No matter how fast technology advances, the core strategy to successful sales never changes. Know your customers and their pain points. Be able to coherently explain your value proposition. Nurture strong relationships. These are the moves that will allow you to build a robust sales culture in your organization.
Still, technology is making a difference -- a big difference: The recent proliferation of mobile broadband technology, combined with increasingly sophisticated software, is allowing salespeople to take their productivity and service skills to new heights.
Cloud adoption, for one thing, is accelerating among businesses of all sizes, as more and more CEOs recognize the potential conveniences and cost savings that come with hosting data on the cloud. And advanced technology is making it possible to track and evaluate more sophisticated sales data in real time, giving salespeople new tools to complete tasks more efficiently.
More From Entrepreneur.com
It is now clear that although good salespeople cannot rely solely on technological solutions to do their jobs, innovative tech products are changing B2B sales processes in profound ways. Here are four.
1. The cloud is turning road warriors into mobile information hubs.
The average B2B customer expects more from his or her sales representatives than ever before. Those expectations include more information, detailed answers and quicker responses. Thanks to mobile-friendly cloud platforms, any salesperson can more easily and less expensively give prospects what they want.
Many cloud solutions, in fact, combine inventory management, accounting, customer service and ecommerce in a single platform, so sales reps can quickly provide accurate and up-to-date information no matter how far away from the office they are.
In short, there is no longer any need to send to accounts receivable a customer who has a question about his bill, or forward him to the help desk to check on the status of a ticket that's been opened. Traveling sales reps now have instant access to current information as it changes, allowing them to further cultivate their relationships with clients and provide a streamlined, cohesive customer experience.
And, with properly implemented CRM tools, sales organizations are seeing as much as $8.71 in ROI for every dollar spent, according to data from Nucleus Research.
2. Real-time metrics is allowing managers to make adjustments instantaneously.
To make your sales operation as lean as possible, you must measure a wide range of performance metrics for you team members. For most of history, this was a tedious affair, and so time-consuming that results could generally be evaluated only weekly or monthly. Just imagine how much you lost in productivity back then by not correcting a glaring issue for an entire month!
Today, things are different: New software programs that read data from phone and email databases let sales managers look at performance numbers as they are updated in real time. As a manager, if you see that one of your sales reps does something which negatively impacts her effectiveness and efficiency, you can address it immediately to avoid future mistakes and limit wasted effort and resources.
Additionally, these programs can track more advanced sales metrics, such as qualified lead velocity rate, that previously were tough to compute and analyze.
3. Training programs are more creative and engaging.
A solid sales training program is the backbone of any company with a proven track record of sales success; and technology has opened up exciting new possibilities here.
Where many SMBs once hired expensive consultants or sent teams to out-of-office workshops, to build a foundational training plan, sales reps now have access to presentations from the world’s leading training experts using just an Internet connection.
You can also find professional development software programs, allowing sales reps to complete online courses at their own pace so their coursework does not interfere with their other duties. You can tie these advanced training efforts into an existing incentive program, and encourage salespeople to adopt new technology to better serve their clients and improve their performance.
At SAP, for example, employees and trainees are offered in-classroom support as well as online learning modules to sharpen their skills wherever they are, from their local office or while they're on the road.
Sales acceleration technology opens up new avenues for productivity.
Sales acceleration technology is software specifically designed to help salespeople work smarter and faster, and it is poised to grow exponentially in the coming years. It allows sales reps to track their own performance, better integrates their marketing and sales efforts and incorporates sophisticated tools to monitor market trends and let sales rep make informed decisions about future opportunities.
In an article on Bain Insights, Bain & Company partners Dianne Ledingham, Mark Kovac, and Laura Beaudin, along with director Sarah Dey Burton, wrote that, “Investments in technology can automate or eliminate low-value activities from sales reps so they can spend more time with customers. Coca-Cola Enterprises, for example, has equipped its field sales reps with a mobile application that gives them detailed information about each store they serve, including the store’s assessment of Coca-Cola’s performance.
"The company," the Bain article continued, "also released a mobile app that enables store owners to reorder and log service requests. As a result, both the sales team’s productivity and customer satisfaction have risen.”
Yet another benefit of sales acceleration technology is that it aligns the customer’s purchasing journey with the company’s sales effort. As customers gain access to increasing amounts of product information via online resources, sales professionals can use detailed and segmented data collected via the software to better understand the needs and wants of their clients.
However, as useful as it may be, sales acceleration technology is no substitute for the human connection between salesperson and client. Instead, it gives your sales reps better tools they can use to enrich these relationships.