Your company has just made a big investment in a new sales technology. Maybe you were the new product’s champion or you gave final approval for the expenditure. You know that this should have a major impact on sales. And now, no one seems to be using it. Your frustration and embarrassment grows with each passing day.
You’re not alone.
The sales world descended upon San Francisco last week for DreamForce, SalesForce’s annual product celebration for its throngs of loyal users, developers, employees and consultants.
Hundreds of companies that live in the SalesForce ecosystem were there too, and some of these companies were pitching truly innovative solutions to the myriad challenges that sales leaders face. And yet in discussion after discussion we ran into sales leaders who repeatedly lamented the fact that they can’t seem to coax their sales reps and managers to effectively use the technology that they already have.
We’ve been doing this for a while. If you are one of these leaders, here are a few of the reasons you’re struggling:
You haven’t addressed the only question that matters for most sales reps.
Let’s all stop with the nonsense that “reps should do what I tell them to do if they want to keep their jobs.” The best case scenario when you take this approach is that your reps will nod and smile and pretend to play along or do the bare minimum required to not get fired. They will not be inspired to extract value from your new sales tool. They won’t be inspired period.
Let’s try a different angle, no? Let’s acknowledge who we have hired. The best sales people tend to be smart, competitive, financially-driven and self-motivated. Whether you like it or not, the first question that they will ask is “What’s in it for me?” So tell them. Show them. Just be sure that the answer includes an obvious nod to the things that they care about: closing more business, making more money and climbing the leaderboard (or retaining their position at the top). If you can’t make these arguments to yourself, there is no chance you can get buy-in from your end users.
You haven’t proven that there is something in it for them.
Telling reps and managers how they will benefit is a good start, but it isn’t enough. You need to offer some proof and unfortunately, you alone are not the best positioned to convince the rank and file members of your sales team. Just like your sales prospects are more likely to buy based on the recommendation of a trusted confidant, your reps are more likely to follow the guidance of their colleagues who are in the field selling.
The smoothest technology implementations result when senior leadership enlists a handful of successful reps and mid-level managers to serve as internal “beta testers.” Ensure that they understand the cachet associated with being selected for this group. Take extra time with these reps to ensure that they understand their personal upside. Deputize them to help you sell it to their colleagues. They’re good sales people, after all. Prepare them to buy credibility with their colleagues by airing and addressing contrarian positions before the wider team launch. When you do roll it out to the wider team, avoid a monologue and instead guide a discussion amongst the beta testing group.
You actually bought a clunker.
Unlikely. You’re too smart for that. However, if the rep who sold the useless technology did a disservice to the noble profession of sales and snookered you into a bad deal, circle back with someone higher in the organization. You would fix this if this happened in your own sales organization. Most companies will.
Jim Dries is the sales rep in chief and head data geek for piLYTIX.