Gift-giving is a scary process. You spend your time and your money to find that special something that will make your Mom, or Dad, or girlfriend or whoever especially happy… Only to get a forced smile and a strained, “Why, it’s just what I wanted!” in return.
Buying sales tools is stressful for the same reason, except the consequences can be even more dire. As part of the sales operations team, it’s your job to figure out how to improve sales — that means it’s your responsibility to implement tools and training to smooth out inefficiencies in the sales process.
So that’s what you do — except once you put the solutions in place, your reps don’t use them. When you ask what they actually will use, they point to the shiniest, most expensive solution on the market — the one with a price tag that the CFO will just laugh at.
So what’s the deal? What can you do to equip your sales team with tools that are powerful, easily adopted, and direct hits for inefficiencies that plague your sales team?
These three steps are the best place to start.
1. Find Trends in Your Data
The first step to implementing the right sales tools is to look at the data. So long as you’ve been measuring performance with the right KPIs, your data will serve as a roadmap for where sales tools will have the greatest positive impact on rep performance.
There are two big reasons to start with the cold, hard numbers:
- Data is objective — sales process assessments should always begin with the facts first, and incorporate anecdotal evidence later on
- You get the big picture — If you don’t start with the thousand-foot view of your sales process, it’s too easy to zero in on problems that only affect a handful of reps, and miss the solutions that have a greater impact for the team as a whole.
Sales performance data gives you a platform to identify where sales tools are most needed, but digging into your data is only the first step.
2. Listen to Your Reps
Yes, it’s important to be objective, and it’s vital to understand sales performance results, but anecdotal evidence from your reps is also an essential part of selecting the right sales tools.
After all, they are the ones who stand to benefit from them, and they will only spend time adopting new tools if their views are taken into account along with their results.
Failure to consult the end user is a mistake that torpedos sales enablement projects all the time. You have to get the story behind the results before you can fully address the underlying influences that negatively affect them.
A surefire way to waste your operating budget is to force reps to use something they didn’t lobby for. If you buy a tool based on analysis or suggestions alone, it won’t get adopted.
3. Prove Value
The most crucial step to find the right tool for your sales team is to prove value. You do this by tying together data-backed insights from your performance analysis with feedback from your sales reps and managers, and see what problems stand out in both cases.
Those problems are the ones that need to be solved, and if you bring both data showing why and a groundswell of support from your sales team, budget won’t be an issue.
However, your company will never have budget unless there is a clear-cut business case for the investment you are going to make.
To get sales tools approved, and for them to have a lasting impact, there has to be a very clear value add from the bottom-up — from end users, to managers, all the way up to the executive team.
Finding the right tool for your sales team is a matter of selling internally – you have to identify a need, match the best solution to it, and then get buy-in from every party affected by the purchase.
Start with data to guide the conversation, take the sales team’s opinion into account, and then present a comprehensive business case to your management team, and you will never encounter the “I love it (but not really)!” grimace again.