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Steps to planning a long-term digital transformation for SMBs

January 31, 2023


So, you’re a decision-maker at a small-to-midsized business (SMB) that wants to go digital. You’ve read about all the benefits of digital sales tools and what hurdles to watch out for in a digital implementation and you’ve decided a digital transformation is right for your business. What next?

It can be tough to figure out where to start with a digital transformation. There are a lot of platforms out there with a lot of functionality. All of it could be helpful, but a total overhaul of your business process is cost-prohibitive and would require massive retraining time. It’s best to take it one step at a time.

Step One: Understand your business process

Digital sales tools will help you improve your business process, but they can’t create a process out of nothing. SMB decision-makers should put together a 1-page document detailing how your sales process works: what you are selling, how you want to sell it, the channels you sell through, and any target markets.

Unless you’re still writing invoices by hand or drafting invoices on a typewriter, odds are you’re already using some kind of digital program in your business process—if you store product prices in Excel, you have a pricing tool; if you use Google Docs to draft contracts, you have a contracting tool. Catalogue your existing tools and map them to areas of your business process, to see if there are any gaps or if any of them could be made more effective.

If you are struggling to establish a digital sales process, feel free to reach out to salespeople from organizations like Conga or Salesforce. They can be great resources to learn more about digital tools, even if their products aren’t right for you.

Step Two: Identify pain points and areas for improvement

After you have identified the tools and tasks used in your process, take some time to evaluate how they’re working. Try and find the intersection of mundane tasks and whatever has the most impact.

Reach out to employees for input: if one of your sales reps says it takes her forever to write a quote, you might want to implement a digital quoting tool like Revenue Cloud or QuoteCX. If it’s hard for help desk staff to keep track of customer support requests, you might want to focus on getting a customer relationship manager like HubSpot up and running.

Employees at SMBs have a much closer perspective into the inner workings of a business than employees at larger firms. Consulting with them on how to ease the most time-consuming or stressful parts of their job will help you find that intersection of repetitiveness and impact. A sales rep having to take five minutes to find an email chain with a customer is a problem, but not as big a problem as taking almost a day to generate a quote.

Step Three: Research available technologies and applications

Once you’ve identified areas where your process could be improved, it’s time to look into how to improve them. There are a lot of technologies on the market and it’s important to take the time to research different platforms—many vendors have information on their website, but there are also online resources like professional associations, industry forums, and social media, which will help you connect with experts and find valuable resources.

Ask people in similar industries what issues they encountered and how they resolved them. Request demonstrations or examples from vendors of their products in action. Make notes of how fast you can see the product in action; how much it costs compared to the value it provides; and how long of a commitment it requires. Take care to look out for how easy it is to adapt to new technologies and how long it would take to onboard a new person—Salesforce is incredibly popular, but it can take months for users to learn and become certified.

Step Four: Set clear goals for the digital transformation

Once you’ve assessed your process and pain points and chosen tools to implement, it’s time to plan your implementation. Using the information you’ve gained, create a detailed plan outlining the steps to be taken, the timeline, and the resources required.

Effective prioritizing is key here. Clear and effective goals, like implementing a new quoting system, help transformations stay on track and keep them from getting overwhelming.

A good system is to choose SMART goals:






Instead of “we’re going to upgrade our quoting process,” try “we plan to cut quote generation time by 30% over the next six weeks by automating pricing.” Once goals are set, make sure to communicate them clearly to team members, so they know what to expect. Take advantage of the smaller size of your SMB to communicate directly with employees and ensure everyone is working toward the same objectives.

Step Five: Provide training and support for employees during implementation

Studies show that lack of thorough training damages morale, efficiency, and increases employee turnover. Not only that, not understanding new technologies can circumvent the advantages those new technologies bring: you can’t use a software to write a contract faster if you don’t know how it works.

If possible, it’s a great idea to test or pilot new technologies and processes with a small group of employees. This helps identify any learning curves or functionality issues that might emerge before rolling it out on a large scale.

Whether or not you test it first, be sure to continuously monitor progress during implementation. Scheduling regular reviews to discuss progress and challenges helps employees make their voices heard and can create opportunities for improvement that might otherwise go unnoticed.


Digital transformation can be an intimidating undertaking, but it is manageable. Taking the time to understand your current sales process and available sales technologies is vital in putting together a solid plan for digital transformation.

Unforeseen problems might arise, but with 75% of small-to-midsize businesses using some kind of digital technology, it’s very likely that you’re not the first to encounter problems and there’s plenty of help out there.

By pursuing implementation one step at a time and ensuring proper training, SMBs can minimize disruptions to their operations and ensure a fluid transition and a more positive business experience, for employees and customers.

Explore more ideas and see how ScaleFluidly platform products can increase your bottom line.