Equipping the sales force with new mobile tools only makes sense if each salesperson appropriates this equipment. Overcoming fears and reticence, relying on IT to help retain your best people, a not so simple task!

What if we give up Epinal’s images for good? Is the commercial, even today, that independence grump and a bit retrograde that is sometimes depicted? No, the species is indeed endangered. The fact that the sales representative is resolutely independent is a fact, and it is also the driving force behind his performance, but times are changing. According to figures published by INSEE at the beginning of 2018, the Millenials will represent 75% of the world’s working population by 2025. And this generation finally has little in common with its elders.

More technophiles, more connected, but also more willing to leave a company in which they do not find what they are looking for, the Millenials perceive the tools as a matter of course. “The phenomenon has already begun,” observes Antoine Ferraz, customer field marketing manager at Dell EMC. Although they are not yet in the majority in the workforce, the Millenials are already influencing companies’ IT equipment policies.”

Focus on CYOD

Since the technological maturity of the sales forces has progressed, why not involve it more in the choice of IT equipment? This is Antoine Ferraz’s suggestion: “The steering committee, which presides over the renewal of the equipment, can, in consultation with a college of sales representatives, define three or four similar hardware and software configurations, in order to homogenize the management of the equipment by the ISD, but different so that each sales representative has the choice.” This is called CYOD (for “choose your own device”), not to be confused with the BYOD phenomenon (“bring your own device”).

With CYOD, the company retains control of the equipment used but its appropriation by employees is facilitated because they have a voice in the matter. In the coming years, the IT equipment available to employees will, like the company car (or even more so in the case of young, urban sales representatives), be a means of retaining talent.

Defusing blockages

However, even under these conditions, obstacles may still appear, and not all your sales representatives necessarily have the technological maturity necessary to appreciate the comfort of the choice you have offered them. Everything must therefore be done to facilitate the appropriation by your teams of the nomadic equipment you intend for them. To do this, start from the need and do not try to impose a configuration that you (sales manager, ISD or general management) consider relevant. Uses have changed profoundly.

“Mobility is no longer really an issue,” observes Emmanuel Schupp, Country Manager France for Citrix. According to a study conducted in 2017 by Gartner, on behalf of Citrix, an employee works, on average, at 4 different locations per day. The challenge is no longer to encourage mobility but to provide equipment that meets this demand from employees. But that’s not all!

It is up to CEO to play its leadership role

For Arnaud Lemoine, founder of Cabinet Lemoine, which specialises in assisting companies in digital transformation, “there is always resistance to change. To overcome them, it is necessary to demonstrate that the changes meet a commercial need” For this, the expert recommends a clever mix of pedagogy and encouragement. “You have to take the time to acculturate the teams, keeping in mind that several profiles coexist within the same sales force.” From experience, Arnaud Lemoine knows that many companies grant the leadership of this type of project to the ISD, to the detriment of the sales department: “Too often, the sales manager himself, who should be the first ambassador of the tool, has not been trained there beforehand.

Not really easy, under these conditions, to carry the project! This is an unfortunate shortcoming because, as Michel Sasportas, founder of Danem, points out, “the first beneficiary of these solutions is the sales manager, who will benefit from reliable and rapid data feedback”. Better informed, closer to the field, the sales manager can more effectively play his role as a sales force leader.