In today’s sales environment, all sales manager and their sales teams should be incorporating the use of technology into their daily sales and management activities. Managers need to embrace and train their teams on using new technologies to drive productivity, profitability, and competitive advantage in the selling process. Remember that technology is just one tool in the sales toolbox; face-to-face relationships are still foundational to sales and sales management.
It’s the time of year for all businesses — large and small — to create a sales and marketing plan for the coming year. The major objective of this plan is to reach a revenue target. Whether your company is focused on growing or just maintaining your current market share, you will first decide your target markets or client base. Then you will determine your company’s differentiators, meaning what makes your company unique to those markets. Finally, you will decide how to approach the target markets and the action plans needed to support that approach.
Let’s review five ways your sales manager and sales team can use technology as a differentiator, approach, or action plan.
1 | Customer relationship management/Sales force automation with voice recognition
The customer relationship management (CRM) is a tool that provides accountability for the action plan and allows the salesperson and sales manager to track relationships and sales as they progress through the pipeline. Sales managers use the notes and dashboard in a CRM to coach sales reps on improving their sales performance.
The timeliness and quality of the information put into the CRM is critical. Voice-controlled digital sales assistants allow sales reps to record information from their mobile phone or tablet, making it easier and faster for the sales rep to enter critical information.
2 | Virtual learning/Virtual proposal
Today’s salespeople no longer need to wait for an in-person meeting to make a critical presentation. Cloud-based software like Loom and Vidyard allow the salesperson to create a short presentation for clients to watch at a time that’s convenient for them.
Imagine you want to convince a large property management company to give you their restoration or cleaning business, but you just can’t get a meeting with the decision maker. You could make a five-minute video talking about the unique service your company offers, being sure to include good information that makes the decision maker want to meet with you to hear more.
Consider polling your audience the next time you’re conducting a lunch and learn with a group of agents or property managers. Presentain and Swipe are two software programs that make conducting a poll as simple as sending a URL to the participants’ mobile device. These tools could be differentiators, approaches, and action plans.
3 | Social media/Website
Making social media and your website work for B2B and B2C sales should be a top priority for every business in 2019. It’s all about target marketing and building a relationship with your target audience versus selling to your audience. This job should not be assigned to a salesperson, as it takes a lot of time to build relationships with potential leads and to engage your target market on social media. I would recommend hiring a part-time marketing person or an outside marketing company.
We’re a visual society, so your differentiator should be to use content that focuses on visuals (pictures) and videos (stories). The consumer is too busy to read a bunch of text about how you can solve their problem.
Consider bringing your website to life by adding chat pop-up software like Intercom or Drift. This tool allows you to engage in conversation with prospective customers and qualify their needs with just a few questions.
4 | Mobile devices and apps
With 77 percent of Americans owning a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet, many aspects of the selling process have changed. Mobile technology gives salespeople instant access to product-service specs and other tools that increase the effectiveness of their sales presentations and result in better customer experiences. Consider the approach of collaborating with clients, vendors, or subcontractors in a single place for messaging, sharing files, and other tools. Software like Slack can bring all project stakeholders together in an organized format that emails just can’t provide.
The next time you want to have a conversation with a client or salesperson don’t just talk with them. Instead, add a personal touch by holding a visual call with apps like Google Hangouts or WhatsApp. It’s a fact that when we can see each other, we’re going to better listen to each other. Having a mobile app improves the customer service experience, which equals better customer satisfaction. It’s also a major differentiator, and it’s just plan cool!
Be sure you keep your apps simple. They are not websites and, therefore, shouldn’t be packed with content. When a customer needs immediate help, they should be able to open the app, press a button, and presto, the customer is immediately connected to a company representative.
5 | Reviews and customer advocacy
This is the age of customer engagement, so your marketing approach should include the involvement of raving customers to help generate more business. According to Meghan Durett at Square 2 Marketing, advocacy is an approach that identifies your best brand advocates then creates an action plan for their participation in your process, tracks their involvement, and rewards them for their efforts. Software platforms like Influitive and Engagio can help with this approach.
If you don’t have at least 100 Google reviews and a 4.5 star or greater rating, your business is dead to your target market, so this differentiator and approach should be in your sales and marketing plan. Make sure your customer service team knows this is a priority for the company and reward them for every review they solicit. If you need help gaining reviews, there are outside companies like Podium and BirdEye.
Better sales with technology in 2019
These were just some ideas to put into your business plan for 2019. It’s now up to you to sit down with your team and actually put a plan together for the coming year. If you don’t have a written plan, then you’re just doing what you have always done … which is a recipe for failure.
Good selling in 2019, and happy New Year!
John Monroe is a Business Development Advisor for Violand Management Associates (VMA), a highly-respected consulting company in the restoration and cleaning industries. Monroe is a leading expert in marketing, sales and sales management for the restoration and cleaning industries with over 30 years of experience in those fields. Through Violand, Monroe works with companies to develop their people and their profits. To reach him, visit Violand.com or call 800-360-3513.