Today’s guest post is by Ramon Nuñez, founder and CEO of LiveHive Inc., a software start-up whose cloud-based, sales-engagement platform provides real-time intelligence based on customer engagement with digital content.
In today’s online and social world, the power has shifted from seller to buyer. Among other things, buyers now expect any desired information to be available on any device at the moment of need. As a result, sales teams are looking for ways to ensure they’re delivering the right information to the buyer and get real-time feedback on the buyer’s engagement with that information.
Customers now have the ability to quickly and easily accumulate a wealth of information before making a purchase or engaging the sales team. In his keynote address at Dreamforce 2014, George Colony, CEO at Forrester Research, stated that finding the right “system of engagement” is essential for businesses to succeed in this new, customer-powered era. Sales organizations must be able to anticipate what a customer wants and deliver it at the precise moment of need.
To address this profound shift in buying behavior, a huge market has emerged with sales-acceleration and sales-enablement technologies. Sales professionals recognize that they must change their selling approach and adopt tools that will give them insight into this new buying paradigm and help them better understand an increasingly imperceptible buyer.
To implement new sales processes most effectively, sales professionals need to choose technologies with the customer in mind. For the most strategic and successful approach, organizations need technologies that incorporate the three A’s:
- Actionable intelligence
Requirement #1: Analytics
Because buyers are educating themselves with more and more online information, sales professionals must learn how to recognize and react to buyers’ interests without face-to-face interaction. They require tools to give them a more complete buyer profile through analytics that can continue the “digital listening,” even beyond what marketing automation can provide.
Sales-acceleration technologies have been proven to shorten sales cycles, increase conversion rates, and produce more reliable forecasting; however, when choosing a sales-engagement tool, organizations must make sure it provides real-time visibility supported by a platform that delivers deep, comprehensive analytics. It’s no longer enough that a tool provides data about when an email or document is opened. It’s critical to understand how a potential buyer engages with the sales content after it’s been opened.
Without tools that can deliver that depth and breadth of information, sales professionals shortchange themselves on capabilities and lose competitive advantage.
Requirement #2: Actionable Intelligence
With so much data and so little time in a fast-paced digital society, analytics must deliver actionable intelligence. Data must be presented to selling teams in a way and for a purpose that is clearly understood so it can be acted on to advance the sales process. Sales-acceleration tools should not add work, forcing reps to decipher the meaning of the data that has been captured. Data should be intuitively displayed on dashboards and seamlessly integrated with existing CRM and email systems.
Armed with actionable intelligence, sales teams can achieve more predictable results and accelerate the top line. Tools must increase productivity, not create distraction. Data must be meaningful. The end goal is to deliver better service to customers and, in the process, close more deals faster.
Requirement #3: Adaptability
Adaptability delivers the last piece of the puzzle. Today’s selling is mobile and fast paced. Technology that sales professionals rely on must seamlessly integrate with their workflow and adapt to their changing needs. In an always-connected world, salespeople must have the ability to capture an opportunity from anywhere and at any time. This requires that technology systems not only automatically filter and sort vast amounts of data but also present it in a natural and easy-to-digest mobile format. With sales professionals on the go, technology must also support their productivity through instant alerts on their customers’ digital engagement.
Customers have gained new and extraordinary power, and sales-acceleration technologies will be indispensable in helping salespeople understand their buyers’ interests to better address their needs and accelerate the sales process. Tools that integrate the three A’s – analytics, actionable intelligence, and adaptability – give salespeople the best way to engage customers and maximize competitive advantage.