There is an ever increasing number of sales and marketing technologies emerging and they all claim to be “The best solution ever!” In fact, Huffington Post claims that investments for sales acceleration technologies now exceeds $1.2 billion, including more than $40 million of funding made just within April and May of this year. However, throwing money at brand new technologies hoping one tool will alleviate all challenges that you are experiencing is not an efficient use of your budget and time. The best solution for you and your company is technology that actually matches your sales and marketing process. You shouldn’t be building your process to match technology. And if you’ve held more than one sales or marketing job, then you know that every company’s process can be very different from one another.

Before you start signing up left and right for free trials, you first need to have a clearly defined sales and marketing process. Otherwise, how will you determine exactly what is needed for your unique business environment? If you’re relying on the engineers and developers to craft a process for you, then you might as well schedule in a few blocks of time for technology meltdowns as well (I’ve already been there and done that, it wasn’t pretty). Each tool will have it’s own process and most of the time it’ll seem like it’s a clear process that “just makes sense.” But don’t be fooled because you’re seeing it within it’s ideal territory where there is no process already in place and where it is lacking the idiosyncrasies of your business environment. On the other hand, if you are looking to purchase a technology because you’re lacking a defined process or a successful one, then be sure to not only ask questions about the tech itself but also about the success of the strategy that backs up the technology’s process.

One piece of advice that I can give is to ask as many questions as possible in your demo. If you wait until the end to ask all of your questions, you’re bound to forget a few. And those few questions could have uncovered gaps between your company’s process and the technology’s capabilities or limitations. Think about your daily, weekly, monthly routine in regards to how you’d use this product. Does it serve all of those needs? Are all of your key components there (functionality, reporting, accessibility, quality, and customer service)? If not, how customizable is the product? Does the customized portion truly integrate seamlessly or three months down the road will you be yelling “why?!” at your computer screen, left with little customer support due to the advanced “customization?” And if you’re looking to purchase the product in order to help your process, think about integrations, team members’ receptability, and also the company’s experience and credibility in that space. Just don’t forget – always, always, always, ask questions!

That being said, the process of demoing new technology can be a daunting task in and of itself. More likely than not, you’ll begin your demo with two conflicting thought processes, one tempting you to buy and another reminding you to evaluate the technology with a level-head.

Here are the conflicting voices you’ll hear in your head and the questions to ask to make sure you’re listening to the right one:

Voice of Temptation:

“Ooh, shiny. You love new technology. So what if you haven’t worked out all the kinks, if you buy this first before your competitors, you will be seen as an innovator.”

Voice of Reason:

Don’t always invest your time and money into every new technology thinking you’ll always be ahead. If the product’s process doesn’t match yours or you don’t match their ‘ideal customer’ you may be making more work for yourself because you’ll end up having to tailor your internal processes to the product (indicating it’s not a solid fit). That may very well put you in last place, not first.”

Ask: “Do you have clients that are similar to my company or in the same industry as mine? Of those clients, what have they found most useful and where have they experienced any differences or challenges when applying your product? Are you still making updates to your technology or has the final version been rolled out?

Voice of Temptation:

“This tool can replace two comprehensive tools, making our lives easier!”

Voice of Reason:

“Is there a reason why you’re currently using two different technologies for that sales or marketing process?”

Personally, I’ve demo’d multiple tools that “take the place of a few.” However, I’d be loosing a lot of specific capabilities that I need in order to do my job well. So, condensing the technology would be a loss in my book. Be sure to check with everyone in your department to make sure the features that they depend on will also be available within the new solution. You never know what different features people are drawn to and why, everyone works differently.

Ask: “I may need to check with my team on specific features that they depend on and evaluate those against your product. What are the differences between your product and our current solution? Could you send me a comparative analysis of XYZ features please? I’d like to make an informed decision keeping everyone in mind.”

Voice of Temptation:

“This tool fits our company perfectly at the moment. We would all be able to learn the functions and capabilities, what reason do we have not to purchase it?”

Voice of Reason:

“If you consider investing time and money into a new technology you need to be sure that it is flexible enough to scale with your company. If you’re looking to grow, expand, mature, and further define your processes, the tool needs to be agile enough to complement your refinements.”

Ask: “How will your technology help me grow my business or maximize my process in the future? Do you have a customer success team in place to help implement any changes as our process evolves?”

Overall, the best technology to invest in would be one that will adapt to your ever-changing internal sales and marketing process and one that knows your industry. Find what complements your process, one that everyone will fully utilize and not miss previous features and functionality, and one that has the ability to grow and progress with your organization. However, you’re never going to fully understand new technologies’ capabilities and limitations unless you ask questions that are tailored to your specific sales and/or marketing process.

What kind of questions do you make sure you ask when evaluating B2B sales and marketing technology?