Sales has become a technology-driven profession. Just a couple of decades ago, companies were still implementing their first CRM systems. Now, CRM is nearly ubiquitous, and many sales leaders are veterans of multiple implementations (some better than others).
But sales technology doesn’t end with CRM. In the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study, we identified 25 additional sales technologies in which companies are actively investing. Every single one of them had both double-digit percentages of respondents saying that they had already implemented the technology AND double digits saying they plan to implement the technology in the next 12 months.
The ROI of Sales Technology
With all this investment in sales technology, we have to ask: Are companies getting what they paid for?
It’s difficult to establish a direct correlation between higher investments and results, but the data isn’t promising. While sales technology investments are going up, sales results continue to decline. In our 2017 World-Class Sales Practices Study, we found that quota attainment across all geographies, industries and size companies had dropped from 63 percent of salespeople in 2012 to 53 percent in 2016.
Perhaps sales technologies are preventing even steeper declines. We just don’t know yet, but when we talk with clients in the field, we hear a lot of positive attitudes toward technology, but very few hard results.
Sales Research Shows Training Lags Implementation
Lack of results is not necessarily the fault of the technology. While sales operations teams are responsible for determining which technologies to implement, they often work closely with sales enablement to roll out these technologies to the field and ensure their adoption. Training should be a primary element of any rollout plan. However, the results from our 2017 Sales Enablement Optimization Study showed that many enablement organizations are failing to meet their set objectives.
Take social selling, for example. This skill is highly technology dependent, and 68 percent of respondents to our 2018 Buyer Preferences Study had implemented specific technologies to support it. Another 18 percent plan to do so within the next 12 months. Yet, training for social selling fails to meet expectations in more than half (56 percent) of sales organizations, according to our sales enablement study.
Meet Your Sales Technology ROI Expectations With These Three Best Practices
Sales technology is a big investment – one you want (need) to pay off. Here are three best practices that can help ensure you meet your ROI expectations.
Make CRM adoption a priority. CRM is the foundation for many of these technologies, so organizations that don’t have adoption rates in the neighborhood of 90 percent need to make that a priority. Sometimes, sales technologies can help drive adoption because they offer an alternate, easier way of incorporating CRM access and data collection into the daily workflow. However, be sure you’re not trying to use new sales technologies as a Band-Aid for larger, underlying issues. To learn more, read our blog post, “The Missing Link Between Your CRM Investment and Sales Performance.”
Consider how quickly your sales team can adapt to new technologies. More and more companies are hiring salespeople with STEM backgrounds because they need the analytical thinking skills so often found in these graduates. However, it may not be practical or desirable to immediately replace your current sales force with new hires adept at using technology.
Instead, adapt your rate of sales technology implementation to a pace that meets your current staff capabilities and aptitudes. Then, reassess your hiring profiles as you move forward to ensure you replace attrition with individuals who have the skills and aptitudes that make them comfortable with using sales technology (and data) in the daily course of business.
Include training throughout the lifecycle of your technology and salespeople. As we mentioned earlier, your technology rollout should include training. Beyond the initial rollout, sales technology training must become part of your onboarding programs as well. Finally, even veteran professionals can use technology refreshers and regular updates on new features.
Our new sales analytics platform, Scout by Miller Heiman Group, combines powerful sales technology with our proven sales methodology. Sign up for a demo today to find out how to ensure your organization’s sales training doesn’t lag behind your sales technology.