The basics of sales haven't changed much: it's still about offering a prospective customer something they want or need. But as technology becomes more sophisticated, the details of selling, and the resources available to sales teams, have changed drastically.
"Sales isn't even close to how it used to be," said Jeremy King, business development director for Element Three, an Indianapolis inbound marketing agency. King has been a sales professional for more than two decades. "Twenty years ago we couldn't use the Internet to research, didn't have cell phones, had to use maps to find places."
From CRM systems to social media platforms, sales teams now have a nearly endless range of choices to help them close more deals and find more qualified prospects. "While cold calling isn't dead, you can now see that you have friends in common and use introductions [instead of] calling blindly," King said.
Having the right information is critical to closing deals, and an organization that isn’t using the latest tools available could risk losing out to its competition. Every effective sales team has the same goals: spending time with customers, building relationships, maintaining a consistent process, staying agile and closing deals. With the best 21st century tools—some new, some unexpected—sales teams can set themselves up for even more success. How can you use the latest sales technology to stay successful?
A salesperson’s most important—and least available—resource is time. But the right software can do everything from prioritizing tasks to collecting data and generating documents, shaving time off the process and giving salespeople more of the resource they need most.
Systems like CRM give sales teams the ability to target the best prospects, identify customer issues, and monitor pipelines. And CRM integrations like TinderBox can give an organization’s CRM a turbo boost by streamlining the process, helping salespeople create data-driven documents that are easily accessible in the cloud.
Just a few years ago “the cloud” was little more than a buzzword, but today it’s where many sales teams do the majority of their work. Staying connected with prospects and customers, collaborating with team members, and accessing information from anywhere are all critical factors in a salesperson’s success.
Look for solutions that boast mobile capabilities, as well as robust data and document storage. The ability to conduct business in the cloud from create to close can save time, ensure consistency and allow salespeople to access the content they need anywhere, at any time.
The cloud can keep your sales team connected to the data and content they need, but social media can keep them connected to clients and prospects. A CRM that integrates social media can be a powerful addition to a salesperson’s outreach arsenal, said Pat Spencer, regional sales executive at Bluelock.
“CRM tools have got to be the most useful applications that allow you to work efficiently,” Spencer said. “But just as important, to me, anyway, are LinkedIn and Google+.”
There are social media CRM integration tools that help salespeople track their social and professional network connections. But before committing to new technology like this, sales teams must familiarize themselves with social media and determine how best to use it for customer outreach. “Twitter can be an amazing tool to keep up on industry trends and see what your prospects and clients are up to from a business strategy point of view,” said Spencer.
As the technological landscape expands, sales teams will continue to discover new tools to help them sell faster and more efficiently. Exploring what works best for your team may take time, but investing now can lay the foundation for a successful future.
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