Transforming Sales: How to Move Along the Sales Transformation Journey Much Faster

In this series, we ask Sales Tech Executives to describe how their solution can transform sales in a significant way.

This week I interview Mike Boyden, VP, North America Sales, Document Cloud at Adobe.

NANCY: WHAT ARE THE TOP AREAS OF FOCUS IN THE NEXT 12-24 MONTHS FOR ORGANIZATIONS THAT WANT TO TRANSFORM THEIR SALES ORGANIZATIONS?

MIKE: Sales organizations will have to be sure their people, processes, and technology are all working together to meet their sales goals. In the coming months, I see companies focusing on the following areas:

1.) Optimizing sales processes. Take a good look at what you’re doing today, do more of what’s working, and stop doing what’s not. Research shows that sales people only spend 36 percent of their time actually selling. The rest is spent on administrative tasks like drawing up and sending contracts, pulling forecasts, doing pipeline reviews, participating in meetings, and traveling. These numbers tell us that there are many things sales teams could be doing more efficiently.

2.) Reviewing sales tools. Although the SalesTech landscape is only one-tenth the size of the martech landscape, it’s still overwhelming! Get the right mix by first taking an honest look at the sales tools you already use. Find out which are producing the most results with minimum investment.

For example, electronic signature tools like Adobe Sign can make sales teams more efficient, increase win rates, and are ranked high for benefits by teams who use them. For instance, POPSUGAR increased employee productivity by 38 percent, and saved 20 hours of administrative work each week just by improving its contract management workflows.

3.) Training sales teams. Training your sales team means a lot more than showing them how to use technology. It means going back to the basics and learning how to have a conversation with another human being.

NANCY: HOW SHOULD COMPANIES DECIDE WHICH APPROACHES TO SALES TRANSFORMATION ARE RIGHT FOR THEM?

MIKE: Whether you call it sales or digital transformation, it isn’t something you can finish overnight, or even in a year. It’s an ongoing process. But you have to start somewhere. First, look across the funnel at all your customer interactions and prioritize which changes will benefit the customer most. From lead generation to closing the deal, you can chalk up some quick wins with technologies that not only improve the customer experience, but are easy to implement. Adobe Sign is just one example. If you already have a CRM, just activate the plugin and you’re on your way. Little things like these can get you moving along the sales transformation journey much faster. And improve the customer experience.

NANCY: WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR ENSURING THAT TECHNOLOGIES CONTRIBUTE TO SALES TRANSFORMATION IN A MEASURABLE AND IMPACTFUL WAY?

MIKE: Technology should help you improve your existing processes, not change the way you do business. So instead of thinking about technology as a “silver bullet” you should look at how it helps you do things faster, easier, and better. When it comes to metrics, concentrate on those that are most important to your business, whether win rate, sales goals, quotas, pipeline, or forecast numbers. Also, be sure to analyze your top sales people to see how they’re closing deals, and translate those successful actions into measures you can use to move the rest of your sales team forward.

Finally, don’t rely too much on technology to gauge your success. Automation can only get you so far, and people expect a human touch when they interact with you. The secret is finding the balance between relationship-building to ensure you connect with customers on a meaningful level, and efficiency to keep you from wasting time on non-selling activities.

NANCY: HOW IS YOUR SOLUTION TRANSFORMING YOUR CUSTOMERS’ SALES ORGANIZATIONS?

MIKE: CSO reports that only about 47 percent of forecast deals actually close. But firms investing in quote-to-cash tools for digital transformation at the end of the sales cycle outperformed across the board. At Adobe, we believe that contracting processes with e-signatures is a “must-have” for modern sales organizations that want to move forward with their digital transformation. Adobe Sign also plays well with others, so it’s available in the tools and platforms sales teams use every day, like CRM, quote-to-cash, and general productivity.

NANCY: WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE BIGGEST CHANGE AGENT IN SALES IN THE NEXT 3 TO 5 YEARS?

MIKE: Artificial intelligence is going to be the biggest change agent in the near future, but not in the way you might think. AI has the potential to help us sell in a more personalized and relevant way, but only if the data we feed into our systems is clean. If we rely on dirty data, which is common in sales, then we’ll have dirty predictions, recommendations, and insights. So the real change isn’t the technology — it’s the behaviors that organizations need to make in order to collect and maintain good data.

This means building better communication between sales, marketing, and the data team. With those three areas in alignment, we can reap the real benefits of AI — automating repetitive processes and gaining better insights so we can keep the focus on selling.