Habit #7: Leverage Technology and Automation
With the majority of sales managers being under pressure to deliver over-target performance, but feeling that time, resources and skills are lacking, many are looking at software technology to help them.
Many sales organizations are using CRM solutions to develop and implement key account plans. Some of these systems can prompt the salesperson through the process of developing an account plan and automatically track progress against achieving key selling tasks. These are useful metrics for the sales manager and can also be pointers for the salesperson, but the amount of data entry and training required to get the best out of them can be a major barrier to effective use by the salesperson.
As well as helping a salesperson to develop sales account plans, some CRM systems are now providing software Coaching modules that can be used as a guide to the strategies and tactics the salesperson can adopt to improve their effectiveness. As these are part of the CRM system and depend upon the same data entry and training, the same issues may apply.
New breeds of software that act as a sales Coach on the Go have a number of advantages by needing minimal data input and training. They can also give feedback on where the salesperson is with a deal, what they need to know, and what will make a difference. This can help the salesperson discover more creative ways of solving the problems for themselves.
This new software can also allow the salesperson to quickly access previous projects to see what they could have done better; they can also customize their software to improve their pool of knowledge as well as tapping into the community of knowledge of other users.
New software technologies can’t eliminate the need for a supportive environment that develops the salesperson’s skills along with the coaching skills of an experienced manager, They can however, be a fundamental aid to both the salesperson and their manager, mirroring the company sales process, giving an overview of the whole sales project and even integrating with the CRM system if required.
Few companies would pay to have the services of an external sales coach available for their sales force, so most use the person who is closest to their sales people and has a vested interest in improving their performance — the sales manager. Although culturally this should be a good fit and in some organizations works well, the training, resources and time commitment needed to be a successful coach are still not addressed by most companies.
For those where lack of training, resources and time are an issue, the use of software sales coaches can fill the gap by being the salesperson’s constant companion and providing additional analysis to guide the sales manager when they have time for personal sales coaching sessions.