Selecting a new sales tool for your team can be a daunting task. Whether it’s a web-based solution or a new app, it’s important to do your due diligence before overwhelming your sales team. Sales Tool consultancies such as Fill The Funnel and Smart Selling Tools have documented over 3,000 such tools currently available. That’s a lot to consider.
In addition to some of the more traditional categories of CRM and presentation tools, there are entire new categories that focus on prospect research, compensation, contact information, trigger-events deal flow, electronic signatures, financials and more.
On top of that, add the entire social media spectrum that has proven highly effective for the sales profession such as LinkedIn and Twitter and the significance of a new generation of apps designed from the ground up for tablets and smartphones.
1. What specifically are you trying to improve or gain?
Clearly identifying what you want to achieve with as much specificity as possible is a necessity. Saying that you want to streamline your deal flow is not good enough. What stages of your deal flow? Who can impact deal flow? Sales, Operations, Finance or even Executive leaders?
2. How is it being done currently?
Will you be replacing an existing tool? Is it a manual process or are you creating something entirely new for your organization?
3. How will you measure success?
Decide at the very beginning how you will measure success of the new tool. How will you know that it is delivering the results? Will success be visible clearly to everyone, or only to the management team?
4. Which roles will be using the tool and it’s results?
Will this be for salesperson use only? Is this tool being selected as a tool for management? Is this need being driven by the sales team or sales management? What role will sales ops, finance or customer service have in the tool’s use? If others that sales will be leveraging the results of the tool, make sure that they are represented in the decision process. Their buy-in in the early stages of selection will prove helpful at the time of final decision.
5. How will the sales team be trained on the tool?
Is this something that will be trained in a formal session or will you leave it up to each sales rep to learn it on their own time. Can it be trained online, or does it require in-person training? Does the vendor provide tutorials or certified trainers. Do they have curriculum available?
6. Where will it be used?
Is this a tool that will be used at a desk, on a laptop? Or will it be used in the field, in a mobile setting?
7. Do you need an app and/or a web-based tool?
Will you select a web-based tool or an app on a mobile device. Some tools come with both options available and can provide additional benefits if available. Even if you have not yet deployed tablets into your sales process, now is a good time to plan for that possibility.
8. Will you manage the tool and data centrally or on an individual basis?
How and where is the data stored? If it is an individual tool how can it be shared and aggregated to view the data from the aggregate view of the company.
9. Will there be an impact on the customer?
Some tools will require customer agreement to implement. Electronic signatures are effective productivity enhancers but it your customer will not participate it is a waste of time.
By answering these questions and additional questions that might be unique to your company and culture you will be able to narrow down your choices to a manageable few in any category.
Additional questions that will need to be answered include:
Budget – What are you willing to spend to get the desired results?
Timeframe to implement – Is this a tool that can be rolled out immediately or is there a rigid timeline to install and deploy?
Customer Testimonials – what do others have to say about their experiences and the results obtained?
At this point, you should have ample information to narrow the pool to 2-3 leading candidates. My preference is to get the final candidates into the hands of the sales team. Most tools have a trial period available and are worth taking advantage of at this point.
Ensure that those that are participating in the trials are fully briefed on the objectives you have set for the tool(s). Ask specifically for input on ease of use, learning curve, and the results that are being achieved.
One of the surprises that I have encountered is that at times the tool that scores best in the technical scores just doesn’t fit well with the culture and the pace of the organization. Comfort with the overall feel and use of your new tool can play a key role in the successful rollout.
Selecting a new sales tool can bring excitement to a sales team. Get everyone involved in answering the questions and testing during the trial period. The resistance to change can be reduced by the involvement.
Every sales team can gain by the introduction of new sales tools. Follow the sites that highlight new tools that are being introduced. The improved performance and efficiency will make the effort worthwhile.
Don’t forget to evaluate your existing tools as well. A good target is to review your existing CRM that you rolled out years ago. Many are finding that they can be replaced with one of the newer, faster, easier to use CRM tools that are taking full advantage of the newest technology.
I originally published the original version of this post on the GetBase.com Blog which you can read here.