If you’re in an outside sales organization– including door-to-door, field, and face-to-face sales– you’re more than likely aware of the increasing amount of tech solutions that are being offered in your space.
Sales organizations everywhere have been incorporating tech and software into their sales process and taking advantage of its benefits. But outside sales teams often have a harder time finding a solution that best fits their needs. Fortunately, this has been changing in the last few years, and several relatively young companies have begun creating strong products that address the unique needs of outside sales teams. Companies that previously had few software options now have several.
So we’ve put together some tips for evaluating, selecting, and incorporating a software solution into your sales approach. This should help as you’re weighing different offerings and trying to find the best fit for your team and your goals.
Evaluate Yourself First
Unfortunately, we can’t tell every organization what they should be looking for in a solution, because every team’s needs will change based on their situation. For this reason, the first thing every team should do is identify its problems and objectives. If you’re not sure what that looks like, here are some general questions you can ask:
- Do you have a solid, measurable sales process in place?
- Do you have a way to measure and compare your reps’ performances?
- Do you spend too much time on administrative tasks? Can they be automated?
- Are you effectively training and retaining sales reps?
- Do you have a marketing effort that complements your sales approach?
There’s software that can address these and many other problems, so it’s important to know what you need before you begin your search. Otherwise, you may find yourself over-spending for a mismatched product or even misusing a product after you buy it.
Speaking of spending, you also need to decide what kind of budget you have to invest in a tech solution, and what you need to accomplish with that solution in order to have an acceptable return on your investment. Just as a note, CRMs return $8.71 per dollar spent, on average. That number almost doubles when reps have mobile access to it, which is true for most field sales app.
Once you’ve diagnosed your needs, make sure they remain central to your research and demo process. For example, if you’re speaking with a company and they do not ask about your current sales process, it’s likely that they don’t have much interest in your core needs. Companies like these don’t plan on making a continued investment in you – they just want you to download their product and figure things out on your own, which isn’t going to give you good results.
When you’re deciding which field sales app to invest in, it’s important that you find the right product and the right provider.
Finding the Right Product
There are some features that every outside sales software is going to have, otherwise it wouldn’t make it in the category. Obviously, you’ll want to be sure that you pick something that will help you track your leads geographically, assign areas quickly, track rep location and performance, and improve the quality of your customer interactions. But there are less obvious things that you’ll also want to ask about:
- Offline mode. It’s a bit of a no-brainer that outside salespeople don’t have as reliable a connection to the internet as their inside sales counterparts. Field sales reps often deal with spotty service, so you’ll want to make sure that the service you go with has a reliable offline mode so that you can maintain key functionality when it matters most.
- Data imports/exports. Chances are you already have a good deal of lead information that’s in digital form. If you don’t, that will change as soon as you start working with sales software. Be sure that the solution you go with has the capability to import and export that data easily. You don’t want to find yourself unable to get that data to other software or people who don’t have a sign-in to the app.
- Integrations. It’s most likely that you aren’t going to find a service that already does exactly what you want, so make sure that the solution you select easily connects and communicates with other softwares. You’ll want a solution that naturally integrates with universal services (like Google Calendar or SalesForce) as well as major players in your field. You’ll also want to make sure they’re connected to a service like Zapier, who can make it much easier to connect to a wider variety of apps.
- Paperless. One of the main benefits that drive sales teams to find a digital solution is the prospect of going completely paperless. Paper is a cost and liability that just isn’t necessary anymore. Lost papers, conflicting data, etc can all be a part of the past. Make sure you find a solution that embodies that mindset, and can support your sales process digitally from the early marketing stage until you collect that final digital signature.
Finding the Right Provider
Here are the major characteristics that will differentiate a high-quality provider from an under performer:
- They care about your success. Like we mentioned earlier, be sure to work with a company that actually asks about the history of your company and your objectives moving forward. They should speak to those objectives and relate the features of their product to the obstacles you’re experiencing.
- They have a thorough onboarding. This is especially true if you’re a mid to large size team. Make sure the company you are working with has a specific, time-based plan for your interactions with them and their product, especially in the first few weeks after your purchase. Everything that happens in these first few weeks is crucial to your success with the product/service.
- They’re there to support you. No software runs perfectly all the time. Instead of looking for a company that doesn’t experience hiccups, look for a company that takes them in stride and will help you through them. As you research different offerings, it’s definitely worth your time to research a company’s support profile. How often is support available? How long does it take them to typically close a ticket? What is the satisfaction rating of customers who call in looking for help?
- They know the industry. The main reason that field sales companies are looking for new software solutions is because the standard sales software is unaware of the unique challenges that outside sales teams face. It only makes sense to find an offering that is built by those who have actually spent time selling in the field. They will know what needs to be solved and won’t waste time on features that outside sales teams don’t benefit from. Providers who know the industry will also be able to anticipate industry trends and solve for problems that are just around the corner but that you are not yet aware of.
- They have experience with enterprise-level companies. You might not be enterprise level yourself (maybe you only have one or two sales reps) but the purpose of sales software is to increase your production and help you grow. If a software provider mostly has experience with smaller companies, then they don’t know how to scale with you and you might outgrow them and have to go through this process all over again. Make sure a potential provider has a strong resume with companies of all sizes.
Enjoy the Results
Searching for a new sales software can be intimidating, but don’t let that keep you from getting started. The right solution will completely transform your organization for the better. Be wise as you do your research and don’t feel rushed, but also don’t hesitate to pull the trigger on something that feels good. You’ll start to see a return on your investment in no time and be glad you made the change.
About The Author
Scott Porter is Product Marketing Manager at SalesRabbit.