Sales Mobility: Best-in-Class Processes Layered With Technology

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By Peter Ostrow | Vice President & Research Group Director, Aberdeen Group

sales mobilityIt’s a given that today’s professional B2B sellers will be carrying smart phones, tablets, and the capability to connect to their corporate data on an increasingly frequent basis. No one doubts that the devices, platforms and mobile apps that support them – and their customers – will continue to evolve, while the amount of down time and un-synced data entry is likely to decrease. But all of this technology is a means to an end, not a goal or aspiration in and of itself.  Rather, Aberdeen’s recent research into sales mobility determined that the top 20% of performers among 250 survey respondents share these average attainments:

  • 109% of overall sales quota achieved by the sales organization during the last completed calendar or fiscal year, compared with 73% among Industry Average firms and 41% within Laggards
  • 8.1% year-over-year increase in lead conversion rate (sales-accepted lead to close); vs. a 2.1% increase for Industry Average firms and 6.1% decrease among Laggards
  • 4.6% average year-over-year improvement in customer renewal rate, vs. a 0.3.% improvement for the Industry Average and a 2.5% decline among Laggard respondents

These Best-in-Class accomplishments are based not only on enhanced Sales Operations investments in mobile enablement for field-based sales and account management personnel, but also on a laser focus on instituting the best processes possible to ensure that the technology investments pay off in spades. Here are four examples:

Remotely view and modify key CRM sales information (accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities, forecast). (74% of Best-in-Class, 51% of all others).

The CRM is the central nervous system of any successful sales organization, and virtually all contemporary business development teams report a significant, if not majority of activity being handled by out-of-office account managers and salespeople. Remarkably, however, only 60% of Industry Average and 37% of Laggard companies allow their front-line team members to see and update the most basic data points around their accounts and deals. It’s little wonder that Best-in-Class sales organizations report a 47% higher average sales forecast accuracy then under-performing firms: too many of their reps are busy closing deals and servicing customers during the day, to have to wait until they are back in an office environment to update their slice of the revenue pie.

Access, perform and modify business tasks (communications, data entry, scheduling, etc.) remotely from the field. (71% vs. 53%)

While it is frankly surprising that any remote salespeople do not have full communications capabilities in hand by now, at least we can note that the top performers are 34% more likely than others to do so. This process capability is absolutely essential considering the elevated amount of team-based selling and multi-person buying activities that we all experience on an everyday basis.

What’s more, the integration of these communications and scheduling needs with customer-centric data in the CRM – including the sales forecast – ensures that “anytime, anywhere, any device” selling is as efficiently supported as possible by the enterprise. After all, what kind of sales rep wants to waste their time communicating remotely with the customer who just declared bankruptcy, but was not aware that their Accounts Payable colleague had just noted this fact in the CRM record?

Remote access to sales quotas, compensation plans, and compensation statements from the field. (58% vs.23%)

Money may be the root of all evil… but it is the fuel for all successful sales activity. While Aberdeen’s Sales Performance Management research confirms the fact that non-financial sales motivators such as incentives and recognition are more aggressively adopted by Best-in-Class companies, let’s face it: variably compensated individuals are going to act, communicate and especially sell with one top priority in mind, and that is their commission/bonus check.

There are plenty of compensation management applications available to enterprises supporting their field sellers with real-time access to their dollar-specific status any time during the selling period. When integrated with the CRM, these tools can also frequently be used to keep remote staff aware of their non-financial accomplishments as well, with web-based or tablet-friendly native apps supporting gamification, team-based accomplishments and other incentive programs. After all, the natural competitiveness of professional sellers is applicable not only to winning in the “I sold more than you did” conversation, but also in the “I won more badges then you” arena.

Link CRM data entry to mobile communications activity (voice, email, text, web). (53% vs. 23%)

Finally, the most efficient sales organizations do not require their staff to conduct sales activities and then re-create history by methodically entering everything into the CRM. More than half of Best-in-Class firms enable their team members with “click-to” functionality that launches messaging or calling directly from the CRM, in a mobile environment as well as in the office.

Even better, they automatically capture details such as call time, email opens, number of voice messages left, etc. in the CRM, so that sales leaders monitoring reps’ activities can understand when remote sellers are performing their jobs appropriately.  After all, we want these folks to link all sales activities and results…not hitting the links.

About Peter Ostrow

Peter Ostrow is the Vice President & Research Group Director for the Customer Management research practice, and Principal Analyst, Sales Effectiveness, at the Aberdeen Group, a leading provider of fact-based research focused on the global technology-driven value chain. 

At Aberdeen, Peter oversees research consumed by end-users in Marketing, Sales, Service Management and Contact Center leadership roles.  He also leads the Sales Effectiveness practice, covering the technology, service and consulting enablers that enterprise sales forces deploy to become best-in-class organizations.  His research is widely publicized and covers topics such as sales training, sales intelligence, CRM/SFA, sales performance management and integrating technologies around customer acquisition and retention.

Connect with Peter online at LinkedIn and Twitter.

This post is from the SAP Mobility iGuide The 21st Century Sales Warrior’s Guide to Mobility.


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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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Why New Technology Has An Adoption Problem

Danielle Beurteaux

When 3D printing became a practical reality, in the sense that the actual printers became more efficient, less expensive, and more accessible to the average consumer, there was an assumption that the consumer 3D printing market was going to take off. We’d all have printers at home printing…. what? Our clothes? Toys? Spare organs?

That has yet to happen. 3D printing company MakerBot just went through its second employee layoff this year, driven by a market that’s developing much slower than predicted.

That same thinking is in play with a somewhat more prosaic technology – digital wallets. Apple Pay was released this year, as was Samsung Pay. There’s also Google’s Android Pay. During an earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “We are more confident than ever that 2015 will be the year of Apple Pay.” But that expectation has yet to be realized, at least vis-à-vis consumers.

Consumers aren’t using any of the digital wallets en masse. According to Bloomberg, payments made via mobile wallets – all of them – make up a mere 1% of retail purchases in the U.S. The reason is that consumers just don’t see a compelling reason to use them. There’s no real reward for them to change from SOP.

Both these instances highlight a problem with assumptions about mass adoption for new technology – just because it’s cool, interesting, and accessible doesn’t mean a market-worthy mass of people will use it.

Who is more likely to use mobile wallets? Emerging economies without a stable financial and banking systems. In those environments, digital payments present a more secure and quicker method for purchasing. These are the same areas where mobile adoption leapfrogged older technologies because there was a lack of telecommunications infrastructure, i.e. many never had a landline phone to begin with, and they went directly to mobile. The value-add already exists. (But there are also security issues, to which consumers are becoming more sensitive. A hack of Samsung’s U.S. subsidiary LoopPay network was uncovered five months post-hack. Although one was expert quoted as saying the hackers may not have been interested in selling consumer financial info but instead in tracking individuals.)

Here’s some interesting data and a good point made: mobile payments are most popular in situations where the buyer already has his or her phone in hand and the transaction is made even quicker than swiping plastic. For example, purchases made for London Transit rides are responsible for a good portion of the U.K.’s mobile payments.

Mass technology adoption is no longer driven simply by the release of a new product. There are too many products released constantly now, the market is too diverse, and the products often lack a true raison d’être.

Learn more about how creative and innovative companies are finding their customers. Read Compelling Shopping Moments: 4 Creative Ways Stores Connect With Their Customers.


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Create A Culture That Doesn’t Fear Failure

JP George

A fear of failure could be holding back your business.

If the people on your team are worrying about being ridiculed or blamed for independent creativity or the downfall of an entire project, they are likely to hold back their ideas and stick to completing projects in the same way over and over again. In comparison, people who work in an office culture with no fear of failure feel free to bounce ideas around, which helps generate new practices, keep up with the times, push projects along, and can “wow” customers with innovation.

Changing the way your office works won’t happen overnight, but these five tips could begin to implement positive changes to help steer your team toward a working environment that is good for the staff and good for the business.

1. Recognize and reward

Employee recognition is the key to not fearing failure. When an employee or team member goes above and beyond; make sure they know that their hard work is appreciated and that an efficient system for providing employee recognition awards is in place. Even small things like suggesting a new way to carry out a particular process should be celebrated. If an employee, colleague, or team member has a suggestion that isn’t quite on-point, find the positive; for example, you might say, “You’re on the right lines, your idea will help speed the process up, but…” Always make sure to offer positive feedback first, then mention the thing that needs changing, and end with encouragement: “Once that’s ironed out, we can implement this — great work!”

2. Adopt a team mentality

Seems straightforward and fairly obvious for a first step, but so many companies do not know how to really generate a feeling of teamwork and inclusivity, and instead put up a front of “togetherness” while retaining the bad practices that divide a workforce. Start by calling a team meeting and setting some ground rules together. Yes, it’s a basic ice-breaking activity in almost all training sessions, but it also helps each person to display respect and hear the opinions of other members of the group. Suggest from the start that the team use “we” rather than individual pronouns when discussing projects, as it helps to dispel blame culture and reminds each person that they are all responsible for any successes and downfalls of the team.

3. Say “yes” more

When staff members and colleagues approach you with ideas and innovation, are you more likely to think “straying from the status quo is dangerous,” or are you willing to hear the person out and let their creative juices flow? Even if the first suggestion they offer is horrible, try not to say “no” outright or make the person feel bad for sharing. Try to find a way in which their idea can be incorporated, even if it has to be altered to fit the project. Saying “yes” to the inspiration and thoughts generated by staff and colleagues means that they will be likely to offer more ideas in the future, and without that openness, you might miss the next great innovation in your industry.

4. Blame less

Similarly, try to incorporate policies that encourage employee recognition rather than shame for sharing concepts. If failure does occur, do not publicly belittle the person deemed responsible, even in jest. This creates tension within the office or team and can make the person receiving the blame less likely to contribute in the future, and may even affect their personal well-being. Instead of blaming and shaming, discuss what went wrong as a group, and try to enforce the group mentality of “we could have done…” rather than “I/they/she/he did…”

5. Look for the positives

If, for any reason, your team does experience failure—and you should, otherwise you’re just not aiming high enough—try to see the positives, and discuss the issue as a group — not in cliques of us vs. them, but together discuss what the group could have done better. If a majority insist on blaming one or two people, move onto analyzing how communication channels could be opened up and ask members how inclusivity could be improved. After all, if only a few people are responsible for a project failing, the responsibility was obviously not being shared in an equal manner while the project was underway. There are positives to every situation, even if it is just the ability to improve your team dynamic.

The changes won’t happen immediately, but once the systems are in place and your staff, colleagues, and team members start to understand the goals within both the office and working environment as a whole, your employees’ creativity should start flowing and you will start hearing new suggestions regularly. Even if some don’t work well, remember to recognize employees and enjoy the rewards of your newly open and trusting workforce.

Want more employee engagement tips? See Boost Productivity With These 4 Brain Breaks.


About JP George

JP George grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master's degree in Public Relations, JP has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.

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