to grow to $20 billion by 2019.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence combines data with decision-making algorithms to perform tasks normally completed by a team member, such as prospecting leads, prioritizing opportunities, scheduling meetings and even forecasting. Some companies consider AI tools similar to having a sales assistant.  

According to Salesforce’s second annual “State of Sales” report, high-performing sales teams are 3.4 times as likely to use AI than underperforming teams. Twenty-two percent of high-performing teams use artificial intelligence to automatically recommend products to customers based on their preferences, but that number is expected to grow 108 percent over the next three years. Use of predictive intelligence tools like lead scoring and predictive forecasting is expected to grow 118 percent over the same timeframe.

Sales Activity Management

Sales activity management engages sales teams in the behaviors that lead to closing business and includes goal management and guided coaching. Personalized sales scorecards keep reps focused on high-priority activities, and pacing algorithms tell sales leaders when performance is out of line and what to do about it.

Sales Activity Management is growing fast. The 2015 State of Sales Report found that 75 percent of sales professionals are either currently using or plan to invest in activity management. And this year’s report states that 50 percent of high-performing teams are using guided selling and coaching (i.e., adaptive intelligence on next best activity). Use of guided selling and coaching tools is expected to grow 98 percent over the next three years.

Because sales activity management tracks the behaviors that lead to revenue, sales leaders see immediate ROI. With sales activity management, Jackson increased sales calls by 41 percent, while Paycor decreased sales onboarding time by 50 percent. (Note: These were both LevelEleven customers. Find out more on their stories here.)

So while you parse through multitudes of sales pitches from sales development reps, use this post as a guide. Even if you think your sales stack is complete, consider evaluating it on a regular basis (some quick tips for doing that here).

Curious how much you could accelerate with sales activity management? Use our 3-step ROI calculator to find out!

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