While companies are constantly looking for ways to engage and connect with their customer base, the greatest gap in strategic development often stems from the lack of communication and understanding between frontline staff and organizational leaders. For sales teams, in particular, this rift becomes especially obvious when leaders purchase and implement tools without the frontline user's perspective in mind. As Hampus Jakobsson, founder and CEO of Brisk, explains, there's the strong possibility that the tools and processes are 'ideal' and perfect, yet comparatively impractical in the field. "For example, let's consider the idea that all data should be logged and researched before you talk to customers," Jakobsson describes. "This, of course, is ideal, but sales reps will seldom have the time to put in this prep work while simultaneously trying to meet their quota."
In many instances, as Jakobsson suggests, those who have the purchase power rarely base their decisions on direct frontline insight. Instead, they pursue these supposedly ideal solutions and establish these processes without gaining sales rep buy-in, for they neglect to properly train those who will directly engage with these tools daily. Ultimately, sales reps aren't fully aware of how these processes work, and have little structural support to execute, leaving them to follow the processes halfheartedly. Leaders, therefore, must take the time to look at where their reps spend much of their time and see if there are any tools that can make these tasks go faster and where they can improve most.
Frontline sales reps can provide the best guidance when it comes to adoption and implementation, as they must use these tools and interact with prospects and customers directly every single day. "The solution is to adapt a 'field tested' process and make sure sales reps are given tools that support this approach," Jakobsson adds. "Ideally, they would be trained to understand both how the process works and why it's in place. I know it sounds like it would take both time and money, but a 20 percent improvement in the bottom line isn't something that happens overnight."
Organizational leaders have to be cautious, however, for they must not compromise the human touch. Automation has the potential to hinder the human element necessary to build rapport within the sales sphere. Using email templates excessively, for example, may cause communications to sound too robotic and inhuman. Jakobsson predicts that we will see more tools automating certain parts of the sales process completely in the near future, while other tools will find success by 'augmenting' their human users. Some tools may remind users to contact certain clients or check on certain projects, while others may guide users toward what they should do next through algorithms that evaluate and determine the best possible action for success. No matter the purpose, only those tools that truly advance the sales process and bring added value to the overall organization will be the ones that pass the frontline test.