Engaging Sales – An Action Plan for Increasing User Adoption of Sales Tools

You’ve spent time and money building a comprehensive marketing plan, buying fancy tools and implementing them you even bought the sales tools that go with your marketing automation platform, now what? You turn them on and run right? Not quite. Unless you have less than five sales people and they are all very very deeply involved in your marketing organization, chances are they have no idea what you invested in or why it isn’t just another shiny object for them.

Sure you can go to the Marketo or Eloqua websites and pull screenshots galore and PDF documents that extoll the virtues of the various tools you now own but Joe Salesguy may not be all that interested in reading all of those. Let’s be realistic, you wouldn’t send emails to your marketing universe that were less than relevant so why pass out generic stuff to your sales team and hope they will read it and find value? While it might sound like a lot of work to build a plan and execute isn’t it worthwhile? You bought into the Sales Insight or Discover tool-set because it was supposed to empower sales, so let’s really empower them. Here’s how:

1. Build a buzz. Prior to launch pick a small subset of your sales users for a pilot. You will want to get some of your more engaged, willing to experiment sales folks. With this you are doing two things, first you are making sure these tools work for your teams but second, and most important you are creating an internal case study. *If you’ve already launched then go fishing for some case studies, we all know how powerful they can be in a sales cycle, think of this as your own internal sale!

2. Set up in-person training time. At launch time plan to have a few in person workshops at different times (and if need be locations) so that you can connect with the sales users, explain the tools, gauge the reactions and then assist them in set up and use of the tools. Be ready to have some sample contacts/leads for them to test sending emails to, test following and watching the buying signals in the tools you have built.

3. Don’t set it and forget it. Build internal resources to support adoption of the tools, everything from an internal email nurture program to a webpage with resources, FAQ docs and samples will go a long way towards helping your users after training. These documents are definitely not one time use, make sure that the team who trains new sales users is involved so that they can leverage these going forward.

4. Reach out in multiple formats. You don’t send one-dimensional campaigns to your prospects so don’t do it here either! Engage your users with video, blog posts, emails and any other format you think might help them.

5. Track use. After you have gone through all of this you need to track the usage of the tools, listen for case studies of success with the tools (socialize those case studies!) and make sure the tools continue to be used. These tools cost money, make sure you are able to show some return on the investment.

How are you socializing your sales tools with the sales teams? How do you measure user engagement and what is “success” for your company? These are crucial questions to keep your eyes on as you roll out new software for your teams.

How well do you really generate leads?

I am in a transitional phase right now, moving from one agency to another.  It’s exciting and fun but also has caused me to reflect on what I’ve accomplished with my current clients and where there is room for growth still (for me and them).  One of the topics that comes back to me over and over again is Lead Generation, when I first got into B2B marketing this phrase was the term, everyone was a Lead Generation expert, every agency and vendor did “lead generation” and therefore could make you better at it too.   My issue isn’t so much that I feel it’s a buzzword (it is) or with what it is intended to mean but more so what it doesn’t actually meant.  For every success story out in the marketplace of a company who is doing all of the right things there are four or five quietly sitting on the sidelines wishing they could join the ranks of modern marketing.

A recent study by B2B “2013 Lead Generation: Optimum Techniques for Managing Lead Generation Campaigns” bares testimony to the same sentiments, according to the study 55% of marketers only think of their lead generation efforts are average and that the means by which they measure their success remains relatively unsophisticated, 76% say their definition of a lead is a prospect asking for contact.    What happened to lead scoring?  What happened to nurturing your contacts through the buying cycle and speaking to their needs at the time it matters most?  Is it unattainable to believe in these ideals or is it just to hard to align sales to the idea of quality over quantity?

I know it has fallen out of favor to talk about marketing and sales alignment but that is the heart of the problem.  Understanding how leads are managed by sales, expectations of velocity through sales stages and the messaging sales uses to bring home the deal will help marketers better understand how their story helps drive the process home.  Having a unified definition of a lead is a great starting point.  Does sales really feel like any working email address that gets submitted when someone wants to read a whitepaper is an indication someone is ready to buy?  Not likely, now I am sure there are a few choice whitepapers that sales feels are stronger than others (hint hint: score those higher) but in general it is likely that they view a person reading a single asset as only moderately interesting.  Why not leverage the expensive and powerful automation technologies to hand them prioritized leads instead of just leads, or better yet the all important “hot” lead.  Gathering sales leaders and marketing leaders together to create a portrait of the idea lead can start the conversation towards a more aligned team and a more productive lead scoring model.

Start simple, the key to not being part of the 55% of marketers who feel like their efforts are “average” is aligning with your sales team.