What kind of buyer are you? One survey found that 45 percent of B2B buyers spend more time researching purchases than they did the previous year. Forty-five percent report using more sources for research to evaluate purchases, and 41 percent say they conduct a more detailed analysis of ROI before making a decision.
The B2B sales process is serious business. Making the decision to purchase technology directly hits your bottom line, impacts productivity, and affects employee morale. How can you ensure you’ve done your due diligence before taking the leap? We’ve compiled six surefire signs you’ve completed the necessary research.
Before you take a walk through the 6 steps in this post, we recommend you take a glance at our SalesTech Hierarchy model so you’re ready to review potential solutions with the right mindset.
1. You know how the solution will align with your business process and support your overall mission.
The first piece of research should be internal. What’s your internal process or playbook for determining if a solution is what you need? Outline a roadmap to identify and qualify prospective vendors. Will the solution only support the sales team or do you need to consider the effects on finance, customer service or marketing? How will the solution meet the overall company mission? Define the expected ROI. How much risk are you willing to assume?
After-all, the decisions you make here will impact your sales playbook, other tools and reps immediately. But long term, they could impact your team’s pipeline and closed revenue numbers.
2. You’ve defined all the challenges the solution will address.
For example, sales teams are feeling the effects of an unpredictable market. Consumers are driven by uncertainty, meaning fewer customers are willing to buy. How does the solution help your sales team leverage the value proposition to help prospects mitigate risk and understand the rewards of your product? Or, is it a challenge to simply get an appointment scheduled? Do your teams struggle with getting to the right stakeholder? These defined problems will help you narrow down a solution that specifically addresses the issues your team is struggling with.
HINT – Our Buyers Roadmap will guide you on how to execute on this part of the process.
3. Your stakeholders are aligned.
That does not mean that everyone agrees on everything. It does mean there is a willingness and awareness of who will help, hinder or hurdle the solution forward. The number of stakeholders involved in a sales tech purchase is steadily rising, making it increasingly difficult to make a decision that makes everyone happy. Harvard Business Review (HBR) found that in 2015, the average number of stakeholders was 5.4. Just two years later, it had climbed to 6.8.
HBR noted that this growing list of stakeholders bring their own personal and organizational priorities. This diversity leads to “increasing amounts of time for evaluation as stakeholders deliberate over the ‘trade-offs.'” It’s critical to get this group of stakeholders together before ever evaluating a solution. Align your goals. List priorities that take into consideration input from everyone. Doing this ahead of time will not only increase your chances of making a good decision, but it will also speed up the process.
4. Your KPIs are directly impacted.
Key Performance Indicators (KPI) help you track the health of your company. By comparing your goals to quantifiable data over a specific period, you can determine if a strategy is working or not. Forbes calls KPIs “the most important part of management.” What KPIs are impacted by the addition of the new technology? If the answer is none, then you should question if that technology is really needed. Going forward, how will the impact of the technology be measured? It’s not out of the question that you may need to add a KPI that specifically relates to the proposed technology. However, note three characteristics every KPI must have.
- Quantitative. The KPIs must be presented in the form of definitive numbers.
- Practical. They must integrate with existing company goals and processes.
- Actionable. An effective KPI must have an application that will create the desired change.
5. You’ve researched all the features and the overlaps of competing tools in the market.
Go beyond exploring competitors that provide the same product. Look at the range of products that can produce the effect you are hoping to achieve. What product features are most important? What products and vendors are offering those specific features? What differentiates competing tools?
How can you possibly compare so many different options? Find an objective source, like Vendor Neutral’s Simple SalesTech Selector. It allows you to sort through 400+ technology applications and training courses, returning a shortlist of solutions that align with your priorities and goals. Additionally, listen to the chatter. What are your competitors and industry peers using? How would they rate their experience with the product, as well as the vendor? Be sure to follow your prospective vendors on social media. How are they perceived, as industry leaders or pushy salespeople? Are they providing helpful, quality content to followers outside their customer base?
6. You’ve seen a demo of each vendor on your shortlist.
You must take your tech for a test drive before making a decision. Be sure to get the most out of your demo by learning about the solution and preparing questions ahead of time. Here’s a sampling of questions you might ask during your demo.
- Can I record this? It’s difficult to remember every detail. Ask if you can record the demo, so that you don’t miss any key features when pitching the solution to other key players.
- Could the software handle this scenario? The product should be solving a specific problem. You don’t need to know everything about the product, just how it solves the particular problem you have.
- Is the product compatible with…? Ensure the solution can integrate with your existing tech stack. You don’t want to be surprised by having to invest even more to use your new solution. When discussing costs, be clear on what is included. For that fee, will they integrate all necessary solutions?
- Are there any scenarios that are not a good fit for the solution? This is a good way to test the honesty of your vendor. No product is perfect for all situations. They might not say a certain scenario is impossible, but they should be able to tell you when the product does not provide the most value.
After viewing a few of these presentations, you’ll have a clearer picture of which vendors you are leaning towards using. Vendor Neutral assists with watching these presentations to ensure the right information is presented, your KPIs are directly addressed and to ensure all information shared is completely accurate.
Before making a tech buying decision, check out the resources available at Vendor Neutral. As well as consulting on sales tech selection, you’ll find a ton of webinars and written resources to help you build the perfect stack for your team. Contact us to learn more.