Choices, choices, choices
How you select new technology for your organization is getting ever more complex.
Remember when the most complex marketing or sales technology was a telephone? Or you might use a computer to keep track of show or print ad leads in dBase III, Act, or Goldmine? How about when someone requested information and you sent a (paper) request to your literature department to send a catalog by (gasp) mail? Neither do I. Well, maybe a little.
How the world has changed! Now, it takes technology wizardry to select, implement, integrate, onboard, train on, and offboard marketing and sales technologies. With new software delivery methods, implementing new technologies is easier than ever. And this is dangerous.
Many technologies promise to revolutionize the success of sales or marketing efforts. And many of these may be game-changers in specific instances–though possibly not at your company. How do you decide on technologies, especially if you need to write a business case for a major expenditure?
Options for marketing and sales technologies have exploded over the past 11 years, from 150 solutions to 8,000 available in 2020, according to Chief Martec.
How do you evaluate new tools?
“My cousin, Fred, said that we should try his new software right away and he can get us great pricing.”
When was the last time that a colleague came to you asking to implement a new tool right away, used it once, and then found it confusing? Or how about the new solutions chosen by a different team that couldn’t connect with your current tech stack?
There are several ways that people choose new technologies:
- Ask peers: If you’re lucky enough to have a group of people you trust, this can be one way to find new technologies. If they have hands-on experience, then they can provide some feedback, including quirks you may encounter. The challenge is, are their circumstances and needs identical to yours?
- Comparison sites: There are a number of comparison sites that can give you data about different solutions. Actual users provide reviews, which can be objective, but not always. If you’re starting your search based on a given challenge, you may not know how to search.
- Plug and play and get frustrated: Far too often, this is how technology decisions are made. A variation on this theme is that the salesperson was really convincing. This is the most common approach we’ve seen in small- to mid-sized companies. In fact, most of our clients come to us because they’ve implemented a series of technologies that they came to regret.
- Get expert external advice (from a Yeti): By external advice, I do not mean software salespeople. A skilled one can prove that their solution will address your gaps–and they may be right. However, they have a vested interest in your selection. Selecting a consultant who can provide unbiased advice can help you identify your specific needs and the solutions that will address them. Check out what questions you should ask before selecting a consultant.
Do you collaborate with other departments to select new technology?
Another challenge that we regularly see with clients is that different departments adopt interdependent platforms without understanding whether they “play well” together. This wild west approach to software selection can be expensive at best, and disastrous to your data purity at worst (or just break stuff!).
When you’re working with valuable assets (and many SaaS companies state that their prospect and customer database is one of their most valuable assets), you can’t leave to chance whether a new widget will overwrite data that you’ve collected over years. Some companies rely on their IT department to validate any new software. They are the experts! But are they the experts in the problems you need to solve?
Do you know how your technologies will integrate?
Step one for getting all of your technologies aligned is to create a chart of the tools you use and how they work together. These can combine processes, software, data and more to understand your company’s technology ecosystem. Regardless of how you may select software, knowing what you have and how it works together will help you (or a consultant) make the best decisions based on your specific needs.
Here are the steps we take when assessing technology needs:
- Talk with teams who interact with customer data (usually sales, marketing, technology, services, finance).
- Identify all of the software solutions currently used, who uses them, and the challenges that the platforms were chosen to solve.
- Look at the relationship between the data and software platforms. Is there any duplication? Are solutions being used to their full potential? Are there solutions in one department that could address requirements in another department? Are software solutions integrated in a way that protects data integrity or do they provide “back doors” that can have unintended consequences?
- Recommend the best solution based on your current infrastructure, suggest changes where we see challenges, and introduce solutions that will address your needs (even if it’s a solution another department already has).
- Integrate. Validate. Test. Train. Deploy.
With so many solutions that can be implemented, understanding the entire ecosystem and making considered updates can keep your data safe while also saving money by getting rid of “extras” your company doesn’t need.
Sounds good but you don’t have the time to take to select new technology? Measured Results Marketing can do the heavy lifting for you. Learn more about our Technical Assessments today.