5 things to consider when developing a digital sales tool and what can affect the cost.
16 Minute Read
“Businesses who enable their sales teams with data and tailored insights to tell the buyer’s story, experience up to 66% lift in revenue, and as much as 82% more repeat business” – Forrester
When your sales team meet with customers, they have a narrow window of opportunity to impress. Digital sales enablement tools are interactive, providing compelling tailored insights and an immersive visual experience with the WOW factor to support your sales conversations.
Rather than a linear presentation, your sales team can easily tailor the content they are sharing according to who they are speaking with. Allowing collaborative conversations which easily demonstrate the benefits of your products, your capabilities and the value you deliver.
These digital sales enablement tools generate powerful data insights to enable you to track and monitor customer and sales team engagement, support training programmes and drive and improve sales initiatives.
As a rough guide, a starting point for a sales enablement tool is approximately £20k. However, depending on the functionality and scope of the tool – will it be used globally, be multi-lingual, or cover a business’s entire portfolio – then the budget could rise to £75k+.
So, as you can see there are many variables that can impact the price when developing a sales enablement tool. I’ve listed 5 main areas that you need to consider throughout the process:
- Your objectives
- The content and features of the sales experience
- How it’s designed and structured
- The development methodology used and the technical integrations needed
- Analytics, intelligence, and ongoing development
By looking at these you will have a better understanding of what contributes to the project outcomes and the budget. You’ll also be better informed about the process you’ll be embarking on and who’ll need to be involved.
Having a clear vision of what you need your sales enablement tool to achieve is key to its success.
“We could have built an awesome looking sales tool, but if it doesn’t solve an immediate need that the sales team are facing then it isn’t going to be of use or useful.” – Dan Cheung, Marketing Manager at Wienerberger
Surveying key stakeholders – sales, marketing, product managers etc – to discover the challenges faced internally and externally by sales and what drives successful customer conversations is where we recommend starting.
A subsequent facilitated workshop inviting representatives from these different parts of the business to delve deeper into your customer personas, specific challenges and possible resolutions is an important next step. It is here that you can start to explore functionality and content, identify what success looks like and develop consensus and buy-in from across the business around one vision.
From there a comprehensive report should be produced, outlining everything discussed and agreed at the workshop. The report should include the following:
- Your customer personas
- Where and how the sales tool will be used – for example on tablets in meetings, touchscreens at events, virtually on a Zoom call or a combination of these
- Measures of success for the organisation, customer and sales team
- User experience, content and technical requirements
This initial output should be used to prioritise and produce a development blueprint which identifies what is to be developed first and what will be produced for subsequent updates.
Remember, clear objectives help to stay within budget, and time, by:
- Prioritising content and feature development
- Reducing the need for costly changes later in the process
- Determining how long the tool will take to develop
- Increasing buy-in from the rest of the business and ultimately uptake by the sales team
The content and features of the sales experience
By identifying your objectives you’ll have clarity over your customers’ requirements, the content that’ll be needed to support your sales conversations and where these conversations will be happening.
“POP challenged us and guided us on the best way forward. It took me a while to get away from an analogue printed page mindset. POP’s knowledge of the user interface was invaluable.” – Clare Dawson, Marketing, Coloplast
Selecting existing content
The next consideration is what content you will use. Much of it will already exist in your business in the form of brochures, videos, PDFs, presentations and case studies. Technology may already be in place – a Content Management System (CMS), a Digital Asset Management system (DAM) or a Product Information Management system (PIM) – which can help you to identify and retrieve these assets.
If not, we would advise that one or more of these platforms are integrated into your new sales tool. This will give you the confidence that everyone using the tool is guaranteed to access the latest, most relevant information when they are in front of customers. This is particularly important when dealing with different regions or in highly regulated industries.
You may decide that new content needs to be created – either by yourselves or by a third party – to create a more immersive environment for your customers.
The best sales tools move away from static, linear information and visuals. Instead, they tell a more dynamic, interactive story, built around the challenges and needs of the customer.
Great examples of more engaging content that can support a consultative sales narrative with multiple audiences include:
- Interactive process charts
- Product visuals with deep-dive hotspot content
- ‘Day in the Life’ scenarios
- Interactive infographics
- 3D models and graphics
However, exciting as these elements are it is important to remember, and to keep referring to, your original business Objectives. Content is only King if it helps to deliver your core message.
“We needed to deliver a message that really mattered to our customers in a succinct and impactful way, but without losing the important messages. POPComms achieved that for us.” – Ceren Balkanay, EMEA Product Manager at GCPAT
- Much of the content you use will already exist, plan in enough time to retrieve it
- CMS, DAM and PIM systems, if not already used, are invaluable to ensure your tool is a central source of truth
- Dynamic content is more engaging in digital sales tools, but may need to be created
How it is designed and structured
How the content and narrative is brought to life is the next consideration to affect your budget and ultimately the RoI of your sales tool. This phase is also about developing the user experience – how a sales rep and customer will navigate through the tool moving between the content.
We would recommend starting with wireframing – the focus here is on creating simple, clear layouts, page by page, for your content based on the agreed structure. Establishing where specific content appears within your tool, the narrative flow and the user journey. It is easier and more cost effective to make changes to these low-fidelity layouts at this point, rather than during the more detailed design phase.
Once the wireframes are agreed we’d move onto the creative design stage, where we turn potentially complex ideas, messages and concepts into simple yet visually powerful and compelling graphics. The main objective is to make it as easy as possible for people to quickly understand exactly what you do and the value you deliver.
To help carry the story and visualise it, we’d introduce you to creative elements that can help to bring your story to life. We’d work with you to choose those most beneficial to delivering your project’s objectives. They could include:
- 3D Cityscapes
- Video animations
- 3D models
- Interactive content
- Configurators and calculators
- Augmented reality etc.
The potential for creative ingenuity is huge. This is where the magic comes in, adding that layer of creative WOW over the content and structure to really bring all that hard work invested to life.
“We came to POPcomms because we wanted to tell a story. When presenting to customers you have to find the heart of the message and deliver it in a visually impressive and memorable way – and POPcomms do just that every time for us.” – Andrew Davidson, Head of Marketing, Hosting, Network & Security, Fujitsu
- Wireframing is a cost-effective way of scoping out the design and structure before final sign off
- Changes when in the Creative design phase can be costly
- Choosing the right design element for your project can impact the cost and also the return on investment – a more expensive configurator will enhance your product more than a photograph ever can and bring it to life for your customer
The development methodology used and the technical integrations needed
Sales tools can be complex software development projects, involving multiple stakeholders, objectives and requirements. The development approach, technical requirements, and the platform to be used can be the most costly phase if not fully considered at the very beginning.
At POP we take an Agile approach to development, rather than the Waterfall method. Put simply Agile takes each function and feature and releases each one in incremental stages based on its importance – it has sizable cost benefits, increases stakeholder and business buy-in and delivers a faster RoI.
Whereas Waterfall takes the entire scope of the project, developing all possible functionality before it is released.
To explore in more detail why we advocate Agile development for our clients and all the benefits it brings read our recent blog here.
There may be technical integrations to be considered with other existing software platforms, where the platform will be hosted and any security features. If your sales team need to use the system in low or no network coverage areas then it will need to be able to run offline.
The platform is the engine that drives your sales tool. It is where all the content resides, where the integrations happen, where the design is built in and what your sales team will access.
There are many sales enablement and digital selling platforms on the market. They vary greatly, with a range of ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions with varying features, such as ShowPad. There is also the option of developing a bespoke platform which is specific to your needs.
The technology chosen is crucial to the success of your sales tool. If it is not well-considered and planned out, then the impact to the financial, brand, uptake and operational side of a business can be huge.
- Agile development delivers RoI faster
- Being aware of all technical integrations and requirements before development will save time and money
- Which platform you choose will have an impact on functionality and future transformation
Analytics, intelligence and ongoing development
Once your sales tool is being used out in the field with customers, the process of continuous monitoring begins, fine tuning and extending the functionality as part of an ongoing Agile development process.
The evaluation of your sales tool comes from both quantitative data using an analytics platform, and by gathering qualitative feedback from your sales team and customers. All tracked against KPIs that can help to fine tune the sales tool’s content and messaging, in addition to providing insights for training requirements and additional content.
“Showpad and the enhanced App POP built us provides our sales teams with that extra bit of magic, which sets us apart from our competition, and is both smart and trackable.” Dan Cheung, Marketing Manager, Wienerberger
There will also be internal and external pressure on how your tool develops, with changes to business objectives, market factors, customer requirements and with shifts in business operations – such as the push to remote working as seen with Covid.
How much an analytic tool costs depends upon what you want to track and measure – they can be free and provide basic information, to a bespoke tool that can be customised to provide your exact requirements. More detailed information is available on our blog here.
- Measurable KPIs should be integrated into the tool before it is launched to determine RoI and further development requirements
- Agile development can respond quickly and cost effectively to changes in strategic direction within a business
Digital sales transformation can seem daunting with many unknowns and questions, especially when you’re trying to consider and understand the financial investment that may be required.
With a well-structured approach to your digital sales transformation, such as I’ve outlined above, it’s possible to:
- Ideate, scope and plan a roadmap of development, breaking down the different stages and building a picture of costs before you commit
- Prioritise features and functionality required, mitigating a lot of the perceived financial risks by focusing on a core experience
- Use the core experience, obtain feedback and validation, whilst evolving your sales tool through continuous, incremental improvement, based on your budget and feedback
- Receive expert guidance, and objective support throughout the process from digital transformation experts.