Even though sales technology is more accessible and intuitive today — it can still feel overwhelming and become a roadblock if not carefully selected and implemented.

Modern sellers are overburdened with processes and technology, so while you may purchase tech to enable your teams, if your tech stack doesn’t align, you may just be adding to that burden. Be sure the sales technology you invest in integrates well with your existing programs and processes, and will actually increase productivity and efficiency for your team. Here’s a road map that will help guide your sales tech strategy.

Refine the Business Value

The first thing you should be asking is “why are we doing this?” Is it to build customer loyalty to raise Net Promoter Scores? (NPS) Do you need more data to show why customer churn is up? What about the competition? Does your sales team have a way to measure wins and losses? All these scenarios don’t start with a technology or a tool-set. They’re driven by strategic questions that sales leadership should be surfacing in order to grow the business. No single technology is ever a panacea for broken processes.

For a digital sales stack to be transformative, sales teams have to change the way they work first. And that can only be accomplished by looking inward at the organization itself. If the numbers and performance aren’t there, start with quarterly assessments of the sales process to identify bottlenecks and challenges. A rogue process or lone wolf mentality can chip away at a sales team’s performance, especially when collaboration, teamwork and transparency are the goals.

Once the sales organization understands the why, it’s much easier to map technology to real business requirements.

Nail Down the Sales Process and Workflow

Understanding how sales teams get work done is another key point that builds on the business value notion above. Too many sales leaders start with a laundry list of sales tech tools and think they can just plug-and-play to satisfy a team’s particular use case. A better exercise is to look at specific outcomes the sales teams are trying to achieve and begin the analysis. It may sound like heresy, but often technology can be the culprit instead of the savior. In other words, don’t throw more technology at a broken process. Fix the process first then use technology to support the outcome you’re trying to achieve. Here’s a few other things to think about:

  • Make sure your sales team meshes with other departments. It’s critical for teams to understand your own organization’s flow. By understanding the operational ins and outs of the whole company, a rep is better prepared to deal with a breakdown in customer support or delivery.

  • Define the core sales team use cases and forget the rest. If you’re spending cycles on work processes or tasks that aren’t mapped to lead generation or shortening the sales cycle, you’re wasting time. Often there’s overlap in functionality with sales tools, so consolidating not only lowers your spend, it reduces your infrastructure and ramp-up time for new reps.

  • Mix the old processes with the new to find the right balance. Sometimes the telephone is better than Twitter — really. The integration points between analog and digital practices become really important here. It’s not that you’re banning social selling on Twitter. But if you’re not measuring the activity and mapping it to a key sales metric, it’s just noise. 

Let the Data Do the Heavy Lifting

Data is one of the biggest allies to your sales technology. Instead of referencing the sales tech landscape chart and teeing up vendor demos, first grab some IT and business analysts and ask them to help your team become better at mining data. CRM systems, contract management software, billing, help desk, online communities and other line-of-business applications are target-rich environments for learning about customers. Buying trends, trouble tickets and online chats can helps sales teams understand tendencies, spot defections or upsell if presented in the right context. Things like predictive analytics and data-driven selling techniques are becoming the default for smart sales teams.

Automate to Scale

One of the best ways to reduce friction within the sale process is to automate the simple and redundant tasks that occupy a rep’s time. The good news is that machine learning, bots and artificial intelligence (AI) are being embedded across enterprise tool sets in every industry. That’s also the bad news because unnecessary or half-baked solutions can further inundate sales teams. Stick with vendors that will spend time investing in your business to understand how the technology can support what’s really critical to your sales team. Often, emerging vendors are nimble enough to change how their solutions are architected. That means you’ll get more bang for your buck. Just make sure your solution isn’t a one-off and so highly customized that it can’t scale.