Selecting Field Sales Engagement Software: Part One – Forecasting ROI & Evaluating Options

Jan 5, 2022

Selecting and implementing sales engagement software

When it comes to choosing sales engagement software, or any field sales software for that matter, it should not be a shot in the dark. This is especially true if you expect to get any buy-in from your company’s decision makers and the other sales reps.

Sales engagement software can significantly help streamline your sales team’s process and communication efforts and supercharge effectiveness. But, the key is going to be using proven tools and processes to help pinpoint the software that may be the best fit for your team and get full support behind it.

This article is the first of a two-part series where we break down exactly what you need to do to effectively select field sales engagement software and get it implemented across your sales team.

An Example Use Case

For example purposes and to provide some context, we’re going to base the process and tools we touch on in this two-part series on the following use case:

A sales director at a diagnostics technology company is looking to implement a new field sales engagement tool across the company’s team of medical device sales reps.

The company:

  • Has 5 sales directors total with 12 individual reps on each of their teams, for a total of 60 outside sales reps
  • Currently uses Hubspot CRM
  • Wants to begin using a new tool at the start of the new year
  • Is hoping the new tool can provide:
  • More time selling versus data entry and other admin work for the sales reps.
  • Routing optimization to get more visits in per day.
  • Ability to prospect when visiting existing customers.
  • Easy access to account history for building deeper relationships with clients and prospects.
  • Better reporting and data management.
  • A tool that is easy to implement and to use.

Through the rest of this article (as well as Part 2), we’ll refer to this example sales leader as “the champion”. They are the one who is advocating to purchase new sales software, trying to get their fellow sales directors on board, and get the software into the hands of the sales team.

What’s Involved in Successfully Selecting the Software & Achieving Implementation

Selecting and adopting sales engagement software and the four gates to accomplish.
To get a new field sales engagement tool adopted, the champion will need to pass through several “gates” on the road to making this happen.

The goal is to successfully zero-in on a tool that will check all the necessary boxes for the company and, even more importantly, get it fully implemented. To do that, it is important to understand what exactly will be encountered along the way in this process.

Like in many other business situations, planning ahead is going to be the key in this process being successful.

To get a new field sales engagement tool adopted, the champion will need to pass through several “gates” on the road to making this happen:

  1. Forecast and show the return on investment (ROI) of implementing a field sales engagement tool.
  2. Identify and objectively evaluate the options of software vendors.
  3. Prepare for and overcome objections from the key decision makers in their company.
  4. Get buy-in from the rest of the sales directors and sales team.

The first two gates of this process, which we’ll focus on in this article, will create the core foundation that the champion will need. This foundation will help successfully build buy-in, get past the bureaucracy, and achieve successful adoption of field sales engagement software.

(Make sure to check out Part 2, which will break down getting through gates 3 and 4.)

Gate #1 – Demonstrate the ROI for a Sales Engagement Software

Two colleagues discuss the ROI of sales engagement software.
Gate #1 of this process is all about demonstrating that the value of this software will be greater than the investment itself.

This first step of the process is critical. The champion has to prove why it makes sense for the company to be buying sales software right now and how it can help the sales team drive revenue. Gate #1 of this process is all about demonstrating that the value of this software will be greater than the investment itself.

Defining ROI for Field Sales Engagement Software

Showing the potential ROI of the new software is largely going to revolve around two overall benefits: increasing revenue and decreasing wasted time and costs. In the case of field sales engagement software specifically, that increase in revenue is going to come from reps being able to get more sales activities done, prioritize the right accounts, more effectively prospect new customers. Decreased time and costs will be driven by optimized and efficient routing.  

These benefits are perfect for our example champion whose company is hoping that their reps can get more time selling.

Some other examples of things that could be included in the sales tool ROI are:

  • Less time reps have to spend planning their day
  • Additional prospecting opportunities
  • Reduced missed sales activities
  • Reduced time to quota
  • Better customer experience
  • Stronger relationships with customers and prospects
  • Increased customer retention rates

The key to strengthening the message is to put together as much justification as possible that aligns the possible ROI of implementing this new tool with the company’s stated needs and existing strategic initiatives. This will help ensure an integrated approach and set the champion up for easier internal communications in the 3rd and 4th gate of this process.

The first step in demonstrating the ROI is going to be defining the ROI metric(s) that will be focused on. So, for this example, the champion is zeroing in on higher sales productivity. They have forecasted that implementing a new sales engagement software will increase sales productivity by 10% through:

  • Reduced time searching for device sales content
  • Less time spent route planning
  • Reduced drive time through optimized routes
  • Improved customer record keeping and management
  • Increased ability to prospect on the go

Including Sales Leaders When Gathering ROI Data is Key

The next step in demonstrating the potential ROI is to bring that metric to life by gathering the data to help support that metric. Calculating the ROI of implementing a new sales engagement software without one or more other sales leaders can be wasted time. Of course, executive buy-in is essential to getting resources that the sales team needs, but sales director/manager input and buy-in is essential to accurately forecast ROI and achieve implementation.

So, bring in other sales leadership to help forecast the ROI of the new tool as soon as there is a reasonable business case of it making an impact. These people will be the ones who will be able to help offer the most realistic input regarding the ROI metric and can help quantify it further. You should also include any other colleagues who may have good data on the ROI metric as well.

If you don’t involve sales leadership and other key people in this process, even the most dynamic approach will not create the desired outcome. So, get sales managers involved early and they will stay engaged through the process.

Using the Data to Calculate the Projected ROI

In the case of the champion from the diagnostics device company, in meeting with another sales director they learn that, currently, for every 5 sales meetings the reps are having, 3 new deals are being closed (opportunity win rate of 60%). And the sales reps are meeting with an average of 6 prospects/customers per rep per day (based on a 5-day work week). So that means the 60 outside sales reps are meeting with 1800 prospects or customers per week (6 x 60 x 5) and closing 1,080 deals per week from those meetings (1800 x .6 win rate). The champion has also determined that each deal generates an average of $500 in revenue.  

So, if the champion has concluded that using a new sales engagement software, which would also act as a sales rep route planning software, will increase productivity by 10%, they could agree that:

  • 1800 x .10 = 180 more sales meetings per week from a 10% increase in productivity
  • 180 more meetings x .6 win rate = 108 more closed deals per week
  • 108 more closed deals per week = $54k added in revenue per week, for a $2.8M increase in a year (based on 52 weeks).

The champion could theoretically say that an improvement in productivity from this software tool would have a direct and significant impact on the number of deals closed and would then be able to support that. This kind of breakdown, along with other indicators of ROI mentioned earlier, is what the champion needs to help get this new software implemented.

It’s important to note that the impact of the new tool on many metrics, like win rate, quota attainment and similar KPIs, won’t be able to be definitively measured until after the fact. So, in this step, the solution is to focus on the impact on leading indicators like volume and velocity. Then the champion can align their peers on that concept.

Gate #2 – Evaluating the Sales Software Options With a Vendor Scoring Matrix

A graphic of 1st through 5th place rankings for sales engagement software.
The second gate in the process is properly evaluating and scoring the particular software options. 

Now that our champion is armed with supporting information on the ROI of a sales engagement software in general, it’s time to dive deeper. The second gate in the process is properly evaluating and scoring the particular software options. One of the best tools to use in this step is a customized vendor scoring matrix.

Using a matrix like this will help prioritize the specific needs of the sales team/the company and pinpoint a software option that is the best fit.

Building and populating a vendor scoring matrix is pretty straight forward when following these steps:

Step 1 – Gather the Requirements the Tool Needs to Meet

The vendor matrix is scored based on how well each option of software meets the needs of those stakeholders who will be using it. These stakeholders may include sales reps, IT, marketing, and sales ops. We’ll cover why each of these stakeholders may have a vested interest in deciding which sales engagement software to buy in Part 2.

So, the champion has to start by meeting with key stakeholders to determine what requirements they will have for a field sales engagement software. It does not have to be everyone though, especially when it’s a large sales team involved. The best method is to ask a few select stakeholders to gather input.

It’s important to get a good mix of both people who are comfortable with software and some of the sales reps who might be resistant to using software – ultimately the tool will need to serve both groups.

Some of the key features that are required for a field sales engagement tool may include things like:

  • The ability to map company records
  • Create optimized sales routes
  • Use it on the go
  • Log communication activities in real time out in the field

All of the requirements gathered from the stakeholders will be the list that goes into the vendor matrix.

Step 2 – Determine the Value/Weight of Each Requirement

The second part of building out the matrix is to determine with the stakeholders how important each of those required features are. The value, or weight, for each one will be expressed as a number from 1 to 10 of how important it is, with 10 being the most valuable.

The matrix of required features and weights for the sales engagement tool.
Built out the matrix to determine with the stakeholders how important each of the required features are. The value, or weight, for each one will be expressed as a number from 1 to 10 of how important it is, with 10 being the most valuable. 

These figures should align with the needs of the business and what is most important. But, there should be a good spread of weights across all the features, since this is how the champion will pick the “right” tool.

For example, the champion for the medical diagnostics device company, along with the stakeholders from the company, may have determined that mapping the records of the doctors and hospitals, creating optimized sales routes from those records, and logging sales activities are the most important features to them. So, they’ve weighted each of those features as a 10, while the rest of the list is spread across lower weights of 9, 8, and 7.

Step 3 – Research Vendors/Options and Create a Shortlist

Now that requirements of the tool are known, the champion should research different options for field sales engagement software. This should involve looking at the tool’s website and any videos. Ideally, a shortlist of 2 to 4 solutions that look like a good fit should be put together. These are the options that are going to be plugged into the columns of the vendor matrix and scored.

Step 4 – Evaluate and Score The Software Options

Now that the champion has several software options in the vendor matrix, it’s time to evaluate them. This is best done through a full product demo of each software. Through a demo, the champion will be able to really see how the software performs in relation to the requirements determined in step 2 of this vendor matrix process.

For each line item requirement in the matrix a raw score of each software option will be entered, based on a scale of 1 to 10 in how good that option is at that particular requirement/feature. Then, the raw score for each requirement is multiplied by its weight that was determined in step 2 and plugged into the weighted score columns.

After totaling up the raw score and weighted score for each vendor option, the champion can make an objective recommendation on which option may be the best fit for the company.

Arm Yourself to Present Your Case for Implementing Software

By now, the champion can put together a compelling package of information on why it makes sense to implement a new sales rep software for the company’s team of medical device sales reps. This package also includes a recommendation on exactly which software option would probably be the best fit and, even more importantly, why it would be the best.

When it comes to how to purchase sales software, taking the time to strategically bring in other sales leaders and key stakeholders into the process early is an extremely effective approach. One that will make it much easier for the champion to create buy-in and overcome objections to getting the new tool implemented.

In part two of this series, we break down exactly how to create the buy-in that will be needed and overcome objections about bringing a new field sales engagement software on board. The champion’s goal now is to get the rest of their colleagues and decision makers as excited about the product as they are.