Effective sales and marketing are arguably the most important functions within a company. Of course, the products and services you deliver are very important to your customers, but when looking internally, without sales and marketing, you would not attract customers, and without customers, you would have no funding to produce product. So, I think we can all agree — it is a critical component for any business.

Thankfully, there are tons of tools available to help companies expand their sales and marketing capabilities. But how do you know which is the right tool for your business — the one that will amplify your efforts, and not bring them to a complete stop?

Choosing the Right Sales and Marketing Tool

There are literally hundreds of different sales and marketing tools on the market, from free to outrageously expensive. So how do you pick which one will work for you? Which one has all of the functionality you need today, and which one can grow with you as you expand?

When selecting a tool, or tools, you first need to understand what type of sales and marketing company you are. Do you generate a lot of leads and nurture them over time? Do you focus on a small number of targets and build direct relationships? Do you conduct all of your sales in person, through email, or over the phone? Answering these questions will start to paint the picture of the type of marketing tools and sales pipeline management tools you’ll need to be successful. Let’s examine some example scenarios to understand the difference in the available options.

Scenario One: You collect leads through lists, content marketing, tradeshows, etc. You then focus on sorting through the leads, reaching out and attempting to generate new business. Your marketing is minimal and includes some email, advertising and on occasion, direct mail.

Solution: In this scenario, we would suggest looking at sales nurturing tools built to send continuous communications to your list of leads over time, to determine where they are in your sales funnel. The ones that are close to the bottom can then be pushed to sales for follow-up and engagement. Using tools like Drip, QuickMail, Customer.io, Vero, and Knowtify will give you the ability to send messages over time to your leads, then when they click on a link, or reach out to contact you, you can move them into your sales process.

More Advanced Option: Consider using advanced marketing automation techniques like lead nurturing, lead scoring, and action-based or behavior-based marketing automation with systems like Active Campaign, Autopilot or InfusionSoft. All three offer an array of features and flexibility on the marketing side, as well as sales pipeline management and sales automation. You can also use a tool like Zapier to move qualified leads into your sales tools once they mature. Consider Pipedrive, Pipeliner, or close.io for your sales pipeline management. These tools help simplify the sales process and automate a number of time consuming tasks to reduce data entry for your sales teams.

Scenario Two: You typically sell through account-based selling. Meaning you target a particular company to sell into, then work to establish contact and schedule meetings to drive your sales process. You may also send direct mail marketing pieces to build brand recognition.

Solution: For account-based marketing, we would recommend using a tool like Linkedin to identify leads, as well as create hyper-targeted ad campaigns. With Linkedin, you can create multiple ads and display them to individuals employed at your target companies. Over time, this focused marketing builds awareness of you and your company, and exposes your target prospects to your products and services. Couple this with a marketing tool that has account-based marketing features like Marketo, and a strong content marketing program, and you’ll be well on your way to generating more interest from your targets. Additionally, use a sales management tool like Pipedrive, Pipeliner, or close.io to manage the sales process for the lower funnel leads you have identified at each account.

Scenario Three: Your sales process is all about the relationships you have formed directly with people and the nurturing you do over time. Your marketing consists of mostly branding, and targeted content and resources, delivered through your sales teams.

Solution: Examine a sales-based relationship management tool like Contactually to organize and prioritize your existing relationships. Sales-based relationship management tools are different than traditional CRM tools, as they are focused on driving interaction and sales through your contact network. These tools can be extremely effective at categorizing your relationships and moving them through your funnel over time.

The success and failure of your sales and marketing technology implementation has a lot to do with making good decisions about the tools you will use. Once you identify the type of sales and marketing programs that drive success, you can start to weed through the options and find the right tool. Remember, not all tools are created equal, and not all CRM tools are built to amplify the efforts of sales and marketing.