Evaluating Sales Tech: An Insider’s Look
Coming from a sales background, I’m usually the one trying to get people to buy something! However, in the past year I’ve often found myself on the other side of the conversation. I’ve been evaluating new technologies to help my own team succeed.
And let me tell you—it’s given me a whole new perspective on our own customers and their buying journeys. Is your prospect giving you an objection? Well, as I’ve learned, it’s probably because you don’t understand their needs and aren’t explaining how your product will help them succeed accurately.
I want to share what I’ve discovered and give you a peek into my own technology evaluation process in the hope that it gives you a little more insight into your customers’ point of view. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Personal, relevant outreach is more important than ever
Everyone’s email inboxes are inundated with clutter on a daily basis: spam, e-newsletters, generic prospecting messages…the list goes on. In order to have a hope of catching someone’s attention, you have to distinguish your message from the junk they’re trying to avoid.
I’m incredibly impressed if you send me a thoughtful video prospecting message using my company’s free Chrome extension, Vidyard GoVideo, because it shows you’ve done your research on me and what I do. But video is not the only way to earn my attention. If you can show me in a short, succinct message that you understand my business and can add something of value to help with the kinds of challenges I’m facing right now, I’m willing to have a conversation with you.
Also, if you’re going through the effort of calling me, leave a valuable voicemail! Get to the point, explain why you’re calling and how you think you can help. Smartphones are good nowadays, the call display tells me who it is, and if you don’t leave a voicemail with value you’re just interrupting my day and wasting my time.
2. It’s complicated
Of course, I was already aware that customers put a lot of thought into their choice to buy (or not buy) our products. Being on the other end of the buying decision was a reminder of how much there is to consider. Things like key needs, decision criteria, ROI—not to mention the people who will actually be using the technology. I had to think long and hard about how the technology solution would be used by the team. I also needed to consider whether it actually had the desired effect on results. Also, would they like using the solution or resent us for forcing it on them?
Lastly, with all this in mind, does the increase in results justify me personally spending time on the evaluation? In my opinion, when a prospect tells you there’s ‘no budget,’ in reality they don’t see enough initial value to spend their personal time and effort on an evaluation. If there’s ROI, then you can always go to leadership and justify additional budget. The latest evaluation I worked on involved over $600,000 in spend that was not included in the budget. Was it easy to get approved? No! Was it worthwhile? Yes! If the champion at your prospect has a need, and you can prove ROI then there’s always budget. Which leads into my next point:
3. There’s serious research involved
Even after I decided that a certain solution was worth investigating, I had initial conversations with at least five other vendors. Minimum. At that stage, the salespeople who set themselves apart were the ones who went out of their way to help me make an informed, educated decision for my team.
By all means, keep sharing your guides and resources, but most importantly, share success stories. Stories from customers like me and show you understand my team, processes and needs. This initial step is always very interesting. You’ll find that there will be a wide range of value propositions, and a few vendors will rise above the others because they align to your needs and overall company values.
One standout vendor, Chorus.ai, went so far as to make an introduction—not just a reference call, but an actual introduction—to a current customer in a role that was similar to mine. I can’t highlight enough how valuable this was. Not only was I able to ask all my questions, but I also gained a valuable new network connection in the process. And when it came to my buying decision? When I could see that there was a proven track record of ROI, the choice was easy.
4. It’s risky
Seeing a proven track record of ROI has the added benefit of making me feel more secure. At the end of the day, I’m going to have to stick my neck out in order to buy your solution. I have to defend my purchasing decision to budget-owners and executives. If things don’t turn out the way we expected, I’m going to be the one held accountable. If I feel confident that I’ve made the best possible decision based on the research and data I have available, I’m much more willing to take that risk.
Throughout this year I’ve been sharing the ‘#HowIBuy’ series by Nudge.ai, but actually going through a buying process several times has been very eye-opening. I hope this post has given you some more insight into your customers’ buying journeys. Keep in mind, if you keep hearing ‘no,’ you need to do a better job of understanding your prospects’ needs. You need to be able to articulate how your technology solution could help.
What strategies do you use to support your customers through their decision-making process? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.