Sales CRM, SalesForce Automation

Let’s get this. Every company which has field force sales staff is keen to try out new technology to get more insights so they can improve sales team productivity. For this, technology solutions such as sales CRM, sales force automation software are the most popular.

Technology companies promote claiming a huge scope of improvement in all sales related activities in using Sales CRM and SFA.

One popular CRM company promote their benefits as below,

  • 300.0% Improvement in lead conversion rates.
    41.0%  Revenue increase per salesperson.
    27.0% Improvement in customer retention.
    24.0% Decreased sales cycles.
    23.0% Decreased sales and marketing costs

Knowing sales force activities insights using Sales CRM or Sales Force Automation can help sales managers to improve sales performance and productivity. Rightly so, organizations are investing money and bandwidth towards this objective.

To tap this opportunity, there are 10’s of solution providers exist in the market who claim their solution is best.

But here is the catch! The success rate of technology intervention such as sales CRM and sales force automation is not that great.

Between 25 and 60% of CRM projects fail to meet expectations, according to studies conducted over the past decade. Forrester Research

The key issues companies point out is the adoption rate is less.

Secondly, the sales managers lack the required analytical skills to derive insights from sales data and take actions. To know about GrowthAspire Program for Sales Data Insights click here

Thirdly, there is no clear benefit available to salespeople who use the software

To avoid adoption a failure, the companies must not just rely on technology solution provider! It is the salespeople willingness to improve performance that will improve productivity, performance etc. The technology at best should enable the salespeople to do their job better.

So, companies must plan extremely well and avoid common sources of failure.

Here is a list of top 7 things successful companies have followed to ensure technology intervention among sales team a success,

1. Make everyone understand the need for technology and a new way of working

What this means is, everyone in the sale team including allied functions such as marketing, Operations must be made part of the rollout initiative. It should be communicated as not about technology but more about doing sales better.

Based on team knowledge and skills and the current way of how they work, a training is mandatory to show how salespeople can achieve better success, earn more incentives by adopting a new way of working. There must be an emphasis on rewarding efforts, activities and not just results.

2. Involve users as early as possible

Consider making pilot roll-out before a full-scale launch. The fact is, any new change is not easily adopted.  Self-doubts exist among most users about the usefulness. Especially among salespeople, there will be a concern of how managers will use the data they share. Will there be more micromanagement?

So companies must create success stories within organizations and showcase to other teams and also dispel some common misconceptions. And during pilot runs, there will be scope for learning and improving systems.

3. Treat your users as internal customers

This is one of fundamental shift required among many companies. Most managements believe that internal users must adapt to new technology, a new process in the interest of the organization. So, some companies go to extent of even punish employees if they don’t comply.

When it comes to field force staff, this kind of roll-out doesn’t help. Instead, the product champions must treat internal users as customers. What this means is, a customer will adopt a new product only if he sees benefits for him. Making internal users, see the benefit of using the new system is key!

4. Make technology use as simple as possible

Let us accept human behavior is difficult to change. So at the beginning esp initial versions, the usage has to be made as simple as possible with limited inputs from the users. This helps users adapt quickly.

Asking too much data submission be it in the sales force automation software or CRM systems will not be effective and users will find it difficult to adjust and start finding reasons to be not compliant.

5. Launch big to change old habits

As discussed in point 4, old habits die hard and new habits are difficult to develop. So to change old habits, the product launch can be done with a big push.

During communication, do not just highlight how it helps the organization, but also clearly articulate how it benefits each and every user. Everyone seeks “What is in it for me” and highlighting as a practical tool to improve salespeople working will help a lot.

6. Make the new tech must use

To make regular usage, the new technology must be made indispensable.  Another powerful way to make people switch to a new way of working is to tie some rewards to usage.

WhatsApp, Facebook or other popular social media apps get viral usage because there is emotional reward people get whenever they use.

But most business apps are boring. To avoid the dropouts from usage, some companies tie expense reimbursement only with the app so that people are mandated to use. Adding gamification is another way to engage teams and will help people adopt the system.

7. Do not fight to convince all users

There will some individuals who will not see the need for migrating to new technology. In spite of all efforts, they will think, it is too late for them learn new things. So don’t try to convince them. Focus on early movers, quick followers instead of laggards.

Final bonus point

8. Maintain a proper scorecard/dashboard at each level

Every salesperson must be able to benefit from the tool. Having a nice scorecard or dashboard to help him get insights from the information he is updating will help him a long way. This is the key missing point among many available sales force automation software!

Summary

Sales forces are comprised of diverse individuals who know their customers, love autonomy and are driven by self-interest.

Zoltners & Sinha. Founders of ZS Associates

As written in the HBR Article, For Sales Forces, Big Data May be Overhyped , it is very important to understand that sales forces are comprised of diverse individuals who know their customers, love autonomy and are driven by self-interest.

Unless they are shown what benefit they get by giving the data to the organization, there will be resistance to roll out of technology-based solutions.

Any sales tools, technology intervention in the organization to be successful, must provide the customer, product-level insights that are both valuable and believable to salespeople.

Finally, the objective of the tool should never be to micromanage the salespeople. Instead, it must help salespeople on the field with additional information so they can do their job better!

It must help sales leaders, managers to get key insights to help decision making and creates success for their own salespeople.

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