How to choose sales acceleration software for your team

Veronika Traublinger
April 14, 2021

Learn how to find the right tool to accelerate your team's sales success in 8 simple steps.

Like any other successful sales leader, your goal is to increase and accelerate your sales success - increase the productivity of your team, support them with the right content and training, shorten the sales cycle, and, ultimately, close more deals.

But how do you “accelerate” sales success?

The answer: with sales acceleration technology.

Sales acceleration technology helps reps to sell both faster and more intelligently. It helps to increase sales velocity by assisting sellers in their customer interactions, analyzing these said interactions, identifying best practices, and providing recommendations for next steps. Sales acceleration software improves reps’ productivity by automating everyday tasks such as updating CRM systems. It also empowers sales teams to have more successful sales conversations by providing this support live during customer calls and virtual meetings.

But anyone who ever googled “sales acceleration software” knows that there are many sales solutions out there and choosing one tool can feel pretty overwhelming. If you take a look at G2, you even find 10 subcategories for sales acceleration software with each focusing on different activities in the sales process. 

That’s why we at Ciara decided to write this guide. By following the steps here, you’ll learn to:

  • Draw a more complete picture of the challenges your team faces—so you can better outline your needs.
  • Differentiate the different types of sales acceleration tools—so you know in which category you need to look to find the right tool for your team.
  • Define the criteria you should think about as you evaluate tools—so you know what features are most critical to your team.
  • Successfully buy and implement the right tool—so you get the team’s buy-in from the beginning and quickly drive adoption.

And these are the 8 simple steps we recommend in order to choose a sales acceleration software that is right for your team:

  1. Ask yourself: Why do I need sales acceleration software?
  2. Get an overview of the different categories and tools on the market
  3. Evaluate the tools
  4. Test the tool
  5. Get executive buy-in
  6. Purchase the sales acceleration tool
  7. Get the team on board
  8. Implement the sales acceleration tool

1. Ask yourself: Why do I need sales acceleration software? 

The first step to finding the right sales acceleration tool for your team is to identify the current challenges in your sales process. Possible problems could include:

  • Low productivity and efficiency in the sales process
  • Ineffective customer interactions via email, phone, or in virtual meetings
  • Long onboarding times
  • Lack of training or poor training results
  • Poor alignment within the sales team (e.g., between SDR and AE)
  • Poor alignment between sales and marketing

When you’re looking at sales acceleration tools, always ask: does it solve my problems? If no, remove the tool from your list no matter how flashy the demo was or how many fancy features it has that you’ll probably never use anyway. Mark each problem as high, medium, or low priority to know quickly if a potential tool is a good fit.

2. Get an overview of the different categories and tools on the market.

With your needs defined, it’s time to learn what tools are on the market. A good way to start is:

  • Ask colleagues what they liked using in the past
  • Talk to other sales managers in your industry
  • Check out recommendations on industry websites
  • Read software review websites

To help you get started we collected the best sales acceleration tools in each of the three main categories of the sales acceleration ecosystem: Conversation Intelligence, Sales Enablement, and Sales Engagement.

Conversation Intelligence

Conversation Intelligence software transcribes, records, and analyzes sales calls. By identifying keywords and topics it enables unique insights into customer interactions on the phone. Some CI tools also offer the capability to support sellers with real-time and context-aware recommendations live in the call. CI software helps businesses onboard and coach reps with best practices, identify risks early on, documenting customer conversations, and support team alignment along the sales cycle. If this sounds like the right type of sales acceleration tool for you, you should consider:

  1. Ciara

Ciara is the leading Sales Acceleration Assistant used by high-growth SaaS companies. It stands out from the classic conversation intelligence tools as it not only analyzes individual sales calls but provides unique insights into the whole deal. On top of this, Ciara tracks the conversation in real-time and directly derives actionable recommendations live during the call. 

Features and services of Ciara include:

  • Live recording and transcription
  • High-quality, searchable  transcript with timestamps and speaker detection
  • Real-time battle cards
  • Deal and conversation templates with relevant talking points and activities
  • Custom topic tracking
  • Automated conversation summary
  • Call sharing
  • Deal overview
  • In-app video call solution, Ciara Meet
  • Integrations with all leading CRMs and video conferencing tools
  • GDPR-compliance
  • Complementary onboarding and content creation support
  • Web and desktop app

  1. Gong

Gong is a Revenue Intelligence Platform with a strong focus and analysis and post-call coaching. It enables sales teams to analyze customer interactions in detail for better coaching, peer-to-peer learning, and generating customer and market insights.

Features of Gong include:

  • Call recording and transcription (not real-time)
  • High-quality, searchable  transcript with timestamps and speaker detection
  • Custom topic tracking
  • Automated call summary
  • Call sharing
  • Call commenting
  • Metrics overview (Talk:listen ratio, Longest monologue duration)
  • Integrations with all leading CRMs and video conferencing tools

  1. Wingman

Wingman is a sales coaching tool that joins calls, listens to the conversations, and provides live cue cards to help reps with customer objections and questions.

Features of Wingman include:

  • Call recording and transcription (not real-time)
  • High-quality, searchable  transcript with timestamps and speaker detection
  • Real-time cue cards
  • Custom topic tracking
  • Automated call summary
  • Call sharing
  • Call commenting
  • Metrics overview (Talk:listen ratio, Longest monologue duration)
  • Integrations with all leading CRMs and video conferencing tools

Sales Enablement

The main mission of sales enablement tools is to ensure that marketing initiatives and sales missions are aligned. According to G2, every tool in the Sales Enablement category must:

  • Act as a repository of marketing content to be used by sales representatives
  • Track prospect and customer engagement on content and sales pitches
  • Allow users to upload a variety of content or build new one directly within the tool

If this sounds like the right functionalities to solve your problems, you should consider the following tools:

  1. Highspot

Highspot is an AI-powered sales enablement platform that empowers companies to manage content and guide, train, and coach reps. Well-known tech companies like Hootsuite, DocuSign, and Workday use Highspot to manage their sales content and training material.

Features of Highspot include:

  • Support of a high range of content (document, presentations, images, videos, links to web pages)
  • Customizable templates
  • CRM and email integrations
  • Content Scoring
  • Predictive analytics
  • SmartPageTM Marketplace - a platform with training content from leading sales consultancies

  1. Showpad Content

Showpad Content helps their 1,200+ customers bridge the gap between sales and marketing by creating one centralized location that lets sellers discover, present, and share the latest, on-brand content in visually engaging experiences.

Features of Showpad Content include:

  • Content engagement analytics
  • Customizable templates
  • CRM integrations
  • Gamification
  • Interactive Content
  • Performance Metrics

  1. Guru

Guru is a real-time knowledge management platform. It unifies the company's joint knowledge and suggests relevant information while interacting with customers via email or chat. It’s trusted by several high-growth startups like Shopify, Airtable, and Slack.

Features of Guru include:

  • Information import from the web and existing tools (e.g., CRM, Slack)
  • Content scoring
  • Content verification
  • Duplicate detection
  • Content tagging
  • Browser extension

Sales Engagement

Sales engagement software streamlines the sales process through integrations with sales communication channels and tools, management of sales messaging and materials, and the automation of tasks, messages, and workflows. This software enables companies to combine their sales and marketing efforts to create personalized and automated sales journeys, often referred to as sequences. If this sounds like the right type of sales acceleration tool for you, you should consider:

  1. HubSpot Sales Hub

HubSpot is a leading and easy-to-use CRM tool that can be extended with HubSpot sales, an all-in-one sales engagement tool to help reps get even richer insights, warmer leads, and aligned enablement materials to help them operate at max efficiency. 

Features of HubSpot Sales include:

  • Automated sales sequences
  • Sales analytics and custom reporting
  • Meeting scheduling
  • Smart send times
  • eSignature
  • Predictive lead scoring
  • Built-in CRM and marketing automation tool

  1. Outreach

Outreach is one of the leading sales engagement tools, empowering sales teams to increase productivity and drive more pipeline by automating and prioritizing all customer touchpoints throughout the sales process. It helps tech companies like Zoom, Twilio, and DocuSign drive collaboration between sales and marketing.

Features of Outreach include:

  • Automated sales sequences
  • Meeting scheduling
  • Integration with CRM and marketing automation tools
  • Expansion opportunity alerts
  • Engagement tracking on persona, opportunity, and account level

  1. SalesLoft

SalesLoft guides and automates dynamic sales plays and provides dashboards and insights to sales teams to help speed up the sales cycle. It’s primarily used by sales and business development teams to set up and execute communication cadences and track outreach activities.

Features of SalesLoft include:

  • Automated sales sequences
  • Meeting scheduling
  • Integration with CRM and marketing automation tools
  • Sales performance analysis
  • Custom reports and dashboards

3. Evaluate the tools.

Now that you know what type of sales acceleration assistant tools are out there and how it fits to your needs, it’s time to evaluate the existing solutions. (And yes, it could be that you need a tool from one or more categories - each category has its own capabilities and benefits, and are not mutually exclusive.) Here are some crucial things you should keep an eye out for when evaluating the tools:

  • Customization and flexibility: Can you customize the tool so it fits to your needs and processes, e.g., with customizable templates?
  • Integrations: Does the software integrate with your existing tools (CRM, calendar, email, etc.)?
  • Ease of implementation: How long does it take to set up the tool? Can you import existing material? Do you get support from a dedicated customer success manager? Does the software include templates for common workflows and processes?
  • Pricing: Does it fit your budget (if you can’t find any pricing details, check existing customers - are there mainly enterprises then the price is rather at the high end)? How is the price determined - could it become cost prohibitive as your team grows?
  • Data security: Does the data get stored safely and anonymous? Does the tool, especially if it includes call recording/transcription, meet your and your customer’s country’s data protection requirements?

4. Test the tool.

Now it’s time to test your favorite tool(s). Many tools come with a free trial so you can play around with the different features. If they don’t promote a free trial, just ask, many companies are happy to offer one anyway. 

You should gather a small group to pilot the tool together. Make sure to choose people who have different functions - e.g., a mix of SDR’s, Account Executives, and Sales Enablement professionals - as diverse opinions are critical to really see if the tool is a good fit.

Also, test their customer service and support team. Better yet, request a demo and spend 30 minutes to an hour with their sales team to learn a bit more about how the sales team themselves are using the tool, and what functionalities you can expect. You can also ask the support team a question and see how long it takes them to respond. Check out their help center and resources to see if they have assets that will help you get started.

Here are some of our favorite sales acceleration tools that offer a free trial:

  • Ciara - Ciara offers a 14-day free trial with no credit card required
  • Wingman - Wingman offers a 14-day free trial
  • Guru - Guru offers a 30-day free trial with no credit card required

5. Get executive buy-in.

Once you found a sales acceleration tool that fits your needs and you’re preparing to implement it, it’s critical that you get buy-in from the executive team, or at least part of it. Because you’re going to ask dozens of people to likely change their day-to-day routine, it’s best to have support from leadership. A few ways you can do this include:

  • Involve leadership team members early on in the process by having them on the tool selection committee
  • Openly communicating with leadership about current tool shortcomings
  • Providing an overview of the business value of the new tool

6. Purchase the sales acceleration tool.

Great - you’ve found a tool that fits your needs and got the executive buy-in. It’s time to purchase the sales acceleration tool. Most sales acceleration tools are purchased by seat, so we suggest you buy seats for 2-3 teams and use them as a test to see how you’d roll out to the rest of the organization. Think about if you need any additional services that might cost extra, e.g., onboarding workshops for the teams or support in the content creation.

7. Get the team on board.

Before starting the real implementation process, we suggest you inform your team upfront about the new tool that’s coming. Tell them:

  • Why the tool is coming
  • For what it will be used
  • What their benefits of working with the tool are

An early involvement of the team will ensure a smoother implementation process and a faster product adoption - and, ultimately, to quicker results.

8. Implement the sales acceleration tool.

Congrats - you’ve found your sales acceleration tool! The executive team is onboard and your team informed. Now it’s time for an implementation plan. Most teams are resistant to change, so you need a plan that makes the rollout as smooth as possible. 

Key items to consider:

  • Content: What content (templates, training material, etc.) do you need to fill the tool? Who will create the content? When will the content be ready?
  • Timeline: When do you want to bring everyone on? Do you want to spread it out or do it all at once?
  • Training: What training do various people need? Who will provide it? How will it be provided?
  • Champions: Who are going to be the key advocates for this tool? How do you get them to buy-in? What will they do to encourage others?
  • Integrations: What are they key integrations you need to set up? When are you going to set them up? Who will be responsible for setting them up?

Once you’ve got everyone onboard, it is critical that you set a good example. Make sure you continuously use the tool and are available to answer any questions.

Yes, the process of choosing the right sales acceleration tool(s) for your team is a big endeavor. And it’s not a decision to make quickly or lightly. We hope this guide has helped you find the perfect tool for your team easier. Now you can narrow down the list of tools to try with your team - like Ciara.

Start your free 14-day trial and see how Ciara helps inside and remote sales teams accelerate their sales success.