March 18, 2014

Three Requirements for Apps Designed to Increase Sales Productivity

Kurt Leafstrand

Kurt Leafstrand

Kurt Leafstrand
Kurt Leafstrand

VP Products, Clari

Three Reqs 690x300

When you’ve been in enterprise software awhile, you realize one of its great paradoxes: most often, the more detailed and complex a solution is, the harder it is to get value from it. Recently, a sales ops professional at a startup told me he’s constantly rolling out new apps to increase sales productivity, “but two out of three just wind up not being used after the first few days.” The beauty of the ongoing mobile revolution is that it is forcing us to look at how we can simplify some of the most critical enterprise apps — including CRM — and focus on what can truly “move the needle” and drive better business performance.

CRM systems were designed to improve the entire sales processes. But they’ve gotten overly complex and management is still the primary user, so most sales reps consider them a hassle. That’s why every new program sales ops rolls out has to deliver value to reps on day one — even if it’s ultimately going to support management’s goals.

As a product manager, I think about that value in terms of “sales requirements.”
The first is understanding a day in the life of a sales rep. Can you remember the last time you were with a rep who didn’t check his or her phone on a continual basis? I can’t. That powerful mobile tool in a rep’s hand is a portal into her or her brain. However, to succeed, apps need to understand the ebb and flow of a rep’s day and be in tune with the things that are most important to them, whether it’s an upcoming meeting or a deal that needs particular focus/attention. Only then can you get key insights from the rep’s activities into your CRM system.

The second requirement is finding the best way to give reps what they need (and only what they need). This comes back to making the CRM system easier to use, which means knowing the minimum amount of information that’s really, truly relevant to help close a deal. With the right information at their fingertips, sales reps can better plan for the next opportunity and managers can better plan for the next forecast.

The third requirement is giving reps and managers an immediate way to take action. Reps need to remember details, and the easier it is for them to capture each nugget in context, the more insight everyone — sales reps, sales ops, and management — has in one place. Similar to how Google Now delivers contextual information for consumers, accurate deal context means reps get key information exactly when they need it, and managers know in real-time when opportunities need help or deals are stalled.

Whether you deliver these critical capabilities using mobile enterprise appsGoogle docs, or other modern cloud-based task systems, you’re on your way to improving coordination among teams and moving the needle on sales productivity. And isn’t that what your business wants from every solution sales ops rolls out?

When you’ve been in enterprise software awhile, you realize one of its great paradoxes: most often, the more detailed and complex a solution is, the harder it is to get value from it. Recently, a sales ops professional at a startup told me he’s constantly rolling out new apps to increase sales productivity, “but two out of three just wind up not being used after the first few days.” The beauty of the ongoing mobile revolution is that it is forcing us to look at how we can simplify some of the most critical enterprise apps — including CRM — and focus on what can truly “move the needle” and drive better business performance.

CRM systems were designed to improve the entire sales processes. But they’ve gotten overly complex and management is still the primary user, so most sales reps consider them a hassle. That’s why every new program sales ops rolls out has to deliver value to reps on day one — even if it’s ultimately going to support management’s goals.

As a product manager, I think about that value in terms of “sales requirements.”
The first is understanding a day in the life of a sales rep. Can you remember the last time you were with a rep who didn’t check his or her phone on a continual basis? I can’t. That powerful mobile tool in a rep’s hand is a portal into her or her brain. However, to succeed, apps need to understand the ebb and flow of a rep’s day and be in tune with the things that are most important to them, whether it’s an upcoming meeting or a deal that needs particular focus/attention. Only then can you get key insights from the rep’s activities into your CRM system.

The second requirement is finding the best way to give reps what they need (and only what they need). This comes back to making the CRM system easier to use, which means knowing the minimum amount of information that’s really, truly relevant to help close a deal. With the right information at their fingertips, sales reps can better plan for the next opportunity and managers can better plan for the next forecast.

The third requirement is giving reps and managers an immediate way to take action. Reps need to remember details, and the easier it is for them to capture each nugget in context, the more insight everyone — sales reps, sales ops, and management — has in one place. Similar to how Google Now delivers contextual information for consumers, accurate deal context means reps get key information exactly when they need it, and managers know in real-time when opportunities need help or deals are stalled.

Whether you deliver these critical capabilities using mobile enterprise appsGoogle docs, or other modern cloud-based task systems, you’re on your way to improving coordination among teams and moving the needle on sales productivity. And isn’t that what your business wants from every solution sales ops rolls out?

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