It seems each industry and every branch of government is scuffling to get ahead of the promises of innovative technology. However, these assessments are crucial for the success of B2B sales organizations as they grapple with significant future investments. Chief Sales Officers (CSOs) are challenged to find sales technology that improves buyer engagement and simplifies workflow.
Finding sales technology that drives positive business outcomes
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to see around corners. Yet, it’s also amusing to look back. The initial CRM systems that allowed us to collect data, analytics and centralized customer information now seem rudimentary.
Today, mobile and cloud integration enhance our ability to collaborate with anyone from anywhere. Our sales teams are more efficient. And we must exploit this vast amount of intelligence to grow.
According to Gartner, 65% of B2B sales organizations will transition from intuition-based to data-driven decision making by 2026. Additionally, Gartner analysts claim this modernized selling strategy will optimize three critical attributes:
- Improving buyer engagement
- Data-driven seller actions
- Simplified seller workflows
Making the most of digital sales channels
Sales technology has provided a wondrous array of tools for faster and more user-friendly interactions. Significantly, these systems support salespeople with broader and more integrated customer data and analytics. However, the authors of an article in the Harvard Business Review argue that this digital backbone may not be enough.
Prabhakant Sinha and his co-authors state that sales pros must possess classic sales skills such as curiosity, empathy and customer and product knowledge. However, “for sellers to coexist with digital channels, success is both about mindset and capabilities.” Further, they see accelerated adoption of sales technology such that digital natives will comprise 75% of the selling workforce by 2025.
Obviously, sales incentive plans and management practices in the future must transform. They will likely resemble bonus plans that direct and motivate sellers and encourage departments to work together. So they too will reflect longer-term company and team performance goals and include thresholds of customer success.
The tremendous challenge to keep pace with sales technology
Sinha, predicts sales organizations will devise three key roles to thrive in this ever-changing environment:
- Sales managers will still lead, coach, motivate and manage. But, they will do so with a collaborative mindset to support the sales teams’ use of data and technology.
- Liaisons called “boundary spanners” will act as architects of new systems. They have selling experience and can transfer sales logic to integrate these new tools. Spanners are responsible for ensuring solutions are well-designed and implemented.
- Early experience teams (EET) will pilot new tools in a controlled environment. They will provide feedback on usability, functionality and overall experience. As internal advocates and sales support, EET will be critical in sales tool rollout.
Customized tools for deal size and speed
Gartner envisions purpose-built virtual selling technology that adapts to the sellers’ daily workflow. CSOs must, in turn, choose the most appropriate tools for their business.
For example, customer transactions that are executed over shorter sales cycles (less than three months) and have greater velocity will have fewer stakeholders. However, enterprise deals, (longer than six months) have higher volume. These deals will involve a larger buying committee and a unique virtual selling profile.
The flexibility to engage buyers virtually throughout the transaction regardless of the deal size or speed simplifies the process. Salespeople will benefit from emerging sales technology that can influence messaging, workflows and tactics that are situationally appropriate.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.