Our 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study linked technology adoption to sales success. Yet, although most organizations have deployed at least 10 sales technology tools—with four more on the way, seller efficiency and effectiveness have not improved.
Where’s the disconnect? Lack of seller adoption of the sales technology stack. Even if your organization has all the latest and greatest sales tools, technology that isn’t used effectively can’t help move deals forward.
As the hub of the sales organization, sales managers play a central role in improving sellers’ adoption of technology. But driving the adoption of sales tools and technology with frontline sellers was one of sales management’s three biggest weaknesses, according to our 2020 Trends in Sales Management study. In the study, we asked more than 330 sales organizations to evaluate how well their sales managers rated against 11 key managerial responsibilities. Only 26.7% rated driving technology adoption as a strength. That leaves a lot of room for improvement.
Here are two sales management strategies that will help sales managers encourage their sellers to adopt their sales technology stack.
- Integrate Sales Technology Into Sellers’ Workflow
The failure of sales technology to move the needle suggests that organizations invest in either too little or too much technology. But the number of tools an organization uses has not been correlated with sales success, as measured by quota attainment or win rates.
The bigger issue is a lack of coordination. Only one-quarter of sales organizations report integrating their sales technology with their existing tools and workflow, according to our 2nd Annual Sales Operations and Technology Report. Some organizations have not integrated their sales technology tools into their CRM system; many still require sellers to input a separate login and password to access each tool, then engage in duplicative data entry for each system. When sellers spend more time entering information in a system than actually selling, not only do they lose the chance to deepen customer relationships through selling time, but they get stuck in a frustrating process that prevents them from embracing the tools and systems. Their lack of compliance then becomes an obstacle for managers: instead of spending time coaching sellers to modify their behaviors, managers have to chide sellers for failing to use their tools.
Integration is about more than just logins and data entry. Sales organizations need to define how sellers should use the tools. To do so, sales operations should map the technology to the sellers’ daily activities and workflow. The simpler it becomes for sellers to integrate the tools you provide into their routines, the more likely they are to take advantage of the benefits those tools provide. And the more integrated the tech stack becomes, the higher the sales organization’s quota attainment (+8.1%) and win rates (+9.4%).
- Create a Change Management Plan Specifically for Sales Managers
When rolling out a new technology, sales managers shouldn’t be an afterthought. To encourage adoption, you have to start with them. Organizations should develop a change management plan targeted to sales managers that aligns them on the need for change and on how to implement that change through technology.
Begin by treating sales managers as the primary audience for the change, not as the reinforcers of that change. To demonstrate the importance of sales managers in the change initiative, give them a reason to buy in. Allow them opportunities to pilot new tools and share input on their features and workflows. Once you’ve selected the tool, allow sales managers early access, so they have an opportunity to learn how to use the technology before you roll it out to frontline sellers. The more sales managers feel invested in the organization’s technology, and the better they understand its benefits, the better proponents of change—and better coaches—they will be for their sellers.
Accelerate Technology Adoption and Engagement With Sales Managers—and Sellers
The sales industry is transforming, but many organizations haven’t kept up with the latest, most effective sales management strategies. Download our study, Running in Sand: 2020 Trends in Sales Management, to learn how to strengthen sales management processes in your company.