If you’re a potential first-time buyer of sales forecasting software or looking to upgrade your existing system, what’s on your digital shopping list? While the hypnotizing effect of a perfect pitch and the sparkling shine of a whizz-bang dashboard may have you reaching for your company credit card, are you sure you’re getting what you need rather than a virtual shopping trolley full of expensive mistakes?
By calling on our years of marketplace wisdom, the Varicent team have worked up a shortlist of potential pitfalls to avoid along with some sound advice on how to choose more wisely.
Beware of the Bottom Line
It’s unlikely that your purchasing budget is unlimited so above all else, avoid signing up for expensive add-ons and extras, where the only thing they are likely to forecast is financial overspend. Remember, it’s all too easy to get lost in the customization possibilities and lose out on the essentials.
Be certain what it is you want from your software. Is it a 360-sales performance management solution or do you want it concentrated on a single aspect such as territory management? Make sure that your ‘proof of concept’ is watertight. Whether that means writing a pros and cons list of ‘must-have’s versus ‘must-nots’ on a white board or working out costs down to the last dime and dollar on a spreadsheet, have a plan and set a budget so you don’t risk overspend.
Right Functionality for all the Right People
We really love a useful, value-rich dashboard at Varicent. And we can’t get enough of interfaces. But even we know that behind that ‘dashing dashboard’ there must be data and analytics that have a purpose to the end user. So now we’ve warned you against investing in stuff you don’t need, what about the reports and customization that’s going to help transform the way you manage sales for the better? Does that impressive 3D graphic show how sales are going in a territory, or is just giving you a migraine? And how do you avoid the trap of giving unlimited access to more private parts of your forecasting system while providing enough access to those that need it?
If you’re being charmed by a vendor, make sure they demonstrate how the package can work for you and provide the reports you need. During the ‘wooing’ stage, make it a two-way negotiation. Give them a specific example of what you want and ensure it’s doable. And in answer to that access concern, when you’re weighing up the benefits of a sales forecasting system, make sure you can install as many custom fields as you need as well as being able to set and change access limits. This way, you can feel confident that a sales rep in the field stays on top of their reporting and targets but won’t be able to drill down into reports and data that are off-limits.
While thinking about access, let’s tackle the thorny issue of security. With stories about data breaches continuing to dominate our digital news feeds, you’ll want to give this a ton of serious consideration.
In order to avoid trouble, ask yourself (and the vendor) all or some of the following questions:
- Are there limited data storage and deployment options?
- Is it Cloud or Edge technology and can you guarantee this is secure?
- Can this be managed in-house, or do I require third party support?
- Is there any anecdotal or solid evidence of cyber-attacks when using this forecasting system?
If the answers you uncover during your investigation stage leave you in any doubt, then consider another system that puts data safety first.
Integration and Compatibility
Another area that can potentially cause issues if not addressed properly is system integration. Whether you’re looking to bring in a single aspect of the sales forecasting package or going all out, you’re risking trouble from the outset if the software doesn’t fully integrate with existing platforms and your sales team can’t connect with each other or HQ.
It’s imperative that you have the installation support and expertise to test out your new software with all the standards, whether that’s a shared drive, email or invoicing software. Also, make sure it works with both Windows and OS operating systems and can be accessed on all devices, whether that’s a laptop, tablet or mobile.
Support and Training After Installation
You now know have a clear idea of your desired sales forecasting package and could be close to a final decision. There’s still an area where all the research can come undone – on-boarding and technical support. Think about an example in the past where maybe your whole business has jumped onto a new technology platform, yet somewhere in the early stages of adaptation there is a huge technical issue. Or maybe there were whole swathes of personnel that needed training support and were struggling to adapt?
To ensure there isn’t a repeat of this check that you have on-site support or failing that, have immediate 24/7 access to a technical expert, such as that offered by Varicent. You also need to ensure training programs are planned and then take place, with nobody left behind. Both technical support and training should be included when working out your initial costs and in any contract with your supplier.
If you want to know more about how Varicent sales forecasting software can help your business to better predict a bright future for your business minus the potential pitfalls, contact one of our sales team or visit: www.varicent.com