Putting actionable, data-driven insights directly into the hands of sales reps not only improves adoption rates for new data analytics tools but, as RTInsights contributor Rick Chappel explains, it also enhances decision making and improves companies’ bottom lines.
The biggest concern for companies embarking on a new data analytics tool is often the change management and adoption challenge. Specifically, how to get sales reps to adopt the real-time insights provided by the tool to inform their decision making, as success ultimately hinges on their decisions at the point of sale.
Companies must learn how to think differently about the best way to engage sales teams and ensure the new application becomes the new normal. There are a few best practices companies should consider to successfully gain sales rep adoption.
Ensure the Tool Provides Actionable Insights
Before attempting to gain sales rep adoption, it’s critical for companies to ensure the analytics tool can provide actionable insights. Predictive analytics enable companies to glean insights from their data about what is likely to happen but, as decision complexity in the sales environment increases, business leaders need to provide their sales teams with tactics that are most likely to improve their effectiveness in quoting more profitable prices, and growing and retaining existing customers.
Analytics solutions need to go one step further and provide prescriptive guidance, answering the question “what should we do?” Prescriptive guidance can provide answers to everyday sales decisions such as which customers to call, what products to pitch and what prices to quote. Implementing a prescriptive analytics tool is the first step to getting sales reps on board.
Answer Sales Rep’s Question, “What’s in It for Me?”
During the implementation process, create a committee of stakeholders, including sales reps, to help the sales team understand how this prescriptive application can benefit them. Having an honest, free-form conversation with sales reps about why the new solution is needed will help alleviate any trust issues and increase use of the prescriptive guidance.
It’s important to make the language so concise that all levels of an organization can clearly communicate the impact. Ultimately, the goal should be for all sales reps to clearly articulate the benefits so they understand “what’s in it for me.”
Collecting inputs and concerns from sales reps, categorizing them and addressing each concern can also help prepare for unexpected hurdles during the broader rollout of the prescriptive selling application.
Demonstrate Strong Executive Support
Gaining support from executives within the company is imperative to successful adoption. Clear communication of how the new solution addresses key business problems and aligns to the larger business strategy will ensure greater sales rep participation and support. It helps to create a plan for deployment and continuously update managers and executives on metrics and measurements as they are available. Strong support from executives on the new prescriptive application will give sales reps the confidence they need to continue using the solution, especially if they understand how it’s benefiting the company and leading to financial improvements.
The adoption process is a ripple effect. If each tier of the organization hears enthusiasm for the initiative, this will carry to front-line sales reps. In any significant change, affected employees need to see both leadership support and enthusiasm from their immediate supervisor, if they are going to respond and model the desired behaviors.
Use a Closed-Loop System
It’s important to remember that sales rep adoption of any new analytics tool is an ongoing process. Ensure that all training and communications plans include ample time for re-grouping and reinforcing to keep sales reps on track and up to date on the progress.
In addition to setting regular meetings with sales reps during the roll-out, schedule short and frequent follow-up sessions to share success stories to help continue the adoption momentum. Additionally, encourage sales reps to share their own success stories and best practices with their peers to further showcase the value of the prescriptive guidance and its ease of use.
Make the Prescriptive Sales Guidance Easily Accessible
When possible, it’s most effective to deliver the prescriptive guidance through the same tools and systems that sales teams are already familiar with, whether that’s via email, web, a mobile application or an existing CRM system. This approach will dramatically reduce the need for extensive process re-engineering or IT infrastructure changes.
Ultimately, putting actionable, data-driven insights directly into the hands of sales reps not only improves adoption rates, it also proves to enhance decision making and improve companies’ top and bottom line.
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