Technology over the last five years has integrated into nearly every aspect of our lives, and it’s not just coming from Silicon Valley anymore. It’s spreading (some may think like the plague—thanks mom), from New England based start-ups to the newly termed Silicon Slopes of Utah. Huge surges of technology start-ups resembling the dot-com days have emerged. Everything has become more efficient, better integrated, and dare I say more complex. Especially as we start talking about direct sales teams.
Whether you’re talking inside sales or outside sales, account based selling, or consumer sales, the complexity of setting up an efficient “knock your socks off” sales team can be difficult and complex. Lets explore some must-have technologies and the keys to drive “real ROI.”
Tell me if you’ve heard any of these words from your executives over the last year: automation, acceleration, predictive, attribution, prescriptive, data viz, modeling, alignment, etc. the list goes on…If you have, you may be experiencing symptoms of stress, blurred vision, neck pain, or fatigue. They are looking for answers and demanding results. Technology has come a long way over the last few years and if your sales team hasn’t evolved you’re behind the ball.
Let’s break it down: Think integration, think automation, think acceleration, and think accountability, and we’re off to a great start.
- sMarketing - An integration and alignment of Sales and Marketing from both a vision and technology perspective.
- CRM - A robust hub of data commonly referred to as a CRM—call me a nerd but I prefer a multi-relational database.
- Marketing Automation - A system for automating outreach allowing for prospects to be targeted, nurtured, and prioritized.
- Predictive Tools – We’re talking predictive dialers, robust forecasting, modeling, neuralytics, and predictive/prescriptive analytics.
- Sales Automation - Gone are the days of a cubical farm of dialers hitting every number in the phone book. Your message needs to be thoughtful, on-point, and prescriptive. Let’s talk sales enablement, sales efficiency, sales coaching, and automation. This technology enables your sales rep to be efficient and on-target.
- Social Selling – An informed team with ties to social media tools and online media to aggregate the pie in your face data coming at you every second from every angle—just try to keep up, “I dare you.”
- Prescriptive Results - What we used to call diagnostic reporting or data collection has evolved and now requires thorough analysis, modeling, and prescriptive business intelligence with result driven analysis. We not only need to show what we think will happen, we show how changing just one variable in the complex direct sales formula modifies the end result.
The old man on the block these days is Marketing Automation—experienced, proven and robust. The new kid on the block is Sales Automation—up and coming, with the biggest potential for improvement in efficiency and cost. We are not talking “old and busted” vs “new hotness”, but taking the best of both to lower cost, increase ROI, and drive results.
Gartner predicts that the CMO will spend more on technology by 2017 than the CTO. Based on current trends in sales technology, I predict that the CSO (Chief Sales Officer) will also outspend the CTO by 2017. Keep an eye out for shifting budgets over the next few years.
Hire a skilled professional or an outsourcing SaaS (Sales as a Service) company with a track record of results. Take a look at these companies that are changing the game in direct sales: LinkedIn, Insidesales.com, SalesPredict, ClearSlide, ToutApp, Yesware, Salesforce, Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, InsightSquared, LeanData, Hootsuite, FrontSpin, and ConnectAndSell—to name a few.
Remember, leverage experts and don’t try to do it alone, but beware of “shiny object” syndrome. Meaning make yourself aware of new technologies and make changes as appropriate, but don’t chase everything just because it’s new. The key to measuring ROI across your entire direct sales funnel is consistency—you can’t measure something if the foundation keeps changing. Leveraging a robust technology stack all the way through the sales funnel is key to “real ROI”—it’s possible, it’s here, and it’s what your executives require, so make it happen.