Using Technology to Help You Sell Smarter

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The idea of selling smarter is hard to refute. It is one of those things that everybody wants and everybody talks about. But sometimes, all it is is a statement of a goal-without specific tactics to designed to make selling smarter a reality.

On the technology side, when we look at many CRM technologies, it is quickly apparent that the focus of these tools is not on selling smarter—it is on tracking and control. This may be one of the biggest drivers of the lack of adoption by sales (according to a CSO Insights report, only 26% of firms surveyed reported having more than 90% of their reps using CRM as part of their daily workflow and 57% of the enterprises surveyed had their CRM systems in place for more than 3 years).

On the other hand, we are seeing some new technologies and tools emerge that are designed to help people sell smarter. Vendors like InsideView and Savo are linking their technologies with CRM products from people like SAP and others to enable more intelligent selling. At the same time, some core sales technologies are evolving to be designed around the way sales people work rather than the way management wants to control.

But what is really needed to sell smarter? The answer lies within your own sales teams. Think about things from their perspective. Watch how they work. Ask them what they would make them more effective. Show them some new possibilities and gauge their reaction. I’d bet these simple steps would provide you with an excellent list of priorities. But I think we can start with some assumptions and use the steps above to refine or refute them. For a seller in the 21st century, it is likely you’ll hear them ask:

  • Save Me Time – “I spend way too much time hunting for the right information to provide prospects at the right time in the sales or buying cycle. Make it easier for me to find the items targeted for each stage so I can quickly choose, and tailor, the right ones for my customer” (Savo Group helps with this.)
  • Make me smarter about my territory – “I know a lot about my existing customers, but less about my prospects and other opportunities in my territory. I’d love tools that helped me keep pace with changes within my customer organization, identify key contacts in prospects, and filter all the information that is out there about these companies to see the stuff that is most relevant to me based on what we sell.” (InsideView helps with this.)
  • Eliminate my internal information searches – “My customers expect me to know what is going on with them with us. Some of this information is in our CRM system (such as service information), but they want more. They expect me to know the status of all their orders, delivery times, inventory availability, and more. I can usually find this out, but I often have to login to multiple systems or ask multiple people to help. I never have the time to find it all and it seems like no matter how hard I work to prepare, the customer always asks for the one thing I was not able to find.” (This is really about integrating sales systems with CRM and ERP, something that SAP Sales OnDemand, for example, does very well.)

What other areas would you add?

With these ideas and yours as a starting point, the question is not “can we do some of this?” it is more “why haven’t we already done it”. All of this information is readily available in today’s connected, digital world. But we’ve been building systems from the wrong perspective, and as a result, we are making it harder for our sales teams to be as smart as possible.

In the age of customer experience, we regularly encourage people to walk in the shoes of their customers to truly understand what experience they are receiving. If you want your sales teams to sell smarter, it is time to walk in their shoes. Once you do, you will probably look at your technology priorities differently, looking for a different set of tools designed from a different perspective to enable your teams to sell more effectively.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Hank Barnes
Hank Barnes provides research and advisory services on go-to-market strategies--particularly around marketing, positioning, and customer experience--for technology providers. Hank has more than 25 years of high-technology sales and marketing experience in both field and corporate roles, both as an individual contributor and the marketing leader for several startups. He is a long-time proponent of customer-centric marketing and the use of customer experience as a key differentiator for business success. His posts here include content from his days with Adobe, SAP, and now Gartner

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