By the year 2020, it’s estimated that there will be over 6 million inside and outside sales professionals in the U.S. alone. They represent an incredibly valuable resource for companies across a variety of industries, and it’s clear that sales leaders nationwide are continually searching for new ways to get the most out of their sales teams.
It makes sense then that the sales acceleration technology market recently reached approximately $13 billion in North America, as companies dedicate themselves to finding better ways for their salespeople to connect with customers and improve productivity. Almost every sales manager will be faced with the prospect of searching for acceleration software, and there are several steps that must be completed before, during, and after any such search.
Investigate the situation as if you were planning to sell to your own company.
If you want to match your sales team up with the best possible solution—one that will complement your strengths and deliver on your organizational goals—then you need to have as specific an idea as possible about what you need your sales acceleration software to accomplish. The more precisely you can articulate your pain points, concerns, and needs to a salesperson when you speak with them, the better the possibility that each side will be able to make an accurate assessment of whether or not a partnership is a good idea.
Since you’re a sales professional, you already know how to do this. You’re simply taking the same principles used in prospect segmentation and customer research during sales opportunities, and applying them to your own company.
Consult your IT leaders about systems integration.
Employing sales acceleration software may affect the sales department the most on a day-to-day basis, but there are still many other people throughout the organization who will be impacted by the search and implementation. As a sales leader, you and your team will have the best idea of which specific solutions will best help you improve efficiency and reach your goals, but it’s still crucial to collaborate with other departments in order to find a platform that delivers results across the board.
One of the most important of these units is your IT management, because issues relating to systems integration, hardware capacity, and network security will fall squarely on their shoulders. It’s paramount to view your IT leaders as valuable partners in this effort, rather than layers of red tape. If you are particularly passionate about specific platforms you can present your case accordingly, but make sure you take their feedback about technical matters seriously.
Test out demos yourself.
Depending upon the situation, you as a sales leader may rarely interact with the sales acceleration tool following its implementation, other than looking at reports. It may act solely as a solution for increasing the efficiency of common BDR tasks such as cold contacts and email nurturing, and your specific business duties may never necessitate that you use it daily. That does not, however, relieve you of the responsibility of thoroughly testing live demos during your search, because you want to make sure your salespeople will adopt the technology and actually use it.
If you don’t have hands-on experience with the platform itself, you’ll never know for sure how easy it is to use. Additionally, you never know when staffing situations may change, requiring you to train new sales reps on the program.
Investigate vendor support resources, and use them.
When you purchase sales acceleration software you aren’t just making a transaction; you’re forging a partnership that will ideally deliver valuable benefits to both sides for the long term. With so many similar sales optimization programs these days promising to deliver many of the same features, one of the best things you can do before partnering with a vendor is to thoroughly investigate their support structure and available resources. That is an area where many of the best sales software companies now differentiate themselves.
This includes receiving a detailed overview and timetable of any onboarding plans, and asking to see product guides and other helpful documents to check for completeness and ease-of-access. If the vendor is committed to your company’s success, they’ll be more than happy to share their detailed process with you.
Commit to your choice.
Even when you’ve done all of your homework and found a solution that makes sense for your organization, things don’t always go smoothly when it comes to the early implementation period. But except in cases of fraud or egregious misrepresentation, this probably isn’t the time to go looking for ways to get out of your contract and scrambling to find a new solution.
Give your team members some time to become comfortable with the system, and allow the vendor’s support team to work out the kinks. Use any and all of the aforementioned resources to optimize your success, and trust that the value you saw in the solution during your search is real and achievable.
Danny Wong is a marketing consultant, sales strategist, and writer. He does marketing at Tenfold, a seamless click-to-dial solution for high-performance sales teams. Connect with him on Twitter @dannywong1190.