Sales Is Complex—New Tools Need New Process

by Anna Cockell

There are countless articles about how sales has become more complex over the past decade. From the volume of information available to buyers before they speak with a salesperson to the sheer number of decision-makers involved in making a purchase of any size, the situation has certainly gotten more complicated for customer-facing teams to navigate.

Rather than focusing on how to address this complexity through thoughtful process design that would enable salespeople to better guide buyers to see the value in what they’re selling, sales operations and other leaders so often turn to seemingly quick fixes or don’t address it at all.

Stop throwing tools at the problem

If you add a tool that promises to help your sales team by increasing efficiency, spending less time in Salesforce, or simplifying access to important information, but you don’t have a well-defined process that also supports these actions, you’re doing your team a disservice.

Adding tools where no process exists adds more confusion, not less, and slows your team down in the long run. Eventually, you find yourself with a bloated tech stack, an inefficient sales team, and a sales process that is undefined and incoherent.

Some problems that arise when this happens include:

  • It becomes challenging to keep things organized, and important documents key to the sales process are hard to locate.
  • Involving internal stakeholders at the right time with the right context is inconsistent at best.
  • The sales team loses focus on understanding the buyer and their needs because they have to see administrative “back of office” tasks instead of talking with customers.

The key is to add the right tools, to complement the team’s processes.

To combat complexity: simplify

Even though the external buying process is getting more complex, you don’t have to do the same internally. Meet that complexity with simplicity.

Sales operations leaders can make a huge impact on this by focusing on these three things:

  • Design simple, clear processes for sales to follow
  • Evaluate your tech stack - do the tools increase the administrative burden and create more silos? Or do they increase cross-functional collaboration, reduce ambiguity, and speed up the sales cycle?
  • Communication - does everybody know what is expected of them and the tools available to help them achieve that?

At the end of the day, it’s the salesperson’s job to sell. Navigating extremely informed buyers, sophisticated security requirements, and multiple external stakeholders is hard enough. Strip down your internal processes so that you provide tools that allow salespeople to focus on their core job.

Tools aren’t the enemy and absolutely can support thoughtful sales processes, just don’t overcomplicate it. Some things to consider:

  • Increase efficient communication: help your sales team increase their productivity by streamlining their email communications, provide templates, and automate follow-ups. There are a few tools that do this, but Outreach and Mixmax are two favorites.
  • Capture important notes: Enforce process, provide guidance through note templates, and keep important information synced to your CRM. Dooly and Scratchpad are great options.
  • Record calls: Between learning from teammates, getting coaching asynchronously from managers, and being able to catch things you might have forgotten, call recording software is a great addition to support your reps. Chorus and Gong are both great options.
  • Encourage cross-team collaborations and workflow friendly options: Tools that fit into existing workflows are key, especially when looping in cross-team collaborators, updating important information to your CRM, and more. We’d be remiss to leave Momentum off of this list to help tie it all together.

Your tools and processes should increase collaboration by sharing critical information with internal cross-functional partners (like finance, sales engineers, product), store information in one place (contracts, email correspondence, tasks, notes), and not get in the way or add unnecessary, additional work.

It can be easy to get caught in the trap of adding more layers of complexity, over-complicating internal processes, and throwing technology at problems without thinking through how your team will actually benefit from it. Resist that urge–be ruthless in your approach to simplifying processes–your sales team will thank you by turning around more revenue.

Momentum is is a sales coordination platform for driving your sales process and deal desk in Slack.

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