For quite some time, sales software vendors were known simply as CRM (customer relationship management) companies. But CRM has its shortcomings — namely, the lopsided focus on collecting data FROM salespeople vs. providing value TO them. Enter sales enablement software. It fills the gap, giving sales reps quick access to knowledge bases, content and strategies. To protect your sales reps’ 215, you need to enable them to accomplish their daily tasks easier and faster than how they do them now. Sales enablement software is designed to do just that, although because sales tasks are so varied you’ll find the software just as varied. Using sales enablement software is one of the most effective ways to protect the 215.
To start, it’s best to determine what the non-customer-facing tasks are in the sales rep’s day and in the sales process. Then map those tasks to the capabilities of each software option. Note that I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do these tasks — if in fact they are essential to the sales process — but that you should determine where the time sinks are and find ways to automate or reduce the time they take. If sales productivity is hampered by the manual approach to accomplishing these tasks, it should be easy to calculate an ROI for investing in sales enablement software. Let’s explore that further.
If you’re selling a high-end product, chances are you need to take a consultative sales approach and to have a deep knowledge of each prospect.
Building credibility and trust is crucial for big-ticket items. As InsideView states in its brochure, “It’s not just who you know that will make business deals happen, but what you know about who you know tightly synched with when and where you should know it.” The best way to learn about a prospect is to conduct good oldfashioned research. It’s easy to search the Web for news items using Google. It’s also easy to search Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. But there are two glaring problems with this approach: 1) it takes a huge amount of your 215 to conduct this type of research and 2) once you have the information, how do you synthesize, store and manage it?
For a sales professional, the Web offers an exploding wealth of insight into your leads and prospects. But tapping into that knowledge can be a huge time-sucker. And as the amount of information grows, your ability to keep up with both your research and your sales activities takes a huge hit.
Ideally this research could somehow be done with automated agents or computer scripts that know what to look for and then extract that data from the Web. If that were possible, you’d have a great deal of knowledge delivered to you in a timely fashion. It would be even greater if that information was automatically entered into your CRM system — under the appropriate company or contact name.
InsideView seeks to do just that with its SalesView product. SalesView keeps tabs on your prospects and customers for you. The system continuously monitors traditional business data sources (such as Capital IQ, Hoover’s, Jigsaw, and Thomson Reuters), as well as emerging social media and the greater Web (blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and over 20,000 online news sites.)
It aggregates all of this information and then spotlights the information needed to engage with your prospects at the right time with the right knowledge and the right sales message. The standard version of SalesView is available for free. Pro and Team versions start at $99 per month per user.
Taking a somewhat different approach is OneSource Business Browser and OneSource for SalesForce. OneSource offers an online database which provides detailed data on companies, industries, company executives and news. If you’re a SalesForce.com user, this information can be automatically inserted into your contact and company records so sales reps have current and accurate data.
They reportedly use over 2500 sources of information to keep their database up-to-date. Users of this subscription service are able to access all of those sources by way of a single, consolidated interface. OneSource does not disclose their pricing publicly so you’ll need to contact them directly.
If you sell to prospects who develop a need for your products whenever a certain event happens, your sales are dependent on triggering events. A homeowner listing a house for sale likely will soon need a mortgage broker and a moving company. Listing a house for sale is an event that triggers the need for a service. A corporation announcing it is expanding its workforce or opening an office in a new location may just tip you off to a newly created need for office furniture, or computers or telephone services.
Founder Craig Elias of SHiFT Selling, a consulting firm specializing in trigger event selling, says, “There is a silver bullet in sales, it’s called timing — being first with buyers who recently entered the Window of Dissatisfaction.” Furthermore, “You can create timing by identifying, finding and capitalizing on the Trigger Events that shift buyers into the Window of Dissatisfaction. By being first with these highly motivated buyers you will sell more, sell sooner and sell at a higher price.”
One way to be alerted to trigger events is to use Google Alerts. A Google Alert (which is free) notifies you when a prospect or competitor is mentioned on the Web — based on what you tell it to look for.
OneSource Business Browser also has an alert function for notification of important news. Automating the notification of trigger events reserves the sales rep’s 215 for spending time with prospects and it helps them be more effective while there.
Nancy Nardin founded Smart Selling Tools after a prestigious career in high-tech and IT market research sales. She is considered the leading expert on sales productivity tools.