Gartner prediction – by 2017, the CMO will spend more in IT than the CIO. This bold statement is now a couple of years old, but the prediction is certainly proving to be true. The rise of technologies like marketing automation, CRM (which may or may not fall to the marketing budget) and content management systems lead the race in high dollar consumption of a CMO’s budget. But let’s take a minute to look more holistically at technology’s role in corporate organizations.
Let’s look at your average mid-sized company’s technology stack.
We’ve already explored your marketing team – many will have more than a dozen various technologies to enable everything from top of the funnel lead activity to efficiency tools for scheduling social media. At the back of the house, IT reigns supreme with tons of complex hardware and software that keep the business running. Finance has tools for maintaining cash flow, support is leveraging CRM or another helpdesk tool, and even HR will likely have technology for hiring and/or compliance.
Yet, the one part of the organization that is still lagging behind on the technology curve? Sales.
Sure, they may have iPads these days, and they all have access to the CRM, but by and large, most organizations still look at sales like briefcase toting cowboys. Danger Will Robinson, I’m here to tell you that your sales teams need technology to be effective, and here’s why:
- LinkedIn isn’t insight. Sales teams are relying on LinkedIn to give them a clear picture of the decision makers in a deal – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “His LinkedIn profile says…” Over the last 3 years, LinkedIn has become the resume of tomorrow – which means lots of vague titles and generalizations of power. What’s more, executives are non-existent there; so don’t rely on LinkedIn to give you timely or current information any higher than Director level. Are you relying on LinkedIn to help you determine the political structure of the deals you’re in?
- Your reps are costing you money. The economy is improving and this means that your best reps are targets for your competitor. The good news is that sales people that are making money are usually happy, but this means that you need to keep them in the field and not bog them down with administrative duties that only serve your management team. Still, a few will leave and you will need to replace them. And when you do, every day that your new reps spend getting up to speed is costing you money. Pay close attention to on-boarding, this includes training reps on your sales process, where to find documents and tools that they will need to do their job and who to turn to when they need help in a deal. Centralize and standardize this onboarding process to trim weeks – if not months – off your ramp time.
- Your first line managers are coaching the D players. Like any good team, it starts with the coach. And to use the tired sports analogy, the best coaches go through hours of videos and practices to find that perfect coaching moment that will turn a player from average to superstar. Yet, first line sales managers are usually relying on ad-hoc information stored in CRM and on local machines to make sense of deals and find those coachable moments. Many companies lack a common view of a deal beyond the deal stage and so they spend too much time sifting through notes and probing the memory of the rep (who is trying to remember the connections on LinkedIn) to really focus on the things that need to be done to evaluate and effectively coach. To borrow a technology term, deals need a “single version of the truth” so that managers can see trends and easily identify those coachable moments.
Of course, the items mentioned above are all focused on sales effectiveness. There are a number of technologies that shouldn’t be ignored that deal with sales efficiency – which is equally as important though not quite as overlooked. Not to mention, many sales teams have turned the Microsoft suite of products into adequate weaponry.
The bottom line? You need to pull your sales teams out into the 21st century and quit looking at them like Lone Rangers if you really want to accelerate your revenue.
You would never ask a CEO to turn off technology critical to the organization, so why aren’t you asking him to turn on technology that could prove just as critical?