Sales Enablement: A New Role for Sellers
“Businesses can utilize sales reps more powerfully by giving them greater access to information and insights that help customers in each stage of the decision process and enabling them to play a consultative role, despite the fact that more buyers are gravitating toward digital channels,” adds Geoff Webb, vice president of product marketing at PROS, a provider of artificial intelligence-powered dynamic pricing and revenue management solutions for digital commerce. “Even though buyers want to be able to make a purchase with one click as easily as they can in their personal lives, they still demand instant access to a human when they have a question.”
Even with the internet and self-service, many sales reps still do a majority of their work on the road, says Brian Howe, alliances director at Skynamo, a mobile sales app provider. Salespeople, therefore, need to have any technology available and optimized for mobile. “You have to be able to have access to the information,” he states.
However, too often this technology support is sorely lacking, according to the Institute of Sales Management. “Salespeople feel they are not provided with adequate resources to undertake what is a very demanding role. The lives of salespeople can be made simpler with easy-to-use tools that are geared toward their needs and designed to be used in the field, which will give them better access to accurate information about products and customers, and the ability to act on that data, which in turn facilitates their ability to sell more efficiently,” the organization concluded recently.
In a report on field sales, Skynamo finds that salespeople sometimes unknowingly misled prospects due to a lack of data and time and high pressure to meet sales targets. Field sales reps need access to accurate information about products and services and the latest pricing and stock information, as well as the ability to act on that data—the ability to provide accurate price quotes and to submit orders, Howe says. “This requires access and functionality stored in multiple systems, be it accounting, [enterprise resource planning], CRM, or other systems. Field sales reps need a single interface they can use to easily access the data and functionality they need to do their jobs well, instead of jumping between various systems on their mobile devices.”
Though more advanced and integrated technologies exist, Skynamo finds that 48 percent of field sales reps still use Excel spreadsheets, 14 percent use informal email updates and instant messaging, and 7 percent still exclusively use paper-based filing.
Companies should also recognize that some people are better with inside sales while others excel at face-to-face selling, and they should have people in the appropriate roles, according to Gillett. “If you get inside sales, outside sales, and the marketing activities from within the CRM system working together, you have a very potent machine. But you rarely see that happening.”
In addition to CRM and related technologies, companies should consider solutions like LinkedIn, Trust Radius (similar to Yelp, but for enterprise purchases), Discoverorg (account map building), and Bombora (search data) to obtain additional valuable insight into prospects’ organizations and their current progress though the sales funnel, says Max Altschuler, vice president of marketing at sales platform provider Outreach.
RESEARCH INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT
Today’s salesperson needs to be more of a scientist than an artist, says Dave Mattson, CEO of Sandler Training, a sales skills-building provider.
Jonathan Prichard, founder and CEO of MattressInsider.com, a supplier of custom-made mattresses and bedding, agrees. “The salesperson in the 21st century needs to be a doctor of sorts—someone who is there to diagnose and solve a problem for the customer. Doctors don’t start pitching a prescription from the beginning; they ask a lot of questions to identify the issue, and they custom-tailor their recommendation to the patient.”
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