The most powerful tool a sales manager can have is data, but it is often their biggest liability.
Quality sales data allows managers to accurately predict, forecast, and develop sales strategies to ensure reps are successful and meet their goals. The problem is the information is often not trustworthy because salespeople do not have the time for manual data entry. Salesforce offers the potential to collect and store an immense amount of sales data. Reps can capture literally millions of records that contain every minute detail of a prospect’s situation, needs, and interactions.
Ideally, sales teams would leverage this information to provide reps with contextual information surrounding a prospect’s interests, content interactions, and previous conversations to maximize sales effectiveness and drive revenue. While access to this information will increase a sales team’s success, it is only truly impactful if that data is timely, accurate, and easily accessible. Often sales managers deal with complaints from their team that old data is contaminating their CRM, or keeping it updated is too much effort.
The ability to store any and all information seems like a blessing, but turns into a curse when there is a mismatch between what companies ask for and what reps have time to enter. More often than not, companies will “overeat” and collect as much data as possible just because they can. This creates a challenge for sales reps, who must perform repetitive manual tasks as they record notes, outcomes, and tasks after each and every call, text, or email.
In common scenarios, this decimates productivity and frustrates the top-performing reps, who often begin to take shortcuts or record incomplete information in an effort to regain traction and meet goals. Sales quotas will always take priority over data entry. Commission doesn’t pay for complete lead records. Over time, this naturally leads to a decrease in overall data quality and accuracy, as sales managers begrudgingly accept lower data standards, and reps take advantage of it. If the top-performing sales reps are the most resistant to CRM data entry, it can set a dynamic where the sales manager will not address the issue directly for fear that the rep will leave for a company that makes them do less data entry. This puts the manager in an awkward spot, as it has been found that inaccurate and incomplete data can lead to a 20% decrease in productivity, with companies losing 12% of their revenue due to poor data.
Bad data quality will have a negative effect on overall Salesforce adoption. Salespeople will use Salesforce to look up contact information, but when they fail to properly record or utilize data, it effectively turns the CRM into an expensive digital rolodex. I’ve personally seen sales reps who prefer recording call notes and follow-up tasks on Post-It notes rather than in Salesforce, only to lose the note and the valuable information on it within a few days.
Thus begins a vicious cycle in which reps are forced to record data, but managers cannot properly leverage it because it is incomprehensible and inaccurate. This will eventually cause a breakdown in sales effectiveness and result in a failure to meet goals in a timely manner.
The solution lies in automation. Salesforce understands that its CRM is vast and provides help in the form of a third-party marketplace, the AppExchange. Salesforce’s AppExchange is home to over 3,000 applications that customers can use to perfect Salesforce for their needs. In order to alleviate your reps from time-consuming, repetitive processes, and improve overall data quality, you can invest in applications to automate data collection.
Just implementing any tool found on the AppExchange is not the complete answer. In order to ensure your automated data collection tool (or any other Salesforce application) will help your business meet its goals, consider the following questions:
What is your criteria for your automation solution?
Many applications simply miss their intended mark. It’s important that organizations are wary of the needs of their salespeople, and listen to the feedback of the reps who use the applications every day to ensure they will help, not hinder them. To find if reps currently have the best solution, see if:
Is the solution implemented correctly?
How a solution is implemented has a direct impact on user adoption and overall success. Reps must have strict guidelines around usage and workflow, as well as proper training and onboarding with a new tool. Show reps how you expect them to use it and why it will improve their daily work.
Is the application compatible with the other solutions in your sales stack?
While a tool may seem excellent on its own, once implemented, it may disrupt the functionality or workflow surrounding an existing application within your sales stack. It may prove difficult to have multiple applications from different vendors work harmoniously with each other. Different tools may require custom work in order to work together seamlessly.
To effectively solve the Salesforce user adoption challenge, you need to find and implement a sales tool that is capable of seamlessly integrating with your current sales stack that will alleviate your manual data entry and streamline their workflows. The collection of quality data will not be an issue if the process does not require extra effort from reps.
In order to further drive adoption of Salesforce, create a sales culture in which the proper usage of data is encouraged. Conduct trainings or coaching sessions centered around how to leverage data within the sales process and show reps how the use of contextual information increases their sales performance. Furthermore, invest in sales tools that allow reps to use data, such as dialers that provide context surrounding contacts as they are called.
This will simultaneously increase productivity and data quality, which increases overall sales effectiveness. Reps will begin to meet or exceed their quota and generate more revenue. Dialers such as the Intelligent Dialer not only automatically records all activities to Salesforce, but they automate repetitive tasks so reps can spend more time selling and generate more revenue.
Zack is a Sales Content Specialist at RingDNA. He is passionate about solving everyday problems and increasing performance through innovative technology. Zack has worked directly with sales teams and understands the challenges they face on a daily basis. When he's not developing and sharing knowledge at RingDNA, he loves being outdoors, hiking, and coffee.