Do me a favor, complete this sentence: my sales software is so _____.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm guessing that phrases like 'helpful, 'fast,' and 'easy to use' didn't immediately come to mind. Most likely, your reaction was a little less positive than that.

After all, it only takes a quick look at Google's predictive search feature to get a sense of how sales people really feel about their software. And it isn't a pretty sight.

Yes, it's expensive. Yes, it's buggy and slow and bad and hard.

And yes, it's important. Now more than ever before.

Everything Is Changing, Except Legacy Software

Across the globe, the business world is undergoing its most dramatic transformation in decades.

The way employees work is changing, and that change is being facilitated by tools like Slack and Zoom. The way customers buy is changing, and that change is being accelerated by services like Amazon and Etsy. The way salespeople sell is changing too, but that change is being hindered by bloated software solutions that simply aren't suited to the rapidly changing business environment.

In fact, according to research conducted by HubSpot, 47% of sales leaders don't believe that their current sales software is up to the task of helping them reach their business goals over the next three years.

We're on the brink of an exciting new era in sales. Inside selling is rapidly replacing outside selling. Sales leaders are increasingly making critical decisions based on metrics, not observations. And customers are now demanding a low-touch buying experience, as opposed to the drawn-out purchasing processes involving multiple meetings that have been the norm for so long.

These shifts aren't new. They've been in motion for years. The events of 2020 have merely accelerated them and are now giving rise to a new breed of sales leader — one whose passions lie in leading teams, building long-term relationships with prospects, and delighting customers through data-driven decision making.

However, there's a growing tension between the ambitions of the modern-day sales leader and the systems they rely on to fulfill those ambitions.

For Salespeople, Reality Rarely Lives Up to Expectations

According to our research, the two tasks sales leaders expected to spend most of their time on when they entered their role are coaching their team members and helping salespeople work through deals. However, the tasks they actually spend most of their time on are reporting on performance and preparing content to motivate their teams.

The wedge that creates this gap between expectations and reality comes in the shape of legacy sales software that pulls ambitious sales leaders away from doing the work they love and traps them in endless cycles of manual data entry, double-checking reports, and meandering meetings aimed at resolving misalignment with marketing.

This is not the career any salesperson signed up for.

Ease-Of-Use: The Secret Sauce That Unlocks Sales Software Success

The CRM solutions that dominate today's market are bursting at the seams with counter-intuitive features, leaving busy salespeople with a seemingly endless list of tools to learn in an already bloated platform.

They have been cobbled together over years of mergers and acquisitions, leaving sales operations professionals with the unenviable task of knitting together data from multiple systems that weren't originally built to work together. And they have been built to suit the goals of the people selling the software, not the customers it's supposed to serve.

In the words of Peter Lauten and Martin Casado of Andreessen Horowitz, "for any user of legacy enterprise software, it doesn't take long to realize that designing a seamless user experience is by no means a top priority for the vendor."

And according to HubSpot's research, 50% of sales leaders consider their CRM to be "difficult to use," while an alarming 76% believe their teams only use a small fraction of their software's capabilities.

What use is all the power legacy software providers love to brag about if it's locked away in systems that are so difficult to use, salespeople avoid them whenever they can?

Ease-of-use is the secret sauce of success with sales software. With it, comes adoption. With adoption comes understanding of a sales pipeline. With understanding comes better decision-making. And with better decision-making comes teams that are more successful — not only at closing deals, but at managing the five key stakeholder relationships that the sales leaders of today are responsible for.

The Five Sales Stakeholder Relationships

In the 2020s, success for sales leaders is no longer about "crushing quota" and "smashing targets." Gone are the days when sales teams would work leads they receive from marketing before passing new customers over to service teams for onboarding. According to Gartner "in today's world of B2B buying, there is no handoff from marketing to sales, or digital to in-person. It's a parallel process, not a serial one."

Modern-day sales is about cross-team collaboration. It's about instilling a sense of pride and passion in a sales team. And it's about building trust internally and externally. It can be broken down into five stakeholder relationships, each of which can only be maintained successfully in the new era of sales with a new generation of sales software — like the enterprise sales CRM HubSpot announced today.

1. The Customer Relationship

Customers today expect a seamless, personalized experience from their first moment of contact with a company. To meet these expectations, sales leaders need a single source of truth on customer data that provides deep insights into the unique needs of every prospect in their pipeline.

CRM features that offer flexibility — such as custom objects, which gives sales people the ability to store different types of information about their prospects — are now "must haves" for sales people seeking to build more meaningful relationships with customers. As well as understanding prospects, salespeople need to be able to engage with them through a wide range of channels, including email, live chat, or 1:1 video — all of which are essential features of modern sales CRM.

2. The Team Relationship

Sales leaders are judged on the success of their people. They need time to sit with their direct reports, understand their strengths and opportunities, and coach them through the peaks and troughs that come with a career in sales.

To achieve this, they not only need intuitive software that takes the laborious manual tasks out of their daily routine, they also need a CRM that provides a centralized view of each team member's activities and makes it easy for them to identify areas for improvement.

3. The Operations Relationship

When sales leaders and sales operations managers are in sync, they gain the ability to unlock new levels of efficiency in their company's sales process. This is where the benefits of working out a single system come into play. When every sales stakeholder is intimately familiar with the same tools, it becomes infinitely easier to identify points of friction, address pain points quickly, and enable sales teams to spend their time selling solutions instead of struggling with unwieldy software.

4. The Marketing Relationship

95% of sales leaders believe that sales and marketing alignment is important or very important to delivering a great customer experience, but only 30% report that they are very closely aligned with the marketers at their company. To achieve successful sales and marketing alignment, it's imperative that both teams work out of a single system of record.

This enables them to establish a shared vision for success and gain a deep understanding of the prospects in their pipeline. And when a company is targeting high-value deals, they also need powerful ABM tools that complement that single system of record and allow them to work in tandem on building meaningful relationships with key accounts.

5. The Leadership Relationship

Sales leaders are accountable to their leadership team and responsible for providing them with regular, accurate, easy-to-follow updates on the health of the business. However, legacy CRM users are forced to spend far too much time wrangling reporting tools and worrying about the accuracy of their data.

Sales leaders deserve software that enables them to quickly generate reliable reports with the option of customizing the details in each report to suit the preferences of their leadership team.

Sales Hub Enterprise: Redefining the Sales CRM Category

The new sales era that's unfolding calls for a new definition of how we think about sales CRMs.

Sales leaders today should be able to run their entire sales process with their sales software. But for too long, essential features have been positioned as expensive add-ons or left to gather dust on a tattered product roadmap. For too long, even the most basic tools have been so painful to use, they are never fully adopted and their benefits are never experienced.

And for too long, ambitious sales leaders who have signed up for a career of coaching colleagues and consulting with customers, have found themselves decoding dirty data in days filled with agonizing administrative tasks.

Sales CRMs should be so much more than a place to store contact details. Sales engagement tools like live chat and 1:1 video, configure-price-quote features like custom quote generators, and simple, seamless reporting capability are the new native requirements of modern-day sales CRMs.

And they're all included in HubSpot's radically revamped Sales Hub Enterprise — a sales CRM that's not only powerful, but is also easy to buy, easy to learn, and easy to use. At HubSpot, we're on a mission to dismantle the perception that sales CRMs are only buggy and slow and bad and hard and expensive, as my Google search put it.

The business world is changing. The role of the sales leader is changing. And now, finally, sales CRMs are changing too.

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Originally published Sep 22, 2020 11:15:00 AM, updated September 22 2020