The 3 fastest ways to fail with a new sales technology

by Rex Biberston
business-person-frustrated-throwing-papers

I wasn’t always a sales technology geek, but after working at InsideSales.com (now XANT) and later starting my own outsourced sales company, I learned to love the efficiencies of a great tech stack.

You’ve seen the ads, maybe you’ve been to the conferences, and you definitely read the blog posts. Sales technology is enabling the acquisition of new customers and it’s time to jump on board.

Unfortunately, the same brilliant marketing that gets us excited to “accelerate sales” can promise results we’ll never achieve if we fall victim to these three challenges when implementing sales tools.

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Fail to get user buy-in 

Having sold and integrated sales technology for nearly a decade, I know that in the back of every buyer’s mind is the question of “ROI”—how and when am I going to get a return on investment?

The obvious answer is, “When the tool pays for itself.” But tools don’t do things; people do things. When we assume that by simply plugging a cable into a port or installing the latest Chrome extension our reps will use the tool we bought, we forget that ROI comes from utilization, not installation

If, during the evaluation process, sales leaders fail to get user buy-in, they’ll inevitably face the adoption problem. When your reps don’t use your tool, you never get a return on that investment. 

So what can be done?

Short answer: it happens before you buy.

Step 1: Get demo videos & share with the team.

If you crowdsource concerns, likes, and questions, you’re better prepared to field that next sales conversation and understand the true value of any tool you’re evaluating.

Here’s a handy template for questions you might include with a demo video sent to your team: 

  • What stands out to you as possibly challenging?
  • What stands out to you as exciting?
  • What questions do you have that would help you understand how it works or whether we should use it?

(And if you’re really clever, turn it into a Google Form like this one so you can easily compile and compare the answers.)

Step 2: Include a user you trust in a real-time demo.

It’s easy to fall for a slick sales deck and a great demo. With a powerful case study, you’re going to fall head over heels. So grab someone whose opinion you trust and include them in the next call to make sure you’re asking the tough questions. 

Users who aren’t buyers make for the best devil’s advocates. Want to put the seller on the other end of the line through a real BS test? This is the way to do it.

Step 3: When trialing, set clear goals.

If you think the trial will tell you how it solves for Problem X, but the reps are more focused on Problem Y, you won’t agree on the outcome.

You’ll likely benefit from forming a trial group, defining a goal outcome that everyone agrees to, and periodically checking with each member of the group for feedback on the success of that goal outcome.

What does this look like in reality?

Well let’s say you have 10 sales reps and you’re considering moving to a new sales cadence platform. 

You assign a low performing rep, a middle of the pack rep, and a high performer to the new tool for a period of time with a clear goal. The goal could be setting more discovery calls, gaining more efficiency in adding leads to the funnel, or something else. But if everyone agrees, you’ll know how well the tool performs from multiple perspectives, and the data should provide the proof you need to make a decision.

Pro tip: Stay away from multiple goals.

While a tool might help with more than one problem you’re experiencing, it should have a significant impact on one particular problem you care most about. Otherwise the cost of switching and/or integrating it into your reps’ workflows is likely too high, regardless of the tool’s direct cost.

Skip the instructions

Reality check—you did not build this tool, so you do not know its boundaries or its capabilities. Unless you are a sales tech savant, you’ll likely never reach more than 50% of its capabilities without participating in the existing knowledge base around it.

developer-looking-at-screensHow can I say that? I made this mistake! I bought into a sales cadence tool, started to build out my workflows, and documented it as I went so that I didn’t have to do it again once fully built. Only near the end of the build did I learn that I could have skipped 50% of the hard work by utilizing automations hidden away in the settings on the back end.

When offered 1:1 onboardings, seminars, webinars, or even just a knowledge base, dive in. Whatever time you save by skipping this step will be lost tenfold in the long run, even if you don’t realize it.

Does this sound familiar? “They’ve got great marketing but it doesn’t do what they claim.” If so, you’ve probably skipped the instructions.

Let the technology dictate the process

If you don’t know who your next best customer is, what problem you solve for them, and what you want to say when you reach them, there’s no sales tool on earth that can help you fill your pipeline.

Bill Gates said it best:

The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.

My friend, Chris Beall, says that his tool helps people “magnify the suck,” meaning that if they’re bad at having sales conversations, adding more efficiencies will simply increase the number of bad conversations they have. That’s the truth of any sales tool, really. 

Here are two easy ways you can solve it:

Option A: Dictate your process

Explain the process that the new tool is meant to solve, without referencing a single feature from that tool. Don’t look at any notes or diagrams, just tell someone the steps you take.

coworkers-talking-while-walking

Say you’re buying a new lead database that has a bunch of bells and whistles including fancy CRM integrations. Your process should sound something like the following:

“A sales rep needs to add leads to her funnel, so she searches a database for companies and people matching our ideal client profile, eliminates for whom she already has contact information, and exports the valid results. From there she uploads them to the CRM and adds them to the appropriate list for calling, emailing, etc.”

No jargon, no features, just facts.

If the fancy lead database cuts out the manual work of suppressing current leads and exporting/importing valid results, the tool follows your process and adds value. Just how much value is up for you to quantify, but at least you’re not building a process around a tool.

Option B: Diagram your process

Follow the same thought process as Option A, but use a tool like Lucidchart to write out the process in clear steps.

If you’re a visual thinker, this can help you identify inefficiencies in the process, which is a bonus. 

coworkers-brainstorming-around-whiteboard

Regardless of how you confirm that you’ve actually got a process, it’s best to do this before even evaluating new technologies. That will help you to eliminate any options that, right off the bat, can’t do what you need or add greater efficiency. Best case scenario, you find that you didn’t need any technology at all and can enable your team by simply eliminating wasted effort.

About the author

rex-biberston-avatarRex Biberston has built his career helping companies target the right buyers, nail their messaging, and build sales processes that scale.

He co-authored the book Outbound Sales, No Fluff, which quickly became a best seller. Rex and co-author, Ryan Reisert, formed The Sales Developers, the team called upon by B2B organizations actively investing in growth when they need modern outbound sales expertise delivered with no fluff and total commitment to excellence.

They provide perfect leads lists, outbound prospecting services, and expert consulting to consistently fill their clients’ sales buckets.

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