The importance of user experience for sales teams
You can’t fire your top sales representatives, and they know it.
Even though you spent big money on CRM software to help them, they’re not using it. They’re sticking to their own, tried-and-true processes. How do you get your sales teams to use your CRM?
That’s actually the wrong question.
The correct question is how do you build a CRM platform that your sales team wants to use? That’s also the central question to any sales enablement platform, and it’s the key to helping your sales force improve their productivity.
What is Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement has become an important topic in the last few years, especially in B2B situations, though it’s also relevant to many B2C companies. Definitions vary on some of the finer points, but the one we like the best is:
A strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople and frontline sales managers along the entire customer journey, powered by technology.
We emphasize the word “technology” in that definition for an important reason. At the risk of stating the obvious, technology has become ingrained in people’s lives, and in nearly every industry, it influences (if not defines) the buyer journey. A technology-driven sales enablement platform can not only create a more productive sales force, it can simultaneously improve the customer journey.
Today’s customers have access to more information than they ever did before. Where they used to rely on salespeople for product specifications and selection, they can now find much of that information online.
They’re not shopping anymore. They’re researching, comparing and specifying. Their online activity is centered around solving a problem.
This has irreversibly altered the role of sales. Customers don’t need sales people to help them figure out what products and services they need, because they have already done the research and made their initial selections. They don’t want to hear another sales pitch.
But there is still a need for the sales function. The sales representative now functions as a consultant, focusing more on the customer’s problem and helping them find the right solutions. This includes helping customers validate the decisions made through their online research, but also exploring other solutions.
Sales representatives provide the value and assistance that technology can’t. They can educate customers — especially first-time buyers — about why the low-cost solution isn’t always the best. They can refer the customer to suppliers of related products and services.
Most of all, salespeople offer a human touch to help customers, taking the time to get to know customers and their needs. They take the information customers provided through their online research and dig deeper to offer solutions, including upgrades and options, that customers might not have otherwise considered.
To be successful, salespeople have to seamlessly integrate into the customer journey that starts on digital platforms. They need to pick up where it leaves off, letting the digital tools serve customers in the ways for which it is best suited, and helping customers take those crucial last few steps toward ultimately purchasing.
In other words, sales representatives need to be able to add value in ways only they can, and the right sales enablement platform can help them do just that.
The importance of user experience
To accommodate today’s digital savvy customers, companies are creating web and mobile applications that provide the information and resources customers want. An important component to these digital products is the user experience (UX).
A great UI UX design is crucial to the success of any digital platform. If the UX doesn’t fit into users’ lives, they won’t adopt the software.
Sales representatives are people, too. Just like your customers, they need software to provide an efficient user experience, fill a need, or solve a problem. So if a tool doesn’t make their lives easier — and help them make more money — they won’t use it.
Yet too many sales enablement tools were not designed with this in mind. They were designed for sales managers, offering tracking and reporting capabilities. But they were clearly not created with sales representatives’ input, and thus aren’t designed to make their lives easier.
So salespeople simply don’t use them.
This is a missed opportunity. Technology has the potential to make the sales function, and the buyer journey, so much smoother and better. Perhaps realizing this, CRM industry leader Salesforce began working with a user experience specialist a few years ago. The results were so compelling that Salesforce bought the company.
Examples of Mobile Sales Enablement
Companies are beginning to see the value that a mobile sales enablement platform can have, but that off-the-shelf solutions may not fit their businesses. Every industry, every company is unique. The customer journey and sales process for medical devices is different than it is for commercial interior products.
So more companies are seeing the value of creating their own mobile sales enablement platforms.
The ways in which technology can be used to provide mobile sales enablement are as varied as customer journeys themselves. To demonstrate the possibilities, we’re sharing three examples of projects we completed with our clients.
Hubbell Power Systems – Optimizing product specification
Hubbell Power Systems is a global manufacturer of electrical and electronic products for construction, industrial and utility applications. With more than 230,000 products in their offering, it can be a challenge for customers to select the right products, especially when they’re in the field working on live power lines.
We developed a mobile application that helps field sales reps and customers find the right products quickly and easily, whether they’re in the office or 40 feet in the air working on utility poles. Allowing customers to browse by category and application, they can easily configure their solution with all of the products and components they need. The app shows recommended and related components, compares specifications, and provides product details.
This interactive application makes the sales process easier by eliminating the need to wade through endless pages of online product catalogs.
Interface FLOR – Present products visually
InterfaceFLOR, the sustainable leader in modular carpet, has a broad variety of beautifully designed products. Until recently, the best way for its customers, commercial designers and architects, to review its products was to flip through a binder of printed images.
Working with InterfaceFLOR, we created a powerful and easy way to view thousands of carpet styles and designs, choosing the products that are right for their applications. The application allows users to create job folders, choose favorites, even email links to web-based images with just one click.
This application eliminates the need for sales representatives to carry huge catalogs and sample binders, and makes the specification process more enjoyable for customers.
Mountville Mills – Improving the sales process
Mountville Mills is the global leader in commercial floor mats, offering products for commercial, industrial and hospitality applications. One of their upgrade offerings is the ability to provide mats with the customer’s logo or custom artwork. But the process of selling these upgrades, obtaining artwork and creating proofs, was cumbersome, so the efforts of their channel sales representatives often did not result in a sale, if they even bothered at all.
We developed a mobile app that simplified and shortened the process of selling customized mats. What once took several days and multiple emails back and forth now can be completed in just a few minutes during the course of a personal interaction. It streamlines the sales process by automatically creating a pre-proof and finalizing the order.
By improving and shortening a previously tedious process, the Mountville app helps salespeople deliver a better customer experience.
Reducing the sales workload
The sales process is different than it used to be. Customers expect a simple, intuitive experience online, allowing them to conduct research on their own before interacting with a sales representative. They don’t want to have to repeat any of that process with a sales representative.
A mobile sales enablement tool allows companies to essentially complete the customer experience that started online, ensuring there are no compromises or gaps in the process.
A well-designed mobile sales enablement tool can be one of the best investments a company can make because they can accomplish so much.
It can eliminate some of the repetitive, mundane tasks that were a part of sales representatives’ jobs, allowing them to focus on providing real value to customers. That allows them to sell more in less time.
A mobile sales enablement tool also improves the overall buyer journey by creating a seamless transition from the online experience to offline sales interactions. It can also create other efficiencies that reduce the cost to make a sale, as well as other operational costs, which helps increase profitability.
When it’s done right, a mobile sales enablement tool is easy and beneficial to use. It solves customers’ problems and helps sales representatives do their jobs better and faster. That makes everyone happy — your customers, your sales team, and even your CFO.