In the early days of motion picture shows, there was a gap between what was on screen and what was on the street. On the screen, people and their surroundings are black and white. What’s more confusing, when they talk, there’s no chatter. There’s only a lively piano accompaniment and occasional title shots of scripted dialogue to tell us what all the moves are about.
In the 1920s, sound recording technology advanced and it became possible to record soundtracks and synchronize them with films. Talkie was born! And in a very short time, silent films became obsolete and were referred to as “old media”. Talkies are a disruptive technology that has made silent films an outdated form of entertainment. Film studios that don’t adapt go out of business.
Disruptive Sales Enable Shift
We witnessed another disturbing shift today, and it falls under the general label of sales enablement. Far more than tweaking the sales program, sales activation is a broad corporate strategic approach to increasing sales. by leveraging resources and knowledge across multiple departments to support salespeople and other client-facing employees at every level of the process.
The “old media” equivalent is sales and marketing departments that don’t talk to each other; paper brochures and verbal descriptions of complex hands-on processes; and valuable sales call tips buried in elearning programs or training materials in a binder somewhere. And just as talkies add important new levels of communication to legacy media, sales enablement strategies are rooted in high levels of communication between key departments, on the client front, and “on-demand” access to materials by salespeople. .
In addition to improving communication between key stakeholders, the new tools increase sales force effectiveness. While new technologies can drive value for organizations, some see these high-tech tools as a barrier to traditional sales methods. If management does not have a well-planned strategy for technology adoption, they may deploy it without measurement or relevance. These are important questions to answer before adopting a new tool:
- Who are the users?
- What is the context in which they will use this tool?
- How will it help them be more efficient and effective?
Carefully designed tools will help sales to improve performance seamlessly.
But what’s the point, if traditional selling methods worked in the past? Why disrupt current processes and invest in new technologies when we already know how to do what we are doing?
Well, I think we can all agree that there is a gap between desired and actual performance. Are marketing materials used as designed? Were they even used at all, or were they stuck in a corner of the rep’s trunk and forgotten about? (A recent study showed that 65% of reps couldn’t find content to send to a client. A scary statistic, but it’s true, isn’t it?) What about sales performance? Do the representatives have all the assets they need right now to close the sale?
And what if the traditional method works great, there’s no loophole, salespeople are closing sales left and right—but we’re still showing silent films while our competitors on the street have switched to talk films.
The reality is that the industry is constantly moving, and it’s important to adopt sales tools that will help us move with it. An important part of this strategy is incorporating mobile apps into the sales process. Let’s look at medical devices as an example.
Medical device companies are increasingly being squeezed from multiple fronts: they have new taxes on their profits, the industry is becoming more competitive, and they have a need to differentiate. Sales reps using iPads have an instant boost in credibility, but tablets aren’t enough—apps need to create a better customer experience. In the medical device arena, sales reps have 2 to 5 minutes to make an impression. Apps have the potential for quality visuals that create high-value experiences for customers. But that value only comes from carefully crafted applications that provide immediate value before, during and after a sales call.
What does it look like? Perhaps a better question is who rather than what. Having the right people at the table is very important. The key players are from sales, marketing, training and IT, with the blessing of senior management. Although they have different functions and focuses, they share the same goal of advancing sales by equipping salespeople with the skills and tools to support success. (Caution: IT departments usually don’t have the expertise to produce high-quality sales performance apps. But they should engage actively with mobile app developers to resolve technical and security issues).
What can come out of this collaboration? Here are some ideas for content in a sales enablement application based on the traditional sales approach:
- Account Strategy: consideration training and account strategy process; the ability to create and track plans.
- Building Relationships: tools in CRM are embedded to record records, including personal information, concerns, questions, call reminders, etc.
- Product Knowledge: product library; objection handling; review; flash card; quiz; product comparison information
- Messaging: access in-house training samples, videos, and relevant product or service information for immediate review prior to the call; access client-facing multimedia, product comparison charts, clinical information during calls; email capabilities right from within the app to send studies, e-brochures, and other sales collateral when requested
- Probing: results stored in CRM; the “suggestions to investigate” section in the app
- Closing: pre-call access to closing techniques and video examples; electronic contracts with digital signature capabilities
- Follow up: checklist; direct access to information by e-mail to clients; ability to set reminders
The overall advantage of a sales performance app is instant access to small pieces of relevant information, in the car before calling to review client information and access exactly what will meet their needs; during calls to use high-quality multimedia and relevant information to engage interests and solve problems; and after calls to update CRM and follow up on requests or appointments.
The mobile app will become a necessary tool of “new media” as it provides high value to sales reps at every step of the sales process. As sales, marketing, training, and IT bring their expertise together at the same design point, apps are becoming an essential part of a collaborative sales enablement strategy to move every sale forward.