Over the last few years, there has been an unbelievable expansion in tech. Continued investment from venture capital and private equity, open-source code, infrastructure gains, and APIs have all created a “Cheesecake factory menu” of options in your software solutions.
Take MarTech as an example – in 2016 there were nearly 4,000 MarTech solutions in the market. Flash forward to today, and there are nearly 10,000 solutions available. That’s 10x the number of products available today as there were 8 short years ago, back in the “good old days” of 2014.
More recently we’ve started to see a very similar trend in sales tech and its many categories and sub-categories.
Don’t believe me? Google “How to build a sales tech stack” and proceed to scroll through articles such as “Building the ultimate sales stack: 31 tools you should know”
There are now 1,078 sales tech solutions bucketed into 5 groups including 45 different categories. Spoiler – you don’t need 31 of them, but you do need some of them.
With all of those choices and functionality comes a chaos of decision-making. What technology is available? What software do I actually need? Where can I leverage a solution to have the biggest impact for my sales team?
Simple answer, in order: A lot, some, it depends.
Complex answer: You need a framework for evaluating your sales tech stack.
I’ve built many sales tech stacks from the ground up, and over the years I’ve used a framework for evaluating and prioritizing solutions. In this post, I’m going to walk through the 7 steps of that framework to help you purchase the right tools for your company.
A Sales tech stack is a configuration of sales technologies leveraged to help your organization achieve its revenue goals.
Step 1 requires that you know, at least directionally, your organization’s revenue goals., Start there.
Following a revenue operations approach requires that you align your entire sales process to the buyer’s journey, which therefore requires you to align your sales tech stack to the buyer’s journey.
Mapping a buyer’s journey can sound intimidating, but it’s a powerful and enlightening exercise to lean into. You can start with something as simple as a google sheet, however, I recommend LucidChart as a starting point.
This is a wildly oversimplified example of mapping a buyer’s journey, but it’s important to visualize to give you context for the exercise. Do not buy software that does not align to your business process, and do not create business processes that do not align to your buyer’s journey.
Once it’s complete, take a step through the journey and highlight sections red where a part of your business process is not being supported. An example of this in the flow chart above is Lead Routing–an incredibly important business process that my tech stack does not currently empower. This is a gap that can easily be filled with a tool like LeanData.
Do your research and make a shortlist of products that can fill the gaps you’ve identified above. This isn’t a full evaluation–this is just a shortlist to eliminate outliers and get to a narrow set of potential solutions to put through a full review. Limit this to no more than 3 options– there are 1,078 sales tech solutions, you don’t have the time to look at all of them.
Key questions to resolve here
This is a great time to reach out to colleagues in the space to see what tools they are using, get referrals, and leverage 3rd party research firms like Gartner or Forester.
Shortlist the 3 vendors, make those demo requests. Hopefully, you won’t have to wait too long, although no promises unless you’re evaluating Revenue.io 😉
It’s full evaluation time, but before you sit down and take demos you need to put together an agile business requirements document to track and compare the reviewed products. I prefer a simple spreadsheet here so I can evaluate the tools head to head.
Beyond the requirements of fulfilling the business process, there are additional key variables to keep in mind.
All of your sales tech purchases are working towards one goal: drive more revenue for your business. Prove it. The question you have to answer here is “if we purchase this tool, and it performs exactly as expected, what will be the revenue impact on our business”
Work with your vendor here, but hold them accountable. ROI calculations are easily inflated by slight overestimations, but an accurate one can help you make a decision, roadmap your implementation and prioritize your onboarding. It will also set an expectation by which you can measure the impact of the tool for future renewal terms.
Congratulations, you’ve gone through the entire framework and narrowed it down to the final vendor. It’s time to buy the tool. Negotiate final discounts, agreements, and layout and agree upon an implementation plan.
An important note here–discounts are great but don’t count on them for year 2. If you found a product you love, opt for a multi-year term to lock in a greater discount that won’t be removed at the end of the initial 1-year term.
Choosing the right technology for your organization can be the difference between empowering your team to drive more revenue or bogging them down with tools that don’t support them. Follow these 7 steps, and you’ll be well on your way to helping your team unlock exponential growth.