By Mike McIntyre
The last frontiers to be automated in many organizations are the sales and marketing functions. But the risk of rejection and failure is high. Management see these as tools that will give them more control of an overhead that they find hard to probe and manage. Sales people can perceive these as a threat or hindrance rather than a help.
What are the underlying win-win benefits of an effective sales automation or CRM system? What are the potential causes of rejection and how can you overcome them and drive up adoption?
The Problem With Sales And Marketing People
In most organizations there is cocktail of beliefs, behaviors and attitudes that will undermine the adoption of sales and marketing automation systems.
‘Sales people are a breed apart.’ ‘They want to be recognized for the value they bring to the company without taking blame for any of the customer failures’. ‘They only do what’s necessary to hit quota’. ‘Information is power and sales people don’t like to volunteer shared information. ‘Marketeers are creative and don’t like rigorous processes’ ‘Sales and marketing often don’t work well together’
Many managers see sales people as a necessary overhead that they find hard to manage. Many leaders just don’t know whether to trust their sales people.
What happens if these issues are not recognized and dealt with when the company invests in a system to improve sales and marketing productivity?
Typically managers, directors, executives have been sold on the benefits of an easy-to-digest view of key measures and what’s going on. The users who do most of the heavy data entry don’t necessarily see as much value, and so they’re not as eager to participate.
The really good sales people are probably generating their own leads, know who they need to talk to, where they are in the sales process why and when the prospect is going to buy.
The not so good sales people don’t want you to know that they’re not so good and they don’t want you to know they don’t know what they’re doing.
The really good sales people will enter the minimum data required and the not so good sales people will litter the system with erroneous, missing or just too much data. The outcome is that the information that was so vital becomes misleading, useless and eventually discredited.
How can this situation be prevented?
Sell The Initiative
People resist new ways of working because they can’t see ‘What’s in it for me?’
This is often a bigger problem with convincing dyed-in-the-wool sales people who are cynical of anything that is designed to ‘soften the blows’.
There are two essential components to getting sales to buy into the initiative.
1. It has to be ‘sold’ by the business leaders who ultimately hold the power of reward and punishment.
2. Getting a good, well respected sales person, a ‘firelighter’ to adopt and evangelize the benefits of the system.
When selling to sales people, you need to play to their needs of recognition, independence, effectiveness, reward, and security.
Make sure the purpose of the initiative is to make it easier for the sales to be more successful and help them improve their professionalism. Remind them that sales effectiveness is the key to becoming a leader in your market. Ensure the leaders keep saying so.
Explain the leaders will use the system as a management tool to better interact with the sales people and avoid compromising their relationships with customers for lack of knowledge of what’s really going on. That they will use the information to help them ensure more resources are focussed on their success.