Don’t Ignore UX for Your Sales Team

Remember that your tools, data and process are only as good as their usability to salespeople

Some time ago I worked for a Big Enterprise Software Company with red branding and a chairman/founder that was famous for saying,

“It’s surreal to think that I own this beautiful island. It doesn’t feel like anyone can own Lanai. What it feels like to me is this really cool 21st-century engineering project, where I get to work with the people of Lanai to create a prosperous and sustainable Eden in the Pacific.”

Sorry, wrong quote. Try this one in a conversation with a reporter:

‘“I really should never talk about myself,” he said “Frequently I’ll be interviewing with somebody or talking and in about 15 minutes they’ll interrupt me mid-stream and say, ‘Oh my God, you’re nothing like I’d thought you’d be.’”

Alright. Maybe some would read those quotes and draw the conclusion that this particular executive might live in a slightly different reality than the rest of us. Maybe others are chuckling, glad that this isn’t a person that is affecting their lives. Executives like this get to make decisions about tools provided to their sales force.

Love Your Salespeople

I was trying to dig up a rumored quote by this famed executive that went something to the extent of “I don’t need to pay salespeople, this software just sells itself!” There remains no way to prove it was actually said out loud, but the feeling permeated the organization. Salespeople were expected to fall in line and be grateful.

The general response of the sales team was lip service to the organization’s overall stated goals and minimal adherence to the preferred sales tactics. A real us versus them where the way to get back at management was to get paid commission (or at worst, simply maintain employment) with a minimum amount of work.

Nourish Salespeople with Good Access to Data

I had heard the mantra about salespeople not being needed recited from multiple sources in sales at the Big Enterprise Software Company, typically in reference to how long it took for anything to get done or how poor the tools were we had to work with. As far as the tools went, it wasn’t all bad, in fact there was immense amounts of data stored in the databases.

However key pieces of data often went untouched and unused as separate pieces of data were stored across many different systems, each with their own onboarding and login, sometimes requiring a separate password. Some reports exported to excel, others to plain text, others could only be retrieved in PDF format. I had to then create my own spreadsheets and manually paste and filter this information in order to have anything useful.

It was tedious work but it was so satisfying at the end of the day to have a robust spreadsheet with all of my customers information. I was so proud to show it off to my manager and ready for the congratulations for a job well done. I was going to be paraded around as an example of good diligent work. Plans for a training program were starting to germinate in my brain.

Instead however, I got yelled at for not getting enough calls done for the week.

Dump any Process or Tool that Interferes with Closing Business

Dump it yesterday. Throw it out of a moving car at a high speed off a cliff into a pit of flaming .

I learned quickly that the only thing that mattered to middle management at the Big Enterprise Software Company was to not get singled out by their VP by missing any of the 587 metrics that were reviewed in front of the group in their weekly meeting. I later learned that the Sales VP’s only pleasure in life was humiliating Sales Directors in public because they themselves had endured those same paddlings.

Nobody knew why 5 whiteboard architecting meetings a week was so critical to the business, but most sales reps knew how to get credit for them without actually doing work. Sales reps budgeted time during the week to complete every metric they could get noticed for if they were below threshhold.

In their free time we hustled for sales using their own talents. Sometimes we actually sold something.

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