17 Sep Why sales tech alone won’t solve your problems
This article was written by Finbarr Toesland and featured in Raconteur’s Sales Performance Report in The Times. I’m publishing it as part of the collaboration between Sales Confidence and Raconteur to help elevate the sales profession.
Unless your business has digital culture at its core, sales technologies will never be used to their full potential
Disruptive sales enablement technologies are fundamentally changing the sales funnel. Putting the consumer at the centre of the sales process is the clear advantage offered by these innovative tools, but smart technologies don’t exist in a vacuum and will often require an enterprise to embrace a digitally led culture to succeed.
“For sales tech to work, it certainly needs the right culture. Sales leadership will need to create buy-in and adoption from the senior level on down,” says Nick Kane, managing partner at Janek Performance Group, a provider of sales performance solutions. “Part of creating the right culture means integrating the technology into your formal sales and onboarding processes, as well as ensuring managers are fully prepared to support the adoption.”
The capabilities of leading sales tech products are vast and enable users to remove friction from the overall customer experience, resulting in enhanced conversion rates. Analysis backed by artificial intelligence (AI) can enable an increasingly accurate understanding of what content a consumer would be most open to receiving and can help identify gaps in the overall sales funnel.
While C. Lee Smith, chief executive of sales enablement firm SalesFuel, fully agrees about the importance of a digitally led culture, he also believes that accountability goes beyond the corporate leadership.
“Front-line managers cannot abdicate this responsibility if the C-suite has not clearly defined the company’s mission, values and acceptable behaviours. While many companies are chasing a ‘company culture’, each team has its own ‘micro culture’ that is defined by what the team leader says, thinks, does, allows and disallows,” says Mr Smith.
In such a competitive sales environment, even a relatively small edge over a competitor can mean the difference between gaining a new client or losing out to a more forward-thinking rival. The growing number of avenues through which consumers can be reached, whether on a social media platform or direct email, is making the task of providing the right content at the right time an even more challenging undertaking.
The attraction of modern sales tech in this situation is clear. According to a report from Forrester Consulting, firms that adopt an interactive sales enablement platform were shown to speed up deal closure by up to 43 per cent and increase company growth by as much as 60 per cent.
Each company will have their own unique mix of sales tech that is best suited to their sales structure, wider sales approach and aims. But it is no longer enough for a business to implement a single product in the sales tech field and hope it just enables them to meet all their prospects’ needs better.
“Remember, technology is not a cure-all in and of itself, rather it’s an adjunct that enhances and supports your pre-existing structure. So it’s necessary to determine when and where in the sales process you’ll be using it,” says Mr Kane.
Transitioning to an all-encompassing digital culture will not be an overnight process and can take a considerable time and resources to achieve. Members of the C-suite should make it clear to their staff that when it comes to success in this area, risky propositions shouldn’t be seen as a no-go area, as experimentation often leads to innovation and if no new concepts are tested, it’s unlikely new best practices will be discovered.
There are concrete steps that business leaders can take to maximise the effectiveness of their tech stack and become a business with a digital culture at its core. Any attempt to improve the tech should be done in partnership with a range of sales staff to ensure the right balance is achieved.
“A key aspect in maximising effectiveness is to set key performance indicators (KPIs) related to the technology you adopt and track those metrics on a cycle that’s relevant to your sales velocity, for example once a week, month or quarter. Selecting the right KPIs will allow you to see how the technology is being used and what impact it’s having on your organisation. It can also highlight which reps need further coaching and reinforcement on specific portions of your tech stack,” says Mr Kane.
Having the most appropriate technologies in the tech stack, however, is only half the journey, with all staff needing to be trained in these tools. Leaders must also clearly communicate why the components of the tech stack are in place, how they should be used and the ultimate goal.
If this communication is done in a comprehensive way, then the adoption rate of these technologies will not only be very high, but both experienced staff and new hires will be able to get to grips quickly with the way of doing business, and potential delays in adoption can be avoided.
“The same is true of the initial adoption; create buy-in and accelerate adoption by not only training on the tech, but reinforcing the training with coaching and strategies such as gamification as needed,” says Mr Kane.
In a data-driven world, advanced sales tech can provide a true point of distinction even in crowded industries, as long as members of the C-suite are able to establish a digital culture that holds innovation, transparent and collaboration at its core.
This article was first published in Raconteur’s Sales Performance Report in The Times.