The most successful Account Executives (AEs) aren’t just smart and driven. They also know how to make efficient use of their time, and stay on top of client relations. Of course, using the right tools makes these tasks a lot easier.
Here are seven indispensable tools every AE should try out.
1) Remote presentations/video conferencing applications
The ability to communicate with prospects and clients remotely is critical for sales success. All AEs should have at least one application for video conferencing. Ideally, the tool should enable screen sharing so that you can give a presentation or live demonstration remotely.
Some video conferencing applications specialize in one-on-one conversations, while others might be more appropriate for conferences involving multiple people. It can be useful to have multiple tools so that you can communicate with a variety of clients. In fact, many clients will have a strong preference towards one method or another, so being equipped to accommodate these preferences will set you up for broader success.
2) Pipeline management tools
To make as many sales as you can, it’s helpful to visualize your entire pipeline. A good pipeline management tool can show you what opportunities are in the pipeline, which are most likely to close, and what specific actions you should take next in order to close the deal.
By using a pipeline management tool, you can simplify administrative tasks, forecast future sales results, and identify possible weak points in your pipeline.
While many CRM applications include pipeline management features, there also exist more specialized, standalone tools known as lead management software.
3) Quote and proposal creation tools
One way to save time is to automate the process of creating quotes and proposals for prospective clients. Instead of wasting time going through spreadsheets and crunching complex calculations, use a quote and proposal creation tool. These tools will automatically generate quotes based on the information you input, allowing for revisions as necessary.
A good tool will enable you to use templates to generate a proposal that looks professional and readable to clients. Some even allow you to send a direct link to prospects (and will let you know when the prospect clicks on it). This feature enables you to gather more data on the likelihood of a deal closing.
The beauty of these tools is that they save you from the tedious task of calculating a quote and instead free up your time to focus on relationship-building. The tool can also help you to generate quotes and proposals faster, hence speeding up the sales cycle.
Although some free tools are available, more features generally require an investment.
4) Contracting and e-signature tools
Experienced sales professionals know that sometimes, the seemingly simple process of getting a contract signed can hold up a deal for weeks, or longer. E-signature software solves the problem by enabling you to send contracts–and for your clients to sign them–without having to deal with paper contracts. And e-signature tools aren’t just major timesavers, they also save money on printing and shipping costs.
In the long run, it’s advantageous for both parties to have access to digital contracts. If there’s any confusion, you’ll easily be able to look up relevant clauses. There is no chance of important contracts being lost because of a natural disaster or human error.
Most e-signature tools enable templates, sending contracts via email, and tracking of signing status. Some tools use a monthly subscription model, while others charge per document.
5) Sales forecasting software
Many AEs spend a great deal of their time on sales forecasting, yet may still fall short of making accurate forecasts. Sales forecasting software makes the process both faster and more accurate. A good software application can even offer users tips on how to improve sales, using data from past and current deals.
Complex CRM programs often offer sales forecasting features, but some sales professionals prefer specialized software. If this sounds like you, try an application that integrates with your CRM. Good sales forecasting programs include features for creating visualizations, generating reports, comparing data against previous performance and industry averages, and more.
6) Project management platform
As an AE, it’s unlikely that you’re working entirely on your own. A good project management platform allows you to remain in close communication with colleagues without having to deal with onerous email chains. Project management platforms also enable you to assign tasks to team members and send automated reminders.
Additionally, project management platforms are useful for staying in contact with your clients. If you’re working on an ongoing project with multiple stakeholders, it just makes sense.
Many project management platforms are available for free. Some charge fees for advanced features or large numbers of users.
7) Social media management tools
Success as an AE is in large part dependent on your ability to communicate effectively with clients and prospective customers. With so much modern communication taking place on social media, cultivating a strong presence is a must. At the same time, no one wants to spend all of their day jumping from feed to feed.
Social media management tools can help sales professionals to streamline their social media feeds. Many tools include features for tracking and measuring other people’s engagement with your content, which is useful for identifying which accounts you should be focusing on. Best of all, many of the most useful tools are free.