Each year, sales operations and marketing managers purchase sales enablement tools to help their sales teams increase win rates and close deals faster. So why do so many of these tools gather dust in the salesperson’s toolbox? In my experience, this happens for two main reasons.
1. Salespeople don’t know the tool exists.
Fairly small sales and marketing teams usually have a good sense of the company’s suite of sales enablement tools. But that’s not necessarily the case at larger companies. Enterprise companies can employ hundreds or thousands of sales reps who work in remote offices around the world. These reps probably receive up to a dozen emails a week announcing new tools the company has adopted. At the end of the day, it’s just noise.
If you want your tool to succeed, you need to structure a campaign to raise awareness that the tool exists. You also need to make sure you collect and broadcast success stories that clearly show “before” and “after” results.
2. Salespeople fail to understand or resist the behavior change that goes along with the tool.
Many people fear change. Even if a tool is well designed and user friendly, a new tool requires a mental, cultural, or behavioral shift from the salesperson.
Think of CRM as an example and the difficulties many companies had with adoption when these tools first emerged. Suddenly, the salesperson was asked to change his or her longstanding behavior by devoting time each day to log sales activities into the system. Customer contact information was no longer stored in a personal database, which was a huge shift for salespeople who used to “own” their Rolodex and were often hired on the strength of it. Meetings with managers now revolved around dashboard outputs. These are major disruptions to existing behavior and culture.
This is where a fully supported onboarding process and great customer service can really make a difference. In the case of value calculators and ROI tools, for example, salespeople often need help understanding how these tools will help facilitate conversations they don’t normally have with customers. Specifically, these tools help them start dialogues around the economics of why buyers should purchase from them.
Logically, salespeople should want to be proficient at outlining the financial justification for purchasing their product. In practice, however, there aren’t many salespeople who actually understand how to build a business case. Their comfort zone is managing the customer relationship and/or knowing their product inside and out. So, those are the skills they choose to focus on.
This means you’re employing salespeople who talk about features and benefits or pin their sales hopes on nurturing customer relationships with rounds of golf and steak dinners. Both of these approaches have plummeted in effectiveness; buyers today want salespeople to show them the value they’ll get in dollars and cents.
This is why we’re always available to help salespeople learn how to leverage our value-selling tools as part of their selling process. Recently, for example, I conducted an hour-long training call with a salesperson at the request of the marketing manager who had purchased the tool from us. At the end of our conversation, the salesperson felt confident that our ROI tool would help him answer the pressing question he keeps getting from customers: “What’s the value for us in renewing our service contract with you?”
How to Encourage Adoption of Sales Enablement Tools
If you want to get the sales team to use your sales enablement tools, one of the most effective approaches is to show them how their usage impacts the customer. Here’s an example. About a year ago, one of my clients asked me to interview some of their customers. This client was using one of our ROI tools and he wanted my help understanding whether or not his customers found the tool’s output useful in securing budget approval from their internal teams.
We interviewed key decision makers at three different companies that involved three of our client’s biggest accounts for service contracts, each worth between $500,000 and several million dollars a year. During each interview, I explained that we wanted their feedback on how well the ROI tool would help them make a decision to purchase or renew their service contract from our client (who was also on the call).
As we walked through the evaluation built in the tool, each of them asked my client, “Why haven’t you shown me this tool before? This information is exactly what I need to justify renewing the service contract each year.”
During the interview calls with my client and their customers, I think they made that mental shift. Each made a final comment along the lines of: “I will definitely use this tool from now on.”