In today's selling environment, many of the obstacles to success have nothing to do with technology, says Eric Berridge. They're cultural.
Berridge, who is the cofounder and CEO of Bluewolf
, the world's largest provider of professional services for Cloud-based software applications, says that the widespread availability of data and technology means that sales organizations can flatten their internal operations and sales processes and attain maximum efficiency.
"Previously, especially in a large organization, you might have had a huge hierarchy of people who would manage the sales process," Berridge says. "Today, that can be flattened. A CEO can immediately get engaged with top field reps in the company. The necessary information should be right there, on an iPad or in your browser."
If the tools for success are already at sales execs' fingertips, then why are so many sales organizations still suffering from operational inefficiencies and deals that get bogged down in the middle of the pipeline? "The cultural change tends to be the barrier to a flat, data-driven company," says Berridge.
Is your sales culture cutting-edge, or barely hanging on? See how many of the following six signs of staleness sound familiar:
- Your CEO wants to see orderly spreadsheets that have been created and rolled up by five different administrative assistants.
- Your sales reps lack mobile access to data that can help them have relevant conversations with prospects.
- Your CEO shows little interest in helping move deals that are stuck in the middle of the pipeline.
- Your sales reps are not routinely contributing data to a CRM system that can give you an overall picture of the pipeline.
- Attempts to routinely update and improve your CRM are few or nonexistent.
- Your company mandate regarding technology is to buy, buy, buy and never review internal processes.
For companies that find themselves bringing up the rear, it will be increasingly difficult to capture market share and achieve growth targets, unless they commit to a major change in company culture, says Berridge.
"We see two different types of CEOs today. One is the type who will be left behind. But the others want to stay agile. They want access to crucial sales information immediately, and they want to understand where they can build more efficiently. A great example is Marc Benioff [CEO of salesforce.com]. With the click of a mouse, he can get involved in a sales deal that's important to him, either because of who the customer is or the size of the deal. Imagine how many layers sit between him and a $10 million deal right now. A CEO like that wants to drill down and deal with the source."
Berridge also cites McAfee's Dave DeWalt as an example of a leader at the helm of a plugged-in sales culture. DeWalt wants to see at least one customer every other day. The only way he can do that well is to have access to information that can help him have intelligent and knowledgeable conversations.
What's the first step in changing your company culture for the better? Get your top executives and CEO to understand how they want to look at the business – literally. What information do they want on a daily basis? What data will help them measure progress, pipeline performance, and customer satisfaction? "You can give them access to that through executive reporting," says Berridge. "That will tie them into the sales process directly."
A final but vital point Berridge makes is about mobility: CEOs have to get on mobile devices if they want to act with agility. "There aren't a lot of CEOs who sit at their desks all day long," he says. "They're on planes and in town cars, and they need to be doing lots of work with mobile devices like the BlackBerry or iPad. That's the way people are accessing the important data that gives them an overall view of where their business is headed."