Have Your Salespeople Got The Right Tools?
Is IT a sales productivity enabler in your organization, or could it be holding your sales team back? In several organizations we have worked for recently a trend became obvious – salespeople are being given hand me down PCs, laptops and mobile phones.
Why Do Salespeople Get The Junk?
The result is sales people are using equipment that neither looks, or performs very well. In many instances we have come across sales staff using personal smart phones and in some cases tablets, because the tools they have been given by their companies fall short of doing the job.
‘…many salespeople are at least 5 years behind the curve.’
There is a clear deficit in many organizations with regard to what is today basic technology. Indeed many salespeople are at least 5 years behind the curve when it comes to technology that today is vital to productivity and effectiveness. The surprising thing is that the salespeople in these organizations don’t expect anything more than second rate IT equipment. The exception being the newbie – the new salesperson that join from a company that provided its salespeople with modern tools who is clearly frustrated by stepping back in time with regard to the phone, or laptop they have to use.
The Implications Of Dated Sales IT
What are the implications of salespeople getting the junk? What happens when salespeople don’t have the tools they need? Well, we see it every day the opportunity cost can be massive:
- Sales time lost on administration – salespeople end up pushing more paper, writing reports, keeping spreed sheets, etc.
- Excessive time in the office by salespeople who should be field-based.
- Extra sales admin support costs – salespeople ringing in to a secretary to have an order put on the system, or check an invoice.
- Dependence on paper – inefficiencies and risks that result (after all paper gets lost!).
- Ultimately lost leads and opportunities – as some of those companies targeted or met in January are forgotten about in May.
All to often organizations complain that salespeople are poor on reporting and administration. But it is unfair to expect them to like working with CRM and order systems when given slow remote access, out of date internet dongles, ageing PCs and so.
The Sales Road Warrior’s IT Needs
The reality of the road warrior salesperson in many organizations is a myth. The reality is that many salespeople are still ringing back to the office for directions to a prospects premises, shuffling through folders of files to find notes of past meetings, or copies of correspondence and spending up to 25 minutes getting access to the company data base to view account information.
In the drive for increased sales productiveness and effectiveness failing to spend on the basics for the sales team has to be a real false economy. But the effects we see are not just economic, they are also psychological hitting to the core of sales team self esteem and even motivation.
As one sales manager put it ‘nothing says you are important, we believe in you, more than a few euro/dollars spend on a new piece of kit’. As another said, when you give something – you get something in return. I give a smart phone, the in return I want the person to be on the road more – I want 2-3 extra calls per week!
‘…if you want to motivate your team give some new gadgets.’
The fact that a phone, or laptop has more than just a utilitarian value, is key to its potential as a tool for sales performance and motivation. As another person put it ‘a phone, or laptop is like jewellery – it says something about the person carrying it, both to the person themself and to others. Give a person a nice phone and a new laptop that works and they feel better about them selves. So, if you want to motivate your team give some new and useful gadgets (i.e. productivity linked).
Appearances matter to customers too. As another salespeople person said ‘salespeople must put the best foot forward for their company, but clunky or scruffy laptops don’t make a good impression, nor does saying not being able to respond to the customers email because you are on the road’.
Why Is Sales Falling Behind In IT?
All this is yet further evidence that sales is lagging behind when it comes to technology adoption. When we look across the industry there would appear to be many reasons why this happens:
- Sales Managers and directors have been poor advocates – they have failed to lobby for their teams to get the tools they need, or in some cases have failed to even ask.
- Not everybody is equal when it comes to how IT is shared out. It is not unusual to see the sales team working with clunky push button phones and stopping to ask for directions by the side of the road, when their manager has got the latest tablet and smart phone, but rarely leaves the office.
- The business case for IT in selling is not clear and more to the point the role technology should play in the organization’s sales success/future sales vision is not clear. Sales teams need a technology roadmap.
- The road warrior salesperson is still a vision, rather than a reality in many organizations – if we really wanted our salespeople to be effective road warriors we would arm them properly for it.
- There is a perception that sales teams are technology ‘luddites’ and in many organizations they have proved to be a troublesome customer, of IT, or IT support.
If you would like to explore the issues of sales productivity and effectiveness (including the sales tools you team is using), please contact us.