On the whole, the sports industry has an awkward relationship with technology. At one end of the spectrum, some sports leaders fear new technology. At the other end of the spectrum, others think that technology should replace thoughtful salesmanship. Regardless of our love for technology or fear of it, we have all purchased several sales technologies. Most of them are expensive. Most of them are wastefully underutilized.
Beware, these answers are not for the faint of heart. Most answers start with “You.”
We’ve been doing this for a while. If your team underutilizes the technology that you have purchased, here are a few of the reasons you’re struggling:
Reason 1: You haven’t addressed the only question that matters for most salespeople.
Let’s all stop with the nonsense that “reps should do what I tell them to do if they want to keep their jobs.” The best case scenario when you take this approach is that your reps will nod and smile and pretend to play along or do the bare minimum required to not get fired. They will not be inspired to extract value from your new sales tool. They won’t be inspired period.
Let’s try a different angle, no? Let’s acknowledge who we have hired. The best sales people tend to be smart, competitive, financially-driven and self-motivated. Whether you like it or not, the first question that they will ask is “What’s in it for me?” So tell them. Show them. Just be sure that the answer includes an obvious nod to the things that they care about: closing more business, making more money and climbing the leaderboard (or retaining their position at the top). If you can’t make these arguments to yourself, there is no chance you can get buy-in from your end users.
Reason 2: You haven’t proven that there is something in it for them.
Telling reps and managers how they will benefit is a good start, but it isn’t enough. You need to offer some proof and unfortunately, you alone are not the best positioned to convince the rank and file members of your sales team. Just like your sales prospects are more likely to buy based on the recommendation of a trusted confidant, your reps are more likely to follow the guidance of their colleagues who are in the field selling.
The smoothest technology implementations result when senior leadership enlists a handful of successful reps and mid-level managers to serve as internal “beta testers.” Ensure that they understand the cachet associated with being selected for this group. Take extra time with these reps to ensure that they understand their personal upside. Deputize them to help you sell it to their colleagues. They’re good sales people, after all. Prepare them to buy credibility with their colleagues by airing and addressing contrarian positions before the wider team launch. When you do roll it out to the wider team, avoid a monologue and instead guide a discussion amongst the beta testing group.
Reason 3: You actually bought a clunker.
Unlikely. You’re too smart for that. However, if the rep who sold the useless technology did a disservice to the noble profession of sales and snookered you into a bad deal, circle back with someone higher in the organization. You would fix this if this happened in your own sales organization. Most companies will.
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