Taking the 'busy' out of work.  

Tracking Emails

When I first started out as a sales rep, emails to prospects were the bees in my bonnet. The fly in my ointment. The bone in my kebab. Don't get me wrong, I didn't mind writing them. It was the waiting that got to me. Back then, there was no way for me to know if my email landed in the prospects' spam folder, or if it reached them but lay unread, or if they read it and ignored it. 

As a salesperson, I'm okay with rejection. I learn from it. But what can you learn from an email black hole? I don't have any feedback to learn from! And that is why email tracking tools were invented. Email tracking tools give us invaluable metrics like email open rates, the volume of clicks on links in emails, and the number of downloads of email attachments. 

So now, you can follow up with a prospect after they've read your email and the attachment you sent with it. You can reach out via text to check if the prospect received your email if it remains unread. You can run sales email campaigns, and know which strategies are performing better than others. You can create automated responses. 

That's just sales. Imagine what your marketing teams can do. 

If you're reading this, I'm going to assume that you're in a sales leadership position, in an organization that is young enough to not have built its tech stack yet. Or, you're in the market for an email tracking tool to replace what you're using or augment whatever you've got going on. Whatever your position, you're in the right place. 

SaaS makes the world go around 

Honestly, I would be very surprised if there's a business need out there, in any niche, that doesn't have a SaaS tool aimed at it. But the magic of SaaS goes deeper than that: no upfront payments, Pay As You Go Plans, no long-term commitments, and most SaaS products will even let you try them for free. 

Of course, all the tools I'm looking into right now are for my own SaaS baby SmartCue, so my lens is skewed towards tools that are most suited to small organizations and startups that are yet to achieve scale. However, all these tools are the sort that can scale rapidly with you when you grow. 

With these considerations in mind, here's my list. Please bear in mind that this list isn't exhaustive, and I've only included those tools that I or my tribe have used. Also, I've relied on G2.com and Capterra.com for most of the customer reviews. 

1. Groove

Free version: No  

Trial version: No 

While Groove offers email tracking, sales engagement, and sales intelligence, it is its email tracking functionality that really, really shines. It really cuts back on the amount of manual work required to manage a large pipeline of leads through templates, custom lines of messaging and so on. The UI is easy to get into, and it integrates with Salesforce, Gmail, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator among others. 

Cons: While everyone loves how easy it is to do flows, there are freezing issues. Also, edits to email templates can throw formatting haywire, which can end up taking more time to fix. 

2. SalesLoft 

Free version: Yes  

Trial version: NA 

The thing that everyone talks about with SalesLoft is their cadence tool which helps sales reps automate a lot of the follow-up, and get the most out of cold email campaigns. Of course, it comes with real-time email tracking, an integrated sales predictive dialer, and social communications. Users also love how easy collaboration is, especially the ability to work on each other's email write-ups. What I love is how they've structured their pricing by function - Prospect, Sell, Engage and Enterprise (which includes it all). 

Cons: Mass import and export functionality can be buggy, according to some users. Some users also found the UI challenge. 

3. GMass 

Free version: No  

Trial version: Yes  

It doesn't get simpler than this. GMass is a plugin for Gmail that allows users to send email marketing and email automation campaigns from right inside their Gmail accounts. It has all the features you expect: mail merges with google sheets, personalisation, automatic follow-up, scheduling, reply management to reduce inbox clutter, analytics and live reporting… everything. Plus, it's intuitive. I mean, if you've used Gmail, you'll be able to use GMass. Building integrations is super easy with the GMass API, webhooks, and/or Zapier. 

Cons: Statistics can be confusing for first-time users. 

4. Reply 

Free version: No  

Trial version: Yes  

I'm terribly impressed with this one. It is, in essence, a sales acceleration platform that automates and builds scale through the use of AI. You can discover prospects on LinkedIn, Sales Navigator, and LinkedIn Recruiter, source from integrated data providers, and validate contact emails. Then connect with your leads using automated multichannel sequences including personal emails, LinkedIn messages, calls, SMS, WhatsApp, etc. Then execute tasks, make calls, reach out on LinkedIn, and sync data with your CRM. And finally, improve by analyzing outreach results, A/B testing your messages, and a host of other performance data. Of course, it integrates with Salesforce, Hubspot, Copper CRM, Pipedrive, Close, and Zendesk Sell and has no-code integrations available via Zapier, Integrated, and Integromat. 

Cons: Other than the pricing, not much else! 

5. MixMax 

Free version: Yes   

Trial version: Yes  

Can I just say that the folks at MixMax just get it? "At Mixmax, our goal is to eliminate busywork for people in customer-facing roles." With a vision statement like that one, we're already off to a great start. The platform amplifies AEs, CSMs, and anyone in a customer-facing role, not just the SDRs by automating repetitive tasks and organizing their daily workflows. Additionally, with their workflow automation tool "Mixmax rules", users can create automated workflows across productivity apps such as Slack, Salesforce, DocuSign and Gmail. Also, go-live takes less than a day. PS - We just started using MixMax at SmartCue!

Cons: The calendar function seems to be buggy, and there are some complaints about integrations. 

6. Hubspot 

Free version: Yes   

Trial version: Yes  

HubSpot Sales is a Sales CRM with a full suite of tools that includes sales engagement tools, configure-price-quote (CPQ) functionality, and robust sales analytics. However, its most popular features are its email templates, email tracking, and AI-powered conversation intelligence. It sits atop its own CRM platform and can integrate with others if you choose. 

Cons: Like all big tools, this one needs a little bit of training to get started. 

SmartCue's Favorites 

To be honest, what I really, really want is Reply. But I'm guessing that was obvious from my gushing review above. However, like I've said before when you're a bootstrapped early-stage startup, you have to pinch pennies. 

What I'm using now is MixMax, and my team and I love it. It has a bunch of really smart, time-saving features that take a huge chunk off of our mental checklists - the 'Remind me if no reply for x days' feature, for instance. The reminders functions on this tool are exactly what a sales team needs to optimize their time. Also, it tells us when is the right time to contact someone based on when they are most likely to read and respond. Plus, it gives us alerts when someone opens my email 3+ times, so I know this is a potential client with high intent! 

Among my peers in the Startup community though, there are plenty of people who swear by each of the tools I've listed here. Cold email is hard, hard work. You're basically developing a relationship from scratch, and you're doing it with the clear intention of taking some of their money. 

This is why the most successful email campaigns involve using demo teaser videos. These are usually under 4 minutes long and are targeted to the use case, industry and buyer persona. This way, the client gets a glimpse of your solution, and it piques their interest. Then, using the intelligence you gather from your email tracking solution, you bake in the next steps into your flow, and take the conversation forward. 

In fact, this is what a number of my clients do, with SmartCue. They've used SmartCue to create demo libraries, which they leverage for their websites, and also turn into videos that are sent out as a part of their email campaigns. This level of automation, combined with contextual and solution-focused demo videos yields significantly better results. Whoever said cold email was dead, doesn't know what they're talking about! 


A way out

As a sales leader, the more busy work you eliminate, the easier you make your team to do the background admin stuff that goes into your sales process, and the more time you make available to your team to do the core work of selling. In my mind, anything that improves ROI, irrespective of which stage of growth you're in, is worth its monthly fees in gold!