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How to Evaluate Sales Tools

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June’s Sales Operations Meetup, Evaluating Sales Tools, covered exactly how sales ops professionals sift through dozens of offerings, to find the best combination of technologies that fit their sales process and enable their reps.

The panelists, Kendall Grant, Director of Sales Operations at Fastly, and Tucker Heiner, Sales Ops Manager at Hacker Rank shared how they build their tech stack.

Here are the main takeaways from the discussion:

A robust tech stack is requisite, and so is constant reevaluation:

The discussion opened with the panelists rapid-fire listing the types of tools needed to do their job. The result? Over a dozen. Here are a few categories of technologies they listed:

  • CRM Grant explained that while a CRM is a basic necessity, you can choose whether to evaluate a CRM or choose to build it internally. - In the case of Fastly, they built it internally.
  • Online meetings: Zoom.us, GotoMeeting, etc.
  • Configure price quote: Salesforce CPQ and Apttus
  • E-signature: DocuSign
  • Business intelligence: Tableau
  • Documentation Wiki: Confluence

With so many types of tools, and plenty of providers available, sales ops professionals have more solutions at their disposal than ever before. The key to navigating this well is maintaining a close feedback cycle with the tool users.

“We always try to keep an ear on the ground to get feedback from our team, to make sure we are getting the most out of our tools,” said Kendal. “We reevaluate constantly.”

When asked if there is every a period when they are not evaluating tools:

“Hopefully Christmas Day!”

Evaluation Deep Dive

Heiner was (and still is) in the market for an email cadence tool for activity tracking at the rep level. Heiner began the evaluation because he wanted insight into how the sales team was performing.

Providers considered included: Yesware, Outreach, Cirrus Insight and SalesLoft

Every evaluation should start by identifying what you are trying to solve:

“The most important factor when you are looking for a tool is determining what the need truly is and taking a hard look at who your users are going to be,” said Heiner. “That is going to dictate what your requirements are.”

Requirements:
Email activity tracking linked to SFDC
Will gives insight into what happens at the opportunity or contact level
Can enable a rep to build a list and send out emails in an automated cadence

For Heiner, building out an effective,, lean tech stack is a four step process:

  • Build a list of requirements
  • Generate a list of vendors
  • Whittle it down by comparing vendors and track in a spreadsheet
  • Do trials or pilots with the top vendors

Own the evaluation and determine that the tool adds value

Use historical data and engagement metrics to track and analyze how much time it is saving.

“Depending on what you’re evaluating, math is your best friend,” said Heiner, when explaining tracking usage in spreadsheets.

When it comes to determining how useful the tool will be, be sure to examine whether the reps are actually using it.

“We don’t pay for stuff we don’t use,” said Kendal.

Both Grant and Heiner have set requirements going into any evaluation process. Without understanding the requirements ahead of time, it would be challenging to understand the value the tool brings.

Yet, sometimes the requirements change during the evaluation process. If a tool offers a value outside the initial requirements, this might alter the course of the evaluation.

“I know 95 percent of exactly what I am looking for. If you show me a shiny new bell or whistle, or it’s an opportunity for me to take previously disparate functionalities and combine them, then maybe there is an additional value add there.”

Stay tuned for our next Sales Operations Meetup! Next Month’s Topic: Sales Ops + Marketing Ops = The New Power Couple.

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