Take a moment away from your packed day of customer calls to imagine with me… (Trust me).  Think about some of the technological devices you used today. The list probably included: a computer of some sort, a smartphone, and possibly a digital touch watch. Now imagine your life without any of these items. Tough? That would probably be an understatement. Most of us, if not all, would be completely turned upside down in the way we work and communicate with each other. That my friends— is the power of technology. It is constantly evolving and constantly changing the world around us.

The Number One Reason Sales Technology Initiatives Fail

Now, think about the number of applications or ‘apps’ that you have used today.  What came to mind? I would imagine that you thought of email, some type of news app, a music app, not to mention a social media app or three.  How many of these were you routinely using 5 years ago? My guess is that the number of apps that you personally use daily has skyrocketed over the past 5 years.  This is also true for B2B sales organizations.  The number of applications that sales organizations are deploying has skyrocketed, with over 700 possible vendors according to Saleshacker.  In our work with sales organizations across the globe, we are seeing more and more customers that are ‘chasing shiny objects’ to fix specific problems, but have seen very few organizations that have a strategic approach for leveraging technology to drive customer value.

We wanted to hear straight from real world sales leaders on how their organizations are using technology to improve the customer buying experience.  So, we asked VPs of sales from a variety of industries to share their perspective on the use of technology within their organization at an Atlanta Sales Leadership Community event. We wanted to know:

  • What kinds of investments are sales leaders making in technology?
  • What kind of value is this technology creating for their organizations?
  • Why do sales technology initiatives succeed (or fail)?

Throughout the panel discussion, one theme clearly emerged.  The #1 reason that sales technology initiatives fail is underinvestment in the change management process. In fact, Chris Jones, SVP of PROS software conducted a study with 60 customers that proved this.  They discovered that even though the 60 customers had purchased virtually the exact same software, they were experiencing drastically different results.  What did those that were successful do differently from those that struggled? Companies that received the most value for their investment in PROS software:

  • Had clearly defined goals for their implementation
  • Defined executive sponsors for their technology initiative
  • Utilized a rigorous and disciplined change management process

In summary, Jones shared that those companies that received the most value from their investment in sales technology focused more on the people and the process than the technology itself.  Conversely, those that struggled to receive value from their investment in technology did not have a strong change management plan.

How can you give your sales technology initiative the best chance of succeeding? To make it easy for you we have captured some of the best ideas from real sales leaders below:

  • Define clearly the goals of your sales technology initiative
    • What part of the sales process is the initiative going to improve?
    • How much should it improve it by?
    • How will you measure the improvement?
  • Be sure that your initiative’s executive sponsor is involved in the rollout
  • Identify early success cases where team members create real business results using the new technology
  • Have a disciplined approach to change management by:
    • Agreeing on the current state->future state vision
    • Defining a detailed plan for closing the gap
    • Enabling the right people + process changes to ensure that your tech tools make a difference

In summary-if you are thinking about making an investment in new sales technology without investing in the supporting change management disciplines – DON’T!  You will be scratching your head in 6-12 months wondering why you invested all of your hard earned sales support budget in a gadget that isn’t really driving impact for your business.

To support sales leaders like yourself in making sure you have a good handle on your team’s readiness to embrace change initiatives like these, we have created a free tool-the Change Velocity Index.  If you have your team take this diagnostic, it will give you a quick and intuitive read on their readiness to embrace and drive your next change initiative. Click here to take our free Change Velocity Index. Visit SoarPerformanceGroup.com to learn more about the Sales Leadership Community and hear from other senior sales leaders on their experiences.