Focus on these 3 things for Sales Technology Adoption
Founder & Principal, JD2 Consulting
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Focus on these 3 things for Sales Technology Adoption
Why are companies not getting the most return out of their sales technology tools? The sales technology landscape is growing quickly, making sales technology adoption more important than ever. Listen as Jeff Davis discusses the importance of a buyer centric process, aligning sales and marketing, lessons we can learn from B2C about selling value, and the importance of starting with process before buying technology.
Dan Cilley Great to have you here today. We’re here again in the Vendor Neutral Zone podcast series, the Clear View of Sales podcast series, to be exact, at the Vendor Neutral Zone. Thanks for joining us today, Jeff Davis. Great to have you; please tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Jeff Davis Well, Dan, first of all, thank you for having me on the show. Always amazing to talk to you. We, I think, met about two, two, and a half years ago when I had you on my podcast, the Alignment Podcast, dotcom, and beyond being one of the highest listened to episodes, I learned an immense amount from you. So first of all, I want to start there. Secondly, for those that do not know, my name again is Jeff Davis. So I focused on really helping B2B organizations strategically align sales and marketing to drive growth really simply right. We know that we continue to have a dysfunctional relationship between sales and marketing, which causes a whole bunch of issues. You know, the finger-pointing, the fact that leads are getting dropped, and all that sort of thing. And we know moving forward that we just cannot continue to operate like that and operate in silos because it’s just not the way that the modern buyer wants to buy. So I look at myself as a marriage counselor, maybe? I help these two parts of the organization get along better and more effectively and hopefully break down some silos. So excited to talk to you today.
Dan Cilley I’m excited to talk to you as well, Jeff. So let’s start at the beginning. In my eyes, we work again. We work with a lot of large mid-market enterprise organizations, but we help buyers at all levels simplify the sales technology selection process. And what is pretty clear is that there are well, I think over eight thousand currently marketing technologies available. And I give Scott Brinker a lot of credit for managing that landscape. But currently, there’s about 800 if you consider CRM in that decision making process in the sales technology landscape. So what we’re always looking to do, especially when it comes to sales technology in that landscape, is never be at eight thousand solutions. We never want to be there. But we do see an incredible value, right? We see a value in marketing and sales working together. We’ve said that along the way, right? We’ve always said that it’s important that marketing and sales work together. You know, they’re potentially mutually quota-driven objectives. You know, they want to achieve the same goals for their own benefit. But now technology is stepping in, right? So now technology, you have marketing technology, marketing automation. You have insights coming from the websites, intent data, a lot of leads coming from marketing, MQL, marketing qualified leads. And then you also have sales technology, right? You have technology that is; I like to categorize as engagement technology that, you know, it’s built for a sales rep to develop a sequence and to engage with their prospects. But the fact is, is that if marketing and sales aren’t effectively working together and we see this with our clients, and we see this with buyers who are reaching out looking for help, is that they’re not leveraging the benefits. So, you know, a sales rep isn’t taking advantage of that branding, taking advantage of that editing capability, taking advantage of all the content that’s already been developed, images, things like that. And they’re just putting out something that they feel is going to make an impact. And it’s probably not at the end of the day the most effective. So, Jeff, I know it’s a long intro, but I’d love to kind of get your thoughts on that evolution. Where things are headed and how sales and marketing could start to work together, especially in and around surrounds technology.
Jeff Davis Yeah, well, you hit the nail on the head. Is that when you look at the marketing, digital, or marketing tech landscape, right? They’re much more mature in their evolution. The sales technology landscape is relative to marketing, still in its infancy, but it’s growing really quickly. So you have to two different organizations as far as their sales technology adoption because marketing is used to these tools, right? And they are many times well ahead of their sales counterpart. The problem that a lot of organizations are dealing with now, especially with COVID with them being forced to adopt these sales technology tools, is that we are forgetting to look at the people and process part. We are many times speeding up broken processes and then wondering why it’s not working. Well, it’s not working because the strategy is not there. The process is not there. The people don’t have the mindset or the capabilities or the skill sets. And that’s, to your point, why people are not getting the most out of, the most return out of these tools. And it’s not it’s not the tool’s fault; it’s that we haven’t done the work prior to buying a tool to figure out what we need to do. Where is the gap? Where is the deficiency? And then buying tools that appropriately can come in and help us do that. So any time I’m working with a client or talking to anybody before we even get to the sales technology tools, you guys at Vendor Neutral are by far the experts. I’m trying to figure out where is the process broken, and do we have a process that is a buyer first, is a digital-first process? And if we don’t, let’s fix that first and then layer on the appropriate tools to help us. And so I think a lot of times organizations are just like, it’s a knee-jerk reaction, right? Like sales are down. I can’t drive growth; buy something. Buy this, buy that, buy that. And then you just, it’s just this bag of tools that may or may not go together. And then you have people reeling, especially salespeople, because they are like your were taking me out of my workflow, and I remind sales leaders all the time, tools should enable sellers. It should not be what they go to in order to show that they’re engaging. If your sales reps can’t have a conversation, if the tools are not helping them get insights about what to talk about, then it’s doing them a disservice and actually making them less effective and less efficient. So I always start upstream with what is the strategy, what is the process we need to employ? Because this is buyer first selling, different then traditional selling. Like somebody like me back in the day old school carrying a bag, that’s a whole, different sales process like it is not applicable in twenty twenty one and beyond. We’ve got to change that mindset first and then layer on the technology.
Dan Cilley So that’s a great point. Jeff. So you’re saying that you know, more often than not, they’re bolting on technology and not thinking about their current process. So that makes a big impact with me because that’s what we’re seeing, right? We see a lot of organizations that, you know, they bolt-on technology, whether it’s marketing or sales, and they’re not thinking about how that fits in their current as relates to their priorities into their process. And it’s actually causing them to work outside of their workflow, taking them out of a process that made sense, that works, and distracts them. So let’s talk about that for a moment. How can we improve on the alignment of processes with technology?
Jeff Davis Well, first off, any time that I would work with a client or talk to anybody about the subject matter, you need to do an audit. And I don’t just mean a sales technology audit or a marketing technology audit. You need to do a revenue technology stack audit first. Because what I find more often than not is, have tools that are you duplicitous, duplicative? We’ll go with one of those words. Where they’re either doing the same thing or they’re counteracting each other, or we already have something for that, but we’re also using that. And then you have separate databases where the data is not the same. And then this is why you know, and you’ve probably heard the QBR Quarterly Business Review. Marketing has one view of the world, and sales has another view of the world because they literally are looking at two different data sets. So we’ve got to start with the audit to figure out what do we currently have? What are the processes in place, and do they work together? And again, you know, this better than I. A lot of these tools are starting to integrate because they’re trying to provide these organizations with a uniform platform to do a lot of these things that were created with separate, separate tools, right? So we start there first. Let’s do the audit. And I guarantee you there is a percentage of things that you have bought, first of all, that you could probably turn off. Second of all that you probably didn’t know you had to be honest with you like, and I’ve seen that we’re like, oh, we have a license? Yeah, you’ve had a license for this for like three years, and you’ve not used it ever, ever. And they’re like, oh, we didn’t know. And so then we can say, ok, now let’s kind of work through the workflow, because that I think is the biggest thing that is causing frustration for front line sellers, front line marketers is that a lot of these decisions, beyond being made in a silo of buying marketing technology, buying sales technology and not realizing that they should be integrated. It takes people out of their workflow. Every time you add on a tool that it’s not aligned with the workflow, it affects sales. I feel like marketers have a little bit more room that we can kind of go back and forth, and it’s a little bit easier. But as a seller, like the volume of stuff, you have to go through, the conversations and then after, if you have to like go to the CRM and then go to this and then record this here and then da, da da da. Your productivity, it’s just terrible. So we got to start with the audit. We got to see where we are; first of all, turn on, turn off, consolidate whatever that looks like, and then be really thoughtful about how this impacts a workflow of your first-line sellers. And is this additive? Is this helping them be more productive, efficient, or is this taking them out of their workflow and actually making things more difficult? And if that is the case, if it’s out of workflow, is it truly providing value? And if it is, then you need to be really, really succinct and clear of, like, how they use this, where it goes. So that they can, they can develop a cadence. Because, you know, I remember when I was in sales when you get in your groove and things are going and you know where things are, like, you can be really, really effective. But when you’re kind of just jumping all over the place, and you’re like, oh, I forgot about this one. And then let me look at this thing, and it’s just it’s a disaster.
Dan Cilley Yeah. I got to agree with you. The audit is essential. We do work with a lot of enterprises, so that audit can be quite impactive. You think about overlapping technology. We have clients that literally have a million dollars in spend annually related to over one hundred apps internally. And they don’t need all of them. They don’t need the vast majority of them. They could save considerable budget, and they could actually spend that budget on other new technologies as well. So, looking at technology as a solution, really, it comes down to that process, right? It comes up to that process improvement, understanding the workflow, and supporting that with technology. You also mentioned
Jeff Davis An what I want to add on to that to, just to your point, because I really think it’s important that we understand what that means, that process should be aligned to the buyer’s journey. And I’m finding that a lot of organizations still do not have a clearly defined buyers journey or if they have a buyers journey, it is one that has been created from just what they think. Like I always ask the question, have you actually validated this and verified this with clients, with customers? Is this what they’re really going through? And do you understand those internal processes? And so once we get that and it’s verified by our customers, then you can start to, to your point, develop these processes that are aligned with that. Because ultimately, the goal is to get them from here to here and become a customer. But we’ve got to do that the way that’s orchestrated seamlessly between marketing and sales and technology, that sort of thing.
Dan Cilley So that’s interesting. That’s an interesting concept. You know, sales is changing in a big way. It’s definitely not productized anymore. And if you are still productized selling, you better stop because the buyers aren’t interested in talking to you about your product. They are interested in your approach, and it needs to be value-focused. And it. So let’s talk about that. And I think that that’s you know, we have to think about how do we come to that understanding? And I think it comes from working backwards, like you said, you know, from the sales rep. What is the sales rep finding through their discussion, their conversations with the prospect, you know, what are they hearing? What does the prospect want to know? What is the prospect looking for? You know? And then we need to communicate that backwards. We need to document that. We need to understand that because we need to truly understand what that value is to the prospect; if we’re going to deliver a solution, we can’t sell a product; we have to sell value. What does that mean to you, Jeff?
Jeff Davis Well, you know, I continually throughout my work, really look at I call them our B2C cousins because the reality of things is that we all know that humans buy from humans, let’s start there. We have this weird thing in B2B where we feel like we are robots or something or just people are going to spend two point five dollars million because you talk about features and benefits and told them, yeah, it’s a logical process, you should just buy it because we’re awesome, like that’s not the case. And the reason I keep my eye on our B2C cousins is because they’re really good at creating a compelling story that calls their customers to action; like in B2B, we have to realize we’re not selling a product. We are selling; we’re really selling against change. We’re selling change because any time somebody is investing this amount of money, you’ve got to convince them that there’s a compelling reason to change. And what I see happen time and time again, both on the marketing and sales side, I would say, I would argue both is that we are positioning ourselves as the rockstar, as the hero of the day to come in and save. And that is not what people want. People want a guide that can help them solve a problem. And the minute you make that mental shift where you’re like, we can empathize with you; we clearly understand what you’re going through. We can articulate that we understand what you’re going through. So they are like, oh, ok, so they get me. We want to help you get from here to here. Those are the companies that are winning. And you see it in our business. You see it in our B2C, you know, marketing and sales. And so that’s why I say I would look at them because a lot of B2B companies are still doing; hi, we’ve been around since nineteen thirty-two. We are the number one this and that, we are awesome, we go back all the way to the Mayflower, and you know what I mean? Like and the buyer is like, so how do you help me? Oh, wait, that page was all about you, nothing about me. And we’re still in that mindset. So we’ve got to start thinking of ourselves as guides, consultants, trusted advisers. However you want to put it up, I call it the guide to get our customers from here to here. But first, we start with helping them understand why they should change.
Dan Cilley Again, this is progressing very well. I really enjoy this podcast so far, and I’d love to dive into a different aspect of this process. And I’d like to get your feedback on it as well. When we think about adoption, we think about onboarding new hires. We think about reps seeing a new piece of technology or a new solution or a new resource as a benefit. How do we get them there? How do we ensure that a rep is going to see a value in a piece of technology, in a process, in a strategy? How do we get there, Jeff?
Jeff Davis I actually love this question because it amazes me how many times people just like yeah, we got this new technology, go with God and figure it out. And then three months later, they’re like, we don’t know why no one’s using it. I’m like, well, you haven’t given them a compelling reason to use it. And unless you force them to, which is the whole like, which doesn’t really work because they’re just doing it because you told me to do it. And then there’s ways to get around that. So you got to start with what is the end result, especially for salespeople? What is the end result? How does this make me more money? How does this give me more sales? Let’s start there because we know salespeople are driven by quota, driven by money. It just is what it is. Once we do help them understand how they put that into their workflow in a seamless way, how does it work? Like actually map that out? Like how do you get from here to here? So if we’re adding in, I don’t know, a sales intelligence tool on the front end, you know, this is going to help you get more insights into your prospects. You’re going to learn about what they like, their personality, whatever, whatever. It seamlessly kind of integrates in your CRM, whatever that looks like, explain them like, oh, so I don’t really have to do anything. I just have to make sure I integrate, and then I need to make sure I look at this before I do this and then also reinforce that. So people that are using it and using it well and are winning bubble those stories up to the top. Hey, you know, Jeff is using our new tool he increased, right?
Dan Cilley Yea, best practices.
Jeff Davis He increased his quota attainment by twenty five percent. Oh, and especially salespeople, if it’s working for him, I got to use it. I got to use it, right? So as those three things of like what is the value? Why should I be using this? What do I get out of this? We too many times in this mindset of like we bought the new XP tool our company is looking forward or forward-thinking, and then you push it on the rep and the reps like, well you bought it for you. But what do I got out of it?
Dan Cilley Exactly, you know, make it about the carrot. It can’t be always about the carrot; you can’t be about a dollar figure bonus or whatever. I totally agree. I know that their reps are motivated, but it’s intrinsic and extrinsic at the end of the day, right? So they have to want to use it, right? They have to see a value. They have to see that it actually progresses opportunities forward, that they’re getting the insights they need. It’s helping their engagement process. So I fully agree with you. And again, at the end of the day, we have to still meet that monetary requirement and motivate our reps because that’s, again, they are sales professionals. We want to motivate them. But on the marketing side, more often than not, they may be, there may be a bonus involved, but more often than not, it is a intrinsic motivation.
Jeff Davis Yeah, and I’m always a big proponent of running pilots. Small pilots, I don’t think they’re used enough, to be honest with you, and obviously, there’s some politics there, especially on the sales side if you’re doing a pilot with a small group. But if you can get a small number of people to sign up for that and actually have real-world data that shows that they were able to increase productivity or became more effective, they become your evangelists throughout the organization to really sell it internally and gain adoption and salespeople listen to other salespeople before they listen to leadership.
Dan Cilley I think that’s where we’ll end it. I think that’s the best recommendation of the day. A proof of concept. A pilot. Absolutely. Why start? Why boil the ocean? I can’t agree more. We do work with that strategy with most of our clients, because the fact is, is that, you know, and the other thing I think we have to think about here is, is that you don’t want to in a proof of concept or a pilot, don’t bring in everybody that’s an early adopter. Don’t bring your top performers. It needs to be a balance.
Jeff Davis Yes.
Dan Cilley Those listening, please take the start. You know, yes, you do need a top performer on that team, but you need the lowest performer on that team as well because you need to understand how that technology is going to impact every person in that role and in your hierarchy because, at the end of the day, they all have to use it. You need to understand how they will use it.
Jeff Davis, And you hit the nail on the head with that one.
Dan Cilley Jeff Davis, thank you so much for taking the time today.
Jeff Davis Absolutely.
Dan Cilley This is going to be a tremendous podcast. Again, everyone, thanks for joining the Vendor. Neutral, Clear View of Sales Podcast in the Vendor Neutral Zone. And Jeff Davis, thanks again for joining us. Have a great day.
Jeff Davis Very appreciate it. Thank you, Dan.
About our Guest:
Jeff Davis Founder of JD2 Consulting is a B2B Growth Strategist: Helping companies design how they sell and market in a digital-first world. With over 15 years of experience in product marketing, business development, and sales roles from Fortune 100 corporations to early-stage startups, He’s had the opportunity to experience best practices and work with top-performing professionals across multiple functions and industries such as tech, healthcare, and manufacturing.
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