Today is yesterday’s tomorrow. But it’s still today.
“Without technology humanity has no future, but we have to be careful that we don’t become so mechanised that we lose our feelings.”
The Dalai Lama
Over the last 30 years advancing technology has usually played only a supporting role in the life of the sales person and sales strategy.
Lets start with the Internet, email, Microsoft Office, mobile telephony, VOIP, CRM, DropBox/Sharepoint, all of which we now pretty much take for granted.
Think of how challenging “Prospecting’ was, prior to the arrival of the Internet.
Consider the difficulties faced by small businesses or the equivalent of ‘start-ups” attempting to research market opportunity without the Internet.
The depth of research available online is so overwhelming that the challenge now has become “finding the time” over “finding the information” itself.
Google alone has made EVERYTHING more accessible, expeditious, and all pretty much for free.
Linkedin might just be home to greatest collection of exaggerated CVs the world has ever known, but it’s still a decent starting point for finding out the name of the decision maker at Company X.
Sales people can now move faster than ever before and usually in the right direction too.
Back in 90s, as the Internet came properly into play, there were infrequent murmurings of people being replaced by technology, with the commonly and misinformed view that “computers will never take the place of that human touch”
In the intervening 25 years, humans are still at the wheel when it comes to sales and whilst technology is at play everywhere, the greater worry for every sales person is not that they will be made obsolete by software or a computer but that they may get replaced by another salesperson who simply uses the available technology better.
Consider the “prospecting” phase of selling.
It can be time consuming, tedious and thankless, but if undertaken thoroughly it can have a huge impact on campaign effectiveness.
COOs spend disproportionate amounts of time and money removing obstacles for sales peoples – buying databases, employing the services of lead generation companies or telemarketing teams in an attempt to make the sales effort more effective.
The technology is already in play to synchronise all available data at the prospecting stage – bringing together company, market, competitor and person-specific information, then feeding this information into the CRM which then sends out emails, social media communications (A/B tested) all powered by an algorithm which determines the optimum time of day to make the introduction phone call.
Algorithms to help you work out who the best prospects for your business are and when the optimum time is to connect with them in your sales cycle and their buying cycle.
It’s already available but it’s not even the tip of the iceberg in terms of potentiality and whilst there is no doubt that technology can help in the “process” of business development, human interaction will remain relevant so long as humans decide that it is.
I would suggest not worry so much about technology as a replacement for our efforts but more about how we can use it to better engage at an interpersonal level.
Think about how better to integrate your CRM – is it being used fully to the benefit of the sales team and your customers?
Think about how readily you ask for feed back from customers and how prepared you are to make changes as a result.
Think more about enhanced delivery and value co-creation with the current client portfolio instead of a hit-and-run sales strategy – what is the real lifetime value of those relationships?
Think about knowledge and insight sharing – is everything up for discussion in your business or always under lock and key?
Think about a consultative approach rather than a pure sales and business development approach – if your clients need educating, then, go teach!
Think about redefining your value and about how you make it easier for customers to buy from you.
The march of technology maybe irrevocable but it’s important not to overlook what is already available.
SHIFT CONTROL is a business development consultancy specialising in sales strategy and marketing communications for SMEs throughout Ireland and the UK.
Follow us on Twitter @shiftcontrol66