The sales industry has and continues to undergo a digital revolution. But, like many, sales departments are facing the pressures to adopt new technologies without fully understanding their benefits or how to use them.
Even worse, these technologies are often coupled with promised increases in sales success which results in increased targets and increased pressure if the technology is not fit for purpose or implemented in the wrong way.
This begs the question; how can sales teams really need to embrace technology for success?
Sales technology cannot be ignored
Every aspect of the sales process can now be supplemented by an aspect of technology brought about to ensure greater transparency of the sales process, aiming to increase sales.
A great example of this is Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRMs). At their best CRM’s are seen as a sales enablement tool and when implemented effectively can help you embed best practice and increase sales success. Implement badly and your salespeople will hate you for it. As a minimum CRMs enable sellers to keep track of customers, holding information such as preferred methods of communication, where they are on the sales journey and their history with you and your company.
There is no denying how revolutionary CRMs can be to the sales process and the wider business. In my opinion, there is no other way to track current buyers and prospects, but the true value comes from ensuring your sales processes and approach are embedded which reinforces how you want your sales team to operate.
Moving further down the line of technology, we meet Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. AI has the capability to present the research of prospects that sellers may spend hours doing themselves.
Not only does AI present immediate research results, but hand in hand with machine learning it enables much more depth and analysis than a salesperson can achieve with manual research.
AI and machine learning can provide insight and analysis into where your sales are falling short, and what aspect of the process often stops a prospect from moving from the research to buying phase, something that a salesperson will struggle to find looking at the data on their own.
What about traditional methods?
The traditional, or often labelled ‘old school’, salesperson may shudder at the suggestion that technology is revolutionising sales. Are the days of shaking on a deal over?
In the era of COVID, the answer is ‘ at least for now – yes.
But that’s not to say sales teams should be so quick as to shun the traditional sales methods.
Particularly in B2B sales, research still shows that buyers still greatly prefer buying over the phone as opposed to online, with 57% of buyers preferring to be approached by phone.
Cold calling is a skill. It’s not enough to pick up the phone and call, research must be undertaken to have a deep understanding of who the seller is pitching to ‘ you have to make the cold call warm very quickly.
The fact of the matter is, we still need the human touch no matter how impressive the technological outcome maybe, but salespeople need to embrace technology if they want the biggest successes.
That doesn’t mean relying on technology alone, but it means a harmonious approach needs to be taken between the traditional and technological methodologies for sales teams to be the most successful.
Whilst technology has made extraordinary progress, particularly in the sales industry, it needs a human driver to ensure the sales are heading in the right direction. Computers can only do so much.
The adoption of CRM systems has become an imperative factor in sales, and one can see the benefit of machine learning and AI in the sales process. But with most buyers still preferring human contact, we cannot deny the necessity of the traditional ways.
Training and coaching must be given to teams. Salespeople need to know how to optimise this technology so they can work harmoniously with it rather than against it. There is little point in investing in the technology if your sales operation and sales team don’t know how to utilise it efficiently.
Furthermore, the instinct of a salesperson is here to stay. Ensuring your team is coached to understand the importance of research and knowing the right time and person to call, they have the backing of the technology to ensure sales figures are through the roof.
So yes, sales teams do need to embrace tech, but to secure success they must not lose the human touch in the process. Technology is an enhancement, not a replacement.