This article originally appeared in Forbes. Read the original here.
From ordering food or controlling your thermostat, technology is changing the way we go about our daily habits. The world of sales is no different: Technology is reinventing the way we sell. If you’ve been in sales for more than a few years, you’ve likely already experienced these changes.
So what is this new era of sales we’re entering? It’s what I call "empowered sales." Tomorrow’s salesperson will be empowered by technology, platforms and systems to do far more than they would have been able to a few years back. As a business owner, I’ve already seen the impact of technology on our sales processes and on our salespeople. It’s both exhilarating and intimidating.
Here’s how salespeople can expect to be empowered as technology takes an even stronger hold on the way we live our lives:
Less Tasks, More Meaningful Interactions
When it comes to day-to-day tasks, salespeople can expect to see a decrease in tedious duties and an increase in meaningful interactions with prospects and leads. Sales platforms and technology will automate more tasks, freeing salespeople to spend their time on meaningful interactions.
A colleague of mine, Max Altschuler, founder of Sales Hacker Inc., shared his thoughts on this topic with me: “New technologies, like bots that help with mundane tasks in scheduling, and dashboards that help with engaging the right accounts, are here to support and empower reps like never before.”
Not sure what that looks like? As an example, our own sales reps do not spend time scheduling follow-up tasks manually or remembering to follow up with a prospect. Our built-in sales CRM allows them to do that, minimizing the amount of time they spend on administrative work.
More Analytics And Consolidation Of Data
If you've worked in sales long enough, you know that there are a ton of disparate systems that typically don’t connect to each other. Want to know how many calls your business development team made? That’s one system. Want to know how many outreach emails they sent? How about how many leads are in the pipeline? What times are the best to call? How many appointments are being set? More than likely, you are using data from multiple systems to put together this type of reporting. And if you’re not, you’re missing out on the power of analytics to drive targeted sales activities.
More and more, we are seeing platforms emerge that are consolidating all of this data into one easy-to-understand analytics outlet so sales managers and sales reps can be aware of the big picture at any given time, saving them precious time and making them more agile.
Mark Kosoglow, VP of Sales at Outreach, spoke to this at a past sales conference: “Actionable analytics. New platforms will allow companies to get insights into sales teams' activities never seen before. Automation plus analytics equals extreme acceleration.”
Our internal sales team has already been seeing the fruits of more analytics. From knowing which emails get opened more often and what times of day people are more likely to answer phone calls, their productivity has greatly increased. And that's something we should all be excited about.
From a sales and marketing perspective, this is huge. I personally spent most of the past year building our platform that consolidates marketing data for our clients. Consolidation and analytics transparency are everywhere and it's time to embrace it.
More Accessibility And Less Formality
A decade ago, all sales transactions, from initial outreach to signing the contract, happened face-to-face. Phone calls were scheduled, formal meetings were set and contracts were delivered by mail. If that’s still your process, you might be losing out. Today’s consumer, whether B2C or B2B, is digitally connected all the time – and they expect salespeople to be equally connected. Virtual conferences, text messaging and digital contracts are now the norm.
At a recent AA-ISP panel discussion I attended, Bob Perkins, founder and chairman, put it this way: "If you haven't already embraced the virtualization of sales, get ready. Today's buyers are demanding that sales become as quick and easy as searching and buying a product on Amazon. They want to do it on their phones often without even speaking to a person. Sales teams need to ensure that every possible interaction with a prospect is digitalized and supported via a virtual engagement.”
Sound unreal? I’ve personally seen this happen in my practice: For most of our clients, probably close to 90%, we’ve closed without ever meeting them. And we service them that way, too. Proximity or face-to-face interactions aren't as important anymore. Salespeople have to be ready to embrace going digital using all technology platforms available to them.
Are You Ready For The New Era Of Sales?
If you haven’t injected some sort of automation or technology into your sales process in the past year or so, you should seriously consider using technology to empower your salespeople.
Not sure you need it? Consider the following: Do you want to accelerate your sales process? Do you want to increase productivity? If you answered "yes" to either of these questions, chances are you're ready to make a move in that direction.