I hear it from all the sales representatives I know. They hate their organization's sales enablement (aka sales engagement) software. All they do is put lots of data into the software and they only get micromanagement from their sales managers in return. It's a real burden. Why should companies keep investing in building data stores instead of real customer relationships? Why are sales and upper management so detached from reality? What's wrong with this picture? There are at least three things really wrong here.
The Illusion of Control:
The Sales Department is one of the most expensive organizations in an organization and it drives bean counters and top management crazy. "This needs to be controlled," they say. By making the sales professional more responsible, they will get better and management will have a better handle on the real situation in the field. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your sales folks are more interested in the relationship with the customer and how their own organization is going to help them close sales. Sales folks will reluctantly fill in your data, but you will not have more control because they put in just enough to appease management. Sales enablement software doesn't help sell, but it can help train green sales folks.
The Illusion of More Data:
There is a falsehood around collecting as much data as possible so that the big picture folks can make better decisions and direct sales. While some subtle data hints and senior experience can help in certain situations, most sales managers use the data against the sales representatives. You're most successful sales representatives do not need to be over-managed with data. Collecting data that would help the sales professionals would be better than collecting data for data's sake. Sales folks put in a lot of data and virtually get nothing back. When will the data be used to help the salesperson close? It's pretty much a one-way street right now.
The Illusion of Understanding Customers:
Managers, equipped with masses of data, think they understand the customer. They like to insert themselves into getting results when the data collected rarely tells the relationship story. Managers would rather listen to the data entered rather than trusting their seasoned sales folks. I hear my sales buddies tell me that they keep telling management what the customer wants and make resonable requests for deaf ears to ignore or reject. When the account is lost, the sale person is rotated elsewhere, at best, and the mangers then come up with the very ideas the sales person was trying to communicate.
Let's leverage the data in sales enablement software to give the front line sales folks an advantage instead of feeding the insecurities of management. The worm has to turn with the advent of smarter sales enablement software that builds trust with sale folks and management. Le'ts stop the illusions, sub-optimizing, and micromanagement and turn the sales data into a useful sales tool for the people that are on our sides and represent our customers to create customer excellence.