Are You Prepared for the Next Wave of Sales Technology?

Sales technology is making an indelible impact on the way we target and engage buyers. Which sales tech trends should today’s pros be aware of?

September 15, 2017

  • future-of-sales

There’s nothing quite so dreary as those dystopic portrayals of the future in film, TV, and books.

“The year is 2075, and humans now toil in perpetuity underneath their robot overlords. The atmosphere, stricken with pollution, blankets the planet in darkness and blots out the sunlight. Hope is all but lost for mankind. The horrors!”

Easy, now. There’s no need for future shock. Emerging tech solutions have the potential to make us much more efficient and productive, cutting through the haze. Organizations that take steps to prepare for these innovations will be ahead of the curve.

Are you prepared for the future of sales tech? Let’s peer into the crystal ball for an idea of what’s coming down the pipeline.

The Sales Tech Revolution

Our State of Sales 2017 Report suggests that “the sales tech revolution is in full swing,” with investments in this frontier rapidly growing as more companies identify ways to integrate new sales tools and solutions into their operations.

In 2016, investors pumped more than $5 billion into sales tech startups. The wave continues to grow here in 2017. With high adoption rates among millennials, who are occupying a larger and larger share of the workforce, it’s easy to see why many predict that the selling landscape could look very different by 2020.

Once sales technology becomes the norm, will your team be thriving from its benefits or scrambling to adapt?

Sales Tech Trends to Watch

Thankfully, we aren’t close to a proliferation of fully automated sales interactions with bots instead of live reps. Sales tech is about reinforcing, not replacing. The most promising advancements gaining traction are those that support sales professionals and supplement effective practices.

Here are some trending sales technologies to keep tabs on. Looking at your business, how might these be able to help you?

Sales and Marketing Alignment Tools

Convergence of the sales and marketing departments is an unmistakable trend across virtually all industries. Siloing the two sides is often detrimental, especially in an environment where a cohesive brand experience matters. Many tech applications focus on strengthening this bridge and making it easier for salespeople and marketers to collaborate seamlessly.

As more organizations transition to an account-based marketing methodology, it’s common to see a multifaceted approach to engaging prospects and leads. Especially in larger companies, the implementation of technologies that can help organize, prioritize, and actively maintain relationships with target accounts are on the rise.

Sales Navigator is one such tool. Closed-loop reporting mechanisms are also helpful. Another fast-growing area is lead scoring.

Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Scoring

Data is an undeniably powerful force in helping us refine customer personas and sharpen our prospecting scope. The challenge has been in finding the right ways to optimally apply it. Predictive scoring represents one way in which data and artificial intelligence can have dramatic impacts.

What does your customer look like? Which profile is most likely to be receptive to your product or service? What actions and attributes can most reliably inform these conclusions? In the past, these determinations have involved a lot of generalizing guesswork and inexact segmentation. Through predictive scoring, however, companies can run advanced algorithms using weighted criteria to more accurately identify the accounts and prospects worth pursuing.

The insights produced by artificial intelligence don’t stop there. Here’s social selling strategist Jill Rowley’s take on AI in sales:

“AI is destined to be the perfect tool to fuel organizations' sales efforts and power sales teams with genuinely intelligent tools to more effectively organize their work and sell more. It will not displace the sales person, but instead amplify and accelerate the sales person's ability to understand and employ data -- not just to improve productivity and boost performance, but to improve the customer experience.”

Sales Enablement Solutions

Great sales leaders are committed to providing their teams with tools that help them succeed. The tech movement is producing some game-changing possibilities.

Research from Aberdeen Group shows that companies using sales enablement technology see a growth rate three times higher than those eschewing such add-ons. There are plenty of simple tools out there capable of cutting down significantly on tedious, repetitive tasks that eat away at sales productivity. Right now, that’s the name of the game for enablement. Email templates, prospecting automation, and AI scheduling are among the trendy options.

Communication Enhancements

As sales teams grow less individualistic in their operations, tightening up communication is imperative. This can mean adopting office chat applications with deeper feature sets, or integrating content and email with your CRM, or finding ways to optimize knowledge-sharing throughout the organization.

Takeaways for the Sales Leader

How can you make sure you’re positioning yourself well for the sales tech era? Our best advice is this: make yourself tech-savvy. This doesn’t mean you need to learn how to code, or build AI models, but you will want to be comfortable working with digital media and cutting-edge tools. Make sure you’re literate in sales tech terminologies. Take steps to ensure your data is clean and well organized.

Always keep your eye on the horizon to see what’s coming next, and how it might specifically improve your outcomes. The four categories above are certainly ones to watch.

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