“After playing with the client’s accounting software for a fun few hours I managed to get a list of their top 100 accounts by revenue for the last year. Opening this list I thought I’d take a look at how their sales coverage was on account number one. What had they done to sell more to this top account?”
“One thing I found in the CRM system was the name of this account’s head of marketing.”
“So then my habits kicked in. I typed this head of marketing’s name into LinkedIn. But he was hard to find. I typed in his name and the name of this account into LinkedIn’s search function. I did not find him.”
“After a lot more time wading through profiles I finally found him.”
“You may have guessed by now…he was no longer at the company per his LinkedIn profile! He had left a year ago.”
“LinkedIn is one of the most important sales tools available to us, and when you read the book, you’ll find out that people aren’t using it! You know what that is, don’t you? An advantage. A head start. A boost. Who would have thought that this far into its history, LinkedIn would still be underutilized by professionals who have something to gain from it?”
The problem that Edelshain identified in 2012 is still with us halfway through 2013.
I’m not trying to do an advertisement for LinkedIn; I’m wondering why such obviously valuable and useful tools are not being used by the very people they are meant for, and who would presumably be rewarded monetarily for their effective use. Edelshain’s client was doubly guilty – not using LinkedIn and not using their own CRM system to know they needed to use LinkedIn.
And I’m not alone in wondering about this. We also published an article by Dr. Richard Ruff that pointed out “Sales Reps Don’t Use Stuff That Works,” drawing on the work of Accenture in their 2012 Sales Performance Optimization Study. In it, Dr. Ruff stated:
“The bad news is most sales reps don’t use it. The researchers point out – ‘sales representatives are not consistently using their organization’s sales methodology.’ ”
And by methodology, he includes the tools to implement it, such as CRM and social selling.
Enough background – the question is still on the table: why? I don’t know the answer; I’m not a psychologist or researcher or anything else that would qualify me to answer that question. But I do have some opinions. (I know – you’re shocked.)
1. Salespeople are averse to new things? I don’t think so. On the contrary, we seem to generally be early adopters, always looking for an edge.
2. It’s not really selling. This might be getting close to a small reason. Reading about your customer does not have the same impact as communicating with them, influencing them, winning them over.
3. It doesn’t feel like work. This is a corollary to number 2 – surfing the Internet isn’t work.
4. Inadequate training and oversight. I think this might be getting to a big part of the reason, but it’s not all of it.
5. What’s in it for me? Most salespeople are in the right now, not the past or the future. That’s why it’s such a problem getting them into sales cycles early when no decision is going to be made for weeks or months.
If there is no reinforcement for the use of social and computer tools while working through the sales cycle, they’re not going to think about it and therefore not do it.
Quoting Edelshain again:
“I admit I’m a crazy fan boy of Sales 2.0 tools like LinkedIn, Insideview or Jigsaw. But as this story illustrates, these are valuable tools. These tools are massive repositories of information on companies and they are available right from your desktop. They are very low cost or often free. But the information you can get from them could make a huge difference in your commissions.”
“Not using them to cross-check/update account information seems like looking a gift horse in the mouth to me. What do you think?”
What do I think? I think sales managers ought to be putting a priority on the introduction, training, use, and measurement of these tools.