I’ve been in the sales industry for nearly two decades, and in that time I’ve watched the field go through many different changes: the rise and fall of the pager, the bygone days of lugging suitcases filled with collateral and heavy Rolodexes, and the closing of the age of making sales on charm and charisma alone. Today’s savvy sales reps and leaders, the ones who leverage the arsenal of available technology, make their work more fun, close more deals, and are more strategic players in their organizations. They are well aware of and actively engaging with the three megatrends that are currently changing the sales industry.
At this point, everyone is on Facebook. The question is no longer if you use social media but how you use it. A big factor in the metamorphosis of the sales profession is the way in which networking is done. It requires an entirely different kind of effort and responsibility to network digitally than it does to network at industry events. While the latter is still crucial, the former is available to us at all hours of the day. Today, reps can build relationships on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn whenever they have time, but it’s not enough to just follow, “friend,” or connect – that’s the easy part. The difficulty comes from leveraging these new tools to form meaningful relationships. To do this, you need to reach out in meaningful ways. That might mean familiarizing yourself with the content your prospects write and post, sharing useful content of your own, or leveraging your network to participate in social selling.
Even as you read this post, odds are you glanced down at your smartphone at least once. In fact, data shows that the average user checks his or her mobile device at least 110 times a day, approaching once every six seconds during peak usage. This demonstrates how vital mobile selling is today. Seventy percent of shopping is now done on mobile devices, and with more prevalent access to instant information, your buyer is more aware and well informed than ever. To respond to this new trend, reps must aim to build productive, synergistic relationships in which they engage customers in cocreation and discovery. That means presenting information to customers in a way they haven’t considered previously.
While it’s incredibly important to ensure that your Website is mobile friendly for your buyer, cutting-edge sales leaders empower their reps to be just as mobile. This means reps have access to all the latest productivity apps, allowing them to keep track of meetings and quickly get from point A to point B, and visibility into their sales process and sales compensation while on the go.
Yes, the phrase has been said, tweeted, and typed more times than Kim Kardashian has taken a selfie, but that in no way reduces the validity and necessity of big data. Sales managers can no longer afford to make decisions based on hunches; they need to make decisions based on data. Selling Power founder Gerhard Gschwandtnerhas said that data is the new oil – because it’s inaccessible and invisible to those who don’t have the right tools and analytics. The market has been in need of this kind of accuracy, transparency, and insight, which is why Xactly has aggregated and anonymized nine years of compensation data to help companies benchmark and discover best practices.
This kind of empirical data can help companies avoid risky financial decisions while finding out previously obscured information about their own organization. Big data is being used in a multitude of intriguing ways, from improving online dating algorithms to regulating farming supply and demand. In addition, data is used to analyze people’s buying history and sell smarter to those prospects. My guess is that Amazon’s ability to suggest products for buyers is likely the future for all products and sales. The more proactive we are about gathering data about potential customers, the more helpful your sales and products can be to the buyer.
Today, successful sales professionals do things differently from how their counterparts did them 10 or even just five years ago. They research best practices, participate in career development, tune out the vast amount of noise to get useful tips, and use the right technology.