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Revenue Operations

Your Technical Requirements Gathering Should Go Beyond the Executive Suite

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It’s natural to feel excited and gung-ho about starting a new CRM Set Up project. You’re probably tempted to dive in head-first, but when the right people aren’t involved with requirements gathering in the initial steps, it can lead to head-scratching, finger-pointing and frustration no one wants to deal with. It opens up a world of hurt if the team thought they should be ordering a celebratory cake from their favorite bakery but are ordering pizza (again) because they are pulling yet another all-nighter to fix what should have been identified up front.


Requirements gathering from the right people is something Cliff Simon, Vice President Sales & Revenue with the Carabiner Group, is pretty much laser focused on. And just who are the right people? There are a number of them, but Cliff says a key group are those on the front line.


“I think the people that need to be involved are those who are actually going to be dealing with the client on a day-to-day basis,” he says. “Those people should be involved early and they need to be involved often.”


Balancing Acts

That isn’t to say it’s time to lock the executive team in a boardroom with a juicy issue and not tell them about requirements gathering meetings.


As much as you sometimes might want to.


It’s a matter of balance.


“Make sure that you have appropriate alignment between what the deal cycle needs, what the executive team wants and what your frontline users are actually getting out of the tool,” he says. “We go in and we do the interviews on both the frontline level and the executive level. And then we talk about it with the executive team and say, ‘hey, this is what would drive better adoption and better data for you.’ And then we triage it accordingly and put it into a roadmap and start building.”


Try a Forced Empathy Exercise

Garbage in, garbage out. How many times have you heard that?


We’ve all heard it, but is everyone (including the executives, decision makers and bean counters) actually getting it?


No. They aren’t.

Because, “I just want this one field filled out.” And “I need to know X, there has to be a work-around to get me that information.”


It sounds oh, so easy, doesn’t it? I mean come on, it’s just. One. Field.

Until a sales person tries to enter a new opportunity.

And they reach for their stress ball.

Pinch the bridge of their nose.

Bang their head on their desk.



Have someone walk the executive & frontline management team through what it takes to enter the information that they deem as important.. Have them sit down and actually complete an entry as a frontline rep would to see what it takes.


Then, they may begin to understand why so many fields either end up ignored or filled with useless information.


“Those on the frontline are going to put in something for the sake of putting something in there,” Cliff explains. “Now you’re getting crappy data as opposed to what you thought was going to be this rich treasure trove of different line items and fields that you could sort and customize your reporting on.”


But, Ask for What You Need

However, as he points out, there are always legitimate requirements and these have to be spelled out. Multiple teams are interacting with and adding to the full story behind a given Account or Opportunity. Document everything. Define everything.




“Give me every single item that you want in a pick list,” he says. “What’s the flow? Do you want us to set it up in Sales Console? You want them in and out [of Salesforce] as quickly as possible.”


So here too, it’s a balance.


Yes, like walking a tightrope. And you may or may not be blindfolded.


Getting the requirements up front isn’t exactly ripping off the blindfold, but it’s at least the equivalent to  cutting a slit in it.


Having the right data helps figure out which deals the sales team should focus on and what info is needed to inch towards closing that deal ASAP. This improves organizational forecasting and the quality of Rep-Manager 1:1s while also feeding important data to other functions like Marketing or Customer Success.


“I think that there’s a fine line in the sand,” he says. “You have to be able to make sure that you’re keeping the folks that are paying you happy, but at the same time, part of that is giving them good data. And if you can make the end users happy and get them bought into it, it makes change that much easier.”


Efficiency Around the Data

Ultimately, everyone wants the same thing. Better data to make decisions.


They want it faster, with less effort and they want analysts to be able to see new things in it that can be turned into better results. So if you want faster and higher quality outputs, you need to focus on enabling those inputs.


This also extends to a few of the tools Cliff uses on a daily basis. Dooly is one of them.


“It hooks right into Gmail, notes go directly into Salesforce,” he explains. “I don’t have to open multiple tabs to do opportunities, update next steps, closing dates, amounts, etc.”


He adds that Scratchpad is similar, but he hasn’t used it in a while.


In terms of sales engagement tools that tie into your CRM, he references Salesloft, Enablement and Outplay as typical players that work differently but have similar functionality and integration.


“And now you’re able to take all those data points and make sure that they’re being captured in Salesforce from a hierarchy view when you’re forecasting,” he says. “It’s really good to understand how many touch points I need from getting a prospect to making them a qualified lead.”


Setting Expectations

That first month can be a rough one, Cliff says. When it’s all about requirements gathering and the people who originally bought into the plan are wondering when you’re actually going to “do some work”, there’s bound to be friction.


It’s when there’s an expectation of plug and play that things get dicey. Set the right expectation so that your team or client isn't expecting an immediate turnaround.


“If you and the client or end users are on the same page and you understand what it’s going to take to get there, you’ll be fine,” he says.  


So, it isn’t just a case of “If you build it, they will come.”


It’s more along the lines of “If you collect the requirements, prioritize them, balance everyone’s needs and THEN build it, they will come. And they’ll stick around.”




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