Sales Force Automation Diagnostic Question #3 You Can Lead a Bear to Blueberries…

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I was interviewing a sales candidate the other day, and I asked him to give me an example of how he’d used sales automation to achieve his sales goals.  He replied, “Oh I’m too busy to use it; and my manager doesn’t care, so long as I’m on forecast.”   I followed with, “How are doing against this year’s forecast?”  “A little behind, but I’m optimistic,” was the reply.  Then he added, “I just wish I didn’t have to do all the sales reports, it’s a real time sink.”  I was transported back to the early ‘90s.

The third Sales Force Automation Diagnostic Question is, “Do you have a usage policy?”

You can lead a sales person to a SFA system, but you can’t make them use it.  Or can you?  Poor training, poor data entry and perceived time sinks all contribute to lack of usage.  But SFA is a chicken and egg scenario.  The more it’s used, the more valuable it is–both to the user and to management.

If you’re considering a usage policy, it is best to apply the carrot and stick approach.  Start with the stick.  You’ve invested lots of money in a sales process and SFA.  Given your economic investment, why would its use be optional?  It shouldn’t be.  Secondly, on the carrot side, if the system doesn’t provide any real value to the sales person, they won’t use it. (I’ll cover this in diagnostic question # 6.)  It is part of management’s job to be an advocate for the sales person.  One way to do this is use the system yourself.  Lead by example.

The questions to ask around usage policies are:

  1. Do you have usage policies in place?
  2. Are they mandatory?
  3. Are there specific usage policies for different disciplines (i.e. sales versus order processing)?

It’s been my observation that the most effective sales people figure out how to use resources to their maximum effectiveness. Sales Force Automation is no exception. 

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