The 5 E’s of a Sales Technology Ecosystem
Building a Successful, Sustainable Sales Technology Stack
Your sales technology stack can either be your greatest asset or your biggest source of agitation. It all depends on how you approach the selection, adoption, and integration of your solutions. Depending on the size of your organization, getting your sales technology right can literally be the difference between losing money on your technology investment and seeing millions added to your bottom line. For the greatest success, follow the five E’s of a sales technology ecosystem:
Five Steps in Sales Technology Selection, Adoption, and Integration
When most companies start thinking about sales technology, they begin with a few common questions. What do we need? What’s broken? What sales technology solution will fix that problem? It seems logical, but it’s all extremely reactionary. There’s nothing strategic or proactive about the system, and it ends up losing companies a lot of money.
The first step should always be evaluative. Take a step back, and look at your company holistically. Audit your:
- Stakeholders (for needs and challenges)
- Technology (for overlap, gaps, adoption rates, and current use patterns)
- (Read here for more information about conducting a successful sales technology audit.)
- Organizational capabilities
Once you’ve identified all this information, you’re much more able to step back and to see where you should be focusing your energy first.
In theory, these audits help you see what’s right in front of you, but as this article touches on, it isn’t always easy for a company full of people too close to the problem. If you’re not sure that you’re asking the right questions or identifying the priorities that are going to have the biggest impact, there are organizations that have the research, expertise, and knowledge base within sales technology and business consulting to help you fully understand your problems and potential solutions. Sometimes an objective outside eye is necessary.
After your evaluative audits, it’s time to execute your strategy. Goals and objectives are an essential starting point in this process. Both those goals and objectives should be informed by the information gathered in the evaluation phase.
With every move you make within your sales technology strategy, it should be clear what goal you’re trying to help achieve or what outcomes you’re working to reach. If you can’t directly tie back your decision to a specific goal, there’s a good chance you’re still being reactionary in your decision-making. Strategically and thoughtfully align all your resources to those goals and outcomes, and don’t forget to keep yourself oriented toward dollars and cents. If you’re not seeing more financial benefit than you’re paying, that solution doesn’t make sense.
This is one of the most important steps in the process, and most people skip it, opting to jump instead straight to technology selection. The result? Excessive churn. Underutilized, misused, or unused sales technology solutions. Lots of wasted money and resources.
The sales technology selection process is all about aligning solutions to all the organization-specific data you’ve gathered in the first two steps, and engaging the relevant people and resources: your internal stakeholders, external professionals who can help you define the best sales technology plan, sales technology selection tools, and, ultimately, the vendors.
If you do choose to leverage an external third-party consultancy, ensure they have the breadth of knowledge and research about the sales technology industry to help you overcome your organization’s specific challenges and meet your needs. This kind of resource can efficiently and effectively reveal how to best impact your business and to drive growth that fully aligns to your overall sales strategy.
This piece revolves around adoption, and it can make or break your sales technology system. Done correctly, you can successfully drive internal adoption of the sales technology tools, which, in turn, drives significant revenue and growth.
Done incorrectly, your system will stall, you’ll see poor return on your investment, and the company will likely fall back to the reactionary approach that leads to frequent sales tech churn.
When it comes to adoption, keep several things in mind:
- Stakeholders need to be aligned cross-functionally.
- If the tools actually enhance the efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity of your salespeople, adoption is much more likely to occur.
- If the tools actually save your salespeople time and resources, adoption is much more likely to occur.
- An adoption system must address the challenges identified in the evaluation phase, as well as overcome the identified gaps.
- An adoption program is ongoing and fluid. As your processes and systems evolve over time, so should your adoption program.
For more information about how to increase sales technology adoption within your organization, read here.
The next stage is evolution. Once the first four pieces are in place, you’re highly likely to see an increased return on your sales tech stack investment. Increasing that revenue opens up opportunities for growth. It means you can scale and integrate additional sales technologies and continue to build your system out.
Ecosystem versus Straight Line
One key point here is that this system is not a finite linear line from step one to step five. Once you hit a point where you can evolve, you head back to the beginning, making sure your series of audits are still relevant and helpful given your new status.
Additionally, all these pieces are incredibly interconnected. It’s impossible to create an effective adoption strategy without the base of a sound stakeholder audit. You can’t execute a strategy without having defined goals and outcomes. This is precisely why we at Vendor Neutral call this a sales technology ecosystem.
From people to processes to technology solutions, everything lives together, works together, and integrates into an aligned system. It’s a constantly evolving process that requires frequent and engaged adjustment and reevaluation.
Having this systems-level view provides the opportunity to drive real revenue growth for your organization, but it has to be done in the right way.
If you’re battling barriers to sales technology integration, including siloed working environments, and you’re struggling with widespread and ongoing sales technology adoption, start a conversation with an outside consultancy to see how they can potentially help.