As 2014 winds down, salespeople and managers should look at the current environment to figure out what elements will be most important and useful in the months to come. Here’s a short list on what many experts are calling for to prepare modern sales forces for the next wave of advancement in a data-centric world.
1) Social Selling Platforms
Social selling has proven to be a key tactic for companies, and having the right tools to get onboard and seek out customers is going to mean everything to a sales strategy. This article from Mashable, which looks positively at LinkedIn’s new Sales Navigator tool, cites studies that show that sales people with social selling strategies are 51 percent more likely to beat a quota, partially by eliminating the need for cold calls and other traditional tactics.
2) Presentation Tools
Another big addition to the sales toolbox is a type of interface that can condense a lot of diverse information into smooth, easily digestible presentations. Articles like this one from Heinz Marketing show how adding a presentation resource such as SlideShare or Savo's postcards allows salespeople to build curated digital literature that’s more targeted and therefore effective.
3) Social Data Mining
Going a step further with social selling, there’s the idea that some platforms can go out and search for actionable data on individual users. Large social media platforms like Twitter offer new tools for this purpose, but some experienced sellers have their own preferred platforms that have helped them to excel.
“Nimble helps me get a 360 degree view of people,” writes NexLevel managing partner Julio Viskovich on SocialMediaToday. “When I enter them into the system, Nimble finds their social networks and displays pertinent information about them along with aggregating their recent activity and recent posts.”
4) Content Producers
Another way salespeople can keep competing well is by aligning themselves with professional content creation teams that actually help attract new clients and keep existing ones engaged, from social media profiles to, videos, infographics and even e-mails. This article from Forbes Magazine goes in-depth about the value of companies such as Content Equals Money that are cashing in on the power of content marketing and helping client firms get to the next level.
Sales teams should also realize how easy it is for them to create or event curate compelling content that draws potential buyers. Salespeople can take the bull by the horns and bypass marketing. Take a look at this post by one of our experts, Kevin Thomas Tully, which highlights three strategies to fill any content chasm and help position sales teams as a supportive resource for clients.
5) Assistive Websites
The internal website is something that some firms overlook at their peril. An internal website that has tools for customers can help drive big conversion rates. A study in the Wall Street Journal online looks at how pharmaceutical companies have started to use these kinds of smart websites to replace armies of drug reps in the fiercely competitive world of pharmaceutical sales.
6) A Full-Scale CRM
There’s also the rapid emergence of a range of customer relationship management tools that help sales teams at every stage of the deal. Many companies consider these fundamental parts of the sales strategy. Just take a look at this helpful review from writer Gene Marks at Forbes, where Marks is largely tongue-in-cheek about the misuse of CRM tools and provides a more serious note toward the bottom. “…Placed in the right hands, like a soldier or a professional golfer, a CRM system (like the popular ones listed above) can be a powerful tool for growing a company’s profits and increasing its value,” writes Marks.
7) Dynamic Selling Tools
Another great type of sales tool is a system that helps build those crucial links for customer communications and payment. This article in Business Insider provides a clear picture of how companies use tools like the one mentioned here, Clearside, to get more targeted customer data and to respond to challenges in the field, such as the example used in the article, super storm Sandy on the U.S. East Coast.
8) Effective Training
Not all companies are thinking enough about making a technology investment in training new sales teams. However, studies have found training to be a vital component of an overall sales strategy. A piece in Inc. cites a study by the Bridge Group that found nearly 40 percent of sales professionals with 10 years of experience had only several days of sales training. Experts are tying a low level of quota achievement in the general sales force to a lack of training and orientation resources.
9) Channel Partner Tools
Having technology that helps channel partners in the pricing phase is also important. This white paper from Oracle assesses the value of “configure, price, quote,” or CPQ systems. For example, it reveals specific-to-industry information from the Aberdeen Group that 50 percent of best-in-class companies used some kind of partner relationship management tool for channel partners to keep in touch.
10) Sales Telecom
Last but not least, good sales strategies start with good sales telecom. Telecom providers need to be able to implement both landline and mobile networks that companies can use to climb the ladder and develop a competitive edge. This piece from Renodis explains how to use the telecom provider’s online portal for network building and more.