We Asked 10 Sales Influencers about How Sales Technology is Changing the Buying Process
Their Responses May Surprise You
May 23, 2019
LinkedIn’s most recent State of Sales Report, a global survey of thousands of salespeople and decision makers, reinforces the idea that sales technology is transforming the sales process.
The U.S. version of the State of Sales Report found that 73 percent of sales professionals are using technology to close more deals. And almost all respondents (97 percent) said that sales tech is either important or very important to closing deals.
Salespeople understand that sales tech can help streamline administrative tasks and gather intelligence about prospects. At the same time, decision makers say that human interactions remain crucial to the sales process, and it’s critical that sales tech enhance personalization.
To gain further insight into the future of sales technology and how it will continue to transform the buying and selling process, we asked sales influencers this question: “How do you anticipate sales tech will change (and change the sales process) over the next five years?”
Here’s what they had to say:
I actually think we’ll see less tech, not more. Many companies over the past two to three years have confused technology with strategy, and that’s (understandably) not working out too well. I expect we’ll see companies reduce their overall tech stack and increase both usage and ROI from the tools that remain. I also think there’s a sub-category of sales technology that we don’t know about yet that will emerge and become prominent in the next one to two years. — Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing
Artificial Intelligence will mature to deliver on the promise of freeing up sellers' time so they can focus more on creative dialog with prospects. — Kurt Shaver, Vengreso
According to Forrester, we live in a subscription economy, where the economic value of a customer relationship is not monetized up front but rather over time. This means the duration of a relationship has greater economic impact on the company’s health. This framework is impacting all aspects of business even if your business has not historically organized in this way. The trend of advancing sales technology has already started and will only continue. What it will mean is that more mundane or repetitive sales tasks will be automated and/or replaced with AI tools. This means the professionalism of sales must rise to add value to the buyer. — Tracey Wik, President, GrowthPlay
In the next five years, people will be using tech a lot more in their personal lives and leaving their house less and less, so the need to go to where people are online is critical to success. Think less websites and more outposts — plus more beacons from a marketing perspective. For sales, a lot of the process will be automated, similar to the Amazon one-touch buying process. Many times a sales team won’t be needed at the point-of-sale. Sales teams will need to be more focused on retention than acquisition as a result. — Robert Knop, CEO, Assist You Today
The sales tech market continues to explode: Smart Selling Tools’ most recent landscape supergraphic shows that there are more than 600 vendors offering sales productivity technologies. But if you’re a salesperson, all that really matters when it comes to technology is whether it gives you the ability to better engage your buyers or captures data that will make you more effective as a seller in future interactions. I expect that the sales technology vendors that are best able to convey that their solutions solve one or both of those problems are the ones that will be around in five years, while the others will go by the wayside. — Ed Calnan, Founder-President, Seismic
We are already seeing the start of the change. Today we have tools that are functional, they enable the sales person to do their job with greater efficiency. Mobile phones, email anywhere, CRM. What is coming are tools that automate mundane administrative tasks and detect patterns from data to alert sales what to do and when to do it. We can expect to see a rapid emergence of AI to help automate and provide greater intelligence to a salesperson and sales leadership. For example, watch for rapid adoption of phone call transcription in the next 36 months, automating note talking from a phone call into the CRM, which can alert leadership to key language used by the most successful salespeople and even errors in explanation given to a customer, when compared to a library of good responses. We are starting to also see sentiment analysis for verbal calls, allowing detection of anger building in a customer on a call and alerting an agent’s manager who can then listen or barge in to help on the call. — Ian Moyse, EMEA Sales Director, Natterbox
Really good sales enablement technology will help sellers use the assets they should be using at the right time for the right buyers. In the past, they’d forget to send that great white paper, case study, or slide. Now, it’ll be served up for them. Tracking buyer activity will become easier. Unless buyers install some kind of software or process to block it, sellers will see when buyers interact with their websites, content, documents, each other, and so on. Because there’ll be more automation, sellers themselves will need to be more valuable. The skills burden on every seller will go way up. They’ll need to be better at seeing buyer value, uncovering buyer value, communicating value, winning major sales, driving account growth, and so on. They’ll need to be more well-rounded and better business people. — Mike Schultz, President, Rain Group
Customers will get deeper into the sales cycle before engaging a company or salesperson. AI will allow for deeper analytics and connections into the "Buyer's Journey," which will shift how buyers engage in the buyer's process. The number of sales tools and platforms will continue to increase, but, through acquisitions the landscape of true practitioners will shrink. Conversations will have a stronger impact on sales tech than giving presentations & demos. — Roderick Jefferson, CEO, Roderick Jefferson & Associates
I think the pace of sales tech innovation and integration will continue to increase — which means that it’s hard to put a pin on where it will end up. Someone five years ago would have been hard-pressed to guess that the landscape will look as it does now! I think automation and AI will continue to provide data and information and make it increasingly easy to target prospects. At the same time, I think we’ll see more defenses pop up as people work to protect their time, attention, and privacy. — David J.P. Fisher, President, RockStar Consulting
We’re living in the fourth industrial revolution where automation with artificial intelligence is changing the world. The best leaders are focused on delivering easy and intuitive customer experience (CX) as their strategy to acquire, retain and grow clients. This means blended models of engagement via web, apps, social, phone and face-to-face. Sellers need to adapt and leverage technology for new levels of efficiency and effectiveness in finding, engaging and winning new customers. Sales technology is increasingly automating tasks and predicting opportunities or risks in the sales and account management process. AI that leverages big data, including social platforms, will increasingly deliver game-changing capabilities via the cloud and mobile apps. Every seller needs go beyond having IQ and EQ to also have TQ (technical quotient) if they are to thrive. — Tony Hughes, Managing Director, RSVPselling
For more insight into how sales tech is transforming the sales process, download the State of Sales Report today.