As a sales manager, we know that you have a lot on your mind. With the end of the year right around the corner and numbers that need to be still made, it may feel like you’re closer to a dead end than a shining success. You may have also heard about the advantages that collaboration technology brings to the table for streamlining sales processes and closing more deals, but at the same time, you don’t know enough to determine if investing is the right decision for you. To help make murky waters a bit clearer, we stole some time with our very own Davide Petramala, EVP at Esna, to flesh out everything you need to know to make the most informed choice.
Q. How has the sales process changed over the years, and what role does technology play in this transformation?
DP: Today, information is at everyone's fingertips; in fact, customers can be more informed than most salespeople. Prior to this information being made readily-available, sales positioning could operate in silos with little regard for competitive information. But, as we all know, things have changed. For that reason, mediocre or poorly prepared reps have little to any chance of success. The customer would be much more content self provisioning or purchasing than speaking to them.
Today, building customer relationships and fostering trust is a consuming, laborious, intensive and pretty costly process. The salesperson must now be a well of cutting-edge knowledge and a true source of information for teaching customers about their company’s value proposition and what makes them different.
Q. How has collaboration technology revolutionized the face of sales?
DP: The sales process has become the art of personalization. It embodies a more focused approach as opposed to mass market positioning, and there’s a multitude of features and collaboration tools to help get the job done. For instance, there are the endless conversations that take place online via voice, video, chat and more; meanwhile, micro-blogging, commenting and team sharing give everyone a chance to be responsive to new relationships and share what they know.
Collaboration technology enables sales teams to better leverage this as a means of preparedness, as opposed to delivering a standard positioning presentation. Today’s salespeople can focus on a custom value proposition for each of their customers, leveraging infinite access to information, social facts and more.
Engaging the customer and providing live access to this expertise and information brands a salesperson, allowing prospects and clients to feel that they know the salesperson even before the initial call takes place. The end goal is that a call turns into a sale because the client already feels that the salesperson is providing access to even a greater source of information in real-time.
Q. What were some of the top sales challenges faced in the past before the advent of collaboration technology, and how do they compare to those of sales teams today?
DP: Salespeople in the past had to act in silos, using individual resources as team interaction, and team knowledge had a very high price to implement. Information has always meant power, but the importance of this grows tenfold when it comes to sales. That’s because speaking directly to specific customer needs is paramount to success, and in properly leveraging the right information, salespeople can become a true source of knowledge for their specific customers.
Technology delivers team selling to the masses and helps exponentially shorten the sales cycles. For instance, Web and mobile access provide the tools needed to deliver on this. Also, reports continue to show cost efficiencies, speed to market and a greater pool of ideas and innovation through collaboration, which are passed on to the customer through cost savings and better products.
Q. Today, prospects are much more informed and customers are far more autonomous. How can sales leaders target today’s “new” prospect? More specifically, what role does collaboration technology have in helping them do so?
DP: Collaboration will drive massive personalization in the sales process by bringing a real face and personality to the relationship. Collaboration empowers the sales organization; collaboration technology can essentially drive motivation and engagement across sales teams, breaking existing sales silos and learning from other team members to improve organizational sales success.