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Drive Sales Enablement In Your Business by Leveraging the Cloud

Sales.Enablement
It’s not news that the environment in which your sales team operates is changing dramatically. According to Gartner, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human; that means your sales team will need to be more efficient with their prospects and be empowered to deliver the right information at the right time.

And they’re not the only ones dealing with changes. CFOs are no longer dealing only with financial reporting, compliance and cost control. According to a recent study by BI company, Adaptive Insights, “By driving a culture of agile, data-driven decision making throughout a company, CFOs can help create a significant competitive advantage.” CFOs are more plugged into data than ever, and that is pushing entire organizations to adopt technologies and practices that support this.

Sales teams and their support systems are no different. With all the changes empowered customers are presenting sales teams, it’s more important than ever to know what tools and techniques will really work to help your sales team operate more productively, spending less time on non-productive administrative functions, and more time with delivering value and closing deals.

Sales Enablement

A key focus of discussion in how mid-sized businesses are addressing this change has been sales enablement. It’s widely agreed that sales enablement is constantly evolving, and there’s been plenty written about it to-date with multiple interpretations and definitions of just what it means to organizations. We prefer the definition that spun out of IDC a few years back:

Sales enablement is “getting the right information into the hands of the right sellers at the right time and place, and in the right format, to move a sales opportunity forward.”

So let’s break down sales enablement into its individual components, and see how your sales team might address each aspect by leveraging cloud-based technologies to make them faster, more efficient, and more responsive to your existing—and future—clients’ needs.

Getting the right information…

How often has your salesperson been sitting down with a prospect, and they’ve had to respond to a request with the words, “I don’t have that, but I can get it to you when I get back to my (room, office, house)”? Often, sales people don’t have exactly what they need right when they need it. Perhaps it’s a PDF of a sell sheet they forgot at the last minute. Maybe it’s the contract is MS Word format, and they can’t edit it in the moment. Or, it could be a performance report showing how much more competitive your solution will help your prospect become. Depending on who you talk to, approximately 40% of sales go to the company that responds to your prospect first.

Imagine empowering your sales teams to get the right information in the hands of their prospect—right when they need it.

No need to return to the office and email a document. No need to leave, make a change to a contract, and delay signing (or worse) losing momentum. Better yet—being able to access proprietary and competitive information in the moment it’s needed to close the sale. Having your sales team plugged into and empowered by the cloud can really help them get the right information to those who need it.  

To the right sellers…

Who’s to say that your salesperson is the one that’s going to move the next big deal through the next phase of the pipeline? A seller might be a customer service rep who’s helping your existing customer with an issue and has an opportunity to upsell them on your services. Anyone in your organization has an opportunity—given the chance—to sell to new and existing accounts.

In this scenario, having your data and collaboration tools in the cloud allows for a few things:

  1. Real-time communication. With cloud-based tools and apps, if a customer service rep is on the phone with a customer, they can instant message another employee to help solve a problem or meet a need.Or, imagine for a moment that you’re closing a deal without an engineer on hand to answer a critical question. With cloud-based communication, on-demand video conferencing brings the engineer into your meeting.
  2. Real-time collaboration. With the ability to upload, store, and access documents in the cloud, multiple users in different locations (or even right next to each other) can now comment and update documents in real time. The ability for a salesperson to update a proposal during a meeting, while project teams are on-hand to review, is a true game changer for many organizations.
  3. Assisted information and context. Cloud-based solutions allow you to bring all your tools and data together in one place. For example, in a properly implemented Google Apps or Office 365 cloud solution, you’re able to do a number of things that aren’t possible with on premise solutions:
    1. With email, you can see your current chain, as well as other recent conversations with that person.
    2. When you’re searching for material and information on a particular topic (for example, a client or engagement), you’re able to search emails AND documents stored online.
    3. With cloud integration, you can view social and business content alongside the email you are responding to or the voicemail transcript you are reading, providing context to conversations.

All of these combine to empower sales teams and other employees when they’re in a position of adding value to prospects and existing accounts.

At the right time…

It’s 8:00 AM in Boston, and your top sales team is getting ready to deliver that huge financial pitch over breakfast in the CEO’s conference room. Based on a late night email from the prospective customer, they realize that they need information from another presentation — but it’s 5:00 AM in your Los Angeles office and no one’s home. Fortunately, with the cloud, your team can remotely and securely access your file services, update the document, and be ready to go without batting an eyelash.

And place…

VPN has long been the go to for providing employees remote access to company assets. Everyone has a story about trying to work remotely and having to deal with VPN issues. These go away almost entirely when dealing with the cloud.

In the right format…

We’re all pretty familiar with having our email and calendars on our phones now. But today, we have full editing suites that include document editing, presentation development, and spreadsheet tools available on mobile phones and tablets. The ability to work directly in the environment, with the necessary tools, in the application preferred by a prospect, is invaluable to a sales person. No more looking at a printed page or pdf on your phone and waiting until you get back to the office to make changes. With the cloud, you make critical changes right on the spot.

To move the opportunity forward

If your sales team isn’t focusing on moving opportunities to the next stage (closing), then they aren’t being productive. Research by Innoppl Technologies shows that 65% of sales reps who have adopted mobile CRM (cloud-based) have achieved their sales quotas, while only 22% of reps using non-mobile CRM have reached the same targets.

What are key components of the cloud that drive enablement?

Three of the ways that the cloud can enable your sales team:

  • Assistive Information: the ability for your salespeople to access related information and context, in real time, while on the phone or responding to emails.
  • Mobility: true integration of mobile and remote users into your environment (or, no more VPN!).
  • Personal Communication Modes: We operate in a time when 3 or 4 generations of people work on the same team. Preferred communication methods vary wildly. Cloud-based communications help bridge the gap between those that prefer face-to-face meetings, phone calls, emails, and texts.

One final bonus

Once you’re in the cloud, the cost of making incremental improvements goes down. There’s no need to invest in expensive software to see if it works with your sales team. You can begin implementing trial versions and adding incremental features to see what sticks and what adds value to your business.

Do you have a sales team that is mobile, but struggling to respond quickly to prospect demands because they’re ultimately tethered to a desk? What opportunities do you see in your organization for mobile solutions? Think it might be time to switch?

If you are not sure, take our Quick Cloud Readiness Assessment.  It’s only 10 questions and will tell you in less than five minutes whether your organization is ready for the change.


 

Working the Way You Live

Our own Bill Seybolt was featured on the Main Stage at the Launch Out 2015 conference in Nashville, TN. View his entertaining take on working remotely, below.

 


Interested in working remotely or on the go? Contact us about the tools that make it easy.

7 Tenets of Remote User Support

support-lifering
As our workforce and working style continues to be more mobile, more small and mid-size businesses are facing the challenge of supporting remote offices and mobile users. These remote workers may be flying solo in home offices, co-working spaces, or shared office suites, or may be part of larger remote site.

While the adoption of cloud solutions can simplify remote user support, these 7 tenets can save you time, money, and aggravation.

  1. Security
    Beyond strong passwords, ensure that the work of your remote users is as secure as those working in the office. This means providing secure access via company-managed applications and services (not personal apps), encrypting any local data when appropriate, and making sure machines and devices are physically secure.
  2. Automation
    Whenever possible, tap automated solutions for distributing software, updates, and services. Centrally managed IT services save you time and money, prevent mistakes or missed updates, and remove an IT burden from individual users.
  3. Upgrades
    Create a policy with respect to upgrades and new IT apps and services, and back the policy with responsiveness to end user needs. Your remote workers will find and install personal apps that help them do their jobs, which may or may not be in sync with your company’s needs or requirements, and can lead to data loss and other liabilities. Ensure your employees understand that you look at upgrades and new tools regularly and are open to vetting their suggestions. If you don’t or won’t provide a solution, they may move forward without you, and at your peril.
  4. Preventative Maintenance
    For users running on Mac OS, Windows, and other legacy operating systems, scheduling preventative maintenance (PM) will avoid performance problems and prevent failures that can cost you much more time and money. Verifying that systems are up to date, defragmenting disks, and replacing aging equipment on a regular schedule will keep your team happy and productive. PM also gives you an opportunity to confirm users are complying with company standards and policies, and to dispose of aging equipment before it becomes clutter.
  5. Point of Contact
    Every remote worker should have a clear point of contact for technology issues and support. In addition to helping with questions and problems, the point of contact should serve as an advocate for remote users’ needs and a resource for orienting and training new staff on your policies and procedures. While larger remote sites may have an on-site point of contact, they can be remote and effective.
  6. Communications
    Think beyond providing remote users with high speed network access at their desks. Remote users need fast, reliable communications while mobile. And, communications go beyond connecting devices. Remote users need voice, fax, and conferencing capabilities that are as seamless (if not more so) than those working in the main office. Customers should not need to know that somebody is remote as services should work transparently. Ease of use is key to avoid frustration.
  7. Repair and Replace
    Stuff breaks. Have a plan in place for local repairs or fast replacement. Spending a day figuring out how to repair or replace a broken device does nothing more than create a day of lost productivity.

Regardless of your technology infrastructure, these 7 tenets provide a framework that will enable your remote and mobile workforce to succeed without burdening them with informal IT responsibilities.

 

In IT, Every Season is Hurricane Season

Hurricane
June 1st is the official start of Hurricane Season for North America. Every year, we hear predictions for the number of storms and the number of major storms expected to hit landfall here in the U.S. And yet, every year we seem to over-prepare for storms that never become a major problem and under-prepare for storms that become truly dangerous.

Such is the life for IT Hurricanes

Unlike physical hurricanes that can cause power and system outages, IT “Hurricanes” are climate changes that impact your business, and its IT needs and priorities.

As with physical hurricanes, IT Hurricanes often start out as smaller disturbances that are seen and identified well in advance. Some lose their energy and dissipate, some get carried off by changing currents, and some turn into storms.

Even with the advanced notification, dare I say warning, we often struggle to assess the size, scope, and impact of IT Hurricanes until just before they are about to hit. All too often, IT Hurricanes gain unexpected power and momentum as they approach landfall. Decisions on how best to prepare are often made too late for effective planning and execution, leaving IT staff scrambling to mitigate the impact and repair the damage.

For many businesses, our infrastructure and systems are not well-prepared to withstand IT Hurricanes. They are too rigid to adapt to changing winds and tides, too difficult to move to a safer place, and/or unable to withstand the tidal surge of change forced upon us.

Look to the Cloud for a Better Way

Rather than just focusing on improving our warning time and how well we can predict the direction, size, and strength of IT Hurricanes, we should create IT infrastructure and systems that can adapt to changing conditions more easily, with less time required.

Moving to cloud solutions can …

  • Simplify your IT infrastructure — your network and systems — making it easier and less expensive to adapt to changing currents
  • Reduce the amount of capital captured in physical assets with sunken costs that resist change
  • Let you raise or lower you capacity and utilization as needed to ebb and flow with the tide of your business
  • Add, or modernize, applications and systems without having to airlift in a solution
  • Improve mobility, so your team members are never displaced by geography or device
  • Provide a platform, that lets you create an IT ecosystem for your business focused on the future and not the past

While cloud computing cannot prevent IT Hurricanes, cloud solutions can help mitigate the impact and make it easier for you and your business to adapt and respond. After all, staying ahead of the storm is better than having to pick up the pieces.


Using the Google Apps for Work ecosystem, our CumuluSuite packages provide cloud computing platforms that are easily customized to keep you out of the storm.  Contact us to learn more.