Sales leaders, let’s talk tech (and automation, and outsourcing, and efficiency in general)

I talk to sales leaders all day, every day and data integrity is only one of the many problems plaguing sales team efficiency. Productivity studies show that the average rep spends only 20-25% of their time on selling activities (vs. administration/compliance, customer support, planning, reporting, etc…). Run the numbers…this doesn’t make sense.

As a sales leader, your goal should be to clear the noise and protect your team’s time. This starts with identifying and understanding the issues, but takes so much more – vision, strategy and the ability, focus and discipline to execute.

Over the last decade or so, there’s been a proliferation of sales tech and the number of tools we use on a daily basis has increased exponentially. Every VP of Sales comes in with a mental playbook – “this worked for me at my last company, so of course it will work here”. Don’t fall into this trap, you need to stay up to date on the tech that’s out there and make the right decisions for your team.

If you’re biggest problem is getting a handle on your TAM and assigning territories, you probably shouldn’t be spending time with sales enablement and content management vendors. Similarly, if you’re struggling to get visibility into client calls, BI tools aren’t going to help. As you grow, you can build a true sales operations and enablement function (check out our advice here), but in an early stage startup these decisions fall to the VP of Sales and prioritization is key.

Where to start?

First, you have to understand the work your team does and where the time goes. Ask your team to jot down what they are doing at 15 min intervals for a week – it’s a telling exercise.

NOTE: You’ll probably look at the outcome of this exercise and think “this is not how I want to spend my time”…right, no one wants to spend 2 hours a day logging notes in Salesforce, updating their forecast or trying to find an email address for an elusive contact, but it’s a reality for your team.

Next, map that time back to key corporate initiatives – what is required, what is high impact, what can be outsourced, what can be automated?

Finally, set short and long term goals to address. Once you have a full list, you’re balancing for a few things: priority level, expense/cost, speed to complete, one time vs. ongoing, etc.

Some of the most common areas to address:

  1. Data integrity: There are great tools out there to help you augment your data with the correct HQ, employee size, industry, etc…Clearbit and Datanyze are some of our favorites
  1. Contact information: Solutions vary drastically depending on the industries, company size and titles you are exploring, and it’s much easier to track down email addresses than phone numbers. Try Clearbit, Connectifier and ZoomInfo first. No luck? Consider outsourcing list building via Upwork, offshore resources or interns.
  1. Communication: To bring focus to your funnel and remove the friction associated with the traditional online form to BDR model, you should be talking to Drift. You can also help AEs stay on top of their leads while bringing visibility to activity levels with solutions like Salesloft and Outreach.
  1. Conversation insights: Have a remote team? Want to get a pulse on what’s really happening in deals? Consider a solution like or TalkIQ to bring efficiency to reps through transcriptions and deal insights to your leadership team to drill into when coaching

My final piece of advice – figure out who is going to own implementation, enablement and evolution of your tech stack before you start investing. You need to nail your process before you start layering in tech.

How do you stay up to date on sales tech? How do you know you have the right systems in place to support your growth goals? We want to hear from you!

Liz Cain
Liz Cain

Liz Cain leads the firm’s Investment team and sits on the Investment Committee. Liz joined OpenView in 2016 to lead the Expansion Platform delivering recruiting, market insights and marketing/sales strategy services to our portfolio. Today, she manages the Investment team and focuses on developing the systems, processes and team to identify and win the best expansion stage software deals.
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