Sales robots will replace salespeople. Machines will sell machines to other machines. Efficiency will peak, and humans will no longer be necessary to the sales process.
That’s what the technology evangelists would have people believe, at least. The truth is far more nuanced. As dramatic as the effects of better sales tools are, humans will continue to take center stage in sales. Rather than replace humans, new sales technologies will make them better at what they already do.
Many effective tools are already available, but companies consistently overlook them. They make excuses about cost and implementation without fully understanding the benefits they’re choosing to ignore.
Make no mistake: The sales process needs a shot in the arm. Consumers and B2B buyers have become accustomed to personalized communications and overwhelming convenience. Companies that fail to deliver on those expectations leave their prospects unimpressed, making those potential buyers easy prey for the competition.
New technologies will revolutionize sales, but they can’t do it alone. Consider the following advancements and how they will empower — not replace — sales teams in 2019:
1. Warmer cold calling
Cold calls are difficult in the age of personalized content. However, not every introductory call needs to be a cold one. Companies that learn how to cold call in the modern era will find themselves in a great position to boost their numbers with little extra effort.
Much like marketers A/B test their messages, salespeople can use data tracking tools to optimize their introductory outreach to different audiences. People on one platform might prefer straight-to-the-point copy, while people on another might like to review some recommended content before speaking. By using tools to track and analyze tendencies, salespeople can transform their cold calls into something much warmer.
2. Big data in small places
Saturated markets don’t merit the same level of investment as new ones, right? After all, if most people within a market already use a product or service, the rest of them already know about it.
Smarter technologies can help salespeople discover value in unexpected, yet familiar, places. New customers are expensive, especially when salespeople have to start from scratch to win them. Rather than forge into uncharted territories and hope for the best, sales teams should turn their data and analytics tools toward existing markets to identify value they may have missed the first time around.
3. Better hiring and team-building
Research from MIT found that the average employee takes eight to 26 weeks to reach full productivity. For sales teams, every week that a new hire isn’t pulling weight is another week that the company is leaving money on the table.
MIT’s research found that the best way to onboard employees quickly is to help them build networks with their co-workers. Collaborative tools that help new hires solve problems alongside their co-workers get rookies up to speed in less time, allowing them to spend more time selling and less time learning the ropes.
4. Smarter content management
Companies with sales and marketing teams that work together are far more successful than companies that operate in silos. Sadly, these two departments are rarely as close as they should be.
Marketers create tons of great content that salespeople could use to close more deals. When salespeople can’t find that content (or when they don’t even know it exists), they miss out on opportunities. Advanced content management systems powered by AI can help salespeople find the content they need or even recommend pieces of content based on the questions prospects ask. When salespeople can provide comprehensive answers on the fly, they can make more sales in fewer conversations.
5. Easier qualification
Nothing frustrates a salesperson like a long talk with an unqualified lead. Most sales teams place the onus of lead qualification at the feet of sales ops or marketing, but regardless of who’s to blame, the wasted time is just as damaging.
Chatbots and other conversational tools can help funnel qualified prospects toward salespeople while guiding unqualified candidates toward other options. They can retarget ads to people who show interest, reach out to people who engage with the brand on other channels, and ask qualification questions to determine whether a prospect merits a sales call.
6. Administrative automation
How many salespeople enjoy spending half the day working in spreadsheets and not talking to prospects? Not many. According to some estimates, though, sales reps spend about two-thirds of their working hours on tasks other than sales activities.
Rather than let salespeople muddle their way through data, modern CRMs and automation tools help them handle administrative work quickly and get back to the fun part. Even if those tools look simple on the surface, easy interfaces can lead to powerful results. Anything that fills in the blanks on its own is a welcome change for salespeople tired of busywork.
Sales automation doesn’t have to be a scary term. Sales technology doesn’t have to be frustrating or vague. Advancements like the ones covered here (and the benefits they provide) are as real as it gets. For the salespeople of today and the near future, these technologies could make the difference between a down cycle and the best year ever.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.