Today's blog post is by Christopher Cabrera, CEO of Xactly Corporation, the industry leader in sales compensation automation.
Trying to convince management to invest in new sales performance tools to make salespeople's lives easier is no walk in the park. While you understand how much certain sales applications would improve sales productivity, management expects you to demonstrate the value of any new solution.
The big idea is—in order to make sales easier on you and your team, you need to do what you are supposed to do as a sales professional: align the value of the solution with what your customers want to achieve.
Here are six guidelines to follow when you're pitching new solutions to management:
1. Get agreement on what management wants to accomplish
If your CEO wants to increase sales by 20% without a significant increase in cost, do the math for a few what-if scenarios, such as:
- What if we had technology that could improve the number of qualified leads by 100%?
- What if our demand generation team had technology that made them 200% more effective?
- What if we could deploy technology that shortened our sales cycle by 50%?
- What if we cut the time it takes our sales team to write proposals from hours to minutes?
Technology is our means to accomplish our aims. Always begin with the aim, before pitching the means.
2. Be clear about the risk
Not every technology delivers ROI. Technology is only one part of a three-legged stool. People and Process are the other two. Ask yourself:
- How will the new technology change our processes?
- How will our salespeople react to a change in process AND technology?
- What will be the user adoption process?
Do a "Pre-Mortem Analysis" where you assume that your project has failed. Work backwards and define how to avoid unexpected failures.
3. Understand and define the pain
Selling can become painful when salespeople don't have the right sales tools.
- Study the workflow of your salespeople.
- Ask them to prioritize their 3 biggest time wasters.
- Invite your sales team to a 1-hr "gripe" session to voice what they dislike most about their jobs.
There are over 1,600 sales applications designed to improve sales productivity. Chances are, applications exist for the majority of their problems.
4. Demonstrate the ROI of a new solution
One simple ROI formula is:
(cost to acquire + cost to maintain during expected life)
(money saved per month + increased abilities per month)
(number of months to cover costs)
- Allow for hidden costs, such as customization, the cost of consultants and the cost involved in training and coaching.
- Know when to say no—if the solution doesn't pay for itself in under a year, you're better off working on another pain point.
- Talk to at least 3 references—if they haven't been able to measure ROI, you probably won't either. Time to walk
5. Align the new technology with your overall business strategy
The success of a business depends on the continuous alignment of internal resources with external opportunities. Ten years ago there was only one sales technology: CRM. Today, companies rely on a suite of sales and marketing applications.
The two keys to success are:
- Business strategy integration
For example, software company Brainshark integrated 20 carefully selected sales applications into their sales operation. They spent $4,000 per salesperson and achieved a 35% gain in sales year-over-year, for two years in a row. (Source: Brainshark sales executive)
If you want your company to achieve its revenue goals, you must find and deploy sales performance tools that work faster, better and cheaper. But selecting one sales tool a year won't get you very far in this tough economy. You’ll likely need a number of solutions that you deploy over time.
While external change accelerates automatically, it takes great internal effort to match the pace. Change is hard because:
- People overestimate the value of what they have
- They also underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving up what they know.
That's why successful business leaders continually challenge the status quo; they drive change to avoid being driven out of business.
They also know that the leaders of change are the leaders who will pocket the most change.