CRM and sales technology tools in general were developed with one purpose in mind: Help sales professionals succeed. The Internet also opened up an endless supply of information, only previously available through real-world experience. Long gone are the days of manually going through phone books and setting up in-person meetings. Today, savvy sales professionals are finding new leads with a simple Google search and monitoring social conversations, enabling them to connect with coveted prospects in real time.
Instant access to information and potential prospects, however, can also come with its disadvantages. For one, it’s easy to be sucked down the proverbial rabbit hole – lured by that informative webinar or endless scroll of Tweets about new sales tools and tactics. Not only can this lead to data overload, but also a significant mismanagement of time, which has more of an impact on quota than you may think.
According to CSO Insights, the average sales professional spends only 35% of their time actually selling. And this number has only been dropping in the last few years. It’s become far too easy to spend your time surfing the Internet, text messaging, researching and reporting.
Let me be clear here, technology has certainly helped the sales process more than it has hurt it, but it can be easy to squander time on tasks that produce little to no results. Sales professionals should be in constant learning and improvement mode, and while technology affords many opportunities to do that, it’s not the only development resource. There are a few other areas to turn.
- Listen with intent. With all the technology available, many forget that listening is one of their most valuable tools. You gain powerful insights into a prospect's challenges and needs, better enabling you to be the solution. So don’t let technology distract you when you are talking to a potential customer. Emails and text messages can wait when on a call or in a meeting – the person you are talking to should be your only focus. In today’s fast-paced, fractured world, getting someone’s undivided attention is rare, and it really shows you care about a potential customer and their interests.
- Analyse and manage your time. Don’t become another declining statistic. Start collecting some data on yourself to understand how you are using your time. Do you spend too much time researching? Surfing the net? Updating your CRM? If you know how you spend your time, and which activities move you closer to quota, you will be able to change your habits to increase your performance. This one will require technology, but with the right tools, you’ll be able to compare your best weeks to your worst, and be armed with actual data to talk to your sales manager about changing a process or decreasing time spent on non-selling related activities like meetings, reporting, or responding to internal email.
- Pick up the phone. Email is extremely convenient, and is often the best form of communication. However, never rule out the phone. Learn and experiment with the best ways to reach people. Everyone has a preferred communication method, and often a simple phone call can speed the selling cycle, and close the sales loop quicker. When you actually have someone’s attention, don’t let meaning be lost in messy back and forth emails. Lose your fear of actually talking to someone and pick up the phone.
- Collaborate with team members. Technology is a tremendous communication tool, particularly if working outside of the office, but it also gives any professional the ability (or liability) to live in a bubble. You no longer need to leave your desk to communicate with the person 20 feet away. While real-time communication through technology is perfectly okay to utilise, don’t let it run your life. The most effective collaboration takes place in person. Build relationships with your team – learn from each other's best practices and experience. Support each other's successes. And if you’re remote from your team members, do let technology help you here. There are ways to stay connected with each other’s successes and learn from each other even remotely. The expression “two heads are better than one” reigns true here – if you want to find success, learn from as many people as you can.
By Don Pierson, CEO of SalesFitRx, sales performance management software that runs on all devices to collect invaluable information for you about how you perform your job.