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The Importance of Technology in Sales

Dr. Scott O. Baird
sales-methodology-sales-process-sales-analytics-crm

I recently had a conversation with the sales operations team of a large multinational organization. They reached out to discuss the development of value propositions for use by their sellers. Despite their stated objective, within minutes, we were discussing performance-enhancing sales technology. Their follow-up phone call and questions had nothing to do with selling skills and value propositions but everything to do with sales analytics and technology. This experience, repeated over and again, demonstrates the importance sales executives, leaders, and support personnel place on technology as a means to elevate sales performance.

The drive to improve sales results is no surprise. Generating revenue is the number one strategic objective for top executives. And like every other aspect of modern life, technology rushes to fill the demand.

Every sales team needs a basic tech stack to remain competitive. In proper order, here are six tech stack essentials. Without these basic technology platforms, a sales team is at a competitive disadvantage. They lack basic tools of productivity that erode their effectiveness. They miss a large percentage of opportunities simply because they don’t have the productive  horsepower of their competing peers.

 

1. Sales Methodology

No amount of sales technology can rescue a salesperson who is fundamentally weak in their sales skillset. The first technology a sales leader should adopt is a common sales methodology. Armed with a common sales process, salespeople and their leaders can create playbooks, adopt metrics, and develop coaching plans. A common methodology brings all the other sales technology into focus. Technology-aided training and coaching solutions enhance sales leaders’ ability to teach and develop their people. Technology can improve the consistency and timeliness of the training salespeople receive. A training database gives leaders and salespeople a resource library from which they can draw training to meet any need at any time. Meaningful conversations can follow technology-driven training sessions to ensure understanding and implementation. In this way, leaders are empowered to develop their people and still preserve time for other essential leader functions. 

 

2.  Sales Analytics

The purpose of pipeline analytics is to optimize sales results through measurement and data analysis. As prospects move through the sales pipeline, customer interactions are recorded, measured, and analyzed to identify patterns that improve efficiency and efficacy.

Pipeline analytics are triggered when a suspect becomes a sales prospect. A suspect is a company or an individual working for a company for which the seller’s product or service appears to be a good fit but that has not yet scheduled an appointment to engage a salesperson. A suspect becomes a prospect when they are qualified for interest by scheduling an appointment to meet with a salesperson. Suspects remain in the marketing funnel until they become prospects. Then, active prospects enter the sales pipeline.

Griffin Hill’s ScoreCard provides a robust set of pipeline analytics that help salespeople to be productive and proficient. ScoreCard provides over 30 metrics that measure productivity, proficiency, and performance results. When sales productivity and proficiency are high, sales results are high. Pipeline analytics track a prospect’s progress through the sales pipeline. 

Some of these metrics were shared in a previous chapter, including an objective Points measure of productivity. The Points metric is the measure most highly correlated with closing. The second most highly correlated statistic is Active Cases. Active Cases and Points are pipeline analytics unique to Griffin Hill’s ScoreCard.

Many companies track the number of dials made by a salesperson and the number of connections they have. They may also track things like talk time. Of course, everyone also tracks the number of closes and revenue produced. While these measures are useful, it is important to recognize that none of them track a prospect’s progress through the pipeline. The number of dials and connections are activities preliminary to prospects entering the pipeline. As such, they are leading indicators. Closes and revenue result from pipeline activity but do not track the prospect through the pipeline. Closes and revenue are lagging indicators of salesperson behavior. Once again, these are useful measures, but they do not track a prospect’s progression through the pipeline.

The purpose of pipeline analytics is to improve the productivity and proficiency of salespeople. Measuring what happens when a salesperson interacts with a prospect is the only way to improve either productivity or proficiency. Unfortunately, leading indicators (dials and connections) and lagging indicators (closes and revenue) don’t measure what happens when a salesperson meets with a prospect. Pipeline analytics must measure what occurs while the prospect is in the pipeline to influence skill development and productivity effectively.

In addition to Points and Active Cases, other pipeline measures available from the Griffin Hill ScoreCard include the Needs Audit/Case Open Ratio and Close/Needs Audit Ratio. These are measures of proficiency and can be effectively used by sellers and leaders to guide skill development.

Pipeline analytics help salespeople accelerate sales results by both selling better and selling more.

 

3. Customer Relationship Management technology (CRM).

The CRM supports the sales method, and it is the central touchstone for other sales enablement technology.

CRM technology is used to manage all an organization’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. CRMs are traditionally used as the database for contact information. When fully integrated with marketing, sales,
operations, and accounting, CRMs are the central warehouse for organizational communication.

The CRM stores suspect, prospect, and customer intelligence. It links to marketing content and provides a record of which content pieces have been distributed to each person and organization. The CRM contains a record of each interaction for the duration of a buyer’s life cycle.

A CRM focuses attention on relationships with individual people, including suspects, prospects, customers, service providers, associates, and others. It helps maintain contact and provide meaningful service touches. With visibility and easy access to data, everyone in the company can see crucial interactions, making it easier to collaborate among and across teams.

Leading CRM solutions for medium to large businesses include Salesforce.com, HubSpot, Zoho, and others. For small companies, Keap and others offer cost-effective solutions.

 

4. Sales Engagement Platform Sales

Engagement is the process of ushering suspects and prospects through the buying journey. It includes the art and science of attracting attention from potential buyers, creating connections, exciting interest, and educating suspects and prospects to create buying opportunities. 

Sales engagement platforms like SalesLoft, Outreach, and iLasso are effective ways to optimize the sales method. They provide an easy interface to CRMs, pipeline analytics, and performance management software. They are a simple gateway to the entire sales tech stack. 

Sales engagement technology helps sellers plan, execute, track, measure, and optimize interactions with suspects, prospects, and customers. It can connect to and distribute marketing content. It allows sellers to create multiple touchpoints across
various channels, including text, email, and phone.

Instead of investing a great deal of time into logging contact information, engagement technology can track interactions. By streamlining data acquisition and storage, sellers are more engaged in selling instead of logging data. With sales engagement technology, the sales activity itself creates and stores a record of the interaction on the platform and in the CRM.

Sales engagement platforms can help leaders coach individuals and teams more effectively. Data analytics are readily available to help identify patterns of success, including the best time of day to call. Additionally, phone conversations can be
recorded for training and coaching purposes. 

Where CRMs are built to house data about communication and interactions, sales engagement technology is made to create the data and use that information to optimize sales results. In this way, engagement technology provides increased
efficiency and more effective communication.

Sales engagement platforms accelerate productivity and help salespeople prioritize sales activity. In addition, sales engagement technology provides visibility to sellers and leaders.

 

5. Sales Performance

Performance management uses human performance principles and practices to help sellers understand responsibilities, provide accountability, and receive feedback. Performance management technology helps sellers set and achieve goals. It guides seller behavior and stacks the odds of success in their favor. 

Focusing on analytics can cause sales executives to mistakenly believe that what they lead is numbers and procedures. However, effective leaders never lose sight of the fact they lead people. Numbers, processes, and analytics are intended to enhance a leader’s ability to lead people. The result is higher levels of achievement. That is why sales performance management begins with a sales system for helping sellers master the art and science of sales. Pipeline analytics (ScoreCard™), Priority Alignment Tool™ (PAT), High- Performance Journal™ (HPJ), and Goal Achiever™ (GA) are technologies used to affect human performance positively. They help leaders stay in touch with the human elements
of their performance-enhancing responsibility. 

 

6. Sales Intelligence

Sales intelligence refers to collecting and analyzing information to help salespeople monitor and understand the motivations and behaviors of suspects and prospects. It includes finding the right suspects, utilizing the best ways and
means of reaching them, and converting them into active prospects.

 

When sales teams adopt and successfully implement these six technology solutions, they will:
  • enable sales leaders to lead and impact results
  • improve sales skills
  • dramatically increase sales productivity
  • reach more suspects and prospects
  • convert more prospects into customers
  • outcompete peers who do not have the technology or are not proficient in its use.

 

 

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