While several sales technologies are available in the market, these are not delivering the expected ROI and productivity to salespeople. In this article, Elay Cohen, CEO and co-founder, SalesHood, discusses the top three problems sales tech should solve to deliver maximum ROI to salespeople.
You might not expect to hear the CEO of a sales enablement platform company say there are too many sales technologies out there in the world. But I’m saying it. There are way too many tools available, from sales enablement to sales engagement to sales operations. It’s confusing; it’s distracting; it’s hard to differentiate. All of the sales technology options are drowning salespeople and sales managers. They don’t know where to turn for what. The biggest issue is most sales tech out there, similar to CRM, is still not returning the expected ROI. We have to ask ourselves, why has tech not delivered the necessary ROI and productivity lifts to the over 15 million corporate sellers in the U.S.
There are three main reasons this is happening.
1. Sales Systems and Workflows Should Be Better Optimized for Selling
It may sound counter-intuitive, but having lots of sales systems doesn’t guarantee you’re getting value. That’s because many of these systems simply don’t map to how your people sell. They don’t fully automate workflows end-to-end, and many still require manual uploads and updates.
Salespeople need systems that will help them sell more and that they can use when they are engaging buyers. A good example is digital sales rooms (DSRs) — persistent microsites that automate how sellers engage buyers virtually while making it easy to share personalized videos and content and to track buyer engagement, signals and intent. DSRs streamline internal and external collaboration throughout the sales process and include video tracking and transcription, buyer-seller discussion boards, meeting bookings, and seller dashboards, plus the ability to create one-click branded sites, correlate activity to outcomes and more. Gartner® predicts that by 2026, 30% of B2B sales cycles will be primarily run through a DSR, which will be used to manage the customer life cycle.
Chris Lee, CRO from Latch, shares why it’s critical for sales technology to make it easy for sellers to find sales presentations, competitive information and best practices. Sellers don’t have the time to look for information. “If a salesperson has to do more than one click, they will not try to go find it.” It’s great validation from a very well-respected and accomplished sales leader of the value of arming sales teams with the right content at the right time to consume and share.
2. Content Needs To Be Activated
Simply giving your sales teams a library of pitch materials and product information for them to share and use when selling is far less useful than effectively training them on how to use these materials when they need them. Content needs to be activated. That is, content needs to be published the right way, and people need to be trained, coached and assessed on how to use it, just in time. The alternative leads to too much content and tools that sales teams don’t know how to use.
Consider how marketers create new brand presentations and messaging. They spend a lot of time and resources creating websites and presentation slides. They invest a lot to boost their brand. For salespeople, the presentation slides are revealed at a kickoff event or on an executive broadcast. Sales teams are then directed to a content library to find the presentations. For most companies on the planet, that’s where the process comes to an end. Most sales technology presume pitch confidence and competence. What happens when salespeople don’t understand the pitch and have never taken the time to practice?
Content activation goes far beyond content distribution and consumption. Marketing teams need to partner with sales leaders to activate teams with content by learning together, selling smarter and measuring outcomes.
The team at LivePerson, a leading conversational AI company, created a new Curiously Human brand and supporting presentation for their sales and customer-facing teams. They invested heavily in developing the content, training, coaching and certification programs to ensure their teams are confidently executing conversations that are aligned with their latest messaging. This initiative was driven by a partnership between the CRO and CMO.
Many fast-growing pre and post-IPO companies are realizing the importance of messaging alignment at scale as a path to going to market faster, just like we did at Salesforce when I was the Senior Vice President of Sales Enablement.
3. Systems Need to Measure Leading Indicators of Success
How do you know if your programs are working if you don’t measure their impact on the business? This is something companies struggle with, resulting in trillions of dollars being spent without any way to measure impact and ROI. Impact is measured through quantifiable metrics and KPIs important to the business and through benchmarking your organization. These metrics need to show positive improvement.
One reason companies struggle with this is that the systems they use are focused on lagging indicators vs. leading indicators. Lagging indicators assess a business’s current state while leading indicators predict future conditions. Together, they can help achieve accurate projections. Most organizations, however, measure only lagging indicators. As a result, they don’t know if their sales enablement is working until it’s too late! Organizations that measure only lagging indicators end up incapable of having programs that make an impact.
To correlate activity and measure the impact your programs are having on the business, measure leading indicators, such as calls that have been made, emails sent and other prospecting activities. This will give you insight into the pipeline that’s being created, as well as into the impact your systems are having on your company.
Werner Schmidt, VP of global sales enablement at Sage, shares how important it is for their teams and executives to measure leading indicators like call activities, contact connects, meetings scheduled and pipeline creation. It’s hugely beneficial to measure leading indicators and correlate sales activity to sales performance data. Leading indicators ultimately provide better business insights and a more predictable sales forecast. Systems need to do a better job telling executives, in real-time, what’s working and what’s not working.
Today, sales tech puts the promise of unprecedented power at the fingertips of sales teams. But that promise will remain unrealized unless sales systems and workflows are optimized for selling, sales content is activated, and organizations learn to measure leading indicators of success. Talk to your salespeople about these three issues and ask them which tools they find useful in addressing these points and which they find redundant.
Addressing these three issues will help more of your sellers make quota and perhaps just move us closer to a golden age of selling.