Digital sales tools: overcoming the adoption barrier

  • Posted on March 22, 2017

Sales is both an art and a science; a combination of instinct, experience, relationships and raw data, so it’s no surprise that salespeople are often reluctant to abandon old ways of working that have served them so well in the past.

Adoption of new technology is a notorious challenge in sales for precisely this reason, even though tools such as mobile apps, automation, marketing and customer analytics can all confer huge advantages for both the organization and individual salespeople.

Barriers to adoption: big-brother vs. value for me

Unfortunately, one of the main barriers to adoption, besides a preference for working with tried and tested tools and techniques, is that digital sales technologies are too often viewed as a way for companies to closely monitor sales reps’ activity rather than providing them a unique advantage in their day-to-day selling. If businesses are to realize the advantages of these new tools, they must help sales reps think of them as being beneficial, rather than ‘Big Brother’.

But now we’re at the point where we can show the benefits of digital sales tools to salespeople’s day-to-day working life, and it is up to sales directors and IT leaders to drive adoption by clearly communicating these advantages to sales reps.

It’s time for organizations to break down the barriers to adoption: here’s how they can do it.

  1. Embrace automation

An important factor stifling adoption is that sales technologies are often seen as an admin burden, as traditional tools have required salespeople to input large amounts of data into CRM and other systems – a particular burden for “road warriors” who are always on the move. Yet here, modern digital sales tools can be tremendous time-savers. Cognitive services and automation technologies can automatically capture information into CRM systems, create tasks and follow-ups, update contacts, all with either no direct input from the sales reps themselves, or through voice commands to their mobile device.

  1. Harness the power of predictions

Modern digital sales tools go far beyond traditional reporting and forecasting functions. Today, users can harness the power of predictive analytics and historical insight to make decisions on which deal to target, when, and how. For example, a sales rep pursuing a particular customer opportunity can access CRM, enter in details of the current opportunity, and gain access to a wealth of historic and predictive data. This could include win-loss ratios for that particular industry, solution or customer, predictive “next-best actions” suggestions based on historic outcomes and relevant sector news and data visualizations that will help to inform the approach most likely to close the sale.

  1. Break down the siloes

Salespeople need to be able to tap into huge amounts of information to inform their decisions, but which is all too often dispersed in many different repositories around the enterprise – in sales, marketing, CRM and other siloes. Today, with one integrated Digital Sales and Service system, sales people can draw on every piece of information they need to close the deal or provide the highest possible level of customer service.

This one version of the truth could include everything from active marketing campaigns for each specific customer and competitive positions to product images; real-time information or news about the customer’s business to previous relationship history.

Our natural inclination to stick with tried and tested methods means that it is always a struggle to break down the adoption barrier. It is up to business leaders to follow a more creative approach to plant the relevant seeds to change the way the sales team think in order to take the company in this new direction. However, should a less direct approach not work, they should be prepared to mandate these new technologies if necessary and the working practices that they entail. But for both options it would be wise to involve salespeople as much as possible in this transition, and to communicate about the individual benefits that these tools will bring. If businesses take this approach they have a much better chance of seeing their sales force not only adopting, but embracing them.

Find out how we helped sales reps of a leading brewing company create stronger, more profitable relationships via digital sales tools in the case study below.

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