5 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Sales Software

Try doing a quick Google search for “sales software.” At the time of this blog post, Google returned more than 540,000,000 results! Clearly, searching for a solution to improve sales productivity and performance is an overwhelming challenge in today’s oversaturated market. To make choosing a vendor even more difficult, after months of painstaking research and weeks of deployment, companies are often accosted by a sudden slew of hidden costs and unexpected roadblocks.

So what’s the best, most effective way to evaluate today’s array of sales CRM options, and how do you know whether you’re making the right decision for your business? Here are 5 critical questions to ask that will help you avoid unpleasant surprises and narrow down the playing field.

1. What’s the average adoption rate among customers?

Did you know that just 13% of sales reps say they harness the full capacity of their sales tools? Low adoption rates among a vendor’s customer base indicate a major issue with usability, as the value sales software provides should far outweigh the effort it takes to use it.

Search for a solution that is highly intuitive and requires little effort from reps to start experiencing the benefits. Features and functionality like automatic data capture, drag-and-drop UIs and calendar and email integrations facilitate rather than hinder the sales process, inherently driving adoption by allowing reps to focus on closing rather than sorting through tables.

2. How many supporting tools will my team need to use each day?

Legacy sales CRM platforms were created to help businesses manage the complete customer lifecycle, from marketing, through sales to support. This “Jack of all trades, master of none” approach has led to hundreds of point solutions, each seeking to solve a small piece of the sales performance puzzle, from email tracking to call dialing and reporting.

The more tools your sales team must use to do their jobs on a daily basis, the harder it will be to improve performance. In fact, 59% of reps believe that they are required to use too many sales tools. In addition to hurting adoption rates, this limits visibility into sales performance by scattering data across multiple siloed platforms. Not to mention, these point solutions don’t come for free! Look for an all-in-one sales software that provides calendar integrations, real-time notifications and other necessary tools in a single platform.

3. Are there any limitations across mobile devices?

According to a recent survey conducted by Evolve IP, 89% of professionals in North America claim that mobile devices improve their ability to complete their work, while 65% feel that they could be even more productive if they had mobile access to additional work applications like CRMs. Ensuring that your sales team has access to the tools it needs on the go is especially critical for organizations with field-based reps.

In an effort to avoid being left behind, many legacy sales CRMs launch mobile applications that are essentially read-only versions of their desktop UIs, leaving field reps squinting at tiny numbers and scrolling through lengthy tables on their smartphones. Any sales software worth its salt will have a native mobile experience that gives reps the same capabilities and insights that they get from their desktops, optimized for their tablets and smartphones.

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Pro Tip: A good way to get an honest answer to this question is to check the vendor’s ratings and user comments across iOS and Android app stores!

4. Will I get data, or will I get insights?

Because legacy sales tools were not built for the big data era, they collect only basic information and typically provide list-like reports. This approach can work if you want an answer to a simple question like whether your leads are converting into closed business – but understanding why usually requires costly consulting services or additional partner applications.

In contrast, next-generation sales software platforms were built to automatically collect, process and make sense of information around every dimension of your sales funnel, such as sales methodology, company vertical and contact, stage duration and more. This level of analysis provides real-time insights that can be acted upon to measurably improve sales performance.

5. How easily can it connect to my company’s existing systems?

If a sales CRM vendor’s answer to this question is to hand you a 50-page “quick guide” to its API limitations, this should give you a pretty good idea of the challenges you can expect to face. With companies using an average of 7 business management tools, having the ability to connect the dots across platforms to get a single view of business performance is crucial.

Future-proof solutions should provide robust APIs that enable, not inhibit, the ability to synch data between your sales software and other systems. Vendors that offer key out-of-the-box integrations and extensive, hands-on API support get bonus points!

Evaluating sales software for your business can be a daunting task, but knowing what to look out for is sure to simplify the process. Asking these five key questions will help you choose the right vendor to grow and partner with your business. For more advice on these and other factors your business should consider, download our free white paper.

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