Digitalising the sales team: how much would a mistake cost your business?
What is the impact of a digital sales team on the number of mistakes made in the sales process? To fully understand that, we need to take a step back and start from a general concept: as long as humans are at the centre of a business, there will be mistakes. At all levels and in any function; after all, about twenty years ago Blockbuster decided not to buy Netflix and we all know what happened, in 1999 NASA lost a 125million USD space shuttle because of a gross miscalculation, and, also in 1999, Excite decided not to buy Google for 750,000 US dollars.
Unfortunately, mistakes must be factored in, in any business: without repeating front-page examples, there’s always a chance we ship a product to the wrong address, a manufacturing fault that leads to a large-scale product recall, a wrong mistake, a contract going astray, and so on.
There will always be mistakes, but one of a company’s main jobs is trying to reduce their number, extent and impact. Because, while it is true that you learn from your mistakes, it is equally true that some mistakes could have detrimental consequences on the entire business. So, claiming that a mistake might lose you a potential customer would not be going too far: it can have a substantial impact on the bond of trust between the two parties.
Here lies the issue of the cost of mistakes: to make corrective measures, a company must somehow be able to measure the impact of its mistakes. While many will just not track them, they will sometimes merely state the financial value of the loss (for instance, that of the faulty goods), which however is not the actual cost of the mistake: in such circumstances, it is the net profit that should be factored in, so to recover a 1,000 euros’ loss they need to earn much more.
Unfortunately, there’s plenty of opportunities to get something wrong in the sales process. The most common mistakes include using mispriced brochures, granting discounts that will not be approved by the sales management, not to mention misprints when writing the contract, something that is often still done by hand, maybe at the end of an exhausting workday. Then, there are lots of mistakes that have major consequences but are more difficult to quantify and, above all, to trace: what is the impact of shipping the wrong product on the consumer’s trust? How much is it worth, in terms of loss of profit, keeping a customer waiting 20 minutes on the phone to talk with a customer care representative, and then not even have a satisfactory answer? There could be hundreds of similar examples.
Digitalising the sales team to reduce mistakes
Now, looking only at the sales cycle, digitalisation has a huge impact on the reduction of mistakes. And the reason is fairly simple: automatic processing is intrinsically free of the typical problems that are inherent in manual handling, and this is once again because we are human and we are also very often under pressure.
Digitalising the sales team will bring major benefits to the management, which can have a full overview of the sales team’s work, and to the agent, who can’t go wrong so he won’t have to spend part of his time correcting or mitigating any damage. For instance, if the sales process relies on just one tool that configures the quote in front of the customer, generates the estimate, the contract, and makes it possible to finalise it in real time, as well as sending it (also automatically) to the company’s management system, there can be no mistake in any of these steps.
The impact of many mistakes that can be made when using traditional tools (such as paper contracts and quotes) may be measured, but even there we should go into a long spiel about the “hidden” mistakes that should be taken into account: a mistake in a contract, entering the wrong customer’s details into a CRM, charging obsolete prices and then having to correct them, are not plainly correlated with the damage suffered. A lot will depend on the way the crisis is managed, but the stain on your efficiency and professionalism will stay. And so will the reputational damage on the brand, which will then have to take a multitude of corrective measures, hoping not to lose the customer or, in the worst-case scenario, not to have an extremely hard impact on the entire organisation. As seldom before, prevention is better than cure, and, above all, it is much easier.