Empowering Sales Field with Technology

Richard Barton, CIO, American Management Association
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Richard Barton, CIO, American Management Association

Sales strategies change on a regular basis. Sales technology is constantly evolving to support company objectives and make it easier for the sales department to have access to quality leads and time-sensitive information. Today, CIOs and CMOs are partnering to bring the latest technology to the sales department. It’s not enough to have good marketing; sales teams need the latest tools to prioritize sales leads, prospects and customers.

"Virtual meetings, presentation tools and document delivery services make even the smallest sales operation perform like a professional team"

There are many sales technologies to choose from, but they essentially break down into three categories:

Sales technology starts with research. LinkedIn Sales Navigator reports that users are 51percent more likely than non-users to achieve their quotas because they get targeted information about their leads, their company priorities, and the individuals they are approaching. Valuable information like this allows salespeople to couch sales in a way that helps clients solve problems and reach their organizational goals. In addition, tools like this can help increase the productivity and opportunities created.

Even in sales, it takes a village to turn a prospect into a customer. CRM systems like SalesForce are great at organizing data and developing workflow processes to track leads, prospects, and sales. Social tools like Chatter and Jive help fill in the blanks by collecting all client conversations and similar prospect activity in one repository, giving the reps a knowledgebase for similar deal information, customer activity, and discussion activity.

The second sales technology category encompasses connecting and communicating with the clients. It is nearly impossible to get prospects on the phone; so the simple act of connecting with a prospect is more challenging than ever. There are many tools and services that increase connections and talk time for those working over the phones. Power dialers like Inside Sales and ConnectAndSell take different approaches but have similar goals of getting your salespeople to talk to more leads and prospects. Some power dialers even claim to improve connect rates by up to 300percent.

Call center VOiP systems allow you to extend your sales team beyond the office and give them all the tools and services they need in order to be available when the prospect is ready to talk. Call reporting details let you measure productivity and identify leading methods.

Salespeople need to be armed with strong messaging to know what to say, when to say it, and how to deliver the message. Targeted messaging and email marketing are becoming quite sophisticated, allowing salespeople to follow customer behavior and adapt messaging accordingly. Web analytics with lead scoring capability help salespeople turn unknown leads into tangible prospects. Knowing what the prospect is researching allows the salesperson to contact them while their interest is high, which is the best time to get them engaged via phone or online chat. Leads that interact with your website with multiple page views and downloads are 90 percent more willing to talk to the company than to respond to a cold call. Services like Eloqua, Marketo, and HubSpot have such capabilities. Extending the conversation with nurturing campaigns combined with personal communications help warm prospects into leads and make sure they know who to contact when they are ready for more information.

The third category of sales technology available enables proper delivery of sales presentations, documents and ultimately the product. Virtual meetings, presentation tools and document delivery services make even the smallest sales operation perform like a professional team. GoToMeeting, Join. me and others make it easy for a client to join a presentation. Box, DropBox, OneDrive and similar services make document sharing and access for sales easier than ever.

As much as we want sales to move on to the next deal, the client will hold the salesperson responsible for the delivery of the product or service. It’s important for sales to monitor the delivery while letting service do their job. Access to pipeline data, production cycles, delivery dates, and resource assignments are critical for the salesperson to maintain the trust of the client. Using cloud services and integrating across platforms gives ready access wherever and whenever needed.

No matter what technology you use, information alone is not enough. You need smart people who are able to know what to look for, see patterns in the data, synthesize their findings into actionable insights, and communicate it back to the team so they can act on it. According to a study by the American Management Association, 82 percent of organizations see the need for analytical skills growing, yet 75percent of employees do not excel in these skills. Forrester’s annual research on hiring eBusiness talent underscores this. The report says that finding the skills and capabilities to execute on a digital strategy is becoming increasingly hard.

I would suggest it is not the technical skills that are lagging. The customer experience and business analytics roles are the ones hardest to fill, and they are crucial functions of executing your sales strategy. Proper training in critical thinking, analytical skills, communication skills and project management are necessary to turn information into actionable insights and ultimately a competitive advantage.

Brining in sales technology, organizing clean data and making sure all services integrate is critical to supporting your company’s sales organization. Are you partnering to bring the latest tools to sales?

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