I am always thinking about sales enablement and in the last week, I had an interesting conversation on how to convince a rep to adopt sales enablement tooling. As I have discussed before, we (as in marketing/sales mgmt) are constantly throwing tools at sales reps. We tell them they need to use the tool and how the tool will help them sell more.
The majority of these tools do not actually help the reps, instead helping sales management. And from my experience sales reps do not like using these tools. First off, they suck away productivity from a sales rep, increasing their administration tasks and taking time away from customers. Next, sales reps know that these tools are used to track, monitor and manage their time. Either making them feel replaceable or enabling management to manage them out. They aren’t particularly keen on being compliant with either goal.
What do sales reps do as a result? They do the bare minimum required to satisfy their management on their use of their tool.
So when you introduce a new tool to a sales rep they are going to be quite leery of it. Simply for the reasons above. Even if the tool offers them a lot of capabilities to improve their productivity, such as sales enablement tooling (read about the proof of value I did). They aren’t going to believe that this tool is going to make them more productive or their life easier, just as they have been burnt before. I can’t really blame them, as I have been responsible for that burning in the past.
How do you fix this?
I think there are three solutions to this problem.
The first one is the easiest to do, but will likely result in minimal usage. You just mandate they use it, track usage and crack down on non-users. This is the most common solution we employ but in many ways the least effective. People generally don’t like to be told what to do, and sales reps are no exception. They will use it just enough to satisfy their manager, and then when attention wanes on the tool as it so often does, stop using it altogether.
Mandating also creates friction between marketing and sales. There is a lot of chatter (insert link) on how sales and marketing are not on the same page. This will just increase that friction with the rank and file.
The next method, and my preferred method until as recent as last week, was to train reps. I have extensively discussed the need for you to train sales reps on using tooling. Here, and here. The general gist of it is to convince them to use the tool by showing how productive they will be by using it. And this worked very well in my rollout of sales enablement tooling to 4,500 users. I trained reps every which way I could, and after I trained them on the tool and showed them the value, they generally would use it.
Make it Part of the Company
Until last week, when I talked to the CMO of Mediafly, Michael Murray, I hadn’t really considered any other strategies than the above two to convince reps to utilize tooling. But Mike told me about how Mediafly creates branded apps for their sales enablement platform. Most other vendors will tell you to use their app. Whether it’s Seismic, iPresent, Highspot or any other vendor, the way you get to the content is through their app (or a website).
Mediafly is different. They create a custom mobile app for each customer. This makes it look like the tool is just part of what the company is doing. You would be hard pressed to find a rep that won’t install their company’s mobile app, and play around with it. Mediafly’s strategy here is brilliant, they are just making their platform part of the rep’s existence.
Disclosure: I do not have a business relationship with Mediafly, they just talked to me about this and I decided to write a quick blog post on it. Interested in talking to me? I am up for talking about sales enablement with anyone, use twitter, or our contact page.