Sales Organizations Need Technology Overhaul
Critical processes need more than spreadsheets and sales force automation

by Mark Smith | 2012-10-10 | Article ID: V12-33 | Article Type: VentanaView

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Summary

Many sales processes are becoming easier to accomplish due to technology, including compensation, forecasting and quota and territory management. Although many organizations have made steps forward with the aid of technology, most are still lagging when it comes to their overall sales processes. Our latest benchmark research on sales performance management finds more than two-thirds still use spreadsheets universally or regularly even though they admit that reliance on spreadsheets makes it difficult to manage sales efficiently. More than two-thirds of sales organizations have sales force automation (SFA) software, but they nonetheless still use spreadsheets and custom applications as well. And what they identify as their most important priorities – forecasting, analytics, lead management, planning and tracking, and commissions and compensation – indicates that they need tools more capable than SFA. In addition, research participants identified mobile technology as a critical trend in improving their operations and performance. We recommend that sales organizations create a team to identify the process and technology improvements needed for each role in the sales management process – managers, operations, analysts and account executives – and evaluate what it will take to acquire them.

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Our research finds that more than two-thirds of sales organizations do not have applications to support a range of important sales processes, including channel management, commissions, incentives, objectives, configure-price-quote, proposals, and quota and territory management. Integration of these new areas with SFA is critical to making the most of accounts and opportunities, but sales leadership sometimes fails to understand how technology can help retain sales talent and foster sales activity.

New mobile technologies also can help improve sales. Quick access to information from smartphones is essential, as sales teams are usually on the go. Yet most sales applications are not ready for use on smartphones and tablets. Our research found that 30 percent of sales organizations are planning to deploy tablets in 2012, and they plan to purchase both Apple and Android tablets; supporting them will require software vendors to build applications that can operate natively or within a Web browser on both platforms.

Our research indicates that new applications will be deployed to 47 percent of organizations through software as a service via the cloud and another 7 percent by having it hosted by the vendor. By comparison, only one-quarter of organizations prefer the traditional on-premises approach. The days of buying, installing and living with legacy applications for sales are ending as companies turn away from relying on their IT staff to provide their technology infrastructure. in this new environment, sales management must articulate their organization’s real needs and identify potential solutions that can address them.

Assessment

Sales organizations that are most efficient and able to maximize selling time are those that have invested in applications designed for sales. However, getting the budget to join them is not easy; the research shows doing so is the most substantial impediment for organizations; acquiring those tools also is hindered by a lack of executive sponsorship and an unconvincing business case for investment. The more that sales teams can demonstrate how new software can save time and improve sales effectiveness toward revenue targets, the faster their proposals will be approved. In its quest for technology help, the sales organization may find and ally in Finance, which has a vested interest in improved sales performance and revenue. Companies that have not looked at what technology can do to improve sales efficiency and effectiveness should not wait any longer to find out.

 

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