This Is The Year Our Sales Force Will Be Good at Salesforce! (No, it’s not.)

“This is the year our sales force will be good at Salesforce! No. It won’t. Stop kidding yourself.”

There are 2 guarantees in life when you’re the leader of a Revenue Team. Death and poor process adoption.

Only one is unavoidable and yet we treat them both the same.

“We think there will be a time where every call will be analyzed by a super, AI, machine-learning algorithm which will automatically be entered into our CRM so we can know the real truth behind every forecast set forth by a rep or manager or regional director. But in the meantime, we accept the status quo,” says F.J. Gould, World Wide Head of Strategic Partnerships at Hashicorp, who’s not speaking in his capacity at HashiCorp, but rather sharing his thoughts after years of experience leading tech sales teams.
The solution to your Salesforce hygiene problem

Whether you accept the status quo or “convince yourself that you can solve it with ‘brute force’” is irrelevant because you’re going to end up with the same results: Managers who don’t know the true status of their rep’s deals, leaders who don’t trust their managers’ forecasts, and surprises at the end of quarter.

Your CRM is only as good as the data you put into it. Your sales process is only effective when it’s adopted. Far too often neither is the case, but leaders fail to address these issues because they don’t know the answer.

There is nothing more important than information. “Visibility = Credibility,” says Gould. When you’re the head of a publicly-traded company walking into an earnings call and you can’t speak confidently to your data, investors and analysts can smell it and drive your stock price into the ground. Conversely, if you can speak confidently to every detail in your pipeline, they’ll drive the stock up for you.  “This isn’t a thousand dollar problem, this is a million, if not billion dollar problem for larger companies,” says Gould. But these larger companies continue to accept the status quo or convince themselves that a renewed focus on process and data is going to change the behavior of their sales force.

So why are we stuck?

“No CRO or sales leaders wants to purchase shelfware that goes unused, nor do you want to be a concierge for lazy reps,” says Gould. Whether it’s accurate or not, salespeople have adopted the stereotype of being “lazy” when it comes to updating their pipeline. As a former salesperson I resent this remark, but also acknowledge that we tend to resort to keeping information in a ‘shadow tech stack’ of notes, docs, spreadsheets and pieces of paper with chicken-scratch.

Whether it’s laziness or technological inefficiencies, sales leaders have dealt with bad process and poor data hygiene forever. Simply declaring that salespeople will no longer “be lazy” is neither going to solve their lack of visibility, nor lack of confidence when being interrogated about their pipeline.

Thus, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Otherwise known as the chair that RevOps sits in.

RevOps “hear complaints from salespeople that Salesforce is too hard to use and hear complaints from executives who ask why they’re already spending on Salesforce licenses so now why do we need to pay more to make it work?” says Max Maeder, CEO of FoundHQ.

In most years, RevOps are given increased budgets as the company scales, but in 2023 48.3% of revenue leaders say their budget has stayed the same and 33.8% say it has decreased, according to the 2023 State of RevOps Report from Scratchpad and RevOps Co-op. We are in an age of austerity where RevOps are forced to be as economical as possible when it comes to their tech stack.

Even if there is a cure all solution, it’s not as simple as “if we do X, then the problem is solved. No one tool is going to solve it and no process change is going to solve it,” says Maeder. Instead, it’s going to require a more wholistic approach that addresses both the process and technological shortfalls that companies are suffering from.

Driving Process through Education

87% of teams find it challenging to ensure process adherence according to the 2023 State of RevOps Report. “You can’t incentivize reps to update their data, because that incentive compared to their commission is nothing. You can’t solve it by aggressively managing it because as we know that makes every sales rep hate using it and hate their sales manager that much more. But that’s the common default. ‘We're going to just brute force our way into solving this problem,’” says Maeder, echoing Gould’s earlier comments.

Maeder argues that the bigger problem is education. “Reps are made to believe that data quality only benefits sales leaders who are monitoring KPIs and dashboards. They don’t understand that the data that they're collecting is being used by MarketingOps, SalesOps, RevOps to make their lives easier.” He forgot to include the most important part: make them and the company more money.

Quick tangent before we continue with Maeder’s point: Steph Curry led a 3-point revolution that changed basketball. For over 100 years, coaches and players believed that high-percentage shots taken closer to the rim gave them the best chance to win. The 3-point line wasn’t invented until 1979, but it still took the game 30+ years to realize that 3-point shots counted more than 2-point shots.

The reason for this is not simply because Steph Curry existed. It’s because he was drafted by an organization that believed “the notion that the 3-point line was a market inefficiency hiding in plain sight,” according to Ben Cohen in his book, The Hot Hand.

“What’s really interesting in venture capital and doing startups is how the whole world can be wrong,” says Joe Lacob, owner of the Golden State Warriors. “No one really executed a game plan, a team-building architecture, around the 3-pointer. Could you win with that?” The answer is yes. Especially if Steph Curry exists on your team.

For sales organizations, this means that if RevOps has good data, they can go to sales managers and account executives and say, “this is exactly how many touches you need to get this type of customer profile to this stage in the deal. Once it gets to this stage, this is how many contacts you need to have a good chance of closing. They can literally give reps the truth about what is common across all of your closed-won opportunities to help them execute the right activities moving forward. But that data is pretty much useless if it’s not being updated in your CRM,” says Maeder.

Imagine if you could harness all of that data and turn your reps into the Steph Curry of sales? Imagine if you could be the Joe Lacob of revenue organizations and confindently state that you're lightyears ahead of your competitors?

Driving Process Through Technology

Unfortunately, your salespeople can’t smile and dial and have analysts update their pipeline. There is no “super, AI, machine-learning algorithm automatically entered into our CRM so we can know the real truth behind every” call, deal, or forecast as Gould previously stated. After every game, salespeople have to enter their own shots and dribbles and fouls and it’s an inefficient process that doesn’t always get done. Imagine if they could do it while they play?

“There is a usability problem working out of Salesforce. It’s slow, it was built in the ‘90s, they’ve made some improvements, but that’s where Scratchpad can come in and exponentially increase your sales organization’s efficiency,” says Maeder. “It’s a key ingredient to the solution.”

This is the year our sales force is gonna be good at Salesforce.

By investing in your CRM with a tool like Scratchpad, you’re driving process adherence, getting better data, and making your salespeople happy is the cherry on top for your HR and Recruiting teams.

Top-of-the-Leaderboard addict, Julia Szenderski at Gretel.Ai was “a tad bit delinquent when it came to updating my Salesforce. It was a running joke at my last company. I viewed it as a time consuming, (sometimes mind-numbing) activity.” But after she got Scratchpad, “It’s completely changed my mindset. I shocked myself yesterday when I asked [RevOps] to add a new field in Salesforce. I use Scratchpad for everything. It’s a complete 360* view into everything I’m working on.”

On top of that, her “RevOps team built out views that alerts [her] where there are information gaps in deals and surface key actions that need to be taken.” Steph Curry of sales much?

For sales leaders like Ang McManamon, VP at Crunchbase, Scratchpad gave her and her managers the ability to focus on deal movement and coaching instead of spending forecasting meetings interrogating reps for information. “It allowed us to ask the specific question about what we needed to move something to the next stage and build that habit. You talked about money so why doesn’t this client have a proposal? What was the last conversation we had? And then we’ll just do automatic updates in real time in Scratchpad right in the meeting.”

So is this the year your sales force will be good at Salesforce? Is this the year that sales leaders will have visibility and confidence in their earnings calls and board meetings?

According to Maeder, “when you combine education and solve the usability issue, which removes the friction for sales organizations, that is exactly how I've seen companies be successful in driving that change.”

To learn more about how Scratchpad can help in this mission, click here to book a strategy session with our team.