What can you do to motivate your sales team? Well, there are two options. You can try the usual approach: the guest speakers, the company retreats, the casual Fridays. You can even give the Rocky training montage a go (though remember – he lost the fight). All of these things are nice, and for some of your team, they might well work. But a better starting point is to think about what’s actively demotivating your sales force and keeping them from making your company (and, by extension, themselves) as much money as possible.
The problems usually arise because of specific, awkward business processes; things that keep the salesperson from doing their job as well as they could. Fortunately, technology is available to mitigate – and in some cases, outright solve – these problems.
If you work in a sales role, you’ll meet dozens (if not hundreds) of people over the course of a week. For each individual you encounter, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to manage correspondence (email, telephone, in-person, IM), keep track of their company’s unique information, and, if all goes well, arrange further meetings for the future. If you fail to do this, your prospects and leads will notice – and they won’t be impressed, or especially sympathetic to your plight. The fact of the matter is, every customer expects to be treated like your only customer, and your highest priority, but the logistics of actually doing so tend to get in the way.
However, technology is available to compensate for this. There is software available that can perform many key record-keeping functions for the salesperson, removing much of the organisational burden. Certain tools allow for the automated archiving of correspondence – records that can be retrieved in an instant in the event of a big client call or meeting. Motivating? Maybe not. But there’s nothing quite as dispiriting as the feeling you might be caught with your pants down at a moment’s notice – and nothing more liberating than knowing that you won’t be.
The tension between sales and marketing departments is fairly traditional. The former will complain that the latter aren’t providing good leads; the latter will counter that the former aren’t making the most of the leads given to them. Neither is really at fault. Marketing departments are often technologically ill-equipped, forced to pore through Excel spreadsheets and make educated guesses – a problem that then trickles down to sales, which, acting on sub-optimal information, doesn’t generate the revenue needed for either department to hit their targets.
By employing Big Data analytics, sales intelligence software can ease things for both teams. Instead of making informed – but inexact – estimates of the market’s behaviour, it grounds its interpretation of gathered data in actionable information. Sometimes this is big picture stuff: i.e. a sudden surge in sales related to seasonal factors (i.e. an umbrella company seeing an uptick in orders due to uncommonly wet weather) or more micro-level issues at individual companies (i.e. they’ve recently run out of printer paper and so order more from your office supplies outlet).
The right tool will flag these things up as they happen – as well as things like customer buying patterns. If a client has purchased desktop computers in bulk, there’s a good chance they’ll need things like monitors, keyboards, and mice as well; with this information to hand, you can ring them up and offer exactly what they need – with a generous discount thrown in as well. Nothing motivates a sales team more than an easy win!
3. Ironing out the kinks
Technology does provide numerous opportunities for cross selling and lead generation. But it also provides the chance to redefine your sales team from the inside. If there are processes or procedures that are slowing your staff down, more often than not they’ll be kind of imperceptible. An operations guy isn’t keeping on top of things, so the IT system – and your crucial databases – suffers more downtime than it should. Your cold callers are focusing too much energy on dead ends. It doesn’t have to originate on the sales floor, but something along the chain is slowing them down, and you probably don’t know what it is.
Big Data can turn a slow, lumbering organisation into a leaner, more efficient sales machine – without talking to a single customer. Those barely noticeable things that drag your company down? An intelligence tool will be able to identify recurring problems – and propose solutions.
Freedom and ease: this is the promise of modern software. Where we used to pore through volume after volume of an encyclopaedia to check our information, we now use Google. Where once we would make the trek to a video store for our evening’s entertainment, we now use Netflix. For salespeople, technology offers the chance to move from an analogue past into a digital future: to get better at their jobs, and make more money in the process. Is there anything more motivating than that?