Tools make the sales go around. 

Sales retail income profit accounting concept

The best sales process, in my mind, begins before the sales team gets involved. Marketing teams are able to do their thing, go beyond content creation, and fill up the pipeline with high-quality leads - giving your sales team more predictability and steadiness. 

I've been lucky to work in companies with exceptional sales and marketing processes, and the best among those involved in close collaboration between these teams. Marketing armed sales with qualified leads and accurate, data-based insights about those leads. They did so through effective demand-generation activities such as advertising and marketing campaigns and content creation. 

Capturing those leads, however, is where the distinction came about. Small teams can start out with spreadsheets, sure… but the limitations soon become obvious. For a smooth process that respects everyone's time, you need a system that lets your teams share information and critical updates to that information on the fly. Your system also needs to automate low-value tasks, and prevent busy work. And of course, your people need a single source of truth - no infinitely circulating outdated versions of marketing and sales collateral and demos and cheat sheets and whatnot. 

In a nutshell, your system needs to make sales and engagement easy. Enabling sales is what Sales Enablement tools do best. If you are big enough to have a marketing team and a sales team, you're big enough to need a sales enablement tool. 

SaaS makes it accessible

The moment you read the previous line, I'll bet you thought of Oracle, Salesforce, or another big-name company with a scary price tag. In a way, you're right. There was a time when Sales Enablement was a frontier technology and the big names had it all. However, as it has become more mainstream, the very definition of Sales Enablement has grown to encompass an ever larger pool of functions. 

So today, you have: 

  1. Holistic solutions that are cross-functional, uniting an array of stakeholders in the sales ecosystem, including product marketing, content creators, sales ops and training. 

  2. Point solutions that zero in on specific problems that need focused (yet flexible!) solutions. 

As with everything, SaaS solutions have taken over in both those categories. SaaS, by design, is about being current, listening and responding to customers' needs. If I, as SmartCue, don't listen to my customers, don't cater to their evolving needs, don't evolve and become a square peg… Well, my customers simply switch over to a competitor. They don't have anything tying them to me, other than how good my product is. 

Sales Enablement, when in the hands of a few, became big and bulky and expensive and inflexible. Of course, SaaS tools turned the tables there. How could we not? 

Here then, is my list. 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. 

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 and for most of the customer reviews.

1. Highspot 

Free version: No 

Trial version: No

Highspot is an excellent sales enablement platform - it's one of those holistic ones. It combines intelligent content management, training, contextual guidance, customer engagement, and actionable analytics. We have a lot of materials, PDFs, presentation decks, media, etc. and having it all in one place is great. If you want to get away from downloading material and sending it as an attachment then Highspot is ideal because you can share the material directly with the client and while they can view it, they can’t download it. It also has 50+ integration options. 

Cons: It can be difficult to understand the interface at the beginning so there’s a bit of a learning curve involved. It is not very intuitive and for content coming from Google Drive, versioning options are limited. 

2. Seismic 

Free version: No 

Trial version: No

Seismic work wonderfully for large sales teams by equipping them with ONE unified platform for all their content needs. This is another holistic tool. You get file management, account-based management, platform internalization, and case management in one place. They provide strong metrics and reporting capabilities to help you understand what content is resonating with your customers. With Seismic you can create internal training that enables your reps to prepare for buyer interactions and external content that helps move the buyer forward in the sales process. Their support team is super strong and response times are quick. 

Cons: Content can sometimes be slow to load and the search engine could use a tad more fine-tuning. Also as they roll out new features/functions it can get a little buggy. Understanding the ins and outs of the product takes significant time. 

3. Guru

Free version: No 

Trial version: No

At SmartCue, we love Guru! It works a little bit like your own personal company wiki that works in your workflow - so the information you need to do your job is always at your fingertips. This is a great example of a point solution and does a great job of it. The text editor of Guru is easy to use and similar to WordPress. Embedding Vimeo, YouTube videos, etc. is easy. It is easy to create folders, tag Guru cards with keywords, and create sections for each team so it helps keep documentation organized. Honestly, it's simple to use, easy to update, and way better than Google Drive. 

Cons: Updating the cards in real-time can be a challenge, especially if the original author is not around. Also, integrations are limited.

4. Mindtickle 

Free version: No 

Trial version: No

This is a tool my clients swear by. While technically a sales enablement solution (Content Management, Training, Analytics), it is really a point solution-wide enough to cover your entire training journey. From identifying training needs to aligning content, to delivering it in personalized and targeted packages, to coaching, and finally, to skills assessment in real-world buyer interactions, Mindtickle does it all. It also does a superb job of gamification, which results in higher adoption and better training outcomes. 

Cons: The UI can become cluttered when users have multiple courses and programs going on. 


Free version: Yes  

Trial version: No

If you've ever made a pitch deck, you know the pain of making it 'engaging'. That's where RELAYTO shines. I'm not naturally a hyperbolic person, so take my word for it when I say that RELAYTO can take your so-so pitch deck and sales collaterals and turn them into stunning, engaging pieces that look like you spent a bomb on them. Top that with an intuitive, easy-to-use UI that everyone from your sales leaders to your interns can adopt from the get-go, and suddenly, everyone is an artist. That's how you make a point solution everyone loves. 

Cons: Users have complained about glitchiness, but as the support team is incredibly responsive, this doesn't become a deal breaker. 

SmartCue's Favorites

We're too small for a proper CMS, but when we do, we're leaning towards Guru. My team and I love the Guru Cards feature, and the fact that all of the content is searchable is something we all really like. We're also really looking forward to using it in conjunction with SmartCue to more easily create content that goes out to my clients. 

SmartCue makes it super easy to create demos at speed. And to customize them at speed. So my team already has a demo library to work off of. We leverage these to create videos, which we can then embed into other materials, using Guru's functionality (which makes this far easier than what we do today!). When we run email campaigns, my team uses a ready set of materials custom designed by industry, buyer persona, business size, etc. 

For me, personally, this is a lot of fun to watch. My team has created their own sales process that takes them from LinkedIn Sales Navigator to Metabase to MixMax to SmartCue, back to MixMax and Intercom. At the end of this process, they have a pipeline of strong, qualified leads, and they once again leverage SmartCue to keep all their information and demos straight. 


People analyzing growth charts illustrated

If you give someone a task, and you provide that person with an array of resources to use and refer to while they work to get it done, it's probably safe to assume they're going to complete it more efficiently and effectively than someone without those resources. That's obvious. What you also need to do though, is measure your Sales Enablement solution, just like you do everything else. 

For instance, how much training do your people need, to use the tool itself? What is the adoption rate of said tool? What is the effect it is having on your average sales cycle length and deal size, and what percentage of reps are achieving their quotas? It is also important to remember that these metrics point to both - your tool and your process. As always, it's best to get qualitative feedback, right out of the horse's mouth. 

So, listen when your people talk. Actively source feedback: people will almost always tell you what they hate about a tool! :) Especially one that is so central to the job.