Getting the average sales rep to use technology tools can sometimes be an uphill battle -- unless you’re talking about email.
When they’re not sitting in front of customers or talking to them on the phone, chances are members of the sales team are practically living in their inboxes. This the place, after all, where information about leads may wind up, or where they’re getting industry news, competitive intelligence or other data that brings them closer to a sale.
For those managing sales teams, though, that inbox addiction can be a bit of a problem. Even if your job is all about coaching reps for better performance, a lot of what they’re doing over the course of the day may be largely invisible, unless you actually stand over their shoulder and look at the email messages they’re receiving and sending.
As with any valuable source of data, the potential of an individual rep’s inbox will always be limited if it remains in a silo. Connecting data from email into CRM tools such as Sales Cloud, for instance, will not only bring greater visibility into a rep’s performance but will offer opportunities to bring insights to the rest of the team.
More than likely, a lot of sales coaching sessions involve conversations about what’s going on with specific customers and prospects, and that’s totally okay. If you’re managing someone who seems to be hitting a wall in terms of productivity or closed deals, though, it might be worth exploring what’s happening on a day-to-day basis with email. Try a few of these questions out to see where help is needed -- and will be appreciated:
We tend to think of open rates and click-through rates (CTR) in the context of a mass audience, where we want to understand why certain email messages are driving results among our customers or not. When you take this down to an individual level, however, you’ll get a better sense of how a rep is prioritizing and what may be distracting them.
Any good sales pro will almost immediately open and respond to a message from their customers, for instance, but what about all the other items coming in their inbox? How often are they looking at materials the marketing team has been offering for sales enablement purposes, or even to contribute feedback and insight into more demand-generating kinds of tactics? What newsletters and articles are giving them more ammunition about their target market and clientele -- could they get just as much or more by looking at the CRM in some cases?
What you’re ultimately looking for here -- and the rep won’t necessarily be able to tell you this directly -- is how much of their inbox activity is driving the business forward in some way.
Novice reps may be tempted to answer this one by quoting an impressively high number, but that’s not what a manager should want to hear.
When you’re constantly prospecting, you’re inevitably spending less time nurturing leads into strong opportunities and adding them to your CRM. In fact, a follow-up to this question might be to estimate how many of their email conversations relate to lead or contact within Sales Cloud. If they’re waiting until opportunities are iron-clad before they use CRM, it will be impossible to assess the overall health of the team’s pipeline, let alone learn from leads that wind up as a dead-end.
Here’s another question to follow up:
Buying teams are getting bigger than ever, and so it’s not uncommon for reps to be handed off from one person or another as they try to chase an opportunity. It’s probably pretty frustrating, but it also reinforces the need to use CRM and other tools as strategically as possible to get better results faster.
Let’s say the rep wants to get a buying decision from someone in a finance department. They may need to go all the way up to the CFO, who needs to cross-check things with the IT department, an HR staff person and so on. Some of those people might be “CC’d” on an email trail; in other cases, it’s a series of digital conversations a rep is juggling at once.
CRM data can show how these kinds of buying decisions tend to get made and accelerate the process of pitching and following up. If it’s all happening within one person’s inbox, however, it might as well be a black box from a management perspective.
This will seem like an easy one for reps to answer. “Oh, I’m on email all day long,” they might respond. Dig deeper, though.
You may discover that reps are following up on new leads first thing in the morning, for instance, when they can send out a bunch of similar overtures at the same time. They may be in “nurture phase” in the afternoon or even evening, when leads get back with questions or requests for additional details. In the meantime there might be big gaps while reps are on the road, in meetings or events.
As a manager, you want to help encourage habits that let sales team members make the most of mobile technologies. It’s usually pretty easy to access your inbox remotely, of course, but reps may not realize how tools like CRM have evolved to a point where it’s just as easy to manage from a smartphone as it is to scroll through a list of email messages.
Good email habits alone won’t make a great sales rep, of course. Given its prominence as a tool, though, it’s critical that managers get a good sense of how it’s being used -- and how it relates to their use of CRM. That’s a guaranteed way to get even more out of technology like Sales Cloud.