Building a Sales Tech Stack? Start With Data

When they’re building a technology stack, sales teams have to contend with hundreds — or even thousands — of solutions that offer lofty promises of automation, efficiency, and higher revenue.

But without high-quality data to connect them all, most sales tools will eventually fall short of their potential.

When layers of data are tightly integrated with software, sales reps and marketers have the most effective way to engage with prospects and find buyers. Here’s how to make sure your sales tech stack is able to deliver on its promises and set your go-to-market team up for long-term, sustainable success.

What is a Sales Tech Stack?

First, let’s lay out some basics.

A sales technology stack is the collection of IT infrastructure, application programming interfaces (APIs), and software that a sales team uses for its day-to-day work. 

It’s called a “stack” because each solution works together, forming a series of connected layers — the storage and computing infrastructure at the foundation, working its way up to the end user apps at the top. Ideally, each layer in the tech stack connects more or less seamlessly with the layers below it, adding functionality along without duplicating or conflicting with the layers below and above. 

In sales, this technology system tracks customer profiles, transactions, communications, financial data, and related information so teams can streamline internal conversations, connect with potential customers, and guide prospects through the pipeline.

Why it’s Time to Revamp Your Sales Technology Stack

The growth of go-to-market tools and services has led to more options than ever before. But in too many cases, this can result in a clashing, overlapping series of tools. One industry survey estimates that companies use an average of nearly 300 SaaS tools, which can cost upward of $50 million every year.

As Bain & Co. has put it, “most B2B companies have assembled a mishmash of tools that, at best, limit the return on investment and, at worst, confuse and overwhelm the front line.” 

An unfocused tech stack threatens data integration and usefulness, causing data silos, tool fatigue, shadow IT issues, and workforce inefficiencies that cost time and deals.

5 Questions to Help You Choose the Best Sales Tools

Here are five questions everyone building a sales technology stack should ask to home in on the best options.

1. What Are Your GTM Goals?

To identify which GTM activities are working for you, put goals in place along each stage of the sales funnel. 

Here are some ideas: 

  • Awareness stage goals may include increasing website visitors (total, new, repeat), boosting page views, and getting more people to start a trial. 
  • At the education stage, you may look at growing how many qualified leads/contacts view educational resources such as demos, webinars, product detail pages, and how-to articles. 
  • When users make it to the trial stage, your main goals will likely be growing conversions from trial signup to trial usage and then from trial usage to paid usage. You could also set goals for more leads engaging more deeply with the product.
  • Deals are won or lost in the land stage. For won opportunities, you may consider increasing the dollar amount of each deal. For lost opportunities, you may set a goal for how many are followed up on, reengaged, and won. 
  • If your GTM strategy includes the land-and-expand motion, the expand stage goals may include a salesperson hitting a certain number of upsells or talking to a certain number of new decision-makers in the account. 

2. What Will Move You Toward Those Goals?

After you set GTM goals and success metrics using the SMART method, think about the tools  needed to meet them. 

For example, what would boost trial signups and completions? How can sales better follow up with new decision-makers during the expand stage? 

3. What Other Problems Need Addressing?

Look for SaaS tools that overcome key friction points slowing your internal sales process and pipeline. Where are leads stalling? Sales engagement software helps you figure that out.

Is the ball dropped during handoffs? A conversation intelligence platform gathers intel on leads for seamless transitions. 

4. What’s Already Working and What Isn’t? 

Conduct an audit before adding more tools to the mix. Which existing tools are meeting your needs? Is anything extraneous or out of date? Which tools work, but need an update to optimize effectiveness?

5. What Makes Sense For Your Tech Landscape? 

Which tools work together well or integrate easily with your existing programs? This is an important question because data silos arise from dissonant tools. 

7 Tools for the Modern Sales Stack 

1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platforms

Customer relationship management (CRM) software provides a unified, accurate source of data on prospects, leads, contacts, and opportunities. 

With the right tooling and CRM strategy, this software also serves as a portal for tracking and building upon every encounter with leads and customers — hence  “relationship” in its name. 

2. Sales Engagement Application

With a sales engagement platform monitoring interactions, teams can zero in on what works and what doesn’t to improve and duplicate successful strategies. 

3. Conversation Intelligence Software

Conversation intelligence software analyzes sales calls and meetings. It makes a record of these interactions and pulls out unbiased insights missed in the moment.  

4. Sales Data Enrichment Tool

Data enrichment combines information from various sources — public, third-party, and internal — to provide context and insight to inform the sales approach. 

5. Sales Prospecting Software

Sales prospecting software creates multi-channel campaigns to capture prospects. 

Depending on your needs, the right platform may include automation tools that engage potential customers entering and moving through the top of the funnel. 

6. Internal and External Communication Platforms

Fostering communication across teams, leads, and clients is important in our highly distributed workforce. 

Internal communication apps integrate with sales platforms to keep teams on the same page. External scheduling software seamlessly connects sales with prospects and moves them through the pipeline. Product demo tools can help create custom demos for sales calls. 

7. Sales Team Leadership Tools

Sales performance dashboards improve decision-making and forecasting with insight into sales activity. Sales call monitoring ensures customer needs are met and informs sales training.

Project management software tracks progress on projects or programs, such as improving communication between product and sales, integrating a new tool into the sales tech stack, and more.

The Sales Tech Stack Engine: Quality Data

Quality data is accurate, complete, original, concise, consistent, and secure

When sales reps spend too much time calling low-quality leads, deals don’t close. And worse, reps are wasting effort that could have been spent pursuing good-fit prospects that actually want to hear more about their products — but could instead wind up going with a competitor who reaches out first.

How big a problem is dirty data? A survey from CRM data management company Validity found that over half of CRM managers believe the accuracy and integrity of their data is less than 80%

Additionally, as much as 30% of email addresses go bad after about a year. Taken together, it becomes clear how much out-of-date data you may be operating with. This low-quality data causes fallout company-wide: 

  • Bad data consumes sales teams’ time and budgets 
  • Working with low-quality, productivity-stunting data can drive out top employees
  • Poor data quality sours the experience for prospects and customers who continually receive impersonal messaging
  • A lack of reliable data drives a wedge between teams that should work closely, such as marketing and sales
  • Poor sales data means poor goal setting and business planning

Conversely, when companies approach go-to-market with high-value B2B sales prospecting data, they avoid the mistakes of a purely tech-centered approach that elevates tools over quality information.

This becomes even more important as GTM teams begin to seriously evaluate and adopt generative AI apps, such as ChatGPT, in their prospecting and outreach motions. Because generative AI is built to produce engaging content at unprecedented scale, the effects of a shaky data foundation can be exponentially amplified with a speed that human teams can’t be expected to catch. 

The bottom line? Without a strong data quality strategy, you simply can’t have an AI strategy that makes sense for GTM.

“What we really believe is that the data underlying customer outreach needs to be incredibly accurate, totally enriched, and really deep,” ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck recently told LivePerson. “We are in this unique position as a company, with an offering to really fuel that.”

Where to Layer Good Data Into Your Sales Tech Stack

To focus on quality and future-proof your sales tech stack, start with three distinct, interconnected data-driven layers.

Intelligence Layer 

Third-party and first-party sources provide sellers with datapoints like professional contact information, company revenue and funding, technology installed, and organizational charts.  This is an initial intelligence layer, which surfaces insights that feed the workflow and engagement layers. 

For example, a company completes a merger (one data point) that also affects the reporting structure under the CEO (a related data point).

Orchestration Layer

Third-party data is often inconsistent. For example, sales reps enter partial records or lead forms are submitted with incomplete, fake, or personal information.

The orchestration layer connects the engagement layer with the intelligence layer. It stitches together a variety of data sources, cleans and enriches them, and removes duplicate records.

This layer then assigns and routes data, leads, and insights to the appropriate owners. It creates an up-to-date dataset that drives automated workflows, such as adding a contact to a sequence of marketing messages or assigning a task to a sales rep.

Engagement Layer

Interactions between buyers and sellers, such as contact emails or a website visitor engaging with a chatbot, occur at this stage. 

An approach called multi-threading takes place in this layer. In a multi-threaded sales approach, if an inbound lead doesn’t convert quickly, reps can identify leaders on the team of the original lead and follow up.

Build Your Tech Stack With High-Quality ZoomInfo Data

When high-quality customer data is integrated within the sales tech stack, it creates a strategic advantage for sales and marketing teams. That’s where ZoomInfo Sales comes in.

At ZoomInfo, we believe data is the starting point for monitoring your total addressable market and uncovering buyer intent signals from target accounts.

From there, data-driven sales and marketing plays can orchestrate workflows that boost rep productivity and, ultimately, their ability to engage with higher-qualified sales prospects.

The ability of small startups and growing tech companies to quickly innovate and develop new products and services is a massive force pushing business progress ahead. But at the same time, this constantly shifting collection of tools and features can quickly become overwhelming if they’re not all aligned.

With the highest-quality, broadest data coverage on the market — infused with real-time signals that turn foundational data into actionable insights — your sales tech stack can become the strategic advantage that sets your GTM team apart from the competition.