Use It or Lose It: Master the Art of Seller Adoption of Sales Tech (Part 2)

For a Digital Transformation that Sticks and Sales that Grow

According to Outreach, the average seller adoption rate for sales tech is just 30%. Among other problems, low seller adoption is a major hindrance to salespeople reaching their quotas. Part 1 of our blog series on mastering strong seller adoption explored the leading causes and costs of poor seller adoption.

In Part 2, Cory Rossi, our innovation practice leader who audits and optimizes our customers’ sales processes to ensure they reach their goals, lays out how to think about tech for sellers and key strategies you can deploy today to insulate your team and your sales from the harmful effects of poor seller adoption.

Challenges with Sales Tech Adoption

The sales landscape is changing at the speed of sound. Many companies are struggling to adapt, and sales leaders are losing the ability to keep their sellers empowered. There’s always going to be a human element to sales, but without tech, your sellers won’t be able to sell as much or as quickly. That’s why organizations need to change the way they equip sellers and their approach to tech.

Think about sports. Tech is to sales what external tools are to athletes. Picture a baseball player who has loads of natural talent. Although he has innate abilities, he can still improve his performance through things like mental and physical health management, nutrition, training, and coaching.

For me, it’s like the difference between having to print out Mapquest directions and keeping them on the passenger seat of my lime green Volkswagen Beetle any time I wanted to go somewhere new versus relying on ubiquitously available GPS today.

“There’s always going to be a human element to sales, but without tech to support them, your sellers won’t be able to sell as much or as quickly.” – Cory Rossi, Innovation Practice Leader

Unfortunately, many companies fail to set sellers up for success with new tech, leaving them out of the selection process, evaluating and purchasing tech independent of real-world selling scenarios and skipping over essential onboarding and ongoing training.

As my colleague Steve discussed in Part 1, the negative effects of poor seller adoption of sales tech rate reverberate throughout the sales ecosystem, threatening to undermine the efforts of even the strongest performers on your team.

The most recent Korn Ferry Buyer Preferences Study found that sales cycles are getting longer, taking sellers longer to bring money in the door, which leads to poor customer experience, which leads to seller frustrations and missed quotas. Empowering your sellers with optimized sales tech can not only combat this but accelerate your sales and prevent additional problems that will inevitably crop up downstream from a dysfunctional seller and sales tech relationship.

Source: Korn Ferry

A Human Approach to Sales Tech

Sales tech may seem like the main character in this story, but there are three critical players that determine the success of a strong, symbiotic seller–sales tech relationship.

1) People

It starts with hiring the right salespeople from the get-go—people who have the curiosity to learn, an openness to innovative ways of doing things, and the hunger to grow. At MarketSource, our recruiters are gifted at finding talented salespeople who possess these qualities and at building relationships (a core value) with top candidates. Once on board, our Organizational Development team showers them with opportunities and outlets to develop their skills. And our obsessive commitment to intentionally maintaining our people-first culture helps our sellers deliver on our commitments to our clients.

2) Processes

Before you invest in any tech, you must first have sales processes in place that maximize efficiencies. Any tech you purchase should automate sellers’ red (administrative) time so they can focus more on green (selling) time and address the human side of sales—understanding nuanced customer needs and building relationships.

3) Technology

Understanding the need your tech is theoretically supposed to meet and applying it to assist sellers in the wild are two completely different things. Once you have the right people and processes in place, become obsessive about customizing your tech stack to meet your sales team’s needs. What tech are you putting in your stack? Does it solve real-world sales problems? Make sellers more efficient? Expand their skills?

Fostering Seller Adoption of Sales Tech

Even if you nail the above, without a sales tech success strategy, your staff may still struggle with adopting and adapting to all the tools. You want to ensure your tech selections are solving real-world sales problems, driving efficiencies, and helping sellers reach their quotas faster.

To set your sellers up for success, try these strategies:

Build a sales-minded technology vetting process.

Meet with stakeholders from the sales team and seek input from them as to what tools would help them in their daily tasks. Assess and map out the sales motions and processes they follow on a day-to-day basis. Develop your technology specs and requirements based on their input and this map. Involve salespeople in the solution research and selection process. We have an entire Innovation Center dedicated to this process.

Soften the beachhead with a champion from the team.

Even though your sales team was involved in the selection process, to set them up for success, you need a rollout plan that helps them incorporate it into their routines, get comfortable using it, know what optimal use looks like, when to escalate issues, and where to go for help. Essential to our process is finding a champion on the team who’s bought into the tech we’re introducing. We equip them to be an ambassador and to demonstrate to the team how the new tech will make their lives easier. Since the information is coming from someone they trust who’s in their shoes, rather than approach the tech with immediate caution and skepticism, the team receives it more openly and transitions to it more easily. To ensure our sellers’ continuous growth with tech, our Organizational Development team plays an integral role by providing them with ongoing training.

Establish a continuous improvement process.

A continuous improvement process fosters seller adoption because it sets them up for success and surfaces breaks in process so you can remedy them before they escalate. Our commitment to continuous improvement starts with innovative, curious leaders who make sure our sellers are empowered to help our clients deliver a world-class customer experience. And we’re always looking for ways to improve so sellers always have the latest information right at their fingertips. It’s ingrained in our process, and it makes low seller adoption a non-issue for our clients. It gives sellers a pulse on where they need to hone their skills so they can stay top of their class, which increases our clients’ ROI. Continuous improvement is ingrained into our operations. For example, we build customized Salesforce instances for every client, which reduces red time. We regularly evaluate how the tool works against the client’s desired state. It’s one way we use tech to optimize sellers’ productivity by allowing them to focus on what they’re good at—selling. Our clients are blown away by the thoughtfulness of our continuous improvement process. That level of thoroughness gives us a holistic perspective of their sales ecosystem, helps us define best practices so we can replicate them program-wide, reveals what’s holding their program back, and informs our decisions about how to configure their tech stack for them.

We’re able to deliver measurable improvements for our clients—with velocity they can’t achieve on their own.

Low seller adoption of sales tech is like forgetting to turn the lights off when you leave your house. If sellers don’t continue to learn new skills and adopt technologies that have the potential to improve their performance, it’s going to trigger other problems.

On the other hand, right-fit, aligned, optimized sales tech leads to a good customer experience. It also leads to improved seller performance, which leads to the rewards of professional growth and longevity, and the retention of high-quality people.

Customers come to us for a seller-enabled sales tech stack because they don’t have the time or the people to identify and implement the right tech stack or empower their sellers to use it, especially at a high level or at the rapid speed they need. We’re able to hit the ground running and deliver measurable improvements for our clients—with velocity they can’t achieve on their own.

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We can restore health to your sellers’ relationship with sales tech and more.

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