As your business has grown, you’ve spent time and resources developing sales processes designed to help you meet your goals while also reflecting how your team works. Despite how much effort you’ve poured into developing proprietary processes, many software tools try to force you to change your sales process to match their ideas, rather than the opposite. If you use many of these tools, it leads to a situation where each tool tries to push for one specific way of working – to your detriment.
To avoid this problem, you need to make sure that every tool you use optimizes your existingsales processes. This is easier said than done, however, which is why we’re going to help. When evaluating tools you need to focus your analysis on two things: compatibility and optimization.
The compatibility check is all about making sure that prospective tools fit with your sales process on the most basic level. There are tens of thousands of tools that real estate teams can use, and while the promises they make sound impressive, many are diametrically opposed to how you’ve designed your sales process.
To begin with, you need to outline your sales process. Many companies have an implicit sales process, but haven’t taken the time to write it down, step-by-step. If that’s not you, feel free to move on to the next step. However, if you’re one of the countless teams that doesn’t have the process fully documented, stay right here.
To document your process, shadow a member of your team as they go through the entire process of closing a sale. Whatever they do, make a note of it. Don’t focus just on what they do, but also how they do it, where they do it, and how long it takes them. After documenting a few example cases from different team members, step away and look for the common elements in the process. These common actions are your implicit sales process.
As you documented your process, you’ll have noticed that some of your steps are based around what people do and some are based around what tools are used. These different types of steps are inflexible and flexible points, respectively.
For example, people may need 15 minutes to craft a response to a particular type of message. Regardless of what you do, the amount of time needed to come up with this message won’t change dramatically. These are inflexible points.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are points that involve the use of specific tools. For example, your team may be using a specific tool to organize active leads that requires each team member to spend 7 minutes to process a particular step in the sales funnel. This is an example of a flexible point: it only exists because you’re using that tool.
Now that you have your sales process fully documented and a list of flexible points on hand, you need to check the tool you’re evaluating. While the tool’s product description page is a good place to start, you want to get on the phone with someone that is involved in the building of the product. On the call, take your list of flexible points and go point-by-point through their product. Ask if their tool can help speed up any of these points and make sure to get concrete answers. If the tool you’re evaluating can perform better than the tools you’re currently using on the flexible points, then it has passed the compatibility check.
Once you’ve finished the compatibility check, you need to make sure that the tool goes above and beyond. While fitting in with your process is the first – and an absolutely necessary – check, the real goal is using tools that optimize your sales process. This check requires a bit more investment upfront, but you’ll reap the rewards almost immediately.
Getting your hands on the tool in a real-world situation is essential to determining whether or not it really optimizes your process. While speaking to their product team may have given you answers that indicate that they will help, there’s no real substitute for trying it out yourself.
A tool is only worth investing in if you can sign up for a free trial and test it out immediately. If that’s not possible for a specific tool, it’s worth questioning whether or not the tool really provides any tangible value. Once you’ve setup the free trial, have a fraction of your team members include it in their day-to-day routines. At the end of the trial, evaluate the two processes to see which closed more deals, which was more efficient, and which team was happier with the overall process. These indicators are clear signs of whether or not the tool actually optimizes how your team does business.
Many tools try to make the point that the more you use the tool, the more value you’ll receive. This is a fair point, but that doesn’t mean you should go along willingly with anyone that makes that promise. It may provide a ton of value, but if that value is only realized after a full year of using the product, it’s probably not to your advantage to create an account.
To avoid this type of issue, go back to the team that makes the tool and ask for an introduction to an existing customer. Not all companies will go for this, but those that are confident in what they’ve built typically won’t have a problem with it. After you’ve been connected to the customer, plainly ask them how long it took them before they saw a return on their use of the product. If it’s in the distant future, you shouldn’t expect an immediate boost in the optimization of your sales process.
Real estate teams are constantly bombarded with software companies trying to get new customers for their tools. With a seemingly endless list of options for sales tools, many teams end up with tool testing fatigue. By checking for both compatibility and optimization you’ll end up with tools that not only work with your system, but improve it.