We are in the midst of a powerful sales transformation. Some might even call it a sales revolution. The advancement in sales automation tools, artificial intelligence software, and data analytics is creating a major paradigm shift in the sales world.
As a sales leader, if you are not taking advantage of today’s platforms, the road to success is a lot harder than it has to be, and you might even be left behind. Finding new revenue and growing your business is difficult to begin with. If you let the systems get in the way or don’t have the right tools to do the job, you are not optimizing your capabilities or your team’s performance.
Let’s Start With the Basics
Sales technology has fundamentally changed our approach with forecasting and pipeline building processes. Before the advent of automated sales platforms, dashboards were only found in cars. Now, every company should be utilizing a proactive relationship platform, no matter how small the business is. I advise the startups that I mentor to begin the process of setting up a sales platform before they close their first customer. Tracking prospects (lead management) and setting up a sales process (opportunity management) in a sales platform is a basic requirement for all businesses.
One of the biggest hurdles that sales managers confront is not having the data in their sales platform to make it a meaningful tool. At some point, whether it’s the sales manager or sales ops, someone might have to play the role of data drill sergeant. Sometimes the opportunity is not entered into the system correctly. Most frequently, the opportunity is not updated to reflect activity and movement.
Frustration levels can rise when critical decisions need to be made and the data is bad. One of my early mentors always said ‘ the more information I have about the business, the better my decisions will be’. Both sales leaders and corporate executives are making judgments about the business that are either incomplete or just wrong because the data is bad. Some of these decisions can impact your career.
At a minimum, these are some features that you should be questioning with your sales platform.
- What if the data entry for new accounts was done automatically? There are ‘smart’ sales platforms that actually do a lot of this work for you.
- What if the platform integrated with social media and email so that tracking customer interactions was as seamless as possible? How much time will that save your reps?
- What if the platform was updated easily on the status of phone conversations with customers and prospects?
The sales team should feel like they have an ‘assistant’ with these time-consuming tasks. (Hint: Spiro’s proactive relationship management platform does all of this, check it out now!)
Having time and being more productive as a sales team should increase effectiveness. Clearly, there should be less time entering and updating information that allows more time to talk to prospects and customers. However, there are some key features in sales automation platforms that improve your selling efforts and effectiveness.
- Marketing automation integration with the platform can increase your team’s overall pipeline, accelerate movement through the pipeline and improve closing rates.
- Quote management and configurations integrated with the platform tracks the business accurately.
- Mobile integration is critical for all aspects of sales platform usage, including mobile dashboards so your sales team can use it all the time.
- Document storage integrated with the platform allows your team to have one place for all of their sales documents to use with customers.
Better analytics and AI can make a sales manager’s job a lot easier, and prevent you from being left behind. First, you should be able to prioritize limited resources to the right opportunities. Second, you should be able to improve your decision-making ability by getting the right data at the right time. Why not let the system help?
Here are some features that are gaining popularity.
- Risk analysis reports for key opportunities. Let’s face it, it’s difficult to keep track of every opportunity in the forecast pipeline each and every day – no matter how many forecast reviews you conduct.
- Activity tracker. There is no need to have sales ops track everything your sales team does. With everything integrated into your platform, you should be able to see your sales team activity for any period on a regular basis. The critical takeaway is not to have an automated drill sergeant. It is to track ‘leading indicators’ that lead to a better sales process and more closed deals.
- Custom reporting. You shouldn’t need a sales analyst every time you want to see your business a certain way. Getting the right view of your pipeline without any hassle is important each and every day.
The underlying assumptions about prospects and pipeline stages haven’t changed drastically. What has changed drastically is how we find prospects and how we move them through the sales process. This is the most critical aspect of having an automated sales platform. Your selling journey has got to match the current way your customers navigate the buying process. Aligning your systems and team to this journey is critical today and you need the best systems to do it.
The decisions we make as sales managers impact our business every day. The old adage ‘knowledge is power’ is more important than ever. Don’t let your competitors have the edge on you and your sales team, leaving you left behind just because they have better systems and more knowledge. Join the revolution.