The rise to prominence of sales technology has created a bittersweet market for sales management to work with. The upside is that there are now many different vendors that aim to take data-driven approaches to solving practically anyproblem that sales organizations face. From lead generation to social selling to performance management to sales forecasting, if you have a sales problem there is probably a sales automation tool available for you to implement. However, the downside is that a bountiful market also comes with a lot of noise and shiny objects to distract you from just trying to find the best tool for your team. When you are being demoed the many features that modern sales analytics provides, you should make sure that you can confidently check off these 4 boxes.
Sales Process Analogous
Whether you developed your sales process from a prominent sales book or through the services of an expensive consultancy, your process is unique and valuable. Your process likely took a significant amount of time to develop and is what your reps are trained on and what your management team uses to forecast. No sales forecasting tool should force you to have to change how you sell or forecast in order to use it. In fact, this is proven through the Aberdeen Group's research that found that best-in-class companies are 33% more likely to adopt sales analytics solutions specifically designed to support forecasting.
The entrance of Saas and other cloud-based technologies has resulted in broader target markets and lowered the amount of resources needed to perform successful customer installs. Installation projects are becoming antiquated practices because of how much time, money, and human capital that is being removed from promoting the customer's core business functions. With the increased speed of sales and the shift towards a buyer-controlled process, Sales Operations professionals don't have time to be implementing tools. Sales forecast tools are no different. The best installs should be done in a day without any on-site services needed. While it may take some more time to ramp up and to fully customize your instance, the technology should be usable almost immediately.
Quick and Clear ROI
As a sales manager, you probably already have laid out metrics that your sales team will use to determine success. The best sales forecasting tools will have very direct examples or case studies to set expectations for ROI before you even install their solution. If they can't provide you with a customer testimonial, white paper, or results of a proof of concept then you may want to further consider if their capabilities will really be able to help you with your sales goals.
Easy Data Entry
Research conducted by AGC Partner revealed that 71% of sales reps already believe that they spend too much time entering data into their CRM. This is highly problematic for sales operationalists or sales managers because data integrity is a crucial component of developing an accurate forecast. No matter what projections, graphs, dashboards, or prescriptive analytics that a solution claims that can offer you, they can't be very useful unless they improve the sales teams overall ability to capture data about their selling behaviors.
The sales technology world is a toy store for sales managers with solutions of all varieties. It is in sales management's best interest to invest heavily in improving their sales process with sales technology but to not get distracted by features and capabilities that look great but, ultimately, don't matter. Check these 4 boxes off during your vetting process and you will have a tool that will definitely work for you.