There is nothing sweet about a software implementation fail.
Just ask The Hershey Company.
After multiple mishaps directly related to a new software installation, Hershey failed to deliver $100 million worth of Hershey Kisses during the 1999 Halloween season.
When the news hit, the company’s stock slid 8 percent, according to an article in CIO.
Scott Santucci, former Forrester analyst, reported that only 20% of companies buying sales acceleration technology have a plan to successfully implement and use these software solutions.
The cliché holds true: If you fail to plan, you essentially plan to fail.
After 10 years and more than 4,000 implementations of our software, I’ve combed through the best and worst experiences to bring you:
10 mistakes sales teams make when implementing sales acceleration technology.
1. Wrong solution
It should go without saying that choosing the right solution makes all the difference when implementing a new sales acceleration technology.
All too often, though, selection of the wrong software is a leading cause of an implementation failure.
Determine your business requirements before you start interviewing vendors to ensure that the solution you choose aligns with the goals of your organization and meets the needs of the stakeholders.
You want to make sure your new software application is a perfect fit for your company over the long haul.
2. Lack of leadership
“Software implementation is not a science experiment,” explains Dave Boyce, XANT vice president of strategy. “It is a leadership exercise. It isn’t a test to see if a new system works or fails. It is a commitment to see the implementation through to adoption, and then to evangelism.”
Leadership for the implementation and adoption of sales acceleration technology needs to come from all levels of the software’s use.
People often buy into their leader before they buy into the vision.
The highest-level line person who will gain the most from a successful software implementation makes a great champion of your new system.
If you fail to identify the early adopters and visionaries who will advance changes in your organization, your new sales acceleration technology will never make it off the ground.
3. Lack of planning & scoping
Not only must the goals and targets of your new system be clearly defined, but baselines that exist prior to the adoption of new technology should also be identified and used to measure the success of the implementation.
Keep in mind as you are establishing current benchmarks and establishing future objectives that many organizations set overly optimistic time frames and goals that doom their software implementations.
If you fail to establish and manage expectations up front, and keep expectations current during initiative phases, it becomes too easy for your team to lose sight of the forest while maneuvering around a tree.
4. Lack of focus
A successful software implementation is a marathon, not a sprint.
In addition to the expected, everyday distractions your organization will encounter during the execution of your sales acceleration technology adoption, there will be other changes and initiatives occurring simultaneously across the organization.
These changes can distract from the implementation at hand.
The actual sales acceleration technology that you are adopting can also sidetrack you from a successful implementation.
Powerful systems can do a lot of things. It’s tempting to want to do them all at once. It’s tempting to use the features that might not actually fit your process just because they are cool.
Your vendor is the expert in their system; you are the expert in your business. Make a plan that will marry the two and don’t deviate until value and success are achieved.
5. Lack of process
New software systems enhance good processes and expose bad ones.
Organizations that believe that turning on new sales acceleration technology will simply solve all business growth objectives will be disappointed.
Your new system will not help you sell landline telephones to junior high kids. Nothing can help you do that.
You must recognize that any software system merely enables or enhances. If you are doing things ineffectively, your sales acceleration technology will make you more efficient at doing ineffective things.
Fail to establish a proven process and you will automate the wrong activities, resulting in a system that ultimately costs you thousands in lost time, sales and wasted effort.
6. Lack of commitment
Your new sales acceleration technology is going to reveal holes in your system.
This has to be an understanding you, your vendor and all of the stakeholders across the company have up front. There will be times when things get a little hairy and you just have to keep moving toward the implementation’s vision.
There is going to be, what I call, the Henrik Stenson Moment.
In 2009, during the opening round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, professional golfer Henrik Stenson made a wayward tee shot into the Florida mud. Rather than take a penalty stroke, or get his clothes muddy, which would potentially impact the rest of his game, Stenson stripped off his shoes, socks, shirt and slacks to wade into the pond and hit his ball wearing only boxer shorts and a golf glove.
His game total? A 69.
Even when things got messy, he kept chipping away.
Stenson’s dedication to the game helped him rise to become the #2 ranked professional golfer in 2014.
When it comes to a new software implementation, there are going to be moments in the mud and the weeds. Give up and you don’t just waste a single shot, you jeopardize the whole game.
7. Lack of ownership
When sales acceleration technology implementations fail, it is easy to blame the vendor.
But the truth is, if you decided to purchase the software, it’s in your best interest to see it succeed. A successful implementation can propel your career to new heights when it dramatically improves your team’s performance.
Choose the right individuals to help pilot the program and sell the vision down the line. End users undo more implementations and deals by a wide margin over the original decision maker.
Successful implementations require great internal marketing. Identify opinion leaders who can promote the vision of the technology you want to incorporate. This will help you earn support and enthusiasm for the project.
If you fail to sell end users on your vision, your sales acceleration technology initiative will never get off the ground.
8. Lack of training
User adoptions of sales acceleration technology can drop off for any number of reasons, but two rank high on the list: lack of training and support before and after implementation.
Too many vendors deliver insufficient training and support as an organization adopts new software.
One of the hardest truths I try to teach our clients is that they will never truly be done implementing our system. A really good system is an evolving thing, continuously improving.
In fact, the entire XANT product suite embodies this very idea. Every feature, from the simplest report to the most sophisticated sales insight, is constantly informed by Neuralytics, XANT’s self-learning data engine, to learn and get better.
Failure to recognize and anticipate that ongoing training across your organization is crucial to maximizing the potential of your sales acceleration technology will result in a software implementation flop every time.
9. Lack of assessment
Often companies will pilot new sales acceleration technology in a silo, distributing the system to a small team and piloting the new program. If that team is successful, the system is unleashed to the entire company.
While I generally argue for a pilot approach, it cannot be overstated how important the follow-up to that approach is.
Many software implementations fail because the stakeholders don’t do a “lessons learned” look-back at what did and didn’t work.
By not taking the time to analyze the first stage of implementation, you can lose valuable insights that set up the second phase for success.
10. Dirty data
Data drives intelligent business decisions, which means that data is what is going to drive your sales acceleration technology.
Most software solutions enhance the data native to your organization.
Pour bad data into a system and you will only get bad out.
This issue may seem basic, but, in reality, it is anything but.
You must work with your vendor to ensure that data selection and cleansing are built into the process of turning on your new system.
Accuracy and integrity of data are essential for ensuring that you maximize the value of your sales acceleration technology.
A successful software implementation is never just a coincidence. Sales acceleration technology won’t just work in your organization by dumb luck.
Improvement is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort.
Free eBook: Cold Calling and Sales Prospecting: A Day in the Life of a Top-Performing Sales Rep
In this eBook, we invite you to tour a day in the life of a top performing rep to see how your team can achieve top performance.