You have found a fancy new Rev Ops, Sales or marketing tool.
It says it will deliver incredible returns with little effort and cost and does something different to everything else you own.
Where do I sign, right?
Well, maybe not.
Occasionally you find tools that are amazing and do all these things, but how do you find them and not the wealth of tools that aren’t the right fit for you?
We will look at how I see vendor selection and evaluations in Revenue Operations. Like most things I do, it follows a pretty straightforward method. After all, we need something that can help scale businesses, which often means onboarding many tools, so getting it right and doing it usually is very important.
Saas tools currently make up around 70% of companies' spending, which is expected to continue to increase. With an astounding 170+ tools within an enterprise business at any time, there's a significant amount of validation to do. SaaS is going nowhere, so evaluation of any new tool is essential because of the budgets and work involved in bringing new things in.
So if you are starting, how is it that we get to bring in so many tools? And do we need them?
The prerequisites in my mind are:
Do we have a problem that needs solving with an additional tool or product that the existing vendor or internal process change, system configuration or development cannot do?
If we have an incumbent vendor that can complete the task, can an external one do this better and have a return on that change?
Are we making changes based on financial or technology directives? E.g., are we looking to save money by consolidating or are we shifting the tech stack from Salesforce to Hubspot, for example?
Do we have a budget?
With a yes to any of them, you can go and do the fun bit and find new stuff!
But how do you know where to look?
Let's start by looking at what I have found to be the most helpful way to review anything in any of the roles I have worked.
Look at the people doing the work, what outcomes they are most effectively aiming to achieve and then what technology helps complete that most effectively (even if that means changing how we complete something).
Build key decision-makers internally
Who will sign this off and give the green light?
This could be a combination of the CFO, VP of Rev Ops and a Business Application Lead/Product Owner, and the responsible owner of the objective that has been set.
Overall, building a steering committee or a RACI Chart is important. Any change in your Revenue Operations toolset or the go-to-market processes is vital for scaling and consistency in decision-making. Having the same people review the tools and requirements helps build familiarity and allows for improved outcomes when coming to the implementations, as everyone is already on the same page.
Understand the As-Is and To-Be Processes
What do the people responsible do today to meet the current objectives? What do they like about it? What do they loathe? And what in the users, managers and leaders' minds should be happening in the ideal state?
We should make sure to map out the process in whatever steps seem the most suitable, a flow chart, a decision tree, and it's a story map. Whatever your preferred way of gathering the steps, you should look to log and review with the team for confirmation. You can then also start to build whatever the desired process is. This will 100% be changed as you find a tool or system to assist you, but it's always good to have the framework in mind as you discuss this.
We also must know what the non-negotiables in the process are. These could be data governance, legal requirements, external systems, or headcount limitations.
Set your Objectives
Then, with the Objective being set, we need to measure what matters - Thank you, Mr John Doeer - what are the key things that need to change and what metrics do they impact?
We need to ensure we are aware of the data points needed to evaluate success and make sure they are highlighted early.
Research the Solutions
You can then research the best solution that fits your needs. You can look at the G2 comparisons, which are always a great place to start.
You can then look at the Revenue Operations communities like the Rev Ops Co-Op. They have specific slack channels and places online for reviews by Revenue Operations specialists that have likely already experienced the best-in-class vendors as well as the new up-and-coming ones.
Once you have found the ones you like to get demos with we can get on with the evaluation.
The Solution Review
The review process, ideally, is pretty quick. You have spent the time upfront with the details so you have a formed idea of what you need.
You can then make sure to have a list of needs you have - these do not have to be the absolute finite requirements, these should be the higher-level needs you have as a business. This means getting your key needs listed and shared with the companies you wish to evaluate.
In my experience the key three things to assess are:
Technical Fit - how mature is the solution and how does the feature meet the needs from a technical perspective? EG do they natively interact with your Salesforce or HubSpot platforms or do you need to build that integration yourself
User Experience - this is vital to success. There is very little point in selecting a solution everyone hates using. You won't get it adopted and the tolerance levels will lower with each slack message to you about why buttons don't exist where it seems they should.
Business Fit - Do you feel or have a good relationship? Are they a large International established business or are they a new start-up? Will you be their biggest customer? What are the expected costs and implementation efforts? All of these sometimes intangible things will and should impact your decision. The level of impact will differ from business to business depending on the stage of the journey you are but they should still be assessed and be taken into account for your decision overall.
Below is a template you can follow for any sized evaluation you have. Use coupon code - FreeEval2022 for your free template
From here you can request each vendor to provide details on the features and requirements. You can use this alongside your own research to establish the relevant scores for each requirement and then add your intangibles as an overall multiplier at the end.
I am usually open about the methods in advance with any companies I speak with. This usually helps everyone involved.
The company selling has clear guidelines as to what we need and what they are measured against and usually who they are against too. This allows for open feedback should we sign but need more work in certain areas or gives helpful information for the reason for not proceeding.
We, as the business, have a shining light for what we are looking to achieve before we have signed and can really start to build that all-important Return on Investment document and predictions based on what key requirements are met and at what level.
Frankly as well, it's really useful for the person completing any negotiation too. They can see just what the feedback is and helps drive that conversation into being one of what value that vendor is providing to us. So with my general openness put into this, we have to identify what we are measuring.
Now depending on the need and tools, we could have a number of steps in order to go live and I will make sure to cover project implementation another time but this is something that should be able to scale with your project.
If you want to get more in-depth information on how to run your vendor evaluation, or just want someone to bounce some ideas off. Then I have 7-plus years of experience with global vendor evaluations. Feel free to book 30 mins to discuss how I can help with your business needs.