Most people guard their time jealously. Any IT tools that can free up a few minutes or a few hours for folks will be greatly appreciated. For sales pros, this is more than nice—it’s liberating. Consider how we evaluate job performance.
The annual performance review may cause some fear and trepidation for many workers because regardless of what we may be told, we know that much of a performance evaluation is subjective in nature. Most of us spend some time creating lists of “good stuff” we’ve accomplished over the past year just in case the supervisor needs some help remembering our vast contributions to the collective effort.
Good managers work with employees to establish measurable goals and lay out assorted evaluation categories that take the mystery out of the individual performance evaluation. As any HR pro will tell you, a performance evaluation result should really never be a surprise. We should know what is expected of us, and we should know how well we are fulfilling those expectations.
I well remember a specific day early on in my own sales career. When five o’clock rolled around, I sat back to review what I had accomplished that day. I started checking stuff off in my head.
- Organized my contact files and updated my Rolodex (I know, dinosaur sales epoch)
- Wrote and printed 50 introduction letters and delivered them to the post office
- Assembled 50 collateral packs and attached my business card to each
- Updated my territory map, marking each customer location and products installed
- Reviewed several recent product update memos
Yep, it was a busy day! I thought, wow, I bet my manager would be proud of all the stuff I’ve accomplished.
Then it hit me like a line drive to the forehead. I had not talked to one single customer or prospect that day! I was a sales rep, and I had not done any selling. Not one commission dollar would be paid for all that activity.
Successful sales reps quickly learn that their time is just about the most valuable asset they have. Any time they spend doing stuff that is not directly related to getting product sold is, to them, a waste of time.
IT tools can pick up some of the slack. Applications that automate those administrative functions sales forces must perform — like gathering verified prices with quote software, printing and assembling proposals and building valid product configurations — are all processes and functions that IT can facilitate with IT tools and applications.
How IT Tools Liberate Sales
Let’s just consider my list again and see how a few IT tools could have liberated me back in the Jurassic era when I was in selling.
Organized Contact Files
CRM is an app that resides in a central location with certain data and functionality distributed to a mobile platform. It’s all about making customer information accessible, useful and easy to manage. Nothing I did with my card files would match the utility of a modern CRM system.
Wrote and Printed 50 Letters
Most CPQ systems and CRM systems can work together to maintain standard-wording letters for sales that allow the easy generation of one, several or many letters with specific variable data. Sales reps don’t need to word craft and produce mass mailings, either snail or electronic.
Assembled 50 Collateral Packs
Marketing automation tools provide for PDF-based collateral that can be selected and distributed with email or posted to a specific web address. Sales reps don’t have to even print anything out. Unique combinations of collateral can be matched to specific prospects and customers.
Updated My Territory Map
IT tools can exploit CRM data and google maps to maintain territory maps and instant directions to each address on those maps. IT can automate the isolated view of customer versus prospects, installed products and potential for upselling and add-on sales.
Review Product Updates
This especially onerous task is no longer required. Quote software can be updated in real time in terms of pricing and documentation data about the product. No review is necessary since the current data will always display when called.
My whole day from that past era is now automated via IT tools and applications like quote software. If I were to tell my sales manager today that I had spent a day doing that stuff, he would rightfully fire me.
Now there is time to prospect, call on customers, run demos and close deals. Sales is all about selling. The rest is administrative overhead.
IT tools can take care of the overhead tasks and liberate the sales team!