Has Your Sales Team Rejected the Call to Become Automated?


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More and more evidence is emerging telling us that sales process is not getting adopted. Sales teams are amongst the most resistant within an organization to adopt new methods, new processes, and new ways to engage with customers. As much as half of all sales force automation initiatives are in danger of failure due to the sales team rejecting the call to become automated. The voice we are hearing from sales is “This new process is not working for me” or “Our business is different, this doesn’t apply here” or “This new system is too hard to use”.

The question therefore is “What does it take to get Sales Process adopted?” Clearly a different approach is required; a different perspective is needed that breaks the mold away from thinking that sales process is simply a tax on the seller.

The first step is to add context for the Sales teams. Sellers if nothing else are competitors at heart. The best sellers thrive on competition. For followers of a great British tradition “The Boat Race” – a yearly rowing race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities where two teams pit their wits against one another charting a winning multi-mile route along the choppy waters of the river Thames in London – is a good metaphor for the race sellers are in to win the hearts and minds of their customers, racing against their competitors.

Winning the race starts with each individual rower establishing a disciplined routine of practice each and every day. A world class seller makes it his or her business to understand the customers business. Each and every day sellers start with a review of the business press to pick up anything that may be relevant to the customer and might impact their business. Every stroke taken is based on delivering business value to the customer and demonstrating how their products can help the customer improve efficiencies, improve competitiveness by differentiating themselves in the market or drive better performance. The oars of selling: Account Plans, Partner Plans, Conditions of Satisfaction are used as the tools to drive deeper relationships with customers.

Second it’s about process. World class sellers view the sales process, the associated diagnostic and negotiating methodologies, sales tools containing the customer evidence and proof points as the stroke techniques they learn to help them navigate choppy waters. These tools help them engage more deeply with the customer and are not perceived as an irritating requirement from management or simply something that needs to be completed only if an Executive from the corporate office happens to be in town.

World Class Sellers also understand that the sales force automation system enables them to capture information about their journey that aggregated with the very same from their fellow rowers helps them to be more effective next time around and most importantly helps them to converse with other parts of the organization with integrity and precision about the progress they are making and the help they need from them to improve.

Third, rowing is a team sport. World Class sellers build strong virtual teams that come together in pursuit of meeting customer needs and solving customer problems. They do this by taking the time to understand the details of the important information that each member of the team has to offer on the customer and views other team members as his fellow oarsman who can help increase the speed and velocity of the boat going forwards.

The World Class rowing team needs a Cox, whose role is to navigate the course, motivating the team and shouting instructions as and when appropriate to help steer the boat across the winning line. World Class sales managers understand that they are in the boat with the team charting the course as against passively standing on the shore monitoring progress from a distance with little scope to impact the result. Every successful crew needs a strong mentor, someone who understands what motivates each team member and has the experience and know-how to dedicate a good portion of their time to help each member of the team to achieve their goals.

Impacting the 50% of sales process initiatives that are at risk of failing is about having the ability to bring these characteristics of world class selling into a framework, a world class selling roadmap that becomes a vision for the sales team of how they are going to more deeply understand the needs of their customers. It’s about changing the mindset away from thinking of sales process and sales force automation as a burden towards one that is focused on leveraging the tools of sales process as the oars that will enable us as a sales team to navigate our journey and row the boat more quickly, such that we can arrive at the finishing line quicker than our competitors.

Alan Dowzall
Alan Dowzall is the CEO of Cloudtorre,IT Industry watcher, evangelist, business coach and key note speaker with a passion and eye for helping companies capitalize on disruptive shifts in the market. In nearly two decades working with Microsoft, Dowzall studied what drives World Class performance in the fields of Leadership, Sales, Marketing and Services.His work laid the foundations for the Business Consulting practice he now leads focused on helping companies to exploit periods of transformation in the IT market.


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