Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrenchThe best tools (and training) are those that help salespeople more effectively and consistently apply their sales organization’s best practices at each stage of their sales process. We categorize these into tools the reps use before/during/after the call at each stage of the sales process to help them increase the probability of successfully completing a given stage and advancing to the next.

Before-the-Call tools help prepare the rep and help the rep prepare for the call. Some examples. Buyer persona profiles help sensitize and familiarize the salesperson with the essential job responsibilities, most pressing issues, most common buying process steps, criteria and inputs, and most critical performance metrics that are typical to the buyer roles or titles they call on. Buyer-role and stage-specific specific call planning templates provide a list of suggested meeting outcomes to accomplish, key topics to discuss, questions to pose, value propositions to emphasize, and next steps to propose that help the rep more skillfully facilitate the buying process and, in parallel, execute their sales process.

During-the-Call tools help reps conduct more engaging executive-level conversations with specific buyer roles/titles. They can be call guides they created during their call planning. They can be slideware designed to emphasize and prompt key discussion points or they can be tip sheets on how to manage an effective whiteboard discussion.

After-the-Call tools help reps summarize and quickly follow-up the meeting and substantiate key claims they made during the meeting. These sales tools are typically email templates which might include relevant attachments in the form of case studies or white papers that support the rep’s meeting points.? After-the_Call tools also help with assessment of the call as well as the current state of deal progress and risks. The assessment tools can be in the form of? opportunity-management scorecards and frameworks designed to help reps and managers make go/no-go decisions and strategize the most impactful next steps.

Ideally, these tools are documented and assembled in the form of hard-copy sales playbooks organized in the context of your sales process stages and, better yet, integrated inside the rep’s CRM system.

An important side note: For sales tools to be most effective, you need to train the reps on how to use them. You can’t just add a new sales tool in your content management system and send an email announcing its availability and expect instant understanding and wide acceptance. A sales tool should have a very specific salesperson conversation behavior you are attempting to influence. For example, if you’re introducing a Competitive Face-Off tool, the desired result is to make the rep more effective at proactively positioning your solution against a given competitor (or reactively if they are in an objection-handling mode) when they’re interacting directly and/or by email with a prospect. To optimize utility and usage, the launch of a given sales tool should be supported by training in the context of relevant conversation scenarios utilizing role plays to mimic a real-world situation.? Another tip to increase effectiveness and adoption of the tool is to involve your best salespeople in the tool’s construction, instruction and promotion. If your top performers help develop, endorse and promote a given sales tool, there is a higher likelihood the tool will be “sales-ready-quality” and thus gain quicker and broader acceptance by the rest of the organization.