If you are like most firms, you are acquiring and deploying MarTech solutions at a rapid pace. I know where I work, we have been adding technology at an accelerated pace, and most of those MarTech solutions are geared towards our sales reps. In the last year, we have asked reps to adopt tools across forecasting, engagement, collaboration, reporting, account planning, quoting, competitive intelligence and customer references.
Needless to say, I have gotten pushback from reps. In fact, in a recent survey of reps they overwhelming responded with the comment– we have too many new tools and aren’t sure what to use where and when. This has definitely impacted the adoption of these technologies. The value of a MarTech solution is directly related to adoption and usage by the team.
Getting sales reps to use MarTech solutions is probably quite a bit different than marketing users. Sales reps often times view tools as a hindrance to their success, and will not use the tool unless they clearly see the value. Here are three tips that will help you succeed in the rollout of your MarTech solutions.
Treat it like an IT project
Since many of the MarTech solutions are cloud, they are easy to adopt and deploy. Maybe too easy. Often times, these deployments can be done with little or no IT involvement. IT has a bad reputation in many companies, often due to perceived rigidity and slowness of deployment.
The same things that make IT not popular are what will make your MarTech solution a success. That rigidity and slowness can help make your project a success. What elements of an IT project should you emulate?
- Pilot users – One best practice for MarTech adoption is to make sure you round up 3-5% of your user population to be a pilot user. Work with them both in defining the deployment, but see how they work and use that to manage your users. This is going to give you early feedback on whether something is working. They can also work as your advocates later on in the cycle.
- Testing and QA – This is an area where I often see people trying to reduce effort and accelerate deployment time, but it’s an area which is easy to cause long term problems. Things rarely work how you expect them to, so it’s important to ensure the system works as designed. Work with your pilot users to determine how they really will use the tool, and test both core use cases and edge use cases.
- Integration – Salesforce deployments have really saved time and effort for integration, as so many rep-focused tools leverage native integration to Salesforce. But is that enough? Absolutely not, make sure you leverage integration to your collaboration tools, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams or your office productivity tools. This might not be enough, as you may need to worry about integration to other parts of your MarTech stack.
- Proper user counts – Many of these MarTech tools are easy to deploy, but they aren’t cheap. One way I have seen management attempt to save a buck is to be thin on the user counts. The reality is that teams outside of reps may need access to forecasting or account planning tools. Don’t forget about them when you license your product. With that said, you can always remove users who do not use the tool. It’s worth asking your MarTech vendor if they have a light user. Sometimes they do, and maybe it’s not advertised. I know we were able to add 75 light users to one of our MarTech tools which expanded access and saved us money.
Take the time to do one-on-one or one-on-few
This is where the big effort pays off. The reality is that reps are busy, and may not be as excited about this new technology as you are. The value comes from adoption, and while management mandates help with adoption, sometimes that adoption might be the bare minimum.
This is why it’s imperative to spend the time to meet with reps individually or in small groups. Show them the tool, and give them a chance to ask questions. They might be hesitant to ask questions in a large group, but if it’s smaller, they might be more open to asking questions. Remember that if one person has a question, chances are others do too but are hesitant to ask. Take note of what is asked, and then repeat the answer on other calls.
How do you actually do this efficiently? Your time is limited, and you can’t spend an hour with each rep. I have had success working with front line managers to attend their team meetings. Office hours enable you to deal with reps as issues arise. I also reach out to laggard adopters to identify and solve problems. In all stages, leverage your advocates (pilot users) to help advance the message. Sales reps are way more likely to adopt the tool if their peers use it.
Don’t deploy and forget, monitor usage and retrain
A few months ago, we noticed that our content distribution tool was seeing a decline in usage. We deployed that several years ago, and had seen usage steadily climb in those years.
Over the summer, we saw usage drop. It turns out, we hadn’t reminded people on the best way to use the tool, or highlighted new features. On our next cross standard enablement call, we did a quick demo and had a few people talk about their success using the tool. We quickly saw adoption return to the baseline, and over time actually saw an increase in usage. We plan to repeat that every six months to get the most usage out of the tool.
MarTech tools are only as valuable as their usage. Hopefully, by leveraging some of these best practices, you can be successful in the deployment of MarTech tools.