3 Simple Success Factors for Implementing Software in the Sales Organization
Introducing new software into a sales organization can be a challenge. For instance, the recent Merkle Group survey indicated that 63% of CRM implementations were considered failures. Early ERP integrations were almost as disastrous with 51% considered failures. Every organization has met challenges in technology projects, even when introducing PowerPoint, Excel and other familiar software tools. So, what success factors are needed for the smoothest implementation program in your organization?
Select a Solution Beneficial to the Salesperson
One of the most important things you can do when implementing technology for any role within your organization is to make sure it is actually beneficial to the people who are using it. This seems obvious, but it is frequently missed. Based on my experience using CRM systems as a rep, and implementing them for my sales teams at four different companies, I can tell you the lack of value to the rep plays a huge part in their rejection of CRM systems. We can tell salespeople all day long how much a CRM system will help them, when in fact we all know it is primarily a management tool that helps upper management. They see through this (who wouldn’t) and it gives them another reason to resist and reject the system.
Resistance is rooted in the fact the salesperson sees no value in the CRM, and in fact sees it as a detriment because it takes time away from selling and replaces it with perceived “busy work”. Salespeople operate on the precious commodity of time. Time away from sales engagement with prospects and customers has a direct impact on not just company income, but on the sales rep’s personal income. Tools which create more time to create more business and income opportunities are more willingly accepted. Tools which increase the odds and improve the speed of closing pipeline prospects are also more readily embraced. So if you are going to implement software for your sales team, put yourself in their shoes, be honest with yourself, and try to understand what real benefit the solution will bring to the team.
Select the Appropriate Form Factor
Sales people are traditionally non-conformists and are more likely to be independent operators. This characteristic is even more exacerbated when dealing with external sales resources such as agents, resellers, and distributors. When rolling out a new sales solution, especially a mobile one, you need to carefully consider the devices on which it will operate. There are two keys reasons for this.
The first reason is one of familiarity. If your company uses iPads in various divisions, but the majority of your resellers use Windows 8 tablets, rolling out an iPad only solution should give you pause. I know iPads are the most used tablets for business. I know that you use them internally. But I also know in this example that your top resellers don’t use them. Honestly it doesn’t matter if you think the iPad is better, if you try to ram an iPad-based solution down your channel’s throat, you will fail, and fail big.
The second reason is one of cost. If your channel is alternatively heavily invested in iPad, and you push a Windows 8 solution, you are not only dealing with forcing them to leave a tablet technology that is familiar, but you are also hitting them in the pocket book. A typical Windows 8 tablet costs several hundred to well over a thousand dollars. Multiply that by how many reps your channel supports and you can see the real cost for your channel, or your company, beyond the software itself. Pushing a solution that requires new hardware, operating system or peripherals will limit the acceptance and utilization, sometimes significantly. So if there is a blend of iPad and Windows 8 tablet users in the organizations, look for software that works on both systems.
Make Sure the Solution is Easy to Use
Salespeople hate technology! There, I said it. You were already thinking it. I just blurted it out. OK, so not every salesperson hates technology, but the statement that salespeople hate technology is far more common that you are willing to admit. Combine that with another characteristic of most salespeople and you have a recipe for disaster. What is the other characteristic? Most salespeople are ADD. They might not be clinically diagnosed as such, but they definitely have attention issues. In fact, this is one of the things that make good at selling. They like to do new things every day. They enjoy jumping from one situation to another. That characteristic might not be good for somebody in accounting, but it is a useful trait in sales.
So salespeople hate technology, and they don’t like to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. What does that mean for situations where we are introducing new technology? It means the technology needs to be simple and intuitive to use. This is actually another reason most CRM’s fail. It’s because most of those systems are not easy to use. Therefore the salespeople don’t want to mess with them.
Here’s what makes this even more challenging. What you think is easy, probably isn’t easy to your sales team. I found this out the hard way when we were first designing 4DSales. I had what I thought was a tremendous interface and a slick solution for any salesperson. I proudly showed it to my partner, and he rained on my parade. He told me it was too difficult. He told me salespeople wouldn’t use it. I was incredibly irritated. And yet…he was right! We took several more months to rework the interface before building the commercial version of the product. Now we get as much positive feedback on the ease of use of our product as we do about it helping reps close more deals.
Simply stated: Ease of use is key.
What are your experiences implementing technology solutions for salespeople? Do you agree with our short list of success factors? Do you have a better list? We’d like to hear from you regarding your experiences.