When you look at the critical components of successful businesses, sales is one of the first things that comes to mind. (Without sales, there is no revenue. And without revenue, there is no business.) Thus, it makes sense that sales is important to the small business technological revolution that’s happened over the past few years.
These Tech Trends are Altering Sales
Talk to someone who was in sales 30 years ago and ask them about the biggest differences between then and now. Inevitably, they’ll bring up just how much the approach has changed. Sales is far less abrasive, confrontational, and forceful in today’s business world. To put it simply, sales isn’t nearly as brash.
In the past, there was a focus on hard selling where businesses tried to aggressively close deals before the customer had a chance to even process the information they were receiving.
Today, it’s all about soft selling and lead generation. As this infographic from Bristol Strategy shows, modern sales and marketing are fully aligned. They coexist and mutually benefit one another. The goal is to identify targets, generate leads, and then close sales in a personalized manner that plays to the needs and interests of the individual customer.
While there are many reasons for the changing face of sales, it’s hard to ignore the role technology has played. We’re currently in what some would refer to as a sales technology “revolution” and the effects are profoundly positive.
In an effort to better understand the technology side of things, let’s check out a few of the latest trends:
1. Sales and Marketing Alignment Tools
With sales and marketing merging together, many tech solutions and applications are focused on strengthening this connection and making it easier for salespeople to collaborate with marketing. These would officially be referred to as sales and marketing alignment tools, or sales enablement solutions.
“As more organizations transition to an account-based marketing methodology, it’s common to see a multifaceted approach to engaging prospects and leads,” sales expert Alex Hisaka writes. “Especially in larger companies, the implementation of technologies that can help organize, prioritize, and actively maintain relationships with target accounts are on the rise.”
There are literally dozens of sales enablement solutions on the market today. Trying to sort through them and find the ones you need can be challenging, but here’s a list of some top tools.
2. Predictive Scoring
Predictive scoring is one of the most intriguing, promising tech categories in the entire sales industry. With predictive scoring, companies no longer have to play the guessing game and can stop generalizing about which targets are most cost-effective to pursue. Using sophisticated algorithms and artificial intelligence, companies can accurately identify which accounts are more likely to deliver a return on investment (as well as which ones will be a waste of time).
3. Big Data
The rise of big data is having a noticeable ripple effect in the sales community. While many businesses are still finding it challenging to use all of the data they collect, there’s certainly value in gathering customer insights.
As HubSpot explains, top salespeople are more likely to use sales intelligence software. While there’s variety in the type of tools found in this category, many take customer data and build models and profiles that businesses can then use to better target their approach to sales.
While there’s clearly a focus on personalizing the sales process and being more hands on in different aspects of it, there’s also a simultaneous rise in sales automation solutions that streamline the mundane, time-consuming tasks that businesses would prefer to offload.
Automation is especially present in reporting. Leading sales teams automate reporting so that they can spend less time reflecting and more time doing. This leads to proactive sales strategies that are forward thinking.
Tracking the Evolution of Sales
We’re still very much on the front end of the sales technology revolution. As big data, the IoT, and artificial intelligence continue to evolve, we’re going to see even more significant shifts in how businesses approach the art of selling. Personalization will become an even bigger focus and the line between sales and marketing will be further blurred.