How to lead a technology assessment in 4 steps

Sales Enablement strategies and initiatives are often powered by technological tools that come in different forms and address different needs. Some solutions automate customer experience to impact engagement, others automate certain functions allowing both sales and marketing teams to focus their efforts on revenue-growing activities, provide key sales intelligence or qualify leads for example. Many of these tools are powered by AI and machine learning to properly leverage data and generate sales-boosting content or insights.

If selected correctly, such technologies can create competitive advantages for organizations and boost the impact of your Sales Enablement strategy. However, any Sales Enablement tool does not fit any strategy, organization, or need. For this reason, it is essential to conduct a technological assessment within a company before making a choice and starting implementation.

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Why is it important to conduct a technology assessment?

In the midst of our digital-driven era, businesses also undergo a transformation. According to Gartner, 56% of CEOs state that digital improvements have led to increased revenue.

Nonetheless, implementing new technology without previously assessing the organization is a big mistake. On one hand, a technology assessment is useful to find the solution that fits a company’s specific requirements and environment. It is easy to define the ideal state of technology needed to fix a problem. However, it is a challenge to achieve this ideal state, as underlying issues and their symptoms can be confused. In fact, it is not uncommon that companies implement “patch” solutions that only fix the symptom, without actually working on the underlying issue.

A structured process to assess and pick a Sales Enablement tool (or any technological tool for that matter), will therefore help bypass this issue. It will also contribute to reduce risks and get a good ROI.

4 Steps to a successful technology assessment

1. Explore

The goal of the first step, Explore, is to clearly understand the company’s reality, the issue (and its symptoms), and why it needs solving.

  • Understanding the technology environment
    The first step to pinpointing and solving an issue is to understand the environment in which it appeared. In other words, this constitutes an inventory of both solutions currently in use as the associated systems and processes.
  • Understanding the issue
    Once the technology ecosystem has been established, it is time to focus on the problem. It should be described and understood in terms of business and in terms of end-user experience. Combining both aspects gives a better sense of what the actual problem is.
    For example in Sales Enablement, a problem in terms of business might be that lead generation is not paying off in terms of conversion. It would make sense to think that maybe a lead generation software could solve the issue.
    However, in terms of end-user experience, the problem might be entirely different. An ineffective lead generation strategy can also be linked to a deficit in training for sales representatives. In that case, the investment should be oriented to sales coaching or sales training rather than sales generation software.
  • Understanding the teams
    Additionally, it is key to understand teams and get their insight on these topics. For end-user insights to be valuable, they must be linked back to the business issue. To do so, user interviews or process reviews are good ideas to get started.

2. Analyze

The first step unveiled where the company is currently standing and where it aims to go by solving the previously identified issues. The goal of the second step, Analyze, is to determine the precise functionalities existing internally around the issue and how they are being used.

Sometimes properly understanding the problem, the ecosystem, and the goal will shed new light on existing systems. Indeed, before jumping into new investments, it does not hurt to be clear on the true capabilities of your existing technological arsenal. It is important to do this as far too often companies are misusing or underusing their existing systems.

Once the full potential of the existing ecosystem is included in the mix, there will certainly be some gaps left. These gaps are the focus of the technology assessment, as they represent what is left to cover to achieve business goals.
To consider this step completed, options to fill those gaps must be listed. They should be credible, prioritized, and include pros as well as cons for each.

3. Develop

The goal of the third step, develop, is to lay out the vision for the end state in a granular way. In other words, once the context, the problem, and the gaps identified, how is the sales enablement tool in question going to boost the achievement of business goal(s)?

A common issue at this stage is the misalignment between the business, operations, and technology strategies. New technology implementation should align needs for all of the above, and even create synergies. For example, how good is a Sales Enablement tool for a certain company if it is creating a divide between Marketing and Sales teams?

To avoid this, technology vision needs to be developed with operational and business requirements in mind. For each option considered, but also for every option or feature it entails, there should be a questioning process: how does it contribute to solving the company’s problem?

The idea is to refine the technology vision and use the previously built criteria to pinpoint exactly what is needed, all things considered.

4. Write out

The final step is to write out all the previous work in a well-researched plan. This plan will serve as a key document to justify the need for a new technological implementation. It should include :

  1. A high-level overview of the context and current situation
  2. A neat explanation of what issue is being addressed and what is needed
  3. A detailed description of the implementation and deployment process
  4. Details on project ownership and timelines.

Moreover, a plan is always stronger when combined with a pitch. It is therefore essential to present it to key stakeholders and try to spread the vision.

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