Insights and Best Practices that Make Sales Technologies Thrive


  • According to salespeople, Sales Force Automation software, sometimes called Sales Cloud software, is the most important application for their performance results. However, the data also found that the effectiveness was less about the actual application and more about how it was designed and implemented.
  • The data found that three factors heavily influenced sales software benefits. These critical success factors included applying a technology strategy, investing in dedicated resources and measuring technology ROI.
  • The data also found that three obstacles that most often threaten success are poor user adoption, minimal software utilization and disappointing ROI. Each of these obstacles can be mitigated or prevented with specific best practices.
Johnny Grow Revenue Growth Consulting

Research performed for the Sales Excellence Report generated three categories of findings related to sales technologies. I'll use this post to share the most significant discoveries in all three categories.


The 5 Most Effective Sales Technologies

Our first goal with the research survey was to identify the most effective sales technologies. So, we asked salespeople to identify their top apps and rank their effectiveness on a scale of 1 to 10.

Top 5 Sales Technologies

Sales Force Automation (SFA) software, often called a Sales Cloud, was scored as the most effective application. However, when we viewed the data by performance archetypes we surfaced some unexpected results.

Most SFA and sales cloud applications were rated as both effective and ineffective by large numbers of respondents. As expected, the Best-in-Class cohort was consistent with high marks while Laggards delivered far lower scoring.

When correlating the data with other factors such as respondents that identified applying technology strategies, it became clear that the application effectiveness was less about the application and more about how it was designed, implemented and measured.

Each of the top 5 sales applications were ranked as the most effective because they directly contributed to the most important salesperson goals.


3 Best Practices Most Contributed to Technology Results

To understand why some salesforces make incredible gains with technology while others struggle we surfaced the factors that most correlated with sales technology effectiveness.

Three factors stood out.

  1. The data showed that the top performers applied a documented technology strategy to plan, procure and benefit from their software applications 4.5X more frequently than their lower performing peers.
Sales Technology Strategy

When we correlated respondents that apply a sales tech stack or technology strategy with user adoption and investment data, we found that those with tech strategies achieved 30 percent higher user adoption and 6 percent lower total cost of ownership (TCO), on average, when compared to those that didn't.

Research shows salesforces that manage their technology with a technology strategy achieved 30% higher user adoption and 6 percent lower total cost of ownership.

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  1. The data also found that resourcing impacted effectiveness. 84 percent of the Best-in-Class invested in dedicated resources to manage their apps. That was 2.58X more often than the combined group of Medians and Laggards.
Sales Technology Resources
  1. And finally, the data reinforced the adage that you can't manage what you can't measure. While only 19 percent of all respondents consistently measured the ROI for their software investments, a whopping 68 percent of that cohort were Best-in-Class leaders. That's a 4.6X difference between the top performers and their lower performing peers.
Sales Software ROI

3 Pervasive Sales Software Challenges

The research surfaced three obstacles that most challenged effective use of SFA, Sales Cloud and other similar applications.

  1. Poor user adoption. For many companies this requires a shift during the design and implementation from an IT focus designed to get the software live to a business focus designed to improve seller outcomes. Most salespeople will not embrace software unless and until it helps them be more successful.
  2. Minimal software utilization. The research found that Salesforces use less than 25 percent of their Sales Cloud or SFA capabilities. Low usage squanders the company's investment and results in reps managing customer and selling data in shadow systems such as their personal apps (often in Outlook or contact management systems). To get more value from your system you need to identify and resolve any seller perceived obstacles and then prioritize and eliminate those challenges.
  3. Disappointing ROI. The first two challenges contribute to the third. There will not be a positive technology ROI if users are not using the software or if the are only using the bare minimum capacity. Implement the actions in the prior steps and ROI will take care of itself.

The data demonstrated the top three sales software challenges are interrelated. Low adoption will lead to low software usage which will result in low or no ROI. That connection creates an opportunity to tackle all three obstacles with a holistic effort.

Sales Cloud systems are effective when they serve salespeople and are not just tools to capture sale opportunities and produce a pipeline report. We know the top factors for adoption are ease of use, an intuitive user interface, a rewarding user experience, process automation and contextually delivered business intelligence.

When sales software raises staff productivity and performance goals it is wildly successful. However, if the system is just a data entry application so management can report on daily work activities, and salespeople realize few real benefits, wide scale adoption is challenged, and ROI is anemic.