By Mitch Frazier, TinderBox
With employees of enterprise companies using an average of 397 cloud apps, according to a Netskope Cloud Report, the phenomenon of "app creep" is real. And it doesn't show any signs of slowing.
App creep strikes organizations that continue to adopt new point solution apps without retiring old, duplicative, underused or ineffective technologies. For sales teams, this causes more than just a cluttered virtual workspace; it can lead to siloed information and disjointed customer interactions that can stymie growth and impact the bottom line.
Sales leaders are adopting new technologies at an ever-increasing rate in fear of falling behind. According to IHS Technology, cloud computing sales are expected to triple by 2017, reaching $235 billion. This is great for vendors bringing new products to market, but is potentially disastrous for companies and their sales teams who require a predictable, defined sales tech stack to fuel speed, accuracy and mobility.
With the cloud so full of apps – and with sales teams adopting any number of disparate apps on their own – how can organizations keep "app creep" at bay?
Integrate and Unify Apps
Sales teams rely on technologies such as CRM or ERP (or both) to provide a central view of customer information to manage deals. The very nature of these systems, however, creates a barrier to answering important questions about a customer. ERP is built for back-office needs, while CRM is designed as the master system for non-financial information. As standalone systems, they create two distinct perspectives of a customer.
Apps that bridge this gap and integrate seamlessly with multiple data sources are more powerful and productive, right out of the gate. Integrated apps give teams the power to push and pull data across platforms, generate documents and other materials automatically and communicate with colleagues and prospects more easily throughout the sales cycle. With a connected set of apps that play well together and give greater visibility to customer experience, teams can increase productivity and effectiveness.
Research and Communicate
Want to know which apps are most frequently and successfully used by your sales team? Ask them. And no, that’s not too simple.
Identify top performers, social leaders, innovators and influencers – the people who are likely responsible for at least 90 percent of app adoption in the department. Talk with them and determine which apps they use and why, which have integration capabilities and which are effective. Criteria to consider include improved customer experience, time savings, mobile responsiveness, ease of use and compatibility with other apps.
Standardize and Optimize Apps
Giving teams the ability to choose the apps they use can provide a sense of autonomy, but it can also fuel app creep. Optimizing a sales stack by requiring teams to use apps from a set list of choices not only standardizes the sales process, it gives an organization a common set of tools to fuel growth and productivity.
Fighting app creep takes more than narrowing the choices of apps a team uses. By optimizing the group of apps a team uses first, you can then build a process that helps your team sell smarter and work better together.
Mitch Frazier is chief marketing officer at TinderBox, a company that helps companies sell faster with a more effective way to create and deliver sales proposals, contracts and presentations.