How can companies keep their salesforce connected, in- formed, and mobile all at the same time? The answer: companies need to provide both the physical tools that salespeople need to function, but they must also
provide a framework within the organization for collaboration to
Make A Change
The overarching goal of any business is to make money. While
that can be done by cutting costs and realizing inefficiencies in
the process, it most likely involves selling more. Two of the best
ways to sell more are to hire more salespeople, or make the current ones more efficient.
Hiring more salespeople is costly. The onboarding and training
takes months — if not years. Current salespeople would also have
to give up clients or territory if new people are brought on board,
which can create unrest in the organization. The best option is
usually to provide sales with additional support to free up their
time and get them on the road and in front of more prospects.
Fastenal committed to doing this in 2013 and beyond, realizing
that their salespeople were not as effective as they could be without adequate back office support. But sometimes, extra bodies
are still too costly for an organization, and that’s when providing
physical tools to salespeople makes a difference.
Tom Metcalf, President of TeleNotes and a veteran sales profes-
sional himself, says that the expectations for a salesperson to be
connected at all times have drastically increased in recent years, to
the point of being absolutely mandatory. “Communicating with
customers and prospects cannot wait until the rep returns to the
office to pick up messages,” he notes. “In today’s selling world,
delayed communication with the customers is unacceptable and
takes you out of the running as a viable sales rep.”
But what if sales isn’t using the tools already available to them?
Foster a Culture of Collaboration
According to Metcalf and others in the industry, CRM is often un-derimplemented and underutilized in an organization.
“What is the real challenge with CRM? That salespeople look at
it as management’s tool for accountability,” says Metcalf.
Most salespeople view CRM as a task rather than a tool. In a
recent guest column by Mark Dancer in Industrial Distribution’s
November/December 2013 issue, “Winning with CRM: New Results
Require New Behaviors,” Dancer argues that nothing changes in a
sales organization when you buy a new piece of software; compa-
nies have to work to create a culture in which that software fits.
“Distributor salespeople are inherently skeptical about the
promised benefits of CRM. They worry that using CRM will waste
time better spent on productive sales activities, particularly if they
are required to enter data in the form of call reports, market activity, or updated sales pipelines,” says Dancer in the article.
Metcalf echoes this statement: “Salespeople are only going to
buy into tools that help them sell more and make money. CRM
adoption rates would triple if salespeople believed that it could
help them make a sale.”
In order to free up their time and allow them to sell more, what
salespeople need is a virtual assistant when a personal assistant is
too costly. “Attorneys, doctors, and other professionals figured it
out long ago that it is more cost effective for them to outsource a
menial task than to do it themselves. A menial task for any sales-
person is to enter any information into a CRM themselves. That is
too expensive of a use of their time,” says Metcalf.
Collaboration & Analysis
BY ABBIGAIL KRIEBS
Providing your salesforce with the collaborative and analytical opportunities they need keeps them efficient.