Recently BriteBiz’s VP of Growth, Drew Wilkinson, was asked to speak at the inaugural Bank of Ireland Sales School about digital sales tools. Here is the script from his session ,edited slightly to better suit the blog format. The discussion focused on how to choose the right digital sales tools, the broader landscape, some common problems he sees in small-to-medium businesses, and how we’ve solved them internally at BriteBiz with our own sales process.


Firstly, to really dig into why we need digital sales tools it’s important to consider what we mean when we say digital sales and how that’s different to traditional sales.

I’m a big fan of analogies so I’m going to draw on my experience as a consumer to illustrate where I see the difference. Recently I’ve been thinking about buying a new laptop. Ten years ago, if I needed to buy a new laptop, I would just head to the nearest computer store, look at the computers, and choose based upon my budget and guidance offered by the in-store sales rep.

Now I start with internet research like reading online reviews and become an expert on laptops and hard drives and screen resolution. Things I never cared about before. By the time it’s all done, I know more than I ever needed to know. While I’m a more informed buyer and largely in the driver’s seat, it takes a lot of direct influence from the seller. In fact, Google Research found that the typical buyer conducts an average of 12 searches before engaging on a brand’s website.

This is having a monumental impact on the whole B2B sales landscape. For one it’s reducing the number of sales reps needed. Marketing departments, in the arms race for content, have explained the product and the wider product’s environment in minute details. Better customer success teams, plus improved customer documentation and videos, mean salespeople are less involved in post-sale follow-up. For a whole lot of industries, you don’t even need people to take the order or process the payment, we have e-commerce now.

This sounds a bit like chicken little saying the sky is falling in on salespeople but it is not all bad news. These changes mean salespeople can prioritize what should be most important to them in 2017: being consultative sellers.

So how’s that going? From what I see talking to salespeople in SMBs, not great. And I’d argue it’s that sales reps are not being properly equipped with the right tools. It’s not that there aren’t boatloads of them. CRMs. Lead gen tools. Prospect research tools. Email tools. Proposal tools. Tools meant to empower salespeople. They aren’t and are at best viewed as a minor inconvenience.

So the dream is that we have these tools that transform our sales while we sit back, chill out, and count the money coming in. It’s really not that simple and in fact, a lot of people would say it’s incredibly confusing landscape to navigate. I’d agree with those people. And this is because the reality is that there is no one sales tool to rule them all. There is no silver bullet. It’s about building an ecosystem of great digital tools that fit around a well-thought out process.

Why aren’t more people doing this? Sounds reasonably obvious. I think it comes back to the confusion and the onus is on the seller to be upfront.

I talk to people every day about digital sales tools and it amazes me how few people think at a practical level about these sort of purchasing decisions. People tell me I want marketing automation and the first thing I do is ask them why. What problem are you trying to solve or what’s your ambition? Just because you read an article about an industry trend or tool doesn’t mean a) it’s right for you or b) you’ll be able to successfully implement it.

Because I want to know how I can help in real-terms. Those are good conversations. Where do you want your business to be in a year? Why aren’t you already there? So I always ask people what’s the big issue for them and then work back from that.

On top of that, another big question is, what are they already using? This can be as basic as what email provider they are using because if they use Gmail or Outlook 365 we can integrate their emails into BriteBiz. They can see all of their correspondence with prospects and clients – that adds real value. It’s why we focus on Xero & Quickbooks because even if BriteBiz is a brilliant tool on its own when you combine your sales and accounts like we can with our accounts integrations, you’re talking about a fully integrated system from hello to final payment.

Yet people aren’t doing this. Why? Some of the problems that we see every day are technology in silos, no single source of truth or multiple databases for different departments (even in small organizations), manual processes like paper contracts that are not standardized, the same data is entered into multiple systems, and different people doing different things.

So alone these sound semi-innocent but the way they manifest themselves in actual business terms is really problematic. You get huge inefficiencies, things falling through the cracks, lack of delegation from leadership (simply because they can’t), huge confusion and ultimately it’s totally unscalable and messy.

How did we avoid this? It’s important to practice what you preach. We spent a good bit of time looking at different tools that would slot alongside our main hub, which is of course BriteBiz. Our web-form to BriteBiz integration means any of our inbound leads automatically populate in BriteBiz with all the info and necessary tags. For our inside sales, we use which is excellent for prospect research. We then use Growlabs who are a partner of ours, a real powerful solution that combines lead generation and outbound email automation. By using BriteBiz’s Google chrome app, we can then manage these leads directly from our email and push them into BriteBiz where it’s really powerful sales enablement tools kick-in.

From BriteBiz we have a lot of automation set-up around emails and tasks, cuts down a tremendous amount of work. We use PandaDoc which integrates very closely with BriteBiz for proposals, so we can do customized proposals with a couple of clicks. We use Yesware for tracking email opens and scheduling demos. Our Google calendar integration allows us to see everything from BriteBiz. We use Aircall for our phone calls (which we will be integrating with BriteBiz very shortly). So basically, we’ve streamlined the flow of sales, whether sourced from outbound or inbound channels.

This didn’t happen overnight. We had to define our sales process first and then think about the tools that would slot around them effectively and allow that seamless flow of information.

So what the key takeaways here? Tools, no matter how great they are, will only get you so far unless they are thought about as part of a wider process, tied to your industry and the way you sell. But it goes without saying that having the right tools can really transform both your organization and its pace of growth. So where do you start?

Firstly, I think it’s important to recognize where you spend the majority of your time currently and build from there. Lots of small businesses run a lot of their work through email and that’s great but it’s not scalable. So if you are growing, taking on more employees, you need a central, transparent hub for your business that integrates with your existing tools like email or your accounting package.

Secondly, I’d argue that you need automation. It’s no longer a nice-to-have anymore but vital. If I’m looking at a tool I want to know it’s going to save me considerable time and automation is usually integral to that.

Thirdly, you need a tool that will give you insights, not just store data. I think there is the expectation that tools will make sense of the data we have and not just simply hold it.

Finally, I see an incredible opportunity for BriteBiz because there is frustration & confusion in the market. People want to cut through the crap and see that you can deliver tangible value for them and their business at an affordable price – and that’s really what we are all about at BriteBiz.