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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Five Strategies for Getting Salespeople to Adopt New Tech
Guest Column by: Katie Martz

When rolling out a new sales technology, one of the biggest impediments to success is low adoption.

Katie Martz
Synthesis Technology
Director of Client Solutions
Will your sales teams be on board with selling digitally? Or will they write it off as another "thing" that marketing wants them to learn?

In my experience, salespeople can be resistant to change. They like doing things their way, and they just want marketing to keep the leads flowing in. When marketing starts putting new systems in place, the sales team can get uneasy.

In the financial services space, I talk to a lot of marketers who (surprisingly) say many of their salespeople still prefer presenting with paper pitch decks, as opposed to a mobile device or tablet. Implementing a sales enablement solution can be a challenge if the sales culture hasn't fully embraced a digital transformation. By adding new technology to the mix, your salespeople may feel you're actually putting more barriers between them and closing deals, as opposed to enabling them.

In order to overcome these obstacles, you'll need to approach new technology implementations carefully. Here are five suggestions:

Get buy-in before you implement

It's wise to include salespeople in the evaluation process. If marketing approaches the initiative without the sales team's participation, getting buy-in later will be much more difficult.

Before starting the evaluation, find out how salespeople like to sell, how their customers like to be sold to, what competitors are doing, and if there are opportunities for improvement. Make sure everyone is aligned on why the change is necessary and what it will look like for the teams involved. Are competitors being more customer-centric in their sales process? Is this affecting your ability to win? How will the new solution solve this?

Take into account the workflow differences that may exist between different sales groups. For example, are there nuances between the decks being created by the institutional sales group versus the intermediary group? The institutional group may have more complicated data integration and compliance oversight needs. They may also prefer to print their decks as opposed to presenting them digitally. What does this mean for the implementation, and how can you meet the different needs of all the sales groups?

If you can determine preferences up-front, you'll be able to identify the groups that are prime candidates for the technology. This can also guide your roll-out strategy.

Start with a pilot group

Initially, you can test the solution with a small group or subset of users. Start with the group that stands to benefit the most from the technology. A large team that produces a high volume of pitch books every month that is also experiencing fierce competition could benefit greatly from a sales enablement solution, for instance. By starting with a subset of users from this group, you can iron out any hiccups before rolling it out to the whole team. Once you have a successful rollout you can move onto the next group who would benefit most.

Integrate related sales tools

System integration can really drive efficiencies across sales, marketing, and compliance teams, but only if it's done well. CRM, content automation, sales enablement, and compliance systems are commonly integrated to achieve a seamless and efficient process. In particular, integrating CRM with sales enablement allows salespeople to login once and access all relevant content immediately based on data points like the deal stage, channel, and geographical location. It can also keep a clear audit trail of the content being sent to a client and how they're engaging with it.

For investment firms, integrating sales enablement and content automation solutions is imperative for speed-to-market. Once the content is produced, it can be made available on-demand by being pushed into the sales enablement system automatically. This is critical for success. Salespeople can't be left in the dust waiting for their updated fact sheets and pitch decks after quarter-end.

A compliance solution, while not a sales tool, is another important piece that must be integrated in order to achieve overall efficiency. Depending on the process at the firm, compliance solutions can be integrated in a way that "stamps" presentations upon approval. This ensures salespeople are out pitching with decks that have been given the green light by compliance.

Implement a variety of training techniques

Ongoing training is important, but training programs often fail because sales reps aren't engaged. When sales reps aren't engaged, they won't retain the information. You can keep training sessions interesting by using a mix of email, virtual, and in-person trainings. Everyone learns differently, so providing an integrated training program can be very effective.

One approach firms are rapidly adopting is incorporating sales readiness training into sales enablement platforms. Many providers offer sales-readiness functionality as part of an overall sales enablement solution. The benefit of having the sales training embedded into the platform is reps can access training videos on any topic at any time, ensuring that they are well-prepped for any sales situation. Case in point, if a salesperson wants to use a newly implemented sales enablement tool to send a collection of content and then access engagement reports, they can access quick training videos onboard the sales enablement platform to learn how to do this on-demand.

Find an advocate on the sales side and highlight their success

Salespeople are competitive. They're always looking for new strategies to outsell the competition and even their peers. Why not play on this competitive tendency by highlighting a high achiever?

I was in a seminar last week listening to strategies for sales tech adoption and one of the panelists told a story about how she increased adoption by creating an advocate on the sales team. One of the salespeople on her team saw an increase in close rates and a decrease in sales cycle length by utilizing their sales enablement solution. During the sales next training, that salesperson made a presentation to the group, sharing his success metrics and how he's leveraging the platform. After the presentation, the panelist reported a double digit increase in adoption rate. This is a great example of how to use a star salesperson to motivate the larger team to change their behaviors.

Katie Martz is the client solutions director at Synthesis Technology. She helps asset managers uncover ways to reduce costs and grow AUM through content automation and sales enablement strategies. 

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