Sales is one of the few departments in an organization that is considered a profit center – that is, they bring money to the company while other departments like HR, operations or IT is mainly focused on sustenance and operational activities.
Not surprisingly then, business managers seldom think twice before investing in software applications that can make their sales team better. While this inevitably helps your sales teams do better, it also comes with its own set of challenges.
New software tools come with their own learning curve. Investing in multiple software applications would then mean a lot of time that is spent in learning how to do stuff. A lot of times, the software you invest in may not be the right one for your team. This means a lot of time is also spent in unlearning and relearning.
Why your software tools is not the right one for your team
There are two reasons why business users change their software tools. The first and the most common reason is poor needs assessment. Decision makers in the company use internal surveys to gauge needs and pick a tool accordingly. However, the results of these surveys are heavily influenced by the questions you put up. Consequently, this is a case of ‘Garbage in, Garbage out’ – poor surveying results in misleading results which cause the team to pick the wrong tools.
The second reason is evolving business needs. Let’s take the example of a startup team that has grown from a dozen SDRs (Sales Development Reps) to a 100 in over a year. Software tools that are handy for a small team does not work for large teams. If you have signed up a lengthy contract with the service provider, you are likely to be using apps that are ill-fitting to your business needs. The result is an inefficient sales team that does not perform to its potential.
Finding your business needs
There is a reason why many businesses fail to demonstrate results even with the best and most expensive apps. The first rule of business is to pick software applications that will complement your processes and not supplement them.
To put this in other words, the software you pick must help you carry out processes much in the same way as you normally do; only more efficiently. Expecting your sales team to change their ways or processes in order to use an app can be a disastrous decision.
There is another reason why this is important. As we pointed out earlier in this article, there are several reasons why a business has to switch from one service provider to another. Picking an app that requires your sales team to change their working process would mean disrupting their routine each time and this requires a lot of unlearning and relearning. This is a productivity sink.
That being said, what features should your sales team collaboration software need? Here are a few points.
Conversation consolidation: This is by far the most important feature that your sales team needs; especially big ones where a prospect talks to multiple contacts over the course of the sales cycle.
For instance, a prospect may have left a message on your website and may have talked first to an inbound sales agent. They may have passed the contact to a sales associate in charge of gathering requirements. Once the requirements have been gathered, the prospect may then be transferred to the Operations rep in charge of proposing a solution.
Your CRM application must serve to consolidate conversation across all these different stakeholders. This allows anybody in the team to track progress and plan the cycle for your client.
Process alignment: Your sales team is just one cog in the wheel of all business operations. As such, it is important to ensure seamlessness between the processes followed by your sales team and those followed by other departments in your organization.
The core objective of using a business process management application is to take a step back and ensure business process alignment among various teams. Ensure you pick a BPM software that allows this alignment to happen without a substantial change in processes.
Remote working: Sales teams across large enterprises are spread over several zones and geographies. A lot of these teams in smaller zones operate remotely with no real “office”. Collaboration among team members in such a setup needs to be planned after considering the impact it has on remote workers.
An ideal digital workplace is device agnostic and can help sales teams effectively collaborate over any device through a multitude of communication channels like chat, email, video conferences and phone call.
Centralized document management: Sales processes come with a lot of repeatable tasks like creating proposals, sharing product samples, sending follow up emails, and so on. Efficient knowledge management processes would require organizations to create optimized process and templates for each step of the journey. This way, an individual SDR does not have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating a sales pitch that converts the best.
In addition to this, it is also important for an organization to have a centralized document management system for all departments. This allows a marketing team to share content that will aid an SDR in closing the deal. Similarly, this helps a sales team member transition the prospect to the team in charge of onboarding a customer.
Pick file sharing tools that are on the cloud and work across different devices. They must also let users quickly search for specific files and folders from across the entire repository. Most importantly, you should use a tool that integrates with your existing home directories so that it does not disrupt your current work process.
We are merely scratching the surface here in terms of the features that a sales team might need for collaboration. However, they establish a strong fundamental for collaboration which is essential to a highly productive workforce.