There’s no question that technology has changed the way we work, how and where we sell—not to mention to whom we sell.
The opportunities we’ve created for ourselves are huge. But there is a cost to all of this.
We can easily lose sight of the fact that technology complements but does not replace what we do in sales. The act of building and fostering personal relationships is still where you are uniquely skilled as a sales professional. There’s still no app that can replace you.
Doing more with technology has very little to do with just keeping up with all latest online fads. What matters more is that you learn to be selective, gaining an understanding of how the right tools can help you do a better job at building personal rapport with prospects and customers.
To turn that knowledge into a distinct advantage for yourself in the marketplace, understand how the technology landscape has changed in the last five years.
1) More platform agnostic
Gone are the days when technology was platform specific, imposing a just-one-way of doing things to achieve what you wanted to do. Today, you have many choices. And one of the great gifts of the shift from traditional software to online-based services is that it’s created a much more level playing field.
The flipside, of course, is that people are much more resistant than they used to be if you try to impose that just-one-way of doing things on your interactions with them.
Learn to be flexible. Remember that there are many ways of communicating to achieve your goals. Today, some use text messaging well ahead of email, and some treat the telephone app on their smartphone as though it’s a curious leftover of 20th century business habits.
Recently while I was training a team of veteran sales people in the resource sector, one their top sellers showed me how he closed two $100,000 orders via text message during the breaks in between sessions. No calls. No emails. Just texts.
2) More mobile based
Remember two important facts. First, mobile has already eclipsed desktop PCs as the number-one way that people use digital media today. Second, within five years, 80% of all adults everywhere on the planet will have a smartphone. In other words: if you’re not building and growing your online presence with mobile as the default choice, you are not where your customers are. And that means missed sales.
Consider three quick examples.
First, at Salesforce.com, their mobile app Salesforce1 means that sales reps now have access to their sales data anywhere, anytime.
Second, an Engage client in the agriculture sector moved all their marketing from print to mobile because they found that their audiences (i.e., farmers) were far more likely to engage and therefore be more responsive via their smartphones
And third, another client on mine—this one in the office supply industry—switched to mobile tablets so their reps could take orders right their client’s office rather than risk the delays and headaches of dealing with hard-copy media. Each example has the same outcome: more sales in less time.
3) Always open for business
Technology in your sales process must be 24/7. It’s not an option anymore. It no longer matters where your buyers are located, or even if they are in the office or out on the road when they choose to do business with you.
Virtual or not: the sign at the front door of your business needs to always say “Open.”
We practice what we preach here at Engage. That’s why we’re helping a client roll-out a “follow the sun” customer service program. It means their customers will now have access to 24-hour problem-solving support delivered on a rotating basis from various locations around the globe, determined by the local time of the client. This replaces the old method of customer service where the hours of operation were set by you as the service provider.
Doing more with technology starts with understanding your goals
Don’t treat technology as a solution unto itself. That’s one of the biggest mistakes I see in the marketplace. Be strategic.
See technology for what it really is: a wide range of choices to solve a very specific problem that you have in your business. You still need to define that problem for yourself. Once you do, the choices you exercise define your success as a sales professional and as a business leader.