Today’s salespeople and their managers are unequipped to work with the tools that offer them a competitive advantage.
BY Zen Newman, MARKETING ANALYST AT PIPELINEDEALS
Many words have been written on the topic of how sales software can be made to support the day-to-day activities of salespeople better. Whether in the field or on the phone, there’s no denying that today’s teams struggle with incorporating software into their daily routine. While software can, and should continue to be the focus of refinement, there’s a second area that needs attention to maximize the potential of sales augmentation.
Much as today’s schools struggle to equip their students with the skills necessary to thrive in the 21st-century economy, veteran salespeople, and their managers received training at a time when close collaboration with technology was not essential to sales success. Maximizing sales effectiveness in today’s connected world requires more than software that supports humans. It demands salespeople who can partner with the machines that underpin their efforts.
More than a craftsman and his tools
Sales teams have long prided themselves on the development of their craft. The ability to execute in a quota-driven sales environment have consistently relied upon skills that separate sales from other professions. Lately, however, the focus on selling skills has shifted because of the increasing prevalence of sales technology.
While there’s been a growing call for a renewed focus on selling skills, sales now, and increasingly will depend on salespeople’s ability to harness resources beyond their person. Leveraging these resources means that for the first time, sales depends as much on what you know as on skills you have.
Recognizing that sales is the latest profession to take on the characteristics of knowledge workers means leaders need to change the way they think about sales activity and training. While customer-facing time will continue to be the staple of selling, there is an increasing range of activities that now contribute to meeting quota.
Recognizing the difference
It’s not enough for managers to recognize that new strategies are required to continue succeeding. Salespeople need to accept the that the landscape is changing and adjust their daily practices accordingly.
For most salespeople, engaging in their company’s annual training conference and reading a couple of books on sales over the course of their career has been sufficient to allow them to remain competitive and enjoy an above average income.
By contrast, professions that rely on technical knowledge often see their participants regularly engaging in career development actives. From following blogs to taking courses, adding to their knowledge is essential for remaining competitive in their field.
Sales is transitioning into a field that requires similar upkeep.
Salespeople who intend to remain competitive in the face of these changes need to make a fundamental shift in how they approach work. For teams attempting to navigate the transition, guiding current reps will be as important as being on the lookout for new blood to bring into the team.
The salesperson of tomorrow needs to be able to understand and navigate a delicate balance between technological know-how and interpersonal sales skills. Today selling requires a diverse skill set and the ability to tie together threads from marketing, social selling, and solution selling into coherent and effective outreach effort.
Simply put, refining sales technology isn’t enough. To build a 21st-century sales force, companies, need to look for reps who can partner with the technologies at their disposal to maximize their reach. The result is a sales team who can run leaner while producing a bigger impact on their market.