• September 20, 2023
  • By Maura Kautsky, president, Sales Xceleration

Technology Is Creating New Ways to Sell to Prospects. Here’s How.

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There are very few industries that technology has transformed as drastically as the sales industry. If someone had been asked a decade ago to describe a salesperson, the list of attributes would probably have included a lack of understanding about the needs or businesses of their buyers. In 2023, this stereotype is obsolete: The rise and proliferation of sales technology tools have caused the role of the salesperson to shapeshift into becoming a trusted, consultative source for solving businesses’ needs.

The addition of automation and predictive data analysis to the job of selling has been one of the most important recent sales technology trends. The complex work of finding leads, getting to know them, educating them, and sending action-provoking messages to them used to be the sole burden of the sales professional. Now, because tools can lift some of this burden, the salesperson has more time and energy to focus on the most creative, inventive, and human-centric parts of the job.

When companies free up salespeople to spend an afternoon connecting with their teams or have longer, richer conversations with buyers, they empower sellers to become better at relationship building and consultative selling. In doing so, they improve their sales funnels at all levels and please buyers in a more sustainable way.

Given the abundance of sales technology tools available to sales teams today, companies need to determine how individuals can begin to change the way they think about their jobs, their relationships with technology, and their decision-making processes—especially in relation to the automation of tasks that AI permits.

What Is Sales Automation, and How Is It Changing the Nature of Selling?

Sales automation tools can be integrated into the sales funnel to make sales tasks quicker and easier. Whether it’s a CRM that automates customer communication or a predictive data analysis tool that turns existing sales patterns into insights, automation makes selling more of a science than ever before.

For example, automation changes the way sales representatives make decisions. With continually evolving predictive data algorithms, sales technology is fast becoming an effective way to inform the decision-making process. It gives salespeople deeper insights into buyers’ businesses and needs. It does this by listening to calls, tracking the actions prospects took on their websites, and seeing what prospects have been searching for. However, this doesn’t mean businesses no longer need human beings. In fact, data-driven selling requires a lot of human attention. Data scientists, marketing teams, and salespeople are all needed to access, analyze, and make use of its predictions.

Automation has also opened up new possibilities for salespeople when it comes to targeting. Before the advent of sales technology tools, salespeople got their insights through their own note-taking, a history of receipts and invoices, and intuitive thinking.

Conversely, data now tells the story. Predictive data analysis includes predictive modeling, machine learning, data mining, A/B testing, and bias testing. Salespeople can use all these tactics to target and retarget their strategies toward the right people at the right time.

Different Buyers Need Different Sales Technology Tools

Part of the beauty of the contemporary sales industry is how much easier it’s become for salespeople to target different buyers according to what they need and want. Different sales technology tools will invite different tactics, and different tactics will target different buyers.

Some buyers, for example, prefer contactless experiences. They don’t want to deal with human interactions; they just want a frictionless way to buy a product. In these cases, automation tools can endear buyers to businesses’ brands, quicken the sales process, save time, and increase the amount of data collected from sales interactions.

While contactless automation is becoming one of the biggest sales technology trends, many other buyers prefer interacting with human sales representatives. For these buyers, whether interactions are in-person or technology-supported will ultimately determine the completion of sales and how they feel about their purchases. However, sales technology tools are still vital for achieving these sales: According to a survey by PowerReviews, 99 percent of buyers do online research before purchasing a product.

Even the most tech-savvy buyers benefit from a balance of automation and human interaction. Think of how automation has appeared in McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and other fast-food companies. While automated ordering kiosks allow customers to order and pay for their meals quickly, human sales assistants are still available for those who want to order the “old-fashioned” way.

Automation Leads to Personalization

While the term “automated sales funnel” probably evokes images of a robotic, highly impersonal system, one of the biggest benefits of sales technology tools is that they can target buyers more accurately and make dealing with sales teams more personal. Ironically, they can actually make the whole buying process feel more human.

A study by Twilio Segment suggests that this is critical, with 49 percent of respondents saying that personalized shopping experiences make them more likely to become repeat buyers. What’s more, according to Forbes’ report on personalization, 46 percent of marketing executives don’t feel that their companies are delivering adequate personalization. This is despite the fact that 40 percent say personalization tactics directly impact sales and profits, and 41 percent consider personalizing sales an immediate priority.

Sales technology tools permit companies to evolve their personalization capabilities, with intelligent and social CRMs, for example, performing critical functions in driving personalized sales. Sales teams must track and understand prospects’ and customers’ needs, and today’s CRMs are capable of analyzing and profiling ideal candidates, predicting steps of the buyer’s journey, and helping salespeople understand what actually drives conversions and works best in the process.

The more businesses digitize prospect and buyer interactions, the better they will get at closing sales and developing longer, richer, more loyal relationships with buyers. Smart companies are using automation and sales technology tools to get closer, rather than further, away from this goal.

Maura Kautsky is the president of Sales Xceleration. She has more than 20 years of experience in the marketing industry and has helped companies build and grow their brands, created meaningful customer relationships, and implemented practices that have resulted in increased client retention.

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