How Can IT Managers Champion Sales Technology?
Introducing new sales technology can help your team boost productivity, increase revenue, and simplify complicated tasks. That said, it’s not easy to get every sales rep on board. New software changes the way people work, and some will resist that change. Additionally, most IT managers are primarily technical thinkers and may find talking to sales teams a little out of their comfort zone.
So, how does an IT manager champion sales technology and ensure successful adoption?
As with any proposal, the IT manager will need to choose the software wisely. Shop around and compare different alternatives. For instance, if you’re looking for the best CRM software, check to see what your sales team is currently using and what features are lacking. Which alternatives can fill these gaps? In addition to features, it’s important to choose a tool with an appropriate learning curve.
After you have chosen your software, it is time to state your case. This will require communicating what the software does and how it will improve outcomes for users. Demonstrate how the technology works, and highlight both the rational and economic benefits both for sales managers and for each member of the sales team.
IT managers have their work cut out. Capgemini Consulting and the MIT Center for Digital Business found that while a majority of companies know the value of technology in their organizations and in doing their work, more than 6 out 10 felt that technology adoption in their respective organizations was very slow-paced. But there is hope: if the CEO and upper management are on board with adopting technology, 93 percent of all employees tend to agree.
Here are some additional steps you should take to ensure success.
- Get senior management involved. The MIT and Capgemini study showed that while the involvement of senior management is crucial in getting employees such as the sales team more open to adopting technology, only a third of CEOs think digital transformation is important. That has to change.
- Outline the benefits and features. Sales teams are laser-focused on selling, as they should be. Some competitive groups may even be wary of tools that require them to share their contacts. While it’s doubtful that reps at full-sized companies still use a rolodex, it would not be entirely implausible that some reps keep their own spreadsheet or document where they list their most valued clients.
People are naturally resistant to change. As an IT manager, you need to explain why you are proposing the new tool, whether that be a CRM, a gamification platform, or a new VoIP system. What features will sales reps enjoy, and how will these make their work easier? For instance, a guided selling solution could help them sell more by drawing attention to product features that the customer needs. Salespeople become product experts as they guide customers through various product features and pricing, which helps them upsell and cross-sell other products or services.
- Create a sense of urgency. Beyond knowing the features and benefits of sales technology, it’s helpful for your team to understand the implementation timeline. How much value are they missing on a daily basis? There are two ways to create a sense of urgency here:
- Show them how working smarter, not harder, contributes to the bottom lines.
- Show them how your competition has already been using the software you propose.
You need to communicate what opportunities could be lost and how this will impact their personal success. For instance, going back to the above example, a guided selling tool would help even new sales agents become an expert on the products that you sell, which also makes them more credible to the customer. One lousy experience with a sales agent, and there goes a new customer, and possibly an incentive payout. A similarly disastrous experience could also mean losing a long-time customer and their repeat business.
- Offer training, and institutionalize the sales technology. Even if you manage to get everyone excited about how the new software will make their lives easier, that won’t matter if no one knows how to use it. Be prepared to train the sales team, or arrange for the vendor to train them via online modules, videos, wikis, etc.
You should also find ways to institutionalize the new technology by incentivizing use and penalizing non-use. Of course, you’ll need to join with department heads to execute on this strategy, but it’s a great way to increase adoption and buy-in throughout the whole company.
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As you can see, there’s a lot more to buying new sales software than choosing a vendor and installing the platform. Since your success as an IT manager is often measured by the ROI of new technology, it’s in your best interest to see the project through to completion.
Michael Gabriel Sumastre is a writer for TechnologyAdvice with more than 11 years of industry experience. He has written more than a thousand articles related to tech and gadgets, cloud computing, IT management, big data, the Internet of Things, SEO, and SEM.