How to Get More Value from Your Sales Technology
- Research shows while only 23 percent of salesforces apply a technology strategy to their software management, that figure is significantly skewed by performance archetype. An overwhelming 82 percent of that small group consisted of Best-in-Class sales leaders.
- Dedicated resourcing highly correlated with technology effectiveness. The Best-in-Class leaders invested in dedicated resources to manage sales technologies 2.58X more than the Medians and Laggards. One other resourcing disparity stood out among performance archetypes. 89 percent of the top performers assigned a sales manager to lead software evaluations and implementations. That was in stark contrast to Medians and Laggards where 82 percent of software evaluations and deployments were led by an IT person.
- The number of organizations that calculated software ROI was the single greatest disparity among performance archetypes. While only 19 percent of total respondents consistently measured sales technology ROI, 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.
Why do some salesforces make incredible gains with technology and others do not?
That's a question best answered with data.
For this post we extracted data used for the Sales Excellence Report to surface the factors that most correlated with technology effectiveness. We then compared those factors among the performance archetypes of Best-in-Class (top 15 percent), Medians (middle 50 percent) and Laggards (lower 35 percent).
The data surfaced three findings that stood above all others.
The Best-in-Class Adopted a Sales Technology Strategy
The research discovered that the top performers applied a documented and active tech strategy to plan, procure and benefit from their sales software applications 4.5X more frequently than their lower performing peers.
The leaders used a technology strategy to align limited budgets with what can look like a sea of unlimited solutions.
The tech strategy identifies the most effective salesforce technologies that drive the most important business outcomes. And because it's not realistic to acquire every helpful solution at once, it's designed as a multi-year roadmap. That roadmap plots the specific technologies that drive targeted objectives in a time-based sequence.
Without a sales tech stack or technology strategy most companies acquire piecemeal technologies to solve an urgent problem. That may help with the problem of the day but quite often contributes to software sprawl, data siloes, lack of integration and temporary results. It also fails to contribute to a more strategic portfolio whereby solutions compliment each other and achieve a synergistic effect.
The Right Resources for the Right Technologies
The data surfaced two findings that demonstrated how the top performers apply resourcing differently than their peers.
First, 84 percent of the Best-in-Class invested in dedicated resources to manage their selling technologies. That was 2.58X more frequently than the combined group of Medians and Laggards.
Most of the time these resources were organized in a Sales Operations (aka Sales Ops) team structure. That team consists of sales enablement staff responsible for ensuring technologies deliver benefits to sellers.
The size of Sales Ops groups varied most often by the size of company. Small businesses may have one part-time person. Larger enterprise companies had average of 7 full-time staff.
Software can be complex, so applying dedicated resources helps ensure it is used correctly and leveraged to the fullest.
It's important to identify the delineation between Sales Ops staff and the IT organization. There are no fixed rules but there are guidelines.
Sales Ops staff are ideally suited where close collaboration with the salesforce improves tech effectiveness. They are responsible for planning and managing the Sales Cloud or Sales Force Automation (SFA) system and most or all best of breed point solutions.
The company's IT department is responsible for broader requirements such as data management, integrations with legacy systems, license management, vendor management, regulatory and compliance, and information security to name a few.
A cross functional resource matrix or RACI chart is a useful artifact to clarify roles across departments.
Who's Accountable for Sales Technology Results?
The second significant difference was that among the top performers sales leadership was instrumental in software evaluations, implementations and measured success.
For 89 percent of the Best-in-Class, the sponsor for new software evaluations and implementations was a sales manager or leader. That's in contrast to the Medians and Laggards. For these groups, the sponsor was an IT person 82 percent of the time. These research findings show near opposite results.
However, the results are not entirely surprising.
IT often steps up to lead software evaluations and implementations when the sales organization does not. However, that creates additional challenges and in many ways it's unfair to ask IT to ensure success for a solution for which they are neither a user nor beneficiary.
IT must be involved as part of a cross functional team but asking them to take the leadership role, and thereby assume ultimate accountability for user adoption, selling results and ROI can be a stretch. And if you're not asking the sponsor or leader to assume accountability for these outcomes then you are evading the accountability that most matters.
We were surprised by how infrequently software ROI was measured. However, we were less surprised to see how the figures were highly disproportional among performance archetypes.
While only 19 percent of total respondents consistently measured the ROI of their applications, 68 percent of that cohort were Best-in-Class sales leaders. That's a 4.6X difference between the top performers and their lower performing peers that should not go unnoticed.
As the old adage goes, you can't manage what you can't measure.
It's hard to know if technology is working if you don't measure the benefit. As one respondent shared, "Measuring the ROI for each sales app lets us know early and unequivocally when it doesn't work, so we can make a change and stop throwing good money after bad."
Measuring ROI requires measuring the sales outcome or incremental revenue. Many leaders implement new technologies sequentially, or one at a time, for just this reason. They isolate each solution, so they know exactly how it contributes to a change in revenue.