Do you want to know what I am asked most?
We work with enterprise businesses probably a lot like yours. Each week I am in a meeting with a group of people like you and typically I am listening and advising. As a technology consultant I hear all sorts of problems, but one I am hearing a lot lately is: “How can we integrate our ERP and CRM with our sales efforts?”
All of the money spent by these large companies amounts to very little IF the information is not in the sales persons hands.
According to a recent analysis by CEB, today’s buyers are better informed and have higher expectations than ever before. With easy access to information on the Internet, they can research products and share the information with stakeholders throughout their organizations.
That’s just one more reason it is increasingly important for your sales team to be more nimble and better prepared than the competition when they have an opportunity to meet with customers and prospects.
Integrating your enterprise software with sales efforts can help your sales team lead the competition by decreasing the time wasted on repetitive administrative tasks and preparing customized sales material. Spend that time instead with your customers to move them through the buying journey.
So how can we do it, you say? How can we integrate all of this into one easy to use software for our sales people?
Enterprise sales software integration requires skillful planning If you do it right nobody will say wow you integrated x with y and z, they will say This is a great system, I love using it!
As with most organizational change, you can anticipate obstacles that impede the smooth integration of the software, but having never done it before I’d recommend hiring an expert to guide you, a Sherpa of integration technologies.
No matter if you do it in house or hire an outside team of experts like us or purchase a pre-packaged sales solution like ours, your Sales Focused Integration should not be approached without a proven plan. To maximize the return, here are four important steps I can give you.
1. Prepare – When and how to invest in the software isn’t simply a sales decision, because it will impact your entire organization. Therefore, you need to gather input from every department to accomplish the following:
- Set a baseline of the current sales environment (know where you are today).
- Identify factors causing the issues you are facing (know what is slowing you down).
- Set a vision of what the ideal sales environment should look like (know what you want).
- Consider software spending and product capabilities (know what you can afford).
2. Design – You already have the data you need, now you need to get it in the hands of your sales people. Design your sales solution for meeting your overall objectives. Get buy-in from people who must use the new software as well as the people affected by it. Recognize the barriers to change and establish a transition plan to overcome them. A few of the possible obstacles are:
- Salespeople tend to use only what creates immediate value for them (make it easy to use).
- If salespeople don’t understand why the new tool is effective, they will use new technology like they used the old one (show success and lead by example).
- Management tends to focus mostly on how the software affects the organization and not nearly enough on how it affects the sales team. (focus on sales)
3. Execute – The most important part of this step is communication. Feedback and coaching are necessary to overcome the obstacles that were anticipated as well as those that arise later. Effective communication includes:
- Providing training on how to use the software effectively. (make it easy to learn)
- Working directly with salespeople and enlisting advocates to promote the change (get buy in).
- Collaborating with frontline managers to ensure that the software is used to propel sales and not merely to “babysit” the sales team. (show management how to succeed)
4. Sustain – Monitor and manage the software to make sure it’s used consistently. If change is not reinforced, it’s natural for people to resume previous behavior. Use the software’s analytics to:
- Quickly and accurately assess results. (utilize a visual dashboard)
- Make adjustments to the sales process when necessary. (find out what works, and repeat)
- Establish new benchmarks. (set goals and reward)
- Share best practices across your sales team. (share the best with the rest)
- Reinforce the vision of the improved sales environment. (Show everyone the new way to succeed)
If your goals are to sell more and make more money, a global sales integration strategy can definitely get you there.
It can also save time and increase customer satisfaction.
Many people like you want to integrate their enterprise software with their sales efforts. To systematically improve their sales productivity, to make sure that their sales team has the resources needed to be effective throughout the buyers’ journey. In the end it comes down to your vision and the ability of your team to make it happen.
We work with companies like yours every day. I know it’s possible to accomplish your goals.
I wish you luck and wisdom, and hope I have helped in some small way.
In addition to integration another great topic I will be talking about in the next blog is how to increase sales value during face-to-face selling opportunities instead of spending time on non-selling tasks.
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Until next time…