How to Align Your Tech Stack to Best Support Your Sales Teams
Matt Payne is the Senior Sales Enablement Manager at Jama Software which is a leading product development platform provider for companies building complex products and integrated systems. Matt is in charge of equipping the company's global sales team with the ability to sell business value.
I am an early adopter of technology both personally and professionally. Having spent my career working in software, I understand the needs of people trying to work through challenges efficiently and effectively. As a sales enablement leader, I’ve had my fair share of pitches from people trying to demonstrate the value and differentiation of their solution for our sales teams and some have been a game changer for us at Jama. However, what has been even more important for us, above and beyond selecting the right technology, is making sure there is a defined use-case and a regular audit of our tools to ensure we minimize duplication and unnecessary costs, while maximizing productivity.
Like when scope creep happens on projects, over time a company or sales team specifically can find their tech stack expanding out of control. If the 3rd law of thermodynamics is that everything is in the process of falling apart, then I think the 4th law of thermodynamics in companies is that every team accumulates software like dust settles on the back of a television set.
At Jama Software we recently went through the process of reevaluating the software we use. The process of evaluating and aligning your tech stack to your sales team is not unlike the process that we use to align our software to our customers’ most pressing business needs:
- Identify the challenge and the impact that it’s having on your current processes
- Determine the business outcomes you’re trying to achieve
- Develop the required capabilities of the software and how it aligns with the desired positive business outcomes
Current Challenges and the Impact
Like most companies we didn't purchase all our software at once. Each decision was based on our current situation at the time and was often siloed from the other departments and their needs. I think this same situation repeats itself frequently at companies as software lives and is used in siloes. This creates duplicate software and leads to forgetting why we bought the software in the first place. Because of this it is important to continuously evaluate the platforms you are using.
What is your current state? Your needs and challenges may have adjusted based on your growth as a company. Maybe the software got you from A to B, but it’s not going to take you to C. We need to think of our sales tech solutions in terms of our current situation now, not necessarily how they’ve been valuable in the past. Gaining this insight requires us not only to look inside our sales department but to communicate with other teams in the company.
For example, with one of our sales enablement software, we paid a per seat license. After uploading all of our content in that platform, we later discovered people in other departments also needed access to that content. Since we had not budgeted for the additional seats we had to put the content in a second place. This created duplicate systems and hurt our ability to have a “single source of the truth”. During our utilization analysis we shifted to another software which provided a site license which was much more cost effective.
If you are in a fast-growing company, I suggest that you not sign more than a one-year agreement with most of your sales tech software as your needs have the potential to change quickly and you don’t want to get stuck in a contract that’s not beneficial.
What Business Outcomes Are You Trying to Achieve?
In sales enablement, efficiency and productivity are always outcomes that we are trying to achieve. We want our teams to spend as much time selling as possible. Re-evaluating our software on a consistent basis means we can evaluate new options on the market that will continue to make our teams more efficient. Having a tech roadmap based on your current needs as well as your 2-5 year goals is important so ask where is the business going and what do we need to get there. For example, if your goal is to grow by 40% year-over-year then determining what tech you need to achieve it is crucial.
Technology changes rapidly and evaluating what’s possible makes sure that we’re doing everything to increase productivity and decrease ramp time. If we can do that consistently, we know that it will provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in value.
When determining your required capabilities, it’s essential to look beyond just the sales team. When we evaluated our software internally, we had employees across the organization using the same software but using it differently. We also discovered that other teams were using software that may be beneficial for the sales team. This evaluation process is important to get everyone aligned, even though it can be arduous.
In order to maximize your resources and effectively enable your global sales team, it’s important to be proactive on evaluating your software. Don’t wait every few years for finance to say you’re buying too much software but instead evaluate every year what’s working and determine if there are any adjustments to make. By doing this you’ll ensure your money is well spent and more importantly, ensure your sales teams are maximizing their effectiveness.