Technology Enabled Sales Transformations

Alan Love, Director, PwC
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Alan Love, Director, PwC

The pace of change in today's business environment, coupled with evolving customer expectations, requires sales and IT leaders to re-evaluate their commercial strategies and supporting technologies in order to stay on top. The most successful companies are re-imagining and re-shaping their futures through strategies that seamlessly tie traditionally disparate business functions and processes together. The commercial agenda is broad and requires re-envisioning of traditional sales, marketing, and service functions.

“You should think beyond the boundaries of your organization to build an ecosystem that enables collaboration with partners and customers as well”

The Journey of Commercial Transformation

Start where you can realize value. Transforming your sales organization and the technology platform that supports it is typically a long-term, multiphase process. Value delivery must be demonstrated early and throughout the program lifecycle. So, look for the projects and capabilities that offer the best balance of complexity to address and ability to deliver business value. Determine your timeline for change and locate initiatives on a detailed roadmap. Build a compelling business case that demonstrates the ability to deliver short-term and long-term value. Delivering short-term results is especially critical to generating momentum and maintaining executive/stakeholder support. IT leaders must work with business leaders to prioritize the initiatives that provide the capabilities needed to “move the needle” in key performance metrics.

In the end, the key is to get started. Organizations often fall into two categories—unfocused or indecisive. The unfocused group starts too many projects or initiatives that consequently fail to gain traction. The indecisive group continually discusses prospective projects, but they never pull the trigger. So, define needed capabilities and the portfolio of projects required to enable them. Prioritize them in light of business value and get started.

Keys to Effective Commercial Transformation Program

Align to the customer journey. One of the key drivers of change for sales leaders is the shift in power from the seller to the buyer in both Business-to-Consumer and Business-to-Business environments. Buyer's conduct much of their buying journey on their own before inviting a seller into the process. Therefore, your technology enabled sales process must align to the customer buying process. It is im-portant to start with a keen understanding of the buyer journey. At a high level, buyer’s move through the process—transitioning from awareness to intent to purchase. How do you support value delivery specifically targeted to the requirements of each stage in the buyer journey? The goal is to become a “customer-easy” organization that reduces friction in the buyer journey.

Think bigger than sales–build a cross-functional collaboration platform. Your sales organization is only one touch point with your customer. What are the other functions that have direct interaction with your customer? Your technology platform should function like a customer ecosystem, enabling the effective collaboration needed to deliver distinctive and delightful customer experiences. Ultimately, you should think beyond the boundaries of your organization to build an ecosystem that enables collaboration with partners and customers as well. According to PwC’s 18th Annual CEO Survey, an overwhelming majority of CEOs say that digital technologies are creating value for internal and external collaboration.

Make mobility the core or foundational to your sales effectiveness solution. Put the power of the ecosystem in the hands (literally) of your sales and service organization. Mobility is the hub of the ecosystem. Eighty-one percent of CEOs think mobile technologies are strategically important for their business. No longer can you think of mobile as an add-on as technology enablement for sales must be "mobile first". Sales people are on the move. Customers are looking for real-time responses to questions and issues. Put information and a tool for collaboration in the hands of every customer-facing employee. Response times should be measured in seconds, not hours or days. A cross-functional collaboration platform enabled on a mobile device lets you move smarter and faster.

Unlocking the Power of Customer Data

With regard to sales technology, two issues repeatedly disrupt the peaceful sleep of Sales and IT leaders. Simply put—“how effectively are people using the tools that we are providing?” and “how effectively are we unlocking the value of collected customer data?”

The ability to deliver the promised value from sales transformations rests in the hands of frontline sellers and first-line managers. Adoption is key to value realization. Change management and adoption must be front and center throughout the program lifecycle. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking about change management after solutions are built and adoption is disappointing. A heavy handed approach can produce compliance, but more is needed. Establishing a network of well-respected change champions during the program will serve to raise awareness but the key is to begin transferring ownership of the transformation to business leaders throughout. An effective sales transformation program provides the tools needed to run the business from the ground up. You know you have succeeded when the frontline resources are managing daily activity with the tools you have provided and business leaders have the information they need to make decisions and lead the business.

Sales and IT leaders share a common concern about the quality and value of customer data. The proliferation and availability of customer, macroeconomic, and demographic data requires that capabilities be established to better leverage information for commercial advantage. According to PwC’s research, 80 percent of CEOs surveyed suggest that data mining and analysis is strategically important and a significant source of business value. However, there are issues about data quality, information overload and a continuing lack of trust in the value of digital data. Commercial systems are on the frontline of the opportunities and challenges associated with data analytics. Elevating the data and reporting work stream to a place of high visibility is essential to ensure that you unlock the power of collected customer data.

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