Technologies for Smaller Businesses

In today’s business, most interactions are virtual and email marketing can be one of your strongest channels for ROI and customer acquisition.  Sales and Marketing technology is designed to enable companies to grow and improve. We’ve all heard of Salesforce, but Sales and Marketing technology is wide and complex with hundreds of applications on the market.

Source. Gartner. Use this map to understand the connections between business functions (neighborhoods), applications (tracks) and providers (stations).

With hundreds of options to consider, finding the right software is a big challenge. The wrong technology can quickly become a distraction and by Accenture’s estimate, over 55% percent of sales professionals consider technology to be more of an obstacle than a facilitator.  We cannot emphasize the point that one size DOESN’T fit all nor can we emphasize enough the importance of finding the technologies best suited for your company. K2 doesn’t help companies select software. If you need help selecting software, let us know and we will refer you to one of our trusted partners.

In the meantime, this post attempts to consolidate technology recommendations for small and medium-sized businesses. Our hope is to simplify our observations after hundreds of hours of research, implementations, and use and offer a selection of proven technologies which fit well within smaller organizations.  Contact us if you have suggestions, or if you have different feedback that differs. We enjoy learning new things.

  • Sendgrid is primarily an email marketing tool.  Sendgrid is arguably the industry leader in email marketing and is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive option. Sendgrid helps you craft campaigns, A/B testing, segmentation, and spam filter diagnostics.  Additionally, Sendgrid offers incredible email analytics, 24/7 live support, easy integration with a dead simple API, and their reputation for having good deliverability. MailChimp and ConstantContact are worth a look as well
  • Hubspot is a popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. In addition to traditional CRM features, HubSpot’s marketing software that helps businesses transform their marketing from outbound (cold calls, email spam, trade shows, tv ads, etc) lead generation to inbound lead generation enabling them to "get found" by more potential customers in the natural course of the way they shop and learn. Be sure to take a look at Salesforce, Pipedrive, SugarCRM and Microsoft CR. the question best choice will depend upon your company size, the complexity of your products, services, clients and sales processes. The more complex or sophisticated, the more you should expect to spend to implement and maintain
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator is designed for sales professionals. Navigator helps you better target, understand, and engage with buyers amongst LinkedIn’s 500 million member network. Give your team more intelligence on the prospect like;  company revenue, employee count, industry and current technology stack: analytics tool, live chat provider, etc. Navigator is worth the money if you have an effective, repeatable sales processes.
  • List Giant. Lead generation might be the biggest issue for a salesperson. ListGiant allows you to compile a targeted consumer or business list for your direct marketing campaign. The interface is self-explanatory to use, so if you’re new to direct marketing. All you have to do is fill in your lead’s name and company domain, and you can get anyone’s corporate email. All the emails come validated but if you want to prove a specific email is correct, you can use the ‘Email Verifier’ tool to be sure.
  • PandaDoc document automation software allows you to view and sign proposals online. You’ll get alerts when prospects look at your contract, proposal, or quote. Also, check out DocuSign and Adobe
  • Trello is one of the leading project management and collaboration applications on the market. Regardless of the company size, project management software is a must. Trello is easy to use. The card (e.g. Kanban) system contains all possible nuggets of information about a project. Drag and drop functionality is helpful and the interface allows in-line editing. Also, Trello allows for messaging, to-do lists, doc storage, and other features helping sales teams. The website is also accessible from any browser, whether mobile or web-based, smartphone or tablet. It keeps things organized when the cards can be placed in lists to track the progress of a project, assign categories, or just keeps things neat.
  • YouCanBook.Me (YCBM) promises no more email back-and-forth for fixing up appointments. YCBM is one of the popular tools teams use for scheduling encounters of any kind – from one-on-one to group meetings. With YCBM, anyone can set up an appointment on their available dates.
  • Slack is probably the most popular collaboration software on the market. Slack allows your team to send direct messages, create channels and private groups, and make audio or video calls. It might not be the cheapest or simplest, but I have yet to find anything that compares
  • Skype has had a tremendous footprint since 2003. It can be a bit ‘bandwidth’ heavy at times but for the price, its value and reliability are far superior to Google Hangout or GoToMeeting. Skype allows you to conduct audio and video meetings with both your team and your clients. As a Microsoft Product, Skype also features integrations with Office and Exchange. 

When you're ready, following are a few more advanced tools we’ve found useful…

  • Clearbit Reveal allows you to create granular retargeting campaigns based on site behavior and psychographic and firmographic data: job title, industry and more. Clearbit identifies web traffic by dynamically converting 85 data points including IP address to create full profiles for all site visitors, including name, company, revenue, employee count and contact information for sales.  
  • Datanyze helps B2B companies develop to identify and close their best accounts and track your competition. Datanyze aggregates company-level data based by crawling the web for technographic data of 35M companies to help you build a more robust view of prospects and customers.

We live in the digital age we simply can’t do without modern technology. Implementing any technology is a commitment in time, finances and resources. At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s important to explore all options, sift through the frills and find the tools that are right for your business. To complement this post, Professor Terri L. Griffith, Ph.D. offers simple advice on how to choose the right software. She suggests managers “stop, look, and listen” to its impact on our the organization.