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As a sales leader, you’re probably really burnt out on the topic of the sales stack because there’s so much noise around it, but there’s one thing we really need to talk about:
According to research from TOPO, sales rep adoption remains the number one challenge when it comes to sales technology. And only 15% of sales technology purchases result in increased revenue. That’s pretty crazy when you think about the millions of dollars invested into sales stack technology.
For that reason, we’re presenting you with a simple guide of 10 sales stack rules to increase rep adoption and ROI.
First, let’s go back to where it all started.
We talked with Eric Bohren, the VP of Sales for Conversica.
“Three years ago, we didn’t have a sales stack,” he said. “I mean, LinkedIn was probably our sales stack.”
He added that it was probably only about a year and a half to two years ago that the sales stack had its own budget and roadmap.
If you’re seriously committed to building a revenue-generating sales stack that your reps benefit from and want to use on a daily basis, then there’s one thing that you need to do throughout the entire process.
“One of the really important things to do is involve the team, and let the [reps] who ultimately use it be the people who get a chance to choose it,” OfferCraft CEO Aron Ezra told us.
There’s a lot of noise surrounding the sales stack, and we know it can be a pretty frustrating and complicated process. So here are the ten simple rules we distilled it down to.
Rule 1: Building your ultimate sale stack starts with conversations, not features and functionality.
Software Advice market research associate Luke Wallace said that sales leaders often make the mistake of building a feature list and then trying to create a system that matches that.
“What really needs to happen is that sales managers need to have conversations with their sales reps. It needs to be a collaborative process from early on,” Luke said.
Generate buy-in right off the bat by just talking to sales reps. Find out what their day-to-day is like; what they really want to be using; what features and functionality would provide them the most value. This gives you a starting point of what types of technology would be best for your team.
Rule 2: Remember the end user.
Luke also mentioned that there’s often a value disconnect between the people who are buying the software and the people who are using it.
As a sales leader, you have a set of objectives they want to see realized when you purchase the technology, so you look for software with that in mind. That usually means tech that helps with pipeline visibility, sales reports and forecasting.
“What [sales leaders] forget to analyze or look at is the end user, which would be the sales rep,” Luke said. “So what happens is, a lot of the times they might be choosing the wrong software — or they’re choosing great software but there’s been no communication with their sales reps and the sales reps end up not wanting to use it.”
Rule 3: Understand what you’re trying to achieve with this technology.
Jessica Magoch is the co-founder and CEO of JPM Sales Partners, and she told us that sales leaders should remember what their goals are when choosing technology, because there are a lot of shiny objects out there.
“They all promise that they’re going to increase sales at the end of the day,” Jessica said.
Focus on technologies that will augment your sales process, whether your goal is better prospecting, more mature presentations or sales activity management.
“And in my eyes, that [goal] should be getting the salespeople more time to be in front of products … because that face to face time is where the relationship is built and the sale is made,” Jessica said.
Rule 4: Ask lots of questions.
Specifically, these three questions:
1. What are my reps now doing that a piece of technology could do better, faster or smarter?
Jessica’s advice: “I would look at the top performer, and say … what are all of the things that we’re requiring this person to do that a computer can do better?”
2. What stage is your company at, and what’s your roadmap?
Eric’s advice: “That roadmap should reflect what stage of company you’re at. If you’re early stage and you’re primarily outbound…well that’s a very different sales stack than DocuSign at 1,500 people that’s attacking SMB, mid-market and enterprise.”
3. What does our organization actually need?
Luke’s advice: “It’s really hard, especially for small businesses, to sort through what is needed and what just sounds really cool. I think there’s just too much information out there and too many features and functionalities to choose from.”
Rule 5: Have your reps deeply embedded in the selection process.
Create an open forum where reps can make their own suggestions about different tools that they like or they’ve used in past jobs.
Aron recommended making it a group project, where everyone on the team researches new ideas. That can include a piloting period where everyone gets to test things out, as well as voting and feedback on their favorite technologies.
Rule 6: Focus on what’s right for your organization, not your competitor’s.
What’s right for one sales team might be dramatically wrong for another.
“For a sales team that is very technologically-savvy that likes to get in the weeds, [a certain technology solution] might be fantastic,” Aron said. “But for a team that is not selling a very sophisticated product or is not technologically savvy, that could just spell disaster and cause everyone to revolt.”
Step 7: Do research and define your measure of success.
Eric emphasized that you should use all the resources out there that are available.
He added that a lot of sales leaders listen to the pitch, but don’t conduct due diligence of finding out how people with similar use cases are having success with that tool. In addition, Eric said it’s critical to be very clear with vendors on what your measure of success is.
Step 8: Show the benefit for reps and make adoption fun.
The challenge with adoption is that people don’t want to change, Jessica explained.
“Any sales leader has to respect and empathize with that, because we’re all the same way,” she said. “And know that it’s going to take time to adopt. But nobody will change anything unless they see what’s in it for them.”
That’s why you need to show what’s in it for them. How will their sales go up — how will their commission go up? Or, what’s in it for the company that ultimately benefits them?
“On the adoption side, it’s not only important to make it fun, but to make it easy,” Aron said, adding that a huge part of that is ongoing training for the technology tools you do buy (as opposed to a single upfront session).
Step 9: Keep a pulse on adoption and learn quickly what works and what doesn’t.
While Aron’s colleagues prefer to have routine sales stack health checks one a quarter or once a year, he personally likes to use a boots-on-the-ground approach. As a sales leader, you can take whatever approach works best for you. The important thing is that you monitor it regularly.
“A good sales leader has his or her finger on the pulse of the team,” Aron said.
Eric added that it’s helpful to take a “rinse and repeat” approach.
“Succeed or fail, but do it quickly. I expect 50 percent of the tools that we incorporate are not going to work for us for various reasons. That’s fine. Figure out within a very quick time whether it’s going to be a long-term solution for you or a short term, and switch it out if necessary,” Eric said.
Rule 10: Remember the basics
While you go through this process, don’t forget the fundamentals of selling.
Remember that reps still need to pick up the phone and have quality conversations with people. Remember that sales training should not be a one-time event. Remember to build a culture of performance with sales activity management.
And most importantly, remember your sales process. The technology you purchase should align with your sales process, not pull your reps away from it.