Growth leaders are improving sales performance by actively “knitting together” the various pieces of their technology portfolios to build digital selling platforms that automate, simplify, and speed up selling by addressing the major hot spots in the selling process.

This may sound complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. When it comes to technology people tend to over think things. In reality, knitting together a highly profitable and productive portfolio of selling technologies is not rocket science. But it does require hard work, teamwork, and leadership. But there’s definitely a cookbook – and the recipe for success is pretty straightforward.

The trick is to apply the “80/20 rule” and not let perfect get in the way of profitable. Most B2B sales teams struggle with the same fundamental things. Research with sales operations executives consistently identify the same five or six problems or “hot spots” in the sales process that hold salespeople back:

  1. Finding the right product, solution, and selling content to meet customer expectations.
  2. Quick and easy access to competitive information and customer references to support the deal. Less than half (47%) of reps say they have access to competitive intelligence solutions.18
  3. Getting help finding and preparing proposals, pricing, and RFPs.
  4. Delivering training and readiness resources when then need it in the context of the selling situation.
  5. Reducing the time required to prepare for sales calls with guidance and opportunity prioritization.
  6. Simplifying, automating, and streamlining the top drivers of CRM adoption identified by sales leaders in an SMA survey. These include: improving ease of use (95%), ease of data input (93%), assistance in pipeline management (93%), and establishing CRM as the single source of sales information (93%).2 

The sales operations team at Hitachi Vantara focused their efforts on connecting these six dots into a Digital Selling Platform. When they pulled all these pieces together, and aligned them to address these six “hot spots” in the selling process, they were recognized as the “Sales Operations Program of the Year” by Forrester/Sirius Decisions.

It’s not easy to connect these dots and create results. Just straightforward. The hardest part of stitching together the different pieces of the sales portfolio to create a sales experience that delivers the right tools, information, and resources at the right time are: a) leadership, b) change management, and c) taking a team approach to tailoring it to your process.  There are five keys to connecting the dots across the growth technology portfolio to build a Digital Selling Platform that creates value:

  1. Take a top-down approach to technology: Sales leadership needs to agree to take a “top down” approach to evaluating the entire sales and marketing technology portfolio with value creation and capture in mind. This does not require a “czar” with a fancy title. Rather an individual or team tasked with determining how all the pieces in the sales technology portfolio play together to create firm financial value.
  2. Identify the key points of leverage and failure in your sales process:  Conducting a sales activity analysis – a qualitative and quantitative survey of the entire revenue team – is a smart way to identify the top five to six “hot spots” in your sales process that take up salesperson time and gate revenue growth to focus our efforts.
  3. Rationalize and focus the technology portfolio: Sales Operations, Sales Enablement, and Content Operations teams need to work together to conduct a technology stack assessment and rationalization analysis. The goal of this analysi should be to focus your sales technology portfolio on the places you need to better leverage, automate, enable and support these specific hot spots. This analysis will identify many disconnected or duplicate capabilities, and technologies that are not supporting sales because they are either not being used or are not useful.
  4. Fill critical gaps with best in class tools:  Conduct a gap analysis to prioritize capabilities and tools that need to be upgraded to fill in the areas your technology is not effectively supporting the key sales hot spots. For example, adding sales engagement tools to your roadmap can provide better opportunity prioritization and guided selling to salespeople because pre-call planning takes up so much of their time.
  5. Leverage digital adoption solutions to multiply utilization. You can measure and grow user adoption by connecting all the critical tools and capabilities to a digital adoption software package that makes it easy and fast to discover and use all the tools available to them. This is a simple and highly profitable exercise. Many organizations report having “pockets of adoption” across the revenue team, but no single sales rep or manager is aware of all of the tools available to them.  From a busines case perspective, a little adoption goes a long way when it comes to leveraging selling tools and resources.  A two-fold increase in adoption will yield a five to ten-fold return on existing technology, content, and data assets.

The elegance of assembling a Digital Selling Platform is that it provides sales operations executives a rare “win-win-win” initiative that is popular with the sales force, politically practical, and financially sound.  Specifically, assembling the various non-performing pieces of the sales technology stack into a Digital Selling Platform will deliver four benefits:

  1. Quick wins in terms of advocacy from the sales team and success stories.
  2. High returns on investment because a small increase in adoption will yield a large return on growth assets.
  3. Strategically the platform addresses digital buying behavior and the increased cadence of virtual selling by enabling virtual, remote selling and “new school” digital selling channels.
  4. And politically the program improves the impact and effectiveness of expensive legacy CRM infrastructure and reinforces its role as the system of record and single source of truth driving the sales process.

You can learn more about assembling a digital selling platform, and ways your organization can accelerate growth and transform selling by reading the entire the 21st Century Commercial Model study.