This might be common sense, but the world in which sales professionals operate is a stormy one, constantly changing thanks to underlying drivers and trends like an explosion of information, changing market dynamics, rising customer demands, disruptive technologies, and therefore more than just a handful of new competitors.
Constantly moving, always connected and more informed than ever before – how to catch up with today’s digital-first customers?
The context of how sales people and buyers interact with each other, how information is shared and how decisions are made has changed. But the good news is: The end result of all this will be that both sides are being engaged in more effective and efficient, flexible and even honest ways. Some of them are being supported by strategic technology trends (read below), like e.g. Gartner says, becoming an indispensable part of sales teams’ success.
- The rise of educated and empowered buyers demands well-prepared sales people
The clash of mobile, cloud, social, and big data innovations has resulted in an unprecedented buyer empowerment. These digitized, tech-savvy customers have 24/7 access to a great variety of information sources while using all available communication channels. Therefore, they are highly educated about available solutions that suit their businesses best. Or expressed in volume terms: 74% of business buyers have conducted more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase, which means that they are done with the major part of the buying process at that time.
- Computing anywhere and anytime resulted in an on-demand availability and accessibility of both sellers and buyers.
Thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices – for 2017 the number of mobile phone users is forecast to reach 4.77 billion – and an always-on mindset, barriers of time and distance have vanished into thin air. Combined with context-rich systems that deliver customer-tailored data and analytical insights for specific situations, sales management gets the right product or service information to the right sales professional and buyer at the right time.
- Sales verticalization needs credible partners with an in-depth understanding
The customers 3.0 have an increasingly low level of tolerance for generic products or service information. They expect their sales contacts to know the dynamics of their vertical industry back to front. This includes key performance indicators, major challenges and opportunities they and their nearest competitors face, as well as any untapped opportunities.
- Advanced, pervasive analytics enable sales forces to become experts at sifting and sorting information
Analytics tools that are layered seamlessly on top of linked data on (1) customers, (2) past and present sales activities and buyers’ purchases, and (3) the relating sales account, enable global sales forces and local representatives to make fact-based decisions. Smart companies, no matter their size, are well-served by adopting and sharing best practices and knowledge as a standard of sales excellence by using latest technology and sales solutions.
- Streamlining CRM capabilities will simplify lead generation
By utilizing the comprehensive analytics available from internal data, the web and social media Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can be customized further, for example by deploying applications on various devices – one key to getting sales teams to use CRM systems in a more customer centric way, and also more effectively.
- Two become one when both customer-facing departments, Sales and Marketing, unite
As in most cases buyers have compared many different solutions before calling, and they expect consistency and reliability, no matter if they are talking to a sales representative or a product manager. Accordingly, more and more organizations are moving toward aligning and integrating their sales and marketing functions to ensure a unified public appearance, which has to be practiced by both departments internally and externally.
- Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) improving the realization of cross-selling and up-selling opportunities
The figures are highly promising: According to IDC, 67% of all enterprise IT infrastructure and software spending will be for cloud-based offerings by 2020. No wonder, because these technologies, which only require a minimum amount of training, speed up actions, orders and quotations for sales. They keep systems up-to-date with the ever-changing business as well as customers’ and sales forces’ needs, while at the same time providing easy accessibility and usability in contrast to complex ERP systems. And, best of all, users like to use them and don’t have to be forced to do so.