When CRM software entered the digital sales world, many companies jumped on board, eager to reap the benefits. Today, however, after the dust has settled, some are finding that their CRM systems aren’t always fully adopted – either internally, or by end users.
A 2015 Gartner Group study found user adoption rates below 50%, and concluded that $9 billion of the $20 billion CRM market is being wasted on poor adoption (Source: TopSalesWorld, 2015).
Sales teams who are stuck on using old processes that lay within their comfort zone, may feel that CRM software doesn’t support the work of field sales reps as it does C-level execs that use it for reporting.
The question becomes: How can you overcome these barriers and ensure that your CRM system is wholeheartedly adopted? Let’s explore the different methods that make this happen.
Involve Both Internal and External Users from Day One
Implementing CRM should solve problems for users, and streamline processes – not create more work or mere vanity metrics. To make sure this happens, it’s important to involve end users and team members right from the start.
When employees feel that they have a say in what a new system does, how it operates, and what it can do for them, they are far more likely to adopt it quickly, and use it to its full potential.
Managing change is always a challenge. To further motivate the adoption process you could consider:
- Rewarding or incentivizing end users who adopt the CRM process early.
- Appointing (or voting in) a CRM ambassador to represent the applicable teams in your organization.
- Investing in training employees early on.
- Identifying and clearly separating ‘People problems’ from ‘system problems’.
Make it Easy to Adopt
The thing about CRM is that it can be tailored around existing processes, instead of creating new ones that are difficult to understand, or use. Your sales team should find it easy to get the information they need about leads, contacts, or accounts across all their devices.
During the design phase, make sure you’re gathering feedback from the people who will actually use it most, and if it makes sense, implement the system in stages.
Make it bulletproof for end users, bearing in mind that it will likely meet with resistance. Work to make it pleasant for users to use by making it as seamless and simple as possible.
In the end, your results on the bottom line come first; and technology isn’t a far second. Whatever strategy you settle on, it’s important to align your objectives and priorities with the things that really drive sales, and help to sustain a healthy bottom line.
Looking to kickstart your sales team? CRM software will get you there along with Sales Enablement.
Every sales rep on the sales team should be aligned to the same end goal – closing more deals. Sometimes, however, new prospects will leave the sales cycle because they feel a lack of trust.
Whether it’s an over-ambitious (or poorly educated) sales rep, or the prospect’s struggle to find a straight answer, or simply your choice of company colors, something didn’t feel right, and the result is a lost sale.
While you can’t please everyone all of the time, there are steps you can take to make sure you come across as dependable, reliable, and trustworthy. The following strategies can help.
1. Clearly Demonstrate your Credibility
Because you have a business, potential customers expect you to be competent. This is a given in the B2B space. Likely your competitors have a level of credibility too, so to set yourself apart, you’ll need to go the extra mile.
Preparation is key. A deep understanding of your prospect’s needs, problems, and all the alternative solutions to their most pressing challenges will foster a sense of trust.
Dig deep. Instead of using generic or vague messages, probe into the details, and show how your brand meets their immediate needs. Arm your sales team with the relevant facts, and equip them with the right technology to make them an expert on the customer’s business.
2. Be Transparent
Never hide important facts. Play open cards with your prospect. A surprise further down the line will harm your reputation, and erode the trust you’ve built.
Transparency should include your pricing, Web content, customer feedback (not only the glowing reviews), and also the scope and range of your product and brand.
3. Provide Social Proof
Clients make snap judgements about your company’s worth based on the available information. Make sure that testimonials, social links, certifications and symbols of trust are visible throughout your campaigns and digital presence.
4. Show Empathy
Customers don’t like to feel pressured to make a purchase decision. Instead, if you come across as having the desire to help, solve problems, provide assistance and guidance, you will foster trust.
If prospects can relate to you, half the battle is won. This way a two-way dialogue is opened, and your prospect feels more comfortable about the buying process – after all, emotions play a huge role in sales. If you nurture the right feelings in prospects, trust will naturally set its course.
5. Be Consistent
Your consistency has a major impact on building or destroying customer trust.
A 2014 McKinsey study clearly pointed to the benefits of consistency in marketing. They showed that “maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20% but also to lift revenue by up to 15% while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%.”
Prospects who are interested in your brand should feel that they are in safe hands right from the get-go. They should feel that you’re credible, transparent, consistent, trusted by others – and above all, that you consistently deliver on your word.
How successful are you at enticing trust with your audiences? Perhaps sales enablement can help you get there.
Account Based Marketing (ABM) is becoming adopted at a far larger scale than it has ever been before.
ABM is a strategic approach to marketing that has attracted loyal followers, particularly in the B2B marketing landscape, along with claims of big successes.
ABM is a shift away from the typical inbound marketing funnel towards an alignment of sales and marketing that works to focus on one account, or a small select group of accounts. For many B2B companies this makes sense:
- ITSMA published a report, showing that over 80% of marketers that measure ROI say that ABM initiatives outperform other marketing investments.
- According to the Alterra Group, 84% of marketers said that ABM had significant benefits to retaining and expanding existing customer relationships.
Evolving marketing technology has made it possible for companies to take this approach – an approach that is about delivering a relevant message to the most relevant people within an organization. In other words, no more devising campaigns that target a large audience – the focus now shifts to one customer.
ABM is an Integrated Approach
B2B Strategies often employ the use of customer personas, and use marketing content as a wide net to catch as many of the right kind of fish as possible. With ABM, we’re using a spear instead, targeting just the one big fish.
It’s a strategy that pays off for many companies. According to Harvard Business Review “Individual customer stakeholders who perceived supplier content to be tailored to their specific needs were 40% more willing to buy from that supplier than stakeholders who didn’t. ”
Sales and Marketing Teams are Better Aligned
“All companies practicing ABM claim to be at least somewhat aligned with sales, with 34 percent saying they were tightly aligned.” – source: Newswire.
One of the greatest advantages of adopting ABM is that it forces our sales and marketing teams to align. Since the target is set more clearly, the individual team goals naturally fall into place. With an ABM strategy, your metrics are aligned to one account – and so must inevitably become less contradictory and misaligned. Instead of operating in a silo, sales and marketing teams work together.
It’s More Personalized
Personalized messages are more effective than generic ones. The Aberdeen group reports on the preferences of online buyers: “75% say they prefer personalized offers, and 61% say they’re even willing to give up a degree of privacy to enable personalization.”
When your marketing messages speak directly to your target’s core business, address their biggest problems, and is tailored to their specific need, it becomes that much more effective.
Perhaps ABM is a natural step for your marketing process. Is focusing on one account instead of a number of prospects at the same time something worth spending time on? ABM may be the answer to increasing close rates – one customer at a time.
Success in the modern digital marketing landscape requires for company leadership to be characterized by the qualities of a winner and a star – and a humble gardener. Ambitious sales goals need to be set and conquered; and at the same time, both customers and sales teams need to be nurtured.
At the 2015 Forrester Sales Enablement Forum, a startling claim was made: “Of the 4.5 million B2B salespeople in existence today, we believe one million jobs will be net displaced by 2020.” One reason is that the Web has had a huge impact on the sales rep’s job description.
Developing strong sales leaders in your company can be a challenge in an ever-evolving digital environment. Let’s look at proven ways to turn average sales reps into successful leaders in your organization.
Consider Hiring Internally
The proper ‘gardener’ mindset has an impact on developing a stellar sales team – and potentially the best members of that team are already members of your staff. They’re ‘home-grown.’
The Bidwell study, quoted in Forbes found that “In addition to scoring worse on performance reviews, external hires were 61% more likely to be fired from their new jobs than were those who had been promoted from within the firm.”
Hiring externally usually comes at a higher cost, and then you still have to factor in the learning curve needed for a sales rep to get up to speed.
Current employees already understand your company culture and basic operating procedures. It might make sense to look internally for the future stars of your team.
Provide the Right Tools
Hiring the right candidates is only half the job. Even the most experienced sales leader needs the right tools. A state-of-the-art toolbox gives your teams the ability to maximize their output. This includes efficient ways to:
- Find prospects
- Research product and market information
- Manage contacts and appointments
- Create automated follow-up tasks
- Utilize better time management
Provide the Proper Mentoring
Sales training mostly happens in the field, not by studying theory at college. If you keep your sales leader busy crunching numbers and providing pivot tables and graphs, your sales garden might be neglected.
On the job mentoring is vital, and it hinges on creating a culture of constant learning within the team. And how do we achieve this?
- Instead of scheduling marathon training days, create brief 20 minute training sessions more regularly.
- Always align your training to achieve strategic company objectives.
- Use the “buddy system” – pair your new recruits with seasoned reps at the early stages. Doing so provides real-life know-how, and it’s less intimidating than working along C-level execs instead of working alongside a manager.
- Allowing staff to attend market conferences and events can fuel the fires of enthusiasm in your sales team.
Perhaps it’s time to provide world-class tools for your sales team, because the real magic happens when your sales reps are empowered.
Sales execs will tell you that there is a fundamental difference between sales reps that wait for leads to be handed down to them by marketing, and going out and mustering up the energy to initiate the sales process; and they’re right. Great salespeople don’t wait for leads to drop out of the sky – they go out and get them.
There is quite a bit of data that shows that the necessity for a salesperson has decreased in the last several years. Some even say that 60% of the digital buying process goes on without ever reaching out to a sales rep.
But when you’re in the market for an enterprise solution, you’re weighing out your decision carefully, which involves a mixture of research and conversations with product experts. What does that mean for sales reps? That means that they have to communicate value and show how the product will solve their problem and address their needs.
The sales process is becoming increasingly more automated; but that doesn’t mean that great salespeople will soon be out of business. One-click buying for a commodity product doesn’t require a touchpoint with a customer – but enterprise software purchases do.
That being said, the Internet has still made the sales rep’s jobs more difficult.
What’s the answer to this dilemma? The answer is ‘Adaptability’.
Adaptability ensures that teams can quickly and effectively address unexpected detours that enable an organization not to only retain customers, but also unlock the potential for revenue growth.
The success of a sales team is attributed to many characteristics; but one critical factor is how adaptable they are. There isn’t a formula on how to approach the sales cycle because it has to take on a personalized role; a more tailored approach. Adaptability is key. And this trait has made the selling process more evolved.
We have to embrace the notion that in the world of ecommerce, software works to improve the buyer’s experience. And although shoppers may not want to open the doors of communication with sales reps from the get-go, sales reps won’t be obsolete – their role simply changes. Martin Reeves of the Boston Consulting Group put it, “Instead of being really good at doing some particular things, companies must be really good at learning how to do new things.”
If the sales team structure is adaptive, the sales organization can react quickly to product and market changes. As the sales process has changed due to different buyer behavior, the sales force must accommodate and adapt in an evolving marketplace. Research has shown that the number of companies falling out of a top three ranking in their industries increased from 2% in 1960 to 14% in 2008. And moving deeper into today’s landscape means that companies must no longer expect or cement their position on the basis of past sales tactics and the same old strategies.
The bottom line is this: adaptability is a critical trait that should be sought after and cultivated. In a constantly changing marketplace, an adaptable sales force makes a difference that nourishes the longevity and prosperity of a sales organization.
How adaptable is your sales force? Are you moving forward in a changing sales landscape? Sales enablement can get you there.