Capitalizing on Sales Technology: Keep It Simple
The 2014 Sales Best Practices Study conducted by Miller Heiman was just released with some excellent insights. This study is conducted each fall, and released the following summer, to analyze the behaviors of complex B2B sales organizations and provides insights into the selling and sales management activities that produce the greatest results in the current B2B sales landscape. In part of their executive summary for the 2014 study they make a note regarding sales technology.
Strategically, they raise the question, “How will sales organizations capitalize on the rapid advances in sales technologies?” Their response is for the company to develop a comprehensive sales technology strategy. Great question with a well-intended response. However, the only ones to capitalize in this scenario are the CRM vendors implementing the solution.
From my practical experiences, this comprehensive implementation strategy of a CRM platform through sales force automation technology leads to unreal objectives, flawed data and assumes that both sales and marketing really know why clients buy their solutions. From management’s perspective, CRM is great in that they can collect client and prospect data while measuring the flow of the opportunity pipeline. I personally have led this effort at a large technology company in the implementation of CRM, specifically as it relates to opportunity management. Again, from my experiences, the “boil the ocean” approach to CRM implementation typically translates to “Identify 3 times your annual quota objective in CRM by the end of January so we as a company can track our quality opportunity pipeline…OK?!”
The part of the equation that is overlooked is the sales professional who is in the field everyday with the mission to grow revenue for the company. They view CRM as a stick that measures their effectiveness in evaluating questionable lead sources and their ability to move these opportunities through the selling cycle. Add to this the ability to devote the time required to learn how to update and or add data to the sales automation system.
A current CSO Insights study found that sales professionals on average spend 58% of their time on activities other than selling. This percentage has hovered around 60% for several years, and is consistent across studies performed by many organizations. So given these non-selling activities which consume sales professionals’ time, what would you expect their response to be with respect to CRM updates? They are most likely going to “cook” or “spin” the pipeline updates to reflect what the company wants…3 times my annual target by the end of January…which keeps management off their backs and allows them to sell. Reference the post titled, “Good Luck, We’re All Counting On You” at 4dsales.com for more insights into CRM and the extended “sales team”.
So then, what truly is the best way to “capitalize” on rapid advances in sales technology? KEEP IT SIMPLE!! Start where your sales team can make the most impact and gather the most pertinent information…in front of customers and prospects. Help your sales team fly the company plane in front of customers and prospects!!!! Provide your sales team with mobile technology that is easy to use in front of clients and that equips them with all the information that consistently and truly represents why they should buy from your company!!! A recent poll conducted by the Sales Management Association before a sales mobility webinar showed that 78% of sales leaders believe improving sales effectiveness would provide the greatest return on investment in mobile sales deployment…or more broadly speaking in sales force automation. They specifically cite reengineering content packaging/delivery as well differentiating the customer engagement experience as providing the greatest return on investment.
Combine this with good sales leadership at the first line level to coach the team using the sales tool to support execution of the sales process. You will also be able to gain valuable feedback/analytics from the team on what content best represents the company and its products and solutions. Overall, a sales force automation approach that truly allows you to capitalize on the advances in sales technologies.
Starting the sales technology strategy at a point where a large portion of your revenue is generated, in front of customers and prospects, will quickly equate to a solid return on the investment by increasing your sales team’s effectiveness. You can also gain valuable insights through analytics from your sales team to refine and improve your “Why do customers buy from us” message which in turn leads to targeting the right opportunities representing companies which are most likely to buy from you to fill your CRM pipeline.
What a wonderful world it could be!!!!