Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

By David Dulany  

Sales technology is everywhere. From the SDR to the CRO, all modern sales teams have some (or a lot of) technology support. 

In the software industry especially, the number of tools per Sales Rep can go from 5 to 10+ tools plugged in, and upwards. Some are used every day, others not as much. Some become what is called “shelfware”, ie it sits on the shelf until someone rips it out. 

During the last few years of 0% interest rates, paired with major advances in technology, sales tech companies blossomed like mushrooms after a spring rain. Take a look at these Market Maps  (link , link)

We have gathered the top Sales Tech companies into one directory here (link

Now instead of using generic “Software Review” sites to research specific Sales Tech, you can just use Tenbound. 

From data to sales engagement to task management to closing the deal, sales technology is everywhere. 

Where do people start in the buying process?  I spoke with over 50 people from SDR to CRO about this process, and here’s what they said. 

Starting point: They have a problem. They have a “Job-to-be-Done.”

Bad data, bad process, lack of coordination. Repetitive tasks a machine could do better. No information on the prospects or customers. Lack of visibility into sales data. Sales presents an unlimited number of problems to solve. 

Technology might help. 

Usually, they’ll hear about a sales tool through their own company. They look at what is being used right now, and what other people are saying about the tool. What does it do? Does it work or not?  If they hate the current tool, they may be willing to check out a new solution. 

If the consensus is that current the tool is good, it’s just them, they may do some more learning on it and even ask for additional licenses to expand its use. They need to find out who’s in charge of the tool, and how do they ask for more licenses.

If it’s not good, they may start looking for something else. 

Then they’ll start doing some research, usually starting with Google or other sites such as Linkedin, Reddit or Twitter. They try to shortlist a few of the most common tools. One person mentioned they actually look on TikTok for advice. 

What comes up on the first page Google? Do they see any thought leadership around the problem area – are there blogs, videos, conferences talks or other useful information? 

They spend some time getting a high-level overview of the major players. 

They’ll then turn to communities, the trusted communities where they know they will get real advice. [Usually, sales tech vendors are not trolling communities, and if they are, they get kicked out.]

Within the community, they will ask a question about specific tools or a list of tools that are shortlisted they are interested in. At that point, someone or several people in the community will suggest other tools to check out that might help with the problem. They’ll note those company names.

At this point, they may turn to review sites. They start to stack rank companies based on the number of reviews and veracity of the reviews. Reviews help to vet out the top players in the space and ensure the solution set is appropriate to solve the problem. They may look at magic quadrants and other ways to organize the main players visually. 

Once that process is completed, they usually have an idea about which tool they’d like to pursue but would need to look at two or three options to present to their team and/or their boss. 

In some cases, they don’t have to check with anyone if they can simply install the tool as a plug-in or start a free trial without checking with anyone. Many tools are offered now as Product-Led models, which can be trialed and used without checking with anyone. However, once the tool needs to be expanded, they eventually need to check with someone and get permission. 

At this point, they might set up demos with the top 3-4 tools based on their research. This process might take several calls with various team members who would be involved in the use and coordination of the product. There are probably a lot of other tools already plugged in. Where does this fit in? At any moment, anyone can shoot down the idea. Executives, RevOps, Managers, and Users will all have a say in the viability of using the tool. There are a host of “Shadow Stakeholders”, who may or may not show up on the calls but are making decisions behind the scenes. 

Once all the information is provided, decisions are made, and everyone is in agreement, they go ahead and start the procurement process. This can be very easy, as just plugging in the tool and starting to use it, or very complicated, at larger companies with a lot of technology already installed. This step is the beginning of the process of implementation. 

NOTE – not everyone follows this pattern, and it would change based on the size of the company, ie a small start-up would have a different process than a large enterprise. This is a general overview.

How do you buy Sales Tech? Leave a comment below. 

Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

 

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