How To Build the Ultimate Sales Prospecting Tech Stack

The market is flooded with prospecting tools and technology. But there are only really six foundational pieces of tech you need to build a lean and efficient prospecting tech stack.

Gautam Rishi
2024-02-16

In the early days of building OneShot.ai, I got to do something I hadn’t yet done in my 20-year sales career.

Build a sales tech stack from scratch.

Not just because we needed one, but also to understand where OneShot.ai fit into the massive and ever-growing sales tech landscape.

And is it ever massive.

Hundreds of established companies make up the sales tech landscape, with thousands more startups hustling to break through.

Prospecting tech, while a subset of sales tech, is no less crowded.

For sales leaders tasked with building (or rebuilding) a prospecting tech stack, it can be confusing to decide what you really need.

The purpose of this article is to help you do just that.

What’s in your stack will depend on your product, how you sell it, and who you sell it to. So rather than list 30+ tools and compare their features and pricing, this article instead presents the foundational tools that all outbound teams need that you can customize around based on your needs.

B2B has changed dramatically over the past 24 months. Rising interest rates put an end to free money. VCs closed the purse strings. Success switched from growth at all costs to instead building a lean, efficient, and profitable business.

The goal of this article is to help you build a lean, efficient, and profitable prospecting tech stack in this new era of B2B.

The 6 pillars of a prospecting tech stack

Your prospecting tech stack could be as simple as an email account. Or it could be as complex as running 20+ point solutions, integrated and interlinked with complex automations. 

No two stacks are the same, just as no two businesses are the same.

But in my experience, there are six foundational pieces of tech you need to run a successful outbound sales motion:

  • CRM: Your foundation. Your single source of truth—everything you do is connected to this critical tool. Every sales team in the world has one, and for a good reason.
  • Data providers: Essential for finding potential customers’ contact information, plus their level of intent. As there are only two types of data (accurate & useless) you’ll not want to skimp here to avoid the latter.
  • Cold email infrastructure: More a system than one individual tool, but nonetheless essential if you want to contact prospects via email with any success.
  • Power diallers: Cold calls have a low connect rate but can be a great way to book meetings. Diallers automate high-volume calling.
  • Social selling tools: Social is quickly becoming a major pipeline building channel. There is one tool that can compound your efforts here.
  • Appointment scheduling: If the goal of prospecting is to set meetings with potential buyers, then it needs to be easy for them to book time with you.

That’s it. These six tools are all you need for a lean, efficient prospecting process.

Let’s dig into what to look for in each.

The CRM: Your Foundation

The CRM is the bedrock of your sales tech stack.

All of your most important data is stored there. It contains all of your prospective, current, and past customer’s information, 

It’s also used by every team that touches revenue and GTM activities—Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, and Ops.

So it’s obviously a critical tool for Sales in general. But why is it important for prospecting?

The CRM is your system of record. Your single source of truth.

It’s where the record of every interaction a contact has with your business is stored.

You’d be amazed at how many prospecting lists contain:

  • Accounts that have been contacted before
  • Prospects that another rep has an active opportunity with
  • Actual customers of your business

So before you or your reps can take a list and hammer away at it, it’s imperative to reference it against your CRM to determine if there’s past history with any contact or account on that list.

→  Have these accounts/contacts been in the pipeline before? 

→  Have they asked not to be contacted? 

→  Are they not the right fit? 

→  Are they in a marketing nurture campaign?

Your CRM will contain answers to all of these questions. 

GDPR rules are getting stricter and more widely enforced. Don’t run the risk of a fine by emailing someone who’s asked not to be contacted.

No CRM in the world is as clean as it could be, and it’s on you and your reps to log your activity and ensure it stays up to date. But it’s your single source of truth for everything, including prospecting. 

Data Providers

Data is the digital fuel that powers your prospecting machine.

But unlike the fuel at the pump where you just fill up and go, prospecting data comes in a variety of forms. 

First party data, third party data, contact data, intent data… you get the idea.

It’s super important to choose the right kind for your particular machine. To help do that, a quick history lesson on data is needed.

(Promise it’s more interesting than it sounds.)

For the last 15-20 years there was one company who sat unchallenged atop the B2B data throne. That company was Zoominfo. They were the biggest, most well-known data provider out there.

Zoominfo became a publicly traded company in 2020, and at its peak was worth $25B.

If you wanted B2B contact data, you had better be prepared to pay Zoominfo $30,000 every year to get it.

But then the data market changed.

Technology advanced and finding data became easier. More and more data providers entered the scene. Now, to stand out in an increasingly competitive market, these companies make bold claims that their data is the most accurate, or has the best coverage, or is the most extensive.

The reality is data is a commodity now. And it’s all pretty much the same.

The accuracy across the board is pretty good. Through tools like Apollo, Rocket Reach, Cognism, and tons more you can get access to email addresses and phone numbers on a pay as you go basis for around $50/month.

How do you test and choose a provider?

For contact data providers, pick one of the big ones and play around with what you get.

As the quality of the data is all pretty much on-par, look at the other features of the product to gauge what’s best from a flexibility and usability standpoint. For instance, maybe one provider has more specific filters which let you get a more accurate list of contacts to reach out to.

Most providers will also offer a SLA. So if you get a lot of bounce back due to inaccurate data, you’ll get credits back on your account.

Plus, a lot of data providers offer either a free trial or a free tier with limited contacts per month.

Intent Data

The other major form of data used in prospecting is intent data.

Intent data is information gathered about an individual's or organization's online activities that indicates potential interest in a product or service. This info can be used to make your outreach more relevant and personalized.

For example: I’m a runner looking to get into trail running. By searching around for the best trail running trainers, I’m leaving digital clues (a.k.a intent data signals) to companies that sell trail runners that I’m in the market for their product. If they reach out to me now—via an ad or an email—I’ll be more likely to respond and convert.

There are two main types of intent data in B2B:

  • First-party intent data: Data collected from channels you control directly, such as your website, social media profiles, and email campaigns.
  • Third-party intent data: Data obtained from external sources across the web, provided by entities other than your own.

Related reading: 9 Best Intent Data Providers for B2B Sales Teams in 2024 →

I’ve yet to meet a single sales team to benefit from third-party intent data.

The most common type of third party data is topic and keyword tracking. Due to privacy rules, this tracking is done at a company level. For instance, when a corporate employee at Walmart searches for topics related to data storage challenges, this is considered a signal.

First party data is more useful. 

In particular data that uncovers the companies behind anonymous traffic on your website. If someone’s on your website, they’re interested in your company. 

Reaching out at this point in time, when you’re top of mind, can significantly increase your chances of getting a response.

The big challenge with all intent data is actioning it.

There’s no point in investing in intent data if your team won’t use it. And most teams don’t use it.

Timing is everything with prospecting. Intent data can inform you when the window of opportunity is open. You need to be ready to jump when it is.

Cold Email Infrastructure

No matter what the critics say, cold email is still the best way to build pipeline.

I say this with confidence because I’ve seen it proven again and again—across my 20-year sales career and now as we’ve built OneShot.ai

The key to successful cold emailing today is a lean, efficient cold emailing infrastructure that’s optimized for deliverability and scalable as your operation grows.

Most B2B folks, when they think of cold email they think of tools like Outreach and Salesloft. The email sequencers. Those worked for a while but have since become the worst thing that’s ever happened to outbound sales.

Over-reliance on multi-stage email sequencers has seen response rates drop to all time lows, frustrated buyers ignoring or deleting any cold email, and email service providers cracking down on bulk senders.

These tools are tempting because they make sending lots of emails easy. But they’re not worth it.

It’s time to rethink the email outreach tech stack. Here’s what it looks like:

Set up alternate domains for prospecting

Penalties for breaking increasingly strict spam rules can have domain-wide implications.

Don’t prospect from your primary domain. Set up alternate prospecting domains instead.

This takes the heat away from your primary domain should you incur any penalties. And they’re about $10 each from a domain provider like GoDaddy. 

Ensure the alternate domain has proper SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records set up.

Create 3-4 mailboxes per rep

Email service providers set strict daily send limits. If a sender goes over regularly, they’re suspected of spamming.

By creating multiple mailboxes for each person on your team who’s sending prospecting emails, you can increase the number of emails you can safely send. It also disperses the risk of damaging your sender reputation across multiple mailboxes, rather than concentrating it on just one.

Warm up your mailboxes

It’s a huge red flag when a new mailbox comes online and immediately starts sending hundreds or thousands of emails.

To avoid having your emails sent to spam, use a warm up tool to gradually increase the number of messages sent and received. This sends signals to your email service provider that this a legit mailbox with a real person behind it and your emails will be less likely to be sent to spam.

Related reading: The Ultimate Guide To Email Deliverability for Sales Pros →

At OneShot.ai, we work with tons of enterprise outbound sales teams. 10% open rates are the norm now.

Years of having 20-50 SDRs spamming prospects with static sequences have broken their domains and damaged their sender reputation.

It’s time to rethink how we send prospecting emails.

The era of mass generic outreach is over. 

Success now is small-batch, hyper relevant, timely, and personalized messages.

💡Tip: OneShot.ai uses AI to send the right message to the right person at the right time, every time. Check out how right here →

Power Diallers

I love cold calling for so many reasons.

First, it’s some of the very best sales training you can get.

Second, it’s great for getting real-time buyer feedback.

Third, it’s a decent way to book meetings and build pipelines.

I say decent because meetings booked over the phone have some of the highest no-show rates.

People are too nice. They won’t say no to you in person. So they take a meeting to get rid of you, knowing full well that they’re never going to show up.

But, that said, cold calling can still be a great source of pipeline. 

Some of our biggest ever customers began with a cold call.

I challenge my reps to make 500 dials a week. We use Salesfinity, an AI-powered smart dialler.

Manually, that many calls would take you a week. But when you have a power dialler you can get those kinds of numbers from an hour of calling a day. They work by dialing multiple phone numbers at the same time, dropping the other calls when someone picks up.

  • Manual: 15-20 calls an hour, maybe one conversation.
  • Power dialler: 100 calls an hour, four conversations

Cold calling is low-converting, but predictable.

Bringing a power dialler into your tech stack and keeping consistent with your calling is a pretty certain way to 5X cold calling results.

Social Selling

Social selling is quickly becoming a highly effective method for attracting new business.

Everyone’s on LinkedIn. 

But there’s a right way to engage on LinkedIn and a wrong way. In a nutshell:

What not to do: Connect and immediately pitch your product or service a.k.a pitch slap.

✅ What do to: Make smart connections with your ICP, engage on their content if they post, share relevant content that’ll appear in their feed.

Once you get a new connection, your content is prioritized to that person the next couple times they log on. Sharing good content on LinkedIn consistently isn’t easy, but it can be an enormous inbound magnet that attracts highly qualified customers to you. It supports your other prospecting channels in starting conversations with the right people.

Building a personal brand can be a huge career asset. It follows you wherever you go and attracts people to you, creating conversations and opportunities.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Sales nav is a must have for any revenue team.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a paid tool that gives you detailed analytics on LinkedIn’s 1 billion members and the companies at which they work.

Sales Nav’s data is different from other providers for one important reason—it’s crowd sourced. When people change jobs or get promoted, they update their profiles right away. Sales Nav is your ticket to tapping into this rich and highly accurate and up-to-date source of data.

Calendar Booking or Appointment Scheduling

In my career, I’ve witnessed or personally lost probably 100 meetings due to the scheduling back and forth.

You know the one:

You: Can you do Tuesday the 12th at 1:00pm?

Prospect: Tuesday’s good, but I can’t do 1:00pm. How’s 3:30pm?

You: Ah, 3:30pm is no good for me. How does your Wednesday look?

Prospect: 🦗🦗🦗

Somewhere in that infuriating back and forth, the prospect stops responding. And you usually never hear from them again. 

Buy the scheduling tool. They’re cheap. Put an end to the back and forth.

There are plenty out there; Calendly and Chilli Piper are two stand-alone tools, and even HubSpot and Google have a scheduling feature.

Well worth the small investment.

The prospecting tech stack has changed

The purpose of this article is to show you that you don’t need a giant tech stack to run effective prospecting campaigns any more.

All you really need to book meetings and generate pipeline from outbound is:

  • A good source of data
  • Access to the right prospects
  • Channels though which to reach them

Everything else, all the time and resources left after building this stack, should be put towards researching and understanding your prospects and creating highly relevant, highly personalized messaging.

Modern buyers won’t stand for anything less. They’ve been putting up with the bombardment of generic and irrelevant messages for too long.

That’s why we built OneShot.

Prospecting is a very repetitive process with tons of manual steps. Many of those steps are bouncing around between all the tools sales teams buy to run their outbound sales campaigns.

So we built a platform that eliminates the manual work and lets you focus on what matters most—creating really good outreach that gets responses.

We integrate with the best data providers and diversify where your data is coming from, giving you the best of all providers. Our advanced AI then learns about your target accounts and prospects and uses what it learns to create high-converting messaging.

Outbound is changing.

The spoils will go to the teams willing to test new innovative approaches and technologies while maintaining an unwavering focus on the buyer experience.

And the ones who don't will get left behind.

About
Gautam Rishi
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