Many of my clients want to know which sales technologies to buy. As sales leaders, they’re curious about innovative ways to generate pipeline, run deals, and remove friction for sellers. Regardless of digital transformation, they’re focused on finding tech to make sellers more efficient virtually, not automate them away.
For a sales leader, ROI from a new investment is a pipedream without adoption from the frontline. Sellers are not quick to adopt technology for the good of the borg. In Gartner’s 2021 Seller Motivation Survey, a majority of sellers noted the introduction of new tech hinders their overall efficiency (see below). For these reasons, we advise clients to improve the probability of sales tech adoption at the concept phase, before deciding which vendors to go speak with.
Sales leaders need a simple way to figure out which technologies sellers will actually use.
My clients are busy and straightforward. The inquiries I get about tech for seller execution distill down to:
- Which technologies are available to improve seller execution virtually?
- Which technologies would you recommend as a fit for our sales teams?
Answers to these questions must account for the seller’s user experience, sales process, industry complexity, and technical integrations.
Anecdotally many sales leaders I work with find getting nuanced answers from vendors can be time-consuming and frustrating. Vendors from over 55 categories flood sales leaders’ inboxes daily. My clients tell me they’re numb to “turn B players into A players” and “close more deal” messages. Sales Tech Mayhem adds to the confusion. A client recently in the middle of an active evaluation told me she’d consider spilling coffee on her keyboard to avoid sitting through another demo if she had to. She was kidding, I think.
3 Design Principles To Invest In Tech for Sellers
Below are three principles designed to help address the daily reality of sellers through tech. Sales leaders can use them to develop a point of view about what kind of tech their sellers might use to improve execution. I recommend clients apply these principles to the three-to-five highest-impact anchor use cases in their sales process. The outcome of the exercise is often concept statements that they then use to evaluate vendors with hyper-specific outcomes in mind.
1) Improve buyer engagement.
Help sellers improve customer engagement. It’s almost cliche. The point here is to explore innovative methods for facilitating live meetings, and asynchronous interactions with customers in between meetings. Question all assumptions about how the traditional sales meeting is run, and the role of content in between. One of my clients used this principle to develop an initiative focused on turning sales presentations into collaborative buying activities using Visual Collaboration Applications, resulting in a lift for discovery to proof-of-concept pipeline conversion rates across the pilot cohort.
2) Adapt tactics based on data.
Equip sellers with what we call “situationally aware” insights. The key is for tech to help activate these insights in messaging, workflows, and tactics. Sellers tend to have the lowest data proficiency in the enterprise, so the tech can help them take the next action. A client used this principle to improve QBR acceptance from clients. The exercise led them to identify messaging triggers based on product usage, service delivery, and contract data. They ended up utilizing Scheduling Automation technology to trigger sending customized QBR calendar invites for eligible clients. This effort improved the volume of QBRs and pipeline contributions from upsells.
3) Simplify seller workflows.
Improve day-to-day seller work by embedding technologies into sellers’ highly detailed daily flows. Sellers need to love using the product. A lack of seller digital dexterity undermines the successful adoption of tech. I recommend looking at an internal process like steps required to secure resources for a deal, then facilitate collaboration across a deal team. One client used this design principle to look for a better interface for a deal team to share notes and enter both activity and opportunity data into their CRM. They adopted Seller Workflow Automation to share notes in a Slack channel and then log those notes dynamically to CRM directly, saving over 3 hours per week per seller. Don’t sleep on the value of removing internal friction for frontline sellers.
Gartner clients can read the complete research here – subscription required.
Gartner’s Virtual Selling Tech Stack
We visualized the tech stack for selling virtually based on the design principles outlined above. With concept statements, sales leaders are now equipped to go shopping. These technologies focus on seller execution, hence why more enablement and operationally focused categories aren’t featured.
The graphic incorporates data collected from 168 sales leaders on adoption levels and business outcomes across 27 categories of technology. Gartner clients can see the data, analyst recommendations, and versions of the stack (e.g. volume and velocity vs. enterprise deals) here – subscription required).
Stay tuned for more updates on the landscape of Revenue Technology, and let me know what you think below in the comments.
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