Despite the constant growth and coverage of Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, and hundreds of other CRM platforms – a recent study by Accenture concluded that many of the Global 2000 corporate B2B sales forces are not embracing the numerous tools available to them and subsequently falling short of their revenue goals.
“Companies need to move from an Analog front office – to a Digital office.”
Sales Effectiveness is a rather nebulous term as it can mean so many things: quota attainment, productivity, and customer satisfaction come to mind. Many corporate sales reps still feel that using CRM is a hindrance versus a productivity enhancer. The majority of corporate reps feels that CRM is not for them – but designed more for micro managing sales managers and inquisitive Marketing types who want to ensure their trade show leads are followed up on.
Many of these large corporates have been utilizing (and under-utilizing) established static sales process methodologies and practices for years. The reality is today’s customer is a much different beast than they were 4-5 years ago. Today’s customer is always moving and is highly connected and when sales contact is made – they are already 50 – 60% through the buying process. According to Accenture – “companies need to move from an Analog front office – to a Digital office.” They need to have a better understanding of how customers need to interact with their organization.
Top 5 Components for Increased Field Sales Effectiveness:
1. Agile Selling Methods:
Customers are super informed about their industry, organization, and the competition. Companies need to employ pro-active measures to ensure they are part of those early buyer conversations. This includes providing a consistent customer experience across all channels to take advantage of social, mobile, analytics, and cloud solutions than can be easily deployed. CSO’s need to do a better job ensuring their sales forces are utilizing and extending sales technologies and methodologies in a consistent fashion across their sales domain.
2. Enhanced Integration
The whole enterprise (not just the sales department) needs to focus on sales effectiveness across all touch points. Integration between sales, marketing, and customer service must become the norm thus eliminating any silos. Everyone in the company is in sales. Sales people need to be totally supported to maximize their effectiveness. Firms such as Marketo and Eloqua provide platform integration between all customer-engaging departments.
3. Field Productivity and Mobile
One of the bright spots we’ve noticed in Sales Effectiveness is the rapid growth of mobile and cloud/CRM related tools that are actually designed to enhance the rep’s productivity versus impairing their performance through mandated CRM updates. Accenture recommends that CSO’s need to exploit the newest capabilities in mobile in order to keep pace with competition. Numerous companies have adopted the use of Tablets with slick sales applications to ease the administration burden that so many sales reps hate. There are now numerous mobile field productivity tools that allow reps to update their CRM “on the fly” using their smartphones/tablets for their sales managers that are craving dynamic updates. Companies such as: Clari and Selligy have innovative applications that allow reps to update their CRM through their smartphone using voice recognition and intuitive software giving them more time in front of customers.
4. Big Data – Predictive Analytics
Salesforce.com recently introduced their own version of predictive analytics at Dreamforce and the fast growing InsideSales.com firm acquired C9 – a leader in sales predictive analytics. These companies (and others) are sure to be a major force in the $38B analytics market. Cloud BI tools will continue to proliferate and companies will be utilizing these resources to help them sell more effectively. There are numerous companies that have built SF.com plugins that give sales, sales managers, CSO’s, and CFO’s more customer “buying” information and provide “predictive” intelligence on the customer by parsing through hundreds of database sources with the end result allowing companies to have a more intimate understand their customers. These applications help increase sales effectiveness.
5. Sales Talent – Acquisition and Retention Science
Maximizing sales effectiveness starts with new talent that fits the company DNA for sales reps. 50% of CSO’s are not utilizing the numerous sciences available for building company DNA-like sales talent. Many are still using the standard resume/industry experience and “he/she interviewed well” and gut feel methods for acquiring new sales talent. There are numerous tools available that allow companies to build a “Challenger Sales” type sales model – if required – to ensure they continue to attract competent, diverse, and progressive sales candidates to improve their business. In addition, there are numerous retention products/services that ensure current sales teams are engaged and running at peak efficiency – such as Emotional Intelligence training.
The reality is competition is getting tougher every day. Companies need to embrace and support sales people with the appropriate tools and training to ensure their closing average is higher than the competition. In professional golf, the winner often wins by one or two strokes over an average tournament round of 280. It’s the same in selling. Deals are being won by which team is “slightly” more effective than their competition.
In many cases the margin for winning will be extremely close. Sales people and sales organizations should always look for additional competitive “edges” (many being digital now) to become more effective.