Sales leaders juggle many responsibilities at once, balancing company goals with the needs of both their team members and the consumer. The role requires empathy, communication and constant re-evaluation of processes. Incorporating technology into those sales processes is how today's sales leaders go from good to great.
Technologies like Microsoft Relationship Sales, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to identify and qualify leads, are newer players in the field of sales management – but the core of that – data – is not. Good sales leaders are always gathering information, analyzing behaviors and taking actions. With the latest technology, however, they can improve their processes.
Yet, according to the 2019 TOPO Sales Development Benchmark, 33 percent of sales development leaders struggle to implement technology to enhance seller performance. What does it take to overcome this? To be successful with technology, you must:
- Use data to understand and predict consumer behavior.
- Recognize the role of technology in sales management.
- Continually measure the effects of technology on selling.
Use Data to Understand and Predict Consumer Behavior
Today's technology delivers data in a way that is intuitive, user-friendly and actionable. A great sales leader will use this to improve lead-qualifying processes and predict consumer behavior. Using data and AI to optimize the sales process on a high level means team members can spend more time on high-quality leads and less time spinning their wheels. Data allows you to:
- Assess the likelihood that a lead will close, and at what level, to better allocate time and resources.
- Identify the highest-quality leads and how to approach them.
- Understand which products will have the most value for specific customers.
- Track typical behaviors in the customer journey to predict and plan for them.
Right away, you're putting the highest-quality leads in front of your salespeople and increasing their chances of success.
Recognize the Role of Technology in Sales Management
The very technology that helps you better understand and serve consumers can help you better understand and manage your team members. You can use data to discover the best techniques for your team, and to identify strengths in individuals. From there, you'll be able to:
- Structure training around building the most valuable skills.
- Align the right salespeople with the right leads.
- Identify opportunities to better arrange your team and maximize efficiency.
However, coaching alone won't enable your team to fully use the data at their disposal. Sales leaders must put the power of technology in the hands of their sellers and work with them to make better decisions going forward. In fact, according to a recent article from McKinsey & Company, focusing on your sellers and empowering them to execute on data is critical. Be sure to:
- Familiarize your team with the technology and how it's useful to them.
- Give them full access to the insights that will help them most.
- Train them to a level of comfort in using data to drive sales in real-time.
- Involve them in your own learning process.
- Consult with them on change strategies.
Having your team on board with the process will increase the value you get out of the tools you choose. As a group, you are better able to spot opportunities. Plus, your sellers bring a breadth of human experience to the equation that technology has yet to rival.
Continually Measure the Effects of Technology on Selling
Perhaps most importantly, great sales leaders continually return to the data, measure results and implement appropriate changes, coordinating with marketing and other departments. This helps them fine-tune – or completely transform – the way their teams operate. They understand that the optimization process doesn't end, even if they've seen an increase in revenue. Every element is in flux: consumer behavior, industry trends, demand and even your team. If you have your eye on the data, it'll be easier to stay one step ahead and succeed.
About the Author
Ole has spent nearly four decades in technology, with a history of success leading growth for resellers for Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett Packard, and Oracle. In 1995, he joined Damgaard Data to build a channel for Concorde XAL and Axapta (now Microsoft Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations). Ole served as Partner and Vice President for Columbus IT, a major Microsoft AX reseller, followed by Evergreen Data Systems, Inc. and EFS Technology, supporting both Microsoft AX and Oracle technologies. Ole lives in California and he loves crossfit and indoor cycling.