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Sales Success Lies in the Science of Technology

Inside Sales Lead Management Featured Article

Sales Success Lies in the Science of Technology
 
May 13, 2015

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  By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
 


While it’s true that at its core the principles of good salesmanship haven’t changed in centuries, technology has a significant role to play in the support of sales efforts – call it sales enablement – and much of today’s technology is making it both easier and more challenging in many ways. For example, information about the prospect or customer is more readily available than ever thanks to the Internet and social media, but cutting though all the noise becomes difficult.


Research group Gartner (News - Alert) recently published a list of the “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015,” and while not all of them will have an impact on sales, many of them do. Sales teams need to be prepared to evaluate new technology and understand which ones can offer true benefit and which ones are simply a distraction. Of course, using technology to supplement sales efforts isn’t new, according to Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer writing for the Harvard Business Review.

“The first ‘traveling salesmen’ used the railroad and then the automobile to broaden their geographic reach. Subsequent generations of salespeople have embraced innovations such as telephones, computers, and cell phones to build stronger customer connections. As today’s technology trends continue to have an impact, and as new trends emerge, sales forces must constantly and creatively adopt and adapt new technologies to improve sales processes and better serve customers.”

The most significant of today’s technological trends for the sales business, according to Gartner, include pervasive computing, particularly on mobile devices; predictive analytics that can allow companies to see trends the unaided eye would miss and predict what customers will want and need; context-rich systems that allow data and analytical insights to be tailored and targeted for the specific situations faced by customers and the sales team; and cloud computing, which enables fast deployment and at-will scaling of systems to keep up with ever-changing business, customer, and salesforce needs.

Many of these technologies are particularly helpful for inside sales teams looking for an edge in outbound calling. In their article for HRB, Zoltners, Sinha and Lorimer used the example of a financial services business that utilized an inside sales force to send credit and lending products to customers through outbound telephone contact.

“The company examined millions of phone records and listened to dozens of calls to identify ways to improve customer targeting and sales process execution,” wrote the authors. “Using advanced, pervasive, and invisible analytics, the company performed tests, quickly producing simple, but breakthrough insights. First, by focusing on just seven of the14 target industries, salespeople could increase profits by 16 percent. Second, by shifting calls to the right time of day, salespeople could triple the probability of a sale and increase profits by 20 percent. Third, by using specific consultative sales techniques employed by top performers, salespeople could further enhance their effectiveness and performance.”

Analytics, coupled with pervasive and mobile computing, are what’s enabling sales teams today to be well positioned to take the right message from the right salesperson to the right group at the right time via the right medium. While it’s true that sales is a skill – either inborn or learned, or a combination of the two – technology today can help fill in any gaps that might exist in sales’ natural state. The challenge, as mentioned before, becomes finding the right technologies while minimizing or eliminating the distractions they might bring. 

 

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