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Pervasive and omnipresent change is here to stay, and sales technology can help.

Management expert Martin Allison, a director of the SalesFitness Group, looks at the long-term impacts of pervasive and omnipresent change in business and provides an overview of how data expertise and predictive technology are helping companies to set the pace. 

Companies are facing a perfect storm of challenging economic conditions, meaning that anyone in the sales environment needs to be out of the blocks faster this year than ever before, to stay ahead of the game. The adage ‘work smarter, not harder’ has never been more apt.

The sales profession is experiencing a rocketing in the pace and volatility of environmental change, and there are varying degrees of capability possessed by the industry to absorb such accelerated levels of change.

The SalesFitness Group was established to help sales leaders and teams continue pursuing outstanding performance by enabling them with the right tools, best practices and support.

The only accurate way to consistently improve sales results is to facilitate meaningful data collection and combine this to maximum effect with other diagnostic sales resources to produce a prognosis for performance. Equipping our consultants and thought leaders with access to these tools provides our sales leader customers with the core mechanics that can help to boost their chances of success.

The ability to measure and demonstrate progress is crucial to sales success. The development of tools which help record, relay and report results lead to more reliable market predictions and accurate cash flow forecasting. Such elements are necessary to show how actual activities produce better behaviours and consequential improved financial performance.

The team at SalesRelay, part of the SalesWisdom Group, make it easier to gather data and interpret trends. The resource is supported by a suite of apps powered by analytical tools that impact the sales result and more accurate forecasting.

A great deal of what has occurred in the economy over the past two years was predictable. Working with clients from diverse industries makes identifying trends and advising on best practices easier.

Firstly, data should be easily and quickly captured and retrieved. It must also be secured so access is only permitted for the right people and for the proper purposes. Once captured, data should only be re-requested if necessary and, where possible, should be relayed to other systems rather than asking salespeople to re-input into different systems, thereby duplicating work and wasting time.

The sales solution should always be designed to enable those activities and behaviours which produce the desired organisational strategic selling results. It should also make the users’ lives easier by being tailored to their vocabulary and removing other tasks or work they may do manually.

It’s also essential that the information reported must be presented in relevant, useful and valued ways by the users. Finally, the outcomes must be practical enough to equate to demonstrable sales.

A recent trend we have encountered is a surge in requests from clients to begin upgrading and enhancing their content collection and reporting, such as the evolving probability of a sale or the time spent nurturing a particular lead.

The ability to provide ‘retrieved data’ easily accessed before meetings is proving very popular, as has credit data on customers and comparisons of current year targets and prior year figures. Several clients have also begun to ask their salespeople to include their revised estimate of the likely annual sales per customer, enabling the tracking of their performance against forecasts.

Another recent trend is squarely focused on compiling data on competitor analysis. Companies have collected data on competitors, the market, compliments or complaints and pricing comments from customers, which when collated, became very powerful for discussions at the board level.

While others are using the system to collect photos of promotional materials or displays, mileage, stock counts or even signed contracts/sales orders.

Building up competitors’ profiles and analysing their techniques and behaviour in the marketplace is nothing new, but doing it in an accurate, quantifiable way that measures success and outlines potential weaknesses, is another way to gain competitive advantage through intelligent data application and likely increased speed of response to market developments.

Embracing technology and effective use of accurate data is a surefire way of ensuring a business is sales fit. With competition getting fiercer and the world changing faster than ever, the sales function’s processes, such as recruiting and training, coaching, reporting and forecasting, are all under increasing pressure to deliver.

A sales-based business can only assume its leading position ahead of the chasing pack through continual development and ongoing re-alignment of the sales function to an organisation’s core strategic purposes.