Recently I was interviewing a candidate to fill the role of a Business Development Representative, and I was alarmed at one of the answers I heard. When I asked the candidate to walk me through their inside sales experience at their previous job, they began telling me that on their first day at the job, they were given a telephone, a computer, a desk, a printed list of names to call, and were told to “have had it.” Obviously I was in shock from this answer to think that inside sales organizations like this still exist, and it really got me thinking about how critical teleprospecting tools are when it comes to the success of inside teams.

There’s such a wide array of prospecting tools available for inside sales teams, but I have narrowed down my top three must haves:

1.  A CRM System with Standardized Best Practices – By now, most companies have some kind of CRM system in place to manage all accounts, contacts, pipeline, etc. Aside from the obvious benefits of a CRM system, the most important aspect of a CRM system is that your company’s business objectives and methodologies are aligned with the tool. Without standardized best practices in place, the CRM is useless, and user adoption percentages are low. I am lucky enough to work at an organization where everyone utilizes our CRM system consistently, from the creation of accounts, to the way Business Development Reps log each and every activity, to the way management views reporting.

2.  A Directory of Contacts – The lists of contacts you provide for your inside team aren’t always going to be perfect with 100% accuracy. The good news is, the companies will be ideal targets. In order to supplement these companies with more appropriate contacts, supplying directories of contacts for your reps is a no-brainer. Linkedin is a great resource, as well as Netprospex.

3.  A Call Plan Strategy – In my inside sales experience, I have never been in a situation like the one I described above with the interview candidate. I was always given a huge amount of structure – especially when it came to a call plan methodology to use in order to be successful. An outline of how many times you should reach out to prospects is crucial for an inside rep to have access to – there is a science behind how many touches prospects need to receive before they turn into a qualified lead, and it’s perhaps the most important piece of managing an effective inside sales team. Additional tools to supplement call plan strategies would be a marketing automation tool and an automatic dialer tool – these encourage more live conversations, which will ultimately lead to more qualified opportunities.

The days of inside sales reps using excel spreadsheets and other manual processes to manage their days are over, thankfully. There are so many resources out there now, but if I had to narrow down my top three prospecting sales tools that I couldn’t live without, I would definitely say a CRM system with standardized best practices adopted by all users, a reliable directory of contacts, and a proven call plan strategy are your three must haves. What sales prospecting tools are imperative for the success of your inside team?