When discussing the technology that goes into running an effective inside sales operation, there is no one better to talk to than Invenio Solutions Vice President of Technology, Bill Welsh. Below is his reflection on Sales in the 2016 tech landscape and the 4 technologies companies are using today to get ahead.
Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel made an observation in 1965. He wrote a paper describing a doubling every year in the number of components per integrated circuit and projected this rate of growth would continue for at least another decade. Moore’s Law, as it came to be known, held true for more than the originally projected decade. Today, technology has outgrown his original predictions, but his theory remains sound – computing power grows exponentially, and technology is consistently improving, reinventing the world as we know it.
As of 2015, a staggering 3.17 billion people have access to the internet, almost 45% of the world’s population. It’s estimated that the digital universe will grow from the 3.2 zettabytes it contains today to encompass approximately 40 zettabytes of data within the next six years (one zettabyte is equal to approximately one billion terabytes).
What impact, if any, does this technology growth have on sales? Technology is transforming sales in ways that would have been unthinkable only a few decades ago. Today’s cloud technologies, social, big data, and mobile are revamping the sales as we knew it.
What are the technologies companies today are using to improve their selling processes?
1. Cloud-based CRM Technology:
Customer Relationship management (CRM) systems are powerful tools used to give companies overall view of their customer relationships by integrating marketing, sales and customer service.
Moving from onsite to the cloud has freed up the sales process, allowing employees to access the CRM data from anywhere at any time. When correctly deployed, a CRM offers a huge advantage for employees, as it allows them to get fast and accurate insights on what customers are doing, what they’re seeking, and when they are mostly likely to buy. Armed with up-to-date, intelligent information and the ability to contact customers and prospects while on the go, a sales team becomes more agile, effective, and productive.
2. Sales Force Automation Systems:
Businesses without automation spend much of their time and resources planning and defining business processes. The same holds true for sales organizations. Selling requires a number of monotonous, time-consuming, and repetitive tasks, such as scheduling appointments, sending follow-up emails, and updating sales opportunities (all of which reduce productivity and profitability).
Sales Force Automation (SFA) technology solutions automate many of those tasks, freeing up sales teams to focus on activities that generate sales and revenue. SFA allows sales managers to keep their teams up to date on current and new products and services. With SFA, managers can also have instant access to activities of individual sales employees, sales figures, opportunities, customer complaints, and other data used to determine sales success. Armed with this information provided in real-time, managers can take action and make adjustments quickly to optimize efforts.
3. Social Platforms:
The explosion of social technology in the last 10 years has given rise to a number of social media platforms for attracting and engaging new customers, a vital step in getting a customer into the sales funnel. Social media platforms provide opportunities for companies to meet customers, engaging them in conversations about products and services for valuable insights that could lead to a sale. Unlike conventional sales, social media makes it possible to shake millions of hands from across the entire world all at once.
Today’s customers are more connected than ever due to social media platforms. Statistics show that a majority are turning to peer recommendations and reviews on social media as part of their product research. Even more revealing is the fact that most buyers have all but completed their sales journey before ever contacting a seller. Organizations can follow this trail of digital breadcrumbs from prospective buyers on social media, and better target potential customers at just the right point in the decision-making process.
4. Big Data:
Today, companies have done a good job successfully capturing, managing, and analyzing massive volumes of customer data that contains insights into customer behaviors and buying habits. Despite this, the average company only analyzes roughly 10% of the data that they have available to them. This is where “big data” technology comes in.
Using big data analytics tools, sales organizations can now manage prospecting, a critical step in the sales process. Traditionally, prospecting (finding and qualifying potential customers with specific needs and wants) has been a time and hugely labor-intensive process. Now, through the use of analytics and data models, companies can not only identify potential customers, but more accurately predict which leads from B2B lead generation efforts are likely to become clients. This gives the sales team a clearer idea of where to focus their efforts. In short, big data analytics tools help organizations focus their sales efforts on the most promising and profitable activities and customers.
As we move even further into the digital age, we need to recognize the universal effect that our technology is having on our businesses, otherwise, we may find our companies left behind. Even though we can count on technology to constantly improve, the only thing keeping individual companies and businesses from falling behind is the willingness to improve as well.