We all know the stereotype of a corporate salesperson. We see them as overpaid, bloviating, money-chasers who don’t understand what they’re selling. While some might fit that mold, the best salespeople are focused, team-playing professionals who are at the tip of the spear of a successful business. Like every business unit, the key is to start with good people, then arm them with technology and processes that will help them excel.
A basic implementation of Salesforce SFA does an incredible job covering opportunity management. Salesforce SFA handles accounts, contacts, and selling processes better than any tool on the market. Yet, medium-to-large are often lulled into thinking that Salesforce SFA is enough for sales effectiveness. To maximize sales effectiveness, companies need more analysis and more functionality on the force.com platform than the basic SFA application.
Robert Desisto of Gartner explains the impact of sales effectiveness as a way to “[help the sales team] match customers’ needs with products and services, reduce proposal cycle times, and improve outcomes of sales call engagements.” The following list shows five ways companies can start thinking about sales effectiveness:
1. Help answer the question “Where Else Have We Done X?”
Prospects want to be reassured that the problem you are solving for them has been solved before. Sales people spend a lot of time searching for examples of work that has been done before. At Appirio, we have built a tool called Customer Data Vault which lets the sales team search for customer stories fitting certain profiles. Regardless of a particular solution, getting out of “tribal knowledge” and having a source for sales people to search customer stories is essential for sales effectiveness.
2. Make sure they have the most up-to-date collateral
It’s frustrating for salespeople to start building presentations for a prospect and have to search through a forest of old, out-of-date documents. Having a system to categorize and keep presentation material current requires a maintenance process, a supporting technology, and personnel to do it.
3. Reduce paperwork
Moving contracts and proposals onto electronic formats can save your sales team a ton of time. Appexchange partners like Docusign and Echosign are becoming standard parts of Salesforce SFA implementations. Salesforce itself uses Docusign and 90% of their contracts are signed the same day and more than 70% are signed within an hour.
4. Turn training into an on-going process
Keeping a sales team educated is essential to productivity. The old way of having a yearly training session (at best!) where sales people “drink from the firehose” of knowledge is thankfully going away. We have seen many of our customers benefit from implementing Cornerstone for Salesforce (CFS). One of the main benefits for CFS is that salespeople get the training they need as they need it.
5. Make expense reports easier
Expense reports may seem trivial, but time spent working on sales reports is time away from calling on prospects and customers. Appirio has partnered with Concur to help companies take a lot of the pain out of expense reports.
The bottom line when increasing sales effectiveness is saving your sales people time. Reducing bureaucracy and making information more relevant and easier to find will make your sales people excel.