Every new sales tool promises to improve operations – but is the juice worth the squeeze?
According to Smart Selling Tools, the average spend for sales technology at growing companies is more than $1,000 per sales rep per month. Unfortunately, many companies see their once-promising investments languish and fail to produce results.
According to SalesForce, high-performing sales teams are prone to use 3 times more sales technology than underperforming teams. And while the right tech can increase efficiency, organization, and productivity, many sales tools go underutilized and poorly implemented.
With technology proliferating, it’s increasingly important for businesses to develop a strategic approach to tech adoption. Moreover, to generate returns, these tools must align with existing business processes. This requires you to evaluate tools on the size of the need, how they align with your current tech, and with workflows that are already building and closing pipeline (no software will save bad processes).
Use this article to learn 5 steps to purchasing and aligning your sales tools with operations to maximize success.
1. Identify Your Needs
It’s best to choose tools based on the problems you want to solve.
Though just 9% of marketers say they have the tools they need, less is more when it comes to technology. This is because every tool requires an investment in time, money, and people hours to use effectively. And that’s before you spend the leadership capital to implement the tool across your entire organization.
Ask yourself – how does the sales tool in question directly further your goals? Will the investment produce measurable returns in key areas?
Say you’re keen to boost customer loyalty and retention by improving customer service for your ecommerce business. In this example, adding a chatbot to your website is likely a good investment because it offers a predictable return with an acceptable investment of setup and maintenance. Every prospective sales tool should offer a tangible set of benefits with balanced costs and risks.
Here are a few ways to identify your needs:
- Prioritize for your KPIs
- Survey team members before, during, and after.
- Search for bottlenecks beforehand.
Get a sense of what needs improving before you buy. This way, you’ll only invest in a platform that can actually move the needle.
2. Assess Gaps in Your Tech Stack
It’s important to audit the performance of your current tech stack and the processes it enables. According to Hubspot, more than one in four marketers (26%) say that their top challenge is finding the right tech to fit their needs.
Consider whether your current tools meet your needs. Are you lacking key features? What features would allow you to succeed? Have you overlooked any relevant features in existing software?
Inefficient workflows suggest a need for new solutions. Manual data entry, orphan spreadsheets, and ongoing troubleshooting are just a few signposts that you might need software. Asking employees about their experiences is a great way to identify holes in your capabilities.
That said, new tech can’t solve all your business problems. Many issues originate in faulty processes or from skill gaps. In these cases, you’re better served by auditing your operations and better enabling your existing solution than reaching for your checkbook.
3. Pause Before Purchase
Overhauling your processes and tech stack is a big step that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Evaluate the impact of the change on your team, existing tech, and the track forward. Ask yourself about the 3 T’s:
- Team: How will your employees’ workflow be improved? Hampered?
- Tech: How will your existing tech stack be impacted? Will everything still integrate?
- Track: How will your business goals and objectives be advanced? Impeded?
Consider the downstream effects of implementing a new solution. For example, timelines for rollout are often much longer than expected. You’ll need to schedule additional time for integration and training, or risk costly slowdowns.
What if you decide to hold off? Well, just circle back later. If the complications outweigh the benefits, you’re better served by waiting until the circumstances change. A good fit solution always aligns with your operations as they are now, or could be, without major upheaval.
4. Foster Adoption With Your Workflows
For best results, align your how your team already does their work with the most-used features of your new technology.
Sales enablement software, for example, may offer brief training videos that play inside your rep’s inbox, which help reps get up to speed faster. Building your training into the reps workflow, in the beginning at least, allows you to cruise through onboarding and maximize returns without extra hassle.
Be sure to keep your workflows simple. Complex directions lead to confusion, so outline a set of simple steps for staff to follow in all relevant areas. If any existing workflows have given you problems in the past, now’s the time for a rewrite.
As staff become more familiar with these tools, you may want to adjust the workflow. Source feedback from employees to help adjust processes so they scale optimally going forward.
4. Train Your Team
Training is an expense of implementation that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Even if the tool is ”user-friendly,” employees need training. Don’t assume people will figure it out as they go. Inadequate training can lead to costly first-time mistakes, cumulative losses in efficiency, and a rejection of the tool by your team. Educating employees is the best way to ensure future operational success.
Here are a few ways to approach training:
- Assign a dedicated trainer
- Host breakout small group sessions
- Run adoption reporting and coaching sessions for managers
- Pay for guided onboarding and support if available
It’s important to remember that staff have different learning styles. While some people respond to visually-oriented coaching sessions, others might benefit from trial and error with 24/7 support. If feasible, ask staff for their preferences before making a decision.
Ultimately, practice is vital for ensuring adoption and success of new sales tools.
5. Hire a Consultant
Many companies hire consultants to help facilitate their transition into new technology and processes. These experts can create workflows, integrate tech, train and coach reps, and ensure your solutions match your systems.
While consultants aren’t cheap, partnering with a professional can be a speedy and cost-effective way to maximize your investment. This person can do as little or as much as you need to ensure your team hits the ground running. Meanwhile, you get to keep pushing forward with full confidence that your new solution will come online without a hitch.
Consultants are experts and priced accordingly. Be sure to define specific objectives to keep yourself on budget while getting what you need to succeed.
Aligning Technology and Business Processes
Before you rush to buy another sales tool, evaluate your needs. Many of the misadventures and frustrations around sales technology arrives from “shiny object syndrome,” or buying new tools that look nice but don’t have a clear use case for you. Be strategic about your tech stack, and honest about the downstream effects a new tool has on your productivity and efficiency. Finding a great match between platform and process is the best way to ensure success (and avoid headaches).