An SMBs’ guide to choosing a first digital sales tool
We’ve talked before about how to plan a total digital transformation for your small-to-midsized business (SMB). It takes some thought and assessment but one of the first steps is choosing which digital tool should be your first priority. Different companies have different business models and what would most benefit one company may not work for another.
Let’s start with the basis: what digital sales tools are there?
Types of digital sales tools
There are a lot of acronyms in the tech space, and this holds true for digital sales technology. Even if you know what an acronym stands for, sometimes it can be difficult to understand what a platform actually does.
Here are some broad definitions of the most common digital sales tools and their acronyms:
- CRM: Customer Relationship Management. CRM tools are designed to manage, store, and analyze interactions with customers to help improve customer service and experience.
- CPQ: Configure, Price, Quote. CPQ technology automates and streamlines the quoting process, letting users pre-configure pricing rules, discounts, and bundles to automatically generate quotes.
- CLM: Contract Lifecycle Management. CLM software ensures accurate and compliant contracts through automated approval chains, collaboration tools, and version control.
You might be asking: where is Marketing? Or Sales? These functions do often have their own dedicated tools, but most often they are bundled into platforms with the technologies above. For example, the platforms HubSpot and Salesforce are widely known as CRM tools, but were originally built as an inbound marketing tool and a sales automation platform, respectively.
Kinds of business needs
Small-to-midsized businesses have to be careful about their investments and the best option is usually picking the tool that balances doing the most good for your business immediately and long-term. For SMBs, this usually means a tool that relieves pressure on employees and their sales process.
Employees at small-to-midsized businesses have a lot on their plate; SMBs are more likely to rely on their employees’ individual knowledge than larger enterprises and thus, those employees are more likely to experience extended overwork or burnout. At the same time, studies show that 22% of employees’ time is spent on repetitive or redundant tasks that could be automated, like:
- Data entry: Pricing data, contact and customer data, product data, contract data.
- Document creation and organization: Creating quotes, estimates, contracts, invoices, etc.
- Lead management: Identifying potential customers, email marketing, contact data entry.
- Inventory management: Pricing inventory, cataloging, shipping, returns.
Imagine what a relief to your team it would be to not have manually enter pricing data into Excel every time they want to generate a quote? Or to spend time with a client getting to know them and their business, instead of working out their invoice in front of them?
Match needs to tools
Needs vary based on business type and size. Small-to-midsize businesses have a lot of advantages over larger firms that often go unrecognized and can make a difference in choosing a sales tool.
For example, SMBs can take the time to really get to know their customers and clients, creating lasting relationships with specificity and depth. This kind of dynamic relies on building and maintaining customer trust, something that can be achieved through a CRM or CLM tool but is actually more often impacted by CPQ tools like QuoteCX.
By automating work tasks like generating prices and drafting quotes, CPQ tools can free up salespeople to spend less time worrying whether information is accurate and more time building these relationships. This is especially true in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, or construction, with very complex quoting and estimating processes.
On the other hand, SMBs have to work harder to network and establish those initial relationships. If you have a solid product or service and are struggling with marketing or identifying leads, a CRM tool might be a better fit. It’s important to consider the functionality of all available tools and what those tools can add to your organization.
While big software companies all claim to have the best solutions, SMB decision-makers know that a small-to-midsized business’s strength comes from its unique process. That’s why it’s important to implement digital sales tools that complement your processes, not just what’s popular in the market that day.
By learning more about digital sales tools and how they can fulfil your business and employee needs, you can arm yourself to make informed decisions about your company’s future. The kind of decisions that only you can make.