Relationship selling and the role of technology
The best sales people have an uncanny ability to build relationships and trust with prospects and customers. We have all seen it. They easily bond with decision makers on the golf course, at cocktail parties, at sporting events, or just by exchanging personal stories. Their emphasis on interpersonal relationships, however, can interfere with their investments in new technologies. While many sales people are technophiles who run out at the first opportunity to buy the latest tablet or smart phone, others are the polar opposite – technophobes who stubbornly cling to their tried and true Rolodexes and hand written notes. For a vice president of sales looking at automation as a way to help maximize and optimize their reps’ time in front of potential customers, the question is how to get sales people to buy in to automation technology.
The first step, in terms of automation, that most VPs of sales take is adopting a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Salesforce.com has made it incredibly easy to adopt CRM by offering their software as a service with virtually no upfront investment. But while Salesforce may be a great system of record, it’s not a sales force automation tool per se. As a result, the typical sales person, both the technophiles and technophobes, see limited value.
If the goals of CRM adoption are to improve efficiency, generate more revenue and increase customer face time, then a v.p. of sales will quickly become disillusioned. Sales people will inevitably enter data sporadically. Forecasting will be inaccurate. Revenue goals will be missed. User adoption will be low and ROI will be minimized. You can fire the sales person, claim their incompetence, or blame them for not following procedures but it will all be for naught. Every v.p. of sales is allowed to do this exactly once before they become the target of the CEO’s wrath.
Instead, anybody championing CRM needs to look at and promote it from the sales person’s point of view. Make their life easier and you will be amazed at the results. I’m a big fan of letting computers do the mundane, mind-numbing chores that human beings – and sales people, in particular – just don’t want to do. And in sales organizations, there are thousands of ways that automation can be applied to simplify lives and improve bottom lines, including general use case scenarios such as:
- Improving efficiency – Automating manual tasks such as information collection and report writing accelerate turnaround times, improve accuracy and help sales people maximize the time they spend with customers and prospects.
- Generating revenue – As more companies try to leverage their existing client base, automated systems help with direct sales reps’ efforts to cross sell and upsell the various products in their portfolio.
- Onboarding and adoption — Automation ensures that new hires are productive immediately by giving them the account plans, guides and tools that reflect the expertise of the most seasoned account execs. The same automations encourage technology adoption by making it simple and easy to use.
- Messaging consistency — Companies spend countless dollars to reach the right audience with the right messaging. In the marketing department, automation makes messaging more consistent.
As technologies like Cloud Extend make it easier for sales, marketing, customer service and other business users to automate tasks by themselves – without training or IT intervention – the opportunities will continue to multiply. And the costs for pursuing those opportunities will be modest. Companies won’t have to spend thousands of dollars in consulting fees. Instead, the sales team can do it themselves, in a matter of minutes. Sales people will buy in from the beginning. Only then can you truly leverage the power of their relationships and the latest in automation.
Post from: VOSibilities, the Active Endpoints BPMS blog
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