Sales solutions are bought to help with selling, collaborate with the team, track progress, forecasting and management reporting. The decisions to buy the solutions are done jointly by the sales representative, sales management and the sales operations. During the implementation, the sales operations and sales management tries to introduce many rules in the system to help with operational control and management exception reporting. At the end of the implementation the system has become complicated.
Recently I was talking to head of sales for a global 1000 company on the adoption challenge of their multi-year, multi-million implementation and he gave a wonderful example. The system became so complicated that there are 59 mandatory fields in the opportunities which is forced by the sales operations to get their control and reporting right. The sales rep hated filling those information, but it is only way to get compensation for the deal and started filling out with garbage info and always the first value in choice list. Eventually the Sales Operations and Executives couldn’t trust the information as the data is useless and the sales rep hated it. My guidance to them was build a solution for the rep and ask sales operation to limit the mandatory field to three items. They are on their way now and have a better adoption and the reps like the solution.
In any organization, the number sales representative on the front line interacting with customers, colleagues and partners to selling are higher than managers and operation control teams and yet the systems are implemented for complete operation control.
A user who uses an enterprise application should get value from using the system. An expense reporting helps user with getting paid for the expenses incurred. A sales system for a field sales representative should help him identifying the accounts in his territory, opportunities assigned to him or working as a team, help the rep with setting up meetings, presentation content, track the activities, collaborate with the sales team and forecast to the management team.
A field sales rep primary focus is to progress a qualified opportunity to close and build relationship with customer contact and influencers in the company to make that possible. A typical Sales Force Automation tool captures lot of information, but it doesn’t provide any new information for the representative to work on. A sales representative uses his calendar to make the meeting request, use email for communication, contact information is mostly maintained on the sales representative phone / email system, the latest information about contacts, their network and influencers are likely in LinkedIn, collaborate with sales team in Slack or other social tool. Sales rep are always mobile and with advances on speech based technologies, they have more way to interact with solution in the car and at home using Amazon Alexa or Google Home. As you can see the number of tools used to communicate, collaborate and progress on the deal is a quite a few and the information in these systems are not integrated. Enterprises do spend dollars to buy different systems, but none of them work together, the SFA system is cumbersome and not helping the reps.
A typical sales representative tenure in a company is 20 months and sales reps meets new people and builds the relationships and maintains the relationship in their personal contact tool and believe they are personal and don’t share it with the enterprise. So, when they leave an organization, the carry their rolodex with them and most of the activity history is lost.
What are the sales representatives looking for ?
A singular tool to unify all their communication, sales force automation, collaboration needs, help in automating many of the routine tasks like setting up meetings, follow-up on tasks, respond to simple mails, learn more about the rep and how they build relationship and sell and combine this with enterprise data to provide individualized recommendations on
- the activities to perform to move each deal forward,
- Opportunities they can pursue based on the past win
- Accounts they can nurture to success with guided plan
Most importantly, a tool, which is focused on the representative.