By Amanda Wynne
Bringing on a new vendor, in any industry, can be overwhelming. Especially in a space as crowded as Sales Enablement, where new solutions seem to be popping up every day. When all vendors claim to do the same exact thing, it is hard to know which product claims to trust and which solution will ultimately be the best choice for your business. And with all the talk about how ‘educated’ buyers are today, one might feel pressure to join those ranks, right? (I personally welcome the ‘smart buyer’ status!) With 57% of the buying process already complete before a seller is even engaged, it’s no wonder the modern sales process is buyer driven. But how does one become a ‘Smart Buyer?’ Certainly, the magic sauce can’t just be studying the internet, right? (Even though 92% of buyers claim to start there.) Let’s take a look at a few things that might help you obtain ‘Smart’ buyer status.
TIP #1: Start with the Analysts
If you were to ask 10 different Sales Enablement practitioners the definition of the space, you would surely get 10 different answers. So when vetting these types of solutions, how do you know which technology is right for your business if the experts can’t even agree on what it is and what it does?!
Start by knowing the problem you are trying to solve for and back your requirements out from there. And then find a neutral source, like an analyst report, to guide you through vendor selection. At the very least, they will lay out the players in the space and break down feature and function for you. (They will sometimes even rank the players too, providing a POV on who leads in the space.)
TIP #2: Do your homework
Don’t just listen to the analysts, study up on the space! Read blogs, visit company websites, look at press releases, get smart on award winners, attend events and check to see if there are local forums that might provide a neutral point of view. The Sales Enablement Society would be a great network to tap for the Sales Enablement space. The members of the group are a collection of people including practitioners, analysts, influencers, vendors and even professors, so the opinions are really well rounded. Find your local chapter and go with a homework agenda so you cover off all your objectives.
TIP #3: Phone a Friend
We all know the modern buyer is more informed than ever these days, so take advantage of that and arrange for a customer reference call. Ask questions to find out what business challenge they were trying to solve with technology, what worked and what they would have done differently. You would be surprised at how gracious strangers are at their willingness to share!
TIP #4: Look for a Partner
Look for a partner, not just a vendor. A partner will not only help you complete the task work, but they will also help you think collaboratively AND proactively about your business. Hiring a partner usually offers a depth of experience that comes from serving many types of organizations in varied situations. (Versus the fly by night vendors that pop up overnight and have limited perspective outside the technology they have to offer.) Ultimately, you want someone that will help teach you to be a better buyer.
TIP #5: Pilot
Afraid your organization won’t sign off on the technology price tag that would bring your Sales Enablement initiatives to life? Don’t worry, start small and scale big. It is easier to get that budget signed off on if you can tie it to a specific initiative AND show quick success in the first 60-90 days. Most companies are willing to offer a 12 month contract with a 90 day out-clause, so consider that as part of your implantation plan. Just be sure to build in attainable KPIs so success is very clear at the end of the pilot period.
Ready to be a smart buyer? Start with the analysts! See what Gartner has to say in their latest Market Guide for Digital Content Management for Sales. It’s a great way to learn more about the Sales Enablement landscape and how technology can improve your sales processes.
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