You’re probably juggling dozens of different tools in your business development stack or, if this is your first time building the stack, you don’t even know where to get started.
Don’t worry! This is good news – it gives you plenty of room to customize your BD tool infrastructure to your liking.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the most powerful business development tools that increase your chances of closing the deal at every single touchpoint.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
Starting from the Top: CRMs Are Must-Have Business Development Tools
Customer relationship management tools are a central hub for managing customer information and interactions. Think of them as the central repository – the main files where all the other information flows in and out of.
For example, when you have a CRM, you can integrate it with a cold outreach tool to ensure your automated email sequences are personalized. Similarly, if you use a data enrichment tool, the information it provides on your leads’ changes will flow into the CRM.
The goal is for you to be able to log into your CRM and get all the information you need at any point in your business development process. That includes reporting and forecasting, too.
Some of the best business development tools I’ve used include the following:
1. Zoho CRM for Business Development
ZohoCRM is a powerful business development tool, especially when managing your customer relationships and centralizing (and automating) everything from the same platform.
The key features it offers include the following:
- Customer relationship management
- Lead scoring
- Sales forecasting
- AI features (like chatbots and predictive analytics)
- Extremely easy to scale once you grow your book of business
- Workflow automation
- Zoho CRM integrates with 800+ tools (including Findymail’s email finder, Proposify, Google Ads and more – if you need an extension but it’s not available yet, you can create your own)
As seen in the pic above, the AI feature is neat because you get a virtual assistant that can keep your CRM updated, getting read of that specific headache. Plus, you can build out whole workflows to run your business development on auto-pilot and jump in only when the time is right!
Zoho CRM starts from €14/user/month for the Standard plan and increases for even more powerful features to the maximum of €52/user/month, which makes it one of the most affordable options.
(Seriously, can you imagine getting custom development for Salesforce in that price range?)
HubSpot’s CRM tool is an excellent choice if you’re new to business development. It has all the makings of a good tool with plenty of integrations and allows you to scale up as you go. Unlike more prominent names, including Salesforce, the learning curve isn’t as steep so you can start ASAP.
Some of the key HubSpot CRM features include the following:
- Customer relationship management
- The ability to expand as you scale with HubSpot’s marketing, customer service and other service suites
- Automatic new contact enrichment
- Sales pipeline management
- Email tracking
- Personalized emails and live chats
- Integrations: 100+ apps in the integrations library (Findymail’s email finder, Zapier, ad platforms,and others included)
HubSpot is the champion of inbound lead generation, so if you plan to grow your business using that channel, as well, this CRM is more than worth testing.
HubSpot has a free CRM version and paid plans start from $30/mo.
3. Salesforce for the Business Development Teams that Scale Fast
Salesforce is an absolute CRM machine, but there’s a caveat: the learning curve is steep. You might not need the headache unless you plan to use 75% of its features. On the upside, Salesforce has a full suite of tools (from sales and marketing to customer support) with plenty of ways to make it your own with additional apps and development help.
However, that comes at the expense of complexity, cost and the sheer overkill for smaller BD teams.
In terms of features, Salesforce has your business development needs covered:
- Lead and opportunity management
- Workflow automation
- Email automation and tracking
- Dashboards and reports
- Lead scoring
- Document management
- AI-powered insights (in the pricier plans)
- Integrations: Salesforce’s AppExchange has over 7000 apps, and you can always use the API for more custom integrations
In terms of AI-enhanced features, you can get help with lead and opportunity scoring, forecasting, activity capture and more. All of this is great, especially for enterprise business development!
Salesforce has a variety of products under its umbrella, but if you only want to use the Sales CRM, it starts from $25/user/mo.
The Best Lead Generation Tools for Business Development
Depending on your specific lead generation process, you’ll need tools to help automate most of it so you can focus on research and closing those deals. So, in this part of the article, I’ll show you different types of tools that can make up your lead generation stack.
1. Sales Navigator for Business Development
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sales Navigator is undoubtedly one of the most powerful lead generation tools for B2B today. Everyone’s on LinkedIn, which makes them reachable if you use Sales Nav correctly.
(The screenshot above is from my guide on using it like a pro, including setting the right alerts and filtering your searches to find the ideal customers.)
What can Sales Navigator do for you?
- A fresh B2B lead database
- Advanced filtering to narrow down your ICP and find them on LinkedIn
- Saved searches
- Lead list building
- Sales alerts for updates in your lead’s job changes, posts and more
- Direct lead messaging through InMails
Plus, with tools like Findymail, you can even export your leads from Sales Nav with verified email addresses to plug into your cold outreach tool.
Sales Navigator Pricing
The Core plan starts from $99.99/month. For the full breakdown of Sales Navigator pricing, take a look at my walkthrough here.
2. Findymail to Find Your Prospect’s Accurate Email Addresses
Whether you’re browsing and want to find email addresses for the leads on the go or you have a lead list in Sales Navigator, Findymail can help. Using proprietary algorithms, our tool delivers the most accurate email addresses – and you only pay for verified emails.
How does Findymail find email addresses?
- The pic above shows how to use it when browsing casually on LinkedIn. Activate the Findymail Chrome extension and you’ll get verified emails instantly.
- You can use it to export your Sales Nav (and Apollo.io) leads with email addresses. You only need the extension and Sales Navigator, but I wrote a step-by-step guide here.
- Findymail also works as a GSheets formula if you already have a list!
Findymail starts from $49/mo for up to 1,000 verified emails. There aren’t any charges for duplicates and as many team members as you’d like can use it!
3. ZoomInfo for Sales Intelligence and Lead Enrichment
You might already be familiar with ZoomInfo because of its well-integrated lead enrichment tool, which can help you get the freshest insights on your business development leads. However, it offers a complete sales and marketing platform.
The best ZoomInfo features include:
- Contact enrichment
- Sales automation
- Conversation intelligence
- Workflow automation
- Buyer intent insights
- Data cleansing
And more, including features specific to recruitment. It really is a tool that 99% of business development professionals I know swear by. Unfortunately, it does cost a pretty penny.
ZoomInfo’s pricing is gated, but it starts from $15,000/year.
Cheaper Alternatives to ZoomInfo for Sales Intelligence
If ZoomInfo is out of your price range right now, you might be interested in the following buyer’s guides I recently wrote on different alternatives:
For example, UpLead starts from $74/month and offers advanced data, including technographic data.
4. Instantly for Outreach Automation
Instantly is the best all-around cold outreach automation tool that helps you deal with everything from point A to the finish line. In particular, it helps with the following parts of your business development outreach strategy:
- B2B lead database
- Email warmup
- Unlimited email-sending accounts
- Campaign automation
- Integrations: Instantly uses Zapier to connect with the rest of your stack.
Instantly outreach sending and warmup starts from $37/mo. If you’d like access to their lead database, that comes at an extra cost of $47/mo.
Business Development Tools for Calls and Other Channels
Whether you’re a fan of making cold calls or prefer keeping things warm, you’ll need reliable tools to keep things organized and efficient. Similarly, if you believe in omnichannel engagement as a superior way to warm up your leads, I have just the tools for you!
1. Twilio for SMS and Voice Calls
Twilio works for both marketing and sales, making it a handy all-in-one addition to your business development communication stack. Firstly, it offers messaging. Then, it goes on to help you make, receive and keep track of calls worldwide. If you need help with your email marketing, it also integrates with SendGrid.
The best Twilio features include the following:
- Messaging (SMS, chat, WhatsApp)
- Worldwide voice calls
- Customer AI for analyzing real-time customer engagement data
- Omnichannel campaign support
- Integrations: Integrate anything with Twilio through Zapier
All in all, Twilio will centralize all your non-email communications with customers and even help you build campaigns and journeys that feel custom-made to your leads and clients.
Twilio starts from $0.05/active user/mo, depending on the features you’d like to use.
2. Vidu for Video Prospecting
Merge tags are the best, but no one’s come as close to making the most of them as Vidu has. They specialize in video prospecting, allowing you to create personalized videos for every outreach email you send.
Some of my favorite Vidu features include the following:
- Build a library of scripted videos with merge tags that allow you to automatically send personalized videos
- Create personalized gifs and memes
- Integrations: Zapier, SalesLoft and others
At the end of the day, if you want to stand out in the crowded inboxes, you’ll first need an awesome subject line. And right after that, you need to wow in your email body content. What better way to do it than with a video, which is still unused enough to look fresh to your prospects?
Vidu has a free plan, with paid plans starting from €29/mo. You’ll need the paid plans to send personalized videos (up to 300 per month).
3. Gong.io for Call Intelligence
If you’re doubling down on sales calls in your business development process, Gong.io can help you optimize every part. I see it used by sales managers most often because it analyzes your sales conversations to create AI-assisted forecasts, provide feedback and more.
(It’s definitely an asset when managing sales and BD teams remotely.)
Other Gong.io features you’ll find handy include the following:
- Customer conversation analysis (emails, calls, video calls, CRM and other sources)
- Identify risks in your current process
- AI-assisted forecasting and predictions
Ultimately, Gong.io is a helpful tool for analyzing your data if you juggle hundreds and thousands of deals every quarter. It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees, but Gong.io keeps you focused on the right information and even provides customized feedback based on the rep, deal type and more parameters.
You’ll need to request a customized proposal, but on average, Gong.io’s base price is $5,000 for up to 49 users.
Tools to Give Your Business Development Process a Competitive Advantage
Now that we’ve covered the tools that are absolute staples in the BD stack, it’s time to spice things up!
The tools I’m about to show you aren’t necessary for you to get started with outreach, but they give you deeper insights into what your audience thinks and how you can best reach them.
1. Albacross for Inbound Prospects
Look, I love proactive business development. It’s hard to grow without it. The problem is that you might miss out on the leads visiting your website without getting in touch. Enter Albacross, a handy tool that monitors your website traffic, identifies your leads and shows you intent data so you can reach out knowing the time is right.
The key Albacross features include the following:
- Fully GDPR-compliant website monitoring
- Identifying prospects and companies
- Intent data
- Funnel stage data
- Integrations: Albacross has some native integrations, but for everything else you’ll need Zapier
In addition to business development, Albacross is also massively helpful for account-based marketing!
Albacross starts from €79/mo.
2. Crystal Knows
If you’ve ever wished you could be a fly on your key accounts’ walls, Crystal Knows can help! This tool analyzes your buyers’ communication and personality styles, so you have devise the right approach.
Of course, you’re not going to use Crystal Knows for every lead, but when you’re targeting those high-priority stakeholders and CEOs, you might just tap into its expertise.
How does Crystal Knows work?
- Predictive personality analyses based on publicly available information
- Analyses for your team to match the best BD professionals with the right personality styles
- Enrichment feature that integrates with your CRM
- Integrations: Crystal offers a few integrations, but you can contact them to build a custom solution
Crystal Knows has a free test plan, with paid plans starting from €49/mo.
3. Storylane for Interactive Demos
There’s nothing like an in-person demo, but a new lead might hesitate to hop on a lengthy sales call with you. Similarly, if you’re dealing with a buying committee, it’s much better to personalize the demo to each stakeholder.
Typically, this would take time and convincing. But Storylane makes it really, really easy to create demos tailored to every prospect’s interests, pain points and goals, allowing you to shorten your sales cycle.
The key Storylane features that help with your business development include the following:
- Personalized demos for the main stakeholder and the rest of the buying committee
- Demos you can use in your cold outreach to reduce friction
- Tight CRM integrations for personalized demos at scale
Of course, you can use Storylane in your marketing efforts, too. (Your marketing team might just thank you for pointing them in the right direction!)
Storylane has a free test plan, but paid plans start from $40/mo/user for unlimited demos. However, if you need advanced integrations and personalization, you’ll be happier with the $100/mo/user plan.
Build Your Book of Business – Fast
It takes time to find the right prospects and nurture a connection with them – or does it? Everything becomes much easier when you have the right tools in your kit.
In this guide, I’ve walked you through the key tools you can integrate so you can build an automated business development process. From lead gen tools like Findymail to demo personalization tools like Storylane, there’s no reason to stick to the status quo when you could become amazing.
You’ve got this!
P.S. If you need help finding verified email addresses from your LinkedIn and Apollo.io leads, try Findymail for free with 10 credits!