Solving the Sales Rep Technology Divide

Solving the Sales Rep Technology Divide

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The following is a guest post from our friends at Prialto.

Apple would like us to believe that there’s an app for everything. Salesforce would posit that the right app for salespeople is its Sales Cloud platform. But with 63% of CRM installs failing, there seems to be something about the sales process that just can’t be automated away. No matter how many scheduling apps, customer management apps, perfect slide deck apps or expense reimbursement apps you download, salespeople will always need to power their own processes to an extent.

So why is that, and how can you use that knowledge to make your sales team more effective? Let’s dive in to some facts.

1. People Are the Core of the Sales Process

The real expertise of a salesperson is in their persistence and judgement. These are exactly the types of traits that can’t be put into a computer algorithm. Salespeople need to keep pushing, take constant rejection from prospects, and be resourceful when faced with no for an answer.

CRM and marketing automation systems run on simplistic if-this-then-that logic formulas. They can’t assign values to different prospects or account for the nuances of the power dynamic in the conference room. Salespeople need to be able to take the time to enter the right data for the CRM to crunch.

Granted, CRMs are very helpful for running dashboards and complex reports across the sales team. Still, the CRM is only as good as the data that’s been put into it.

2. Changing Habits is Hard

The vast majority of people stop using a new app within 30 days of downloading it. That’s basically proof there’s a limit to the number of SaaS apps you can handle at any one time. If an app is truly successful, it will become part of your everyday workflow. That means a number of other things in your day will need to change to hit 100% adoption.

But changing how you do things every day is incredibly difficult. Most salespeople would rather write endless sticky notes for themselves rather than learn how to enter activities into their CRM. Changing that process requires a constant emphasis on learning tools and processes instead of taking the time to sell.

3. Salespeople Aren’t Wired for Apps

Even in Silicon Valley, where your average Joe uses a bevy of apps on a daily basis, salespeople just aren’t optimal app users. The reason you hire a great sales guy is because he knows how to deal with people – not sit at a desk and type away on a machine all day. Your typical sales rep sees the CRM system as Big Brother. He prefers to be a lone wolf instead of adopting corporate’s sales processes, and sees what he’s doing as something of an art. Good salespeople are motivated by quotas and closings – not by entering data into an SaaS app on the way to their meetings.

So how do you solve the tech/rep divide?

Adoption of any app or process is a serious hurdle – but not giving your sales reps any SaaS tools isn’t an option either. Management needs visibility, and the team as a whole needs to establish best practices in the sales process. Apps and CRM are a key part of doing that.

The solution is not to reduce the number of apps your sales reps are using, but to get them some help with running all the tools. Hire – or outsource to – a sales support team that can take care of things like:

  • Entering data into the CRM
  • Filing expense reimbursement
  • Conducting and tracking prospect research
  • Preparing meeting briefs
  • Updating the sales deck

A real, live sales support team will help you find the perfect apps, and power the process behind them. That’s what we call SwaS – Software with a Service – and marks where a lot of enterprise-level SaaS is headed.

Apps are intended to supplement your team’s existing skills, not to replace them. So stop forcing your salespeople to do something that doesn’t fit their core competencies. Let them get back to selling, while admins power their sales apps.

Image: Blake Patterson via Flickr

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