We live in a high-tech era, and digital transformation is impacting almost every aspect of sales and marketing.
Sales, just as almost every other area of business, is being transformed by AI. This adoption should give company sales organizations the ability to meet the customer when they are ready to engage in the sales quoting process.
Properly using sales enablement technology, will help organizations better utilize their budgets and create roles that are more focused on a smaller subset of tasks.
The outcome of this will deliver more predictability, higher closing ratios, and, most importantly, employee and job satisfaction, and this will support better customer engagement that is more focused on building trust for the long-term.
Technologies like Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have enabled businesses to shorten the sales cycle and develop a more predictable sales pipeline.
AI-enabled lead segmenting, predictive texting, automated outreach, and follow-up techniques are only some of the ways robots and AI are taking over, causing a sense of fear amongst sales reps. Robots are partially taking charge of the complex sales environment and are completing tedious & monotonous tasks with precision & perfection.
So, how should sales professionals cope with and navigate through the changing sales landscape? How can businesses make the most out of the opportunities offered by sales automation technology for higher conversions? Finally, is there any way to strike the right balance between traditional sales and intelligent automation?
Well, in this article, we have curated some key points that will answer these questions. Explore insights on the effectiveness of well-coordinated sales automation and sales team management.
Impact of Technology On Sales Process Management
The internet has made access to information more accessible, which has in return, transformed how customers interact and engage with brands.
Customers today have various means and endless platforms to dig out product and service information.
In a traditional sales process, the interaction between a customer and sales rep would start at the first stage of the sales cycle itself. However, nowadays, customers first investigate the product and then engage with the salesperson at a much later stage.
When buyers contact a salesperson, they expect the same hassle-free convenience they experienced while searching online for a solution to their problem.
When working with a salesperson, most customers look for more personalized answers instead of irrelevant facts and figures.
A study conducted by Accenture surveyed 400 companies and found that over 61% of customers switch brands if they aren’t relevant to them.
People love to interact with brands that have quick solutions and relevant answers. AI-powered tools serve this purpose the best. AI-powered chatbots and lead nurturing technology are available 24/7, thus helping customers get straightforward answers to their questions with zero to no hassle at all. They love this convenience and gravitate towards businesses that have embraced such user-friendly solutions.
However, technology has favored the sales team as much as the buyers. Here are a few ways that technology has positively impacted sales management processes.
Finding Leads and Qualifying Them is Easier
Building a personal relationship with customers is a paramount role that sales reps must engage in effectively to deliver the sale quota numbers. Their job involves keeping their prospects engaged with the brand through regular meetups and follow-ups and creating a healthy relationship with them.
Digital transformation has helped sales reps keep up with customers’ needs, from a connection as well as automatically qualifying them into buyers with behavior-based lead scoring automation.
Through the means of social media selling, sales reps can build brand credibility that attracts more prospects.
Though not all targeted audiences will convert, this tactic will help the brand establish rapport and better understand how content engages customers and prospects. Digital tracking allows sales enablement teams to shape the type of content they continue to develop. So, the next time a buyer comes in, they will not have to work as much to gain their trust. They can start recommending their solutions that will, in turn, shorten the sales cycle.
Technology Made Way for a Data-Driven Sales Process
In the old school methodology, sales reps would function individually. Although they were driven by the same business growth, they would innovate their approach to achieve sales goals that resulted in a lack of clarity amongst the sales professionals. It also presented difficulties in finding out which strategies worked and which didn’t. It was a challenge to identify at which stage prospects were falling out from the sales cycle. Moreover, there were no concrete strategies that could reduce the length of the sales cycle.
Automation technology has drastically changed the sales process. Sales automation tools like CRM systems and marketing automation software have unified and aligned the sales team with the rest of the organization. CRM tools help salespeople keep a complete record of the leads and make it available to anyone who needs to access the data. A CRM and marketing automation platform also makes it easier to choose the most effective strategy that would bring more leads and conversion. Combined with a well-engineered cadence strategy, this allows us to adjust and analyze the results and future adjustments to any campaign strategy.
Made Information More Accessible
In traditional sales, salespeople have to conduct thorough research on their prospects, understand their industry, find out their triggers, and deliver more important information via content marketing before pitching them. They also have to explain to their customers about the brand, its offerings, price, and value proposition.
However, modern sales solutions have empowered sales reps to learn more about their prospects without having to go to them in person. The information allows a salesperson to customize their pitch and present only the facts that are relevant.
Moreover, the incorporation of advanced technologies like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, and automation further makes it easier to attract leads and convert them into sales.
Can AI-powered Robots be the New-age Salesman?
AI-powered bots are essentially managing the top end of the sales funnel and opening new avenues to keep the customers engaged and informed at all times based on a respectful and nurtured approach. Machine Learning, together with AI, has allowed the sales team to predict a buyer’s next course of action - making it easier for them to prepare a winning strategy in advance.
Moreover, research conducted by Mckinsey studied 750 professions in the U.S to analyze how much of the work activities could be automated by integrating them with the technology. The article discusses that almost 50% of tasks in sales and related occupations can be automated.
You see, the world seems to be all set to embrace AI and automation in sales to engage consumers and drive more conversions.
Technology is going to reduce or re-define many roles like sales development, sales executives, and account management in companies. It’ll streamline the whole sales process and build customer trust at the same time while getting the prospect introduced to your company and sales offerings.
However, apart from creating more agile and productive sales teams, the increasing use of modern technology has created the fear of job loss amongst the sales professionals.
According to a study by Bank of America, robots are likely to be performing 45% of manufacturing tasks by 2025. These machines might steal the jobs of millions who are involved in task-intensive roles and customer service.
B2B buyers are living in a 2015 digital-first world, but B2B sellers are still living in a 1965 salesman-first world. New Forrester data shows that nearly 75% of B2B buyers prefer to buy online when purchasing products for work, yet just 25% of B2B companies actively sell online. - Forrester
Many believe that automation will replace B2B sales roles and put skilled professions at risk. A prediction by Forrester suggests that over one million B2B sales jobs will cease to exist by 2020. It’s easy to understand why sales professionals worry about losing their jobs.
The good news is, the same report underlines the fact that there could be a 10% growth in the sales consultation roles by the year 2020.
How Will The Salesman Survive in a World Where Robots Manage the Top End of the Funnel?
The success of any sales effort is determined by how well a salesperson connects with the prospect at the point of their first interaction.
The consultation role in sales requires social skills. The job calls for emotional intelligence, empathy, complex problem-solving skills, trust & rapport building adeptness, and communication expertise. These skills are exclusive to only human-sales reps.
Although automation can perform most of the sales tasks efficiently, it can’t be a replacement for the human touch needed to build a robust consumer-brand relationship.
- Robots might be capable of taking customer queries at midnight, but they aren’t competent enough to make intuitive decisions based on the information.
- Robots can answer most of the queries, but still can’t mimic the in-person conversation a human-salesman can do.
- Robots might be quick at answering simple queries, but when it comes to asking complicated questions, they can’t be critical and lead the problem in a new direction.
You see, there are good enough reasons to suggest that salespeople can play an instrumental role in sales consultation and building customer loyalty. They are (and will be) an indispensable component of sales processes. All they would need is to develop and replace/incorporate sales automation into their sales processes to thrive in the new sales enabled, digital-first lead nurtured world of sales. They will need to adapt to automation, providing more intelligent data at the point when the prospect is ready to move forward with the proposal.
Honestly, this is something that true sales professionals will love as the prospects end up more engaged with the sales executive and will be more highly qualified than ever before in history.
Additionally, Once the funnel is built and is managed for a few months a sales leaders will appreciate their ability to have higher accuracy and confidence when forecasting to executive leadership.
Customer Relationship Management: Buyers are more comfortable dealing with a person whom they can trust rather than a robot. The role salespeople play in building trust around a brand can’t be replaced by an AI tool, enhanced with CRM software. Customer relationship management tools make sales and marketing teams more effective at tracking leads and giving feedback through the entire pipeline.
One of the most significant benefits of AI-Sales Automation tools is that they assist sales reps in understanding buyers’ preferences, buying behavior, and triggers. The analytical data comes handy in formulating personalized messages that are more appealing than a robot-generated message.
Technical Knowledge: Technology is only as good as how well organized for the user of it. Experienced salespeople care about being efficient and need the ability to quickly move from one task to the next activity on their list. Effectively structured digital sales enablement solutions with lead nurturing and lead scoring will always put the most qualified opportunities in front of the lead owner first.
Sales reps of tomorrow will have greater focused on leveraging data and automation to save time on sales activities. To stay relevant and useful, salespeople need to establish a sales-automation relationship by becoming compatible with AI tools.
Brand Advocacy: The sales reps need to know about their brand inside and out to influence buyers throughout the engagement process, most importantly, for the final stages of producing a signed contract. Their knowledge about the company’s products/services will help them curate a well-defined list of USPs (unique selling points), that’ll further help them differentiate the brand and open the door for word-of-mouth publicity.
New-age sales reps should be able to use advocacy marketing tools to broaden the brand reach, drive more sales, and build a deeper level of trust with buyers.
Using the above approach throughout the process starting at the initial engagement and introduction to the first face to face meeting, then the proposal process and then onto the service delivery phase, and finally onto account support and management.
The Will to Keep Learning: The digital era has propelled technological growth that is not going to stop anytime soon.
To ensure salespeople can seamlessly operate in this tech-savvy ecosystem, they will need to stay abreast of all the technical updates to upgrade their skills.
While complex analysis is the forte of machines, the human brain’s strength lies in imagination and creativity. Those in the sales profession will have to keep on innovating ways to engage buyers and create a lasting connection. They should know how to work with the sales enablement team to strategize a sales campaign that shortens the buyers’ sales cycle while producing higher results with greater efficiency and forecasting.
How Can Technology Empower Sales Teams?
There is a multitude of tasks that a salesperson has to undertake while managing a prospect.
A typical sales job entails tasks like sending emails, tracking the performance of the emails, making calls to prospects, taking notes, and having meetings. The pressing question most B2B organizations have is how they can deploy technology to empower their sales team?
Here is how businesses can use automation and other technologies to boost the productivity of their sales teams.
AI-Driven Tools to Boost Sales Efforts and Efficiency: Artificial Intelligence technology can help to strengthen your overall sales efforts.
You can use AI tools to gather data, deliver personality-driven emails, analyze sales activity, and much more that’ll help the sales team to make informed decisions and close more deals.
Integrate a CRM System: Data is one of the most crucial weapons of any sales team. But more than that, well-organized data is what keeps a sales team focused and optimally functioning.
With a sales-friendly CRM tool in place, the sales team can prioritize leads based on where they are in the sales cycle, set automatic reminders, nurture leads, curate personalized sales messages. These tools will enable businesses to significantly shorten the sales process and convert prospects into opportunities that are more highly qualified.
Qualify Leads by Making Buyers’ Persona: Guessing who the buyers are and how they form buying decisions never work in sales and marketing. To ensure the sale efforts don’t go waste, one must define their target audience well in advance.
Analytical tools and software can help the sales team identify and define their ideal buyers. Lead Nurturing, we use buyers’ persona to further guiding them on how to make an effective sales pitch.
How to Strike a Balance Between The Traditional Sales Process and Sales Automation
In this day and age of technology, striking a balance between the traditional sales process and the modern automation technique is the best approach to business success.
We advocate for business to create a methodology where your sales team and sales automation tools to work together to boost your marketing & sales efforts. Integrated sales automation organized approved by with the sales leadership will help manage redundant and tedious tasks, leaving more time for salespeople to undertake strategic tasks. The analytical features can enable salespeople to deliver meaningful insights to the end-users, enhancing the customer experience.
While human experience is at the center of the traditional sales process, the modern process focuses on automating repetitive and tedious sales tasks to enhance the efficiency of the sales team. By merging these two skill sets, a business can achieve its sales target with efficiency. Also, make sure to break down your sales funnel in the marketing and sales stages and equip each team with the right set of automation tools to leverage the real power of technology for ultimate sales and marketing alignment.
The success of marketing automation and sales enablement largely depends upon the readiness of the sales team to implement automation. The sales leaders must ensure that their team is ready to work in conjunction with the technology and trained to embrace it. Also, sales reps should be training on how to leverage pre-sales AI engagement data to understand the buyers' motives for doing business with their company.
As we move forward to a more technologically advanced generation, it’s understandable to think that machines will replace sales jobs. But instead of fearing technology, sales professionals should focus on ways to enhance their skills and knowledge. Keep in mind - although AI is capable of giving timely assistance to customer queries at any time, a majority of customers still prefer interacting with a human salesperson when they are ready to make the actual purchase.
While automation is inevitable, sales enablement can streamline sales and marketing and offer a smooth transition for customers.
At Intelus, we help B2B brands grow their business by providing expert sales enablement support and marketing automation assistance. Our data-driven and strategic sales solutions are crafted to empower companies to define and achieve their sales and marketing goals.
To understand more about how a properly structured sales enablement program will help your sales leadership to have greater confidence in forecasting their sales projections to executive leadership, schedule a free consultation.
Our mission is to help your sales team develop a greater focus on building relationships, proposing solutions, and closing bigger deals.