Technology’s Role in Sales Success
Given the complexity of our lives today, it is hard to imagine a life without the internet, 500+ television channels, and the ability to stay connected with 300 friends through social media channels. Yet, 30 years ago, that is how life was. People went to their jobs, demonstrated value for goods and services, and made a living that could lead to happiness and success.
It is easy to get caught up in all the technology revolutions that seem to occur monthly – at extreme times – with the goal of avoiding being part of the next “big thing.”
Time for Perspective
When I am feeling a big overwhelmed, I find it helpful to take a step back and think of a time when characters such as Don Draper, from the popular Mad Men television series, worked on their sales and marketing pitches. Their time in history reflected a period when technology complexity consisted of how to light a cigarette with a butane lighter versus matches. We can often gain greater insights into what the real objective is for the task at hand by removing technology from the equation. In sales execution, this is no different.
Sales success, in the end, is all about relationships and how to best mange them. There is an adage that people don’t like to be sold … but they love to buy. The difference is that when an interaction occurs, if the conversation is genuine, then sales success can be achieved. If the interaction is a pitch, however, the likelihood for future success will decline.
Here is where business-to-business sales (B2B) can vary from business-to-consumer (B2C) sales. Individuals are certainly involved in both purchase decisions, however, my choice on what watch to buy is most predicated on how I feel when I wear it – a thought process that can’t really be identified as “right” or “wrong”. B2B decisions are often more collaborative, and must have some sort of Return on Investment discussion to help justify the purchase. Businesses, after all, exist to make money.
Given the importance of relationships, so as to keep interactions “real” and genuine, there are three functions that any great sales person must master. When implemented correctly, technology can help expand your scope and improve your efficiency. The three categories are:
- Contact management – who should you speak with, and how often?
- Lead management – what prospective buyers should you engage with, to follow up?
- Pipeline management – where are you at with current deals, and how can you close them?
In the days of Don Draper, a sales tool such as contact management was handled with a Rolodex, which comprised of the names of his clients and their phone numbers. That was it. And, this was all done on paper, without the Internet! Of course, this also meant Don had to be in the office to make a sales call. And, he likely had to dial the number without pushbuttons. How many sales calls might you be able to do if it took over a minute just to dial the number?
Then, for lead management – well, that was simply done by top of mind. Those clients that were most important had most of his attention. Finding new clients was as much a relationship game as it was on knowing the right people and being in the right place, at the right time. Drinking a few martinis over lunch is a great way to get to know someone, find out their business needs, and putting together a proposal thereafter to address them.
Lastly, pipeline management was a sales tactic best accomplished by more in person meetings. If you were lucky, you had a staff and support who could follow up to ensure all the necessary paperwork was in place, and that client needs were addressed. If not, lots of travel to “close” the deal.
Technology as the Amplifier
Today, while it might be nice to justify a four martini lunch, it would likely be tough to deal with all the other tasks that are part of everyone’s lives today – especially if you are in sales management. Here is where technology can be leveraged to improve sales effectiveness, scope and reach of your sales success. No longer are face-to-face sales meetings a requirement. Many companies now operate globally, which means different time zones and a globally distributed sales team. Digital communications as well as cultural and personality differences all must now be considered for effective management processes, which ultimately becomes as part of your contact, lead or pipeline management routine.
Customer Relationship Management software became a staple of lead and pipeline management for one reason – it became a central repository of the latest updates of interactions and status for sales opportunities. This knowledge, when stored in a digital format, can then be readily shared with employees working in different locations. Contacts can be managed, status updates can be readily retrieved, and team performance reporting can be accessed in a fairly straightforward manner.
But what about a sales team’s selling skills and their overall performance? How do you best address this challenge when operating across multiple geographic regions, with a team that has varying levels of experience and knowledge? Technology can help here too.
A new provider in this space is Prodoscore. The program works behind the scene to provide insights into time management and sales execution tasks. This knowledge, coupled with great contact and process management software, can make the difference between success and failure of a sales team. Learn more here.
We will never see a time again in the future where technology doesn’t have an important role. In fact, it is most likely technology will continue to be an increasingly dominant characteristic of how we live our lives. That is our reality. Those that embrace these tech tools have the opportunity to stand apart from their peers and the competition; those that don’t are at risk of falling behind. What camp do you want to belong with?