Why are the new selling tools not used?
Among all the factors that make or break sales, technology plays an extremely crucial role. Of course, the product’s quality, effective marketing campaigns and the seller’s skills are still decisive, but technology makes everything faster, more efficient and better organised. If the tools are right and they are made the most of, the results are as clear as day, and this is shown by the reports.
Yet, in quite a lot of cases, the new selling tools are not used, and you would be forgiven for wondering why. Fine, let’s start with a general consideration: for the tools given to the sales network to be used efficiently and unleash their potentials, the sellers must be aware themselves of how useful they can be and the benefits they would have from using them. Benefits that, as everyone knows, consist in a faster, fool-proof and time-saving sales process and a higher success rate. For digital tools to be ‘adopted’ to the fullest, they must make an impression: they must make life easier, not harder.
This is the first point you should be working on. To understand how important this can be, just try to search the web for ‘proper technological equipment’ for a seller 4.0: the results will say that a seller should use on average 10 to 15 applications a day: from chats to Excel, from CRM to update customer information to CPQ configure price and quote tools. But such a deeply disjointed array of applications will not convey the concept of user-friendliness, quite the opposite: it will convey the idea that technology has made everything more complicated than in the age of paper brochures, telephones and hand-written contracts. This will create an unpleasant situation, since in these cases people tend not to change their habits and, if push comes to shove, they will use the new tools as a mere addition to the traditional ones.
As in many other industries, the operative word here is integration. You don’t need dozens of tools to handle a process, and, if you really have to use more than one, they should be integrated, they should be able to “talk” with each other and manage the same information. Otherwise, the situation will get out of hand, and fast. That’s why having one single tool to manage the sales cycle is so valuable: on one hand, it relieves the sales force from having to use long-established, jumbled ‘analogue’ procedures; on the other hand, it offers a simpler user experience to handle the negotiation and to configure the quotes and estimates. And there’s more: the same tool can also be used to handle the preliminary process, the one where a good seller will be studying his digital marketing materials to understand the product’s placement and potentials, and the follow-up process, when everything merges into the contract, which is signed, and the information automatically flows into the CRM and comes into effect.
And then, the right mind-set
Those who use technological tools every day in their job must believe in their effectiveness; that’s the only way for ‘proper use’ of such tools to increase, and quite a lot. Sometimes, though, this is not enough: there’s some resistance to change that is part of being human even more than a corporation. People are not actually inclined to accept change unless they see the advantages in it: otherwise, since the unknown is so scary, they’d rather keep doing what they have always done, and maybe complete the usual procedures with some new tool, which will probably be misused and fall short of expectations.
This is an apt description of the greatest difficulty of any digital transformation process: it’s not about imposing a technology, it’s about a change of procedures, of processes, and ultimately even a change of mentality. This is what ‘Change Management’ is all about, it is a set of factors, procedures, gradual steps designed to bring change into people, into teams and – of course – into the company. Without a change-driven process, transformation cannot possibly happen, and people, when forced to use the new tools, can find loopholes to use them little and poorly, thus undoing all the benefits expected by the management.
Good use of new tools must be supported by the company
Lastly, the new tools will be properly and profitably used on condition the company does all it can to support such use. First and foremost, through training: it may be the software with the best user experience in the world, but you’ll still need someone to explain how to make the most of them and above all how to integrate them in the existing procedures and applications.
Secondly, alignment between different corporate functions: if we look for instance at some sales-management software, we could say that only the sales department should use it, but, for the purpose of selling, it is in fact marketing that plays an extremely important role, as it may provide sellers with all the digital marketing materials they need to earn the customer’s trust and clinch a deal. Here, we are getting into the maelstrom of a potential misalignment of functions, but, to put it in a nutshell, let’s just say that, because of a lack of coordination, the sellers will keep supporting old and new tools and procedures, and eventually they will not achieve the goals they expect and that the company expects of them. The time for change is now.