Today, information is at everyone’s fingertips; in fact, customers can often be more prepared for a first sales call than the salesperson approaching them. In the past, sales representatives could feel confident that they had access to special knowledge which allowed them to frame the conversation—avoiding competitor strengths and putting the best narrative forward for their product and company. But things have changed. Today, even well prepared sales reps are facing very informed customers. And poorly prepared reps? They just don’t have a chance.
Guest article by Davide Petramala, EVP and Chief Evangelist for Esna
Customers are smarter and more prepared than ever to talk about products and services. The age of “self-help” is upon us and customers are increasingly researching and digesting market and product information before speaking to vendors.
How does the modern salesperson respond to a better informed prospect? By embracing this willingness to self-learn and by bringing to prospects a richer, deeper, understanding of the potential value of their product and service. This can only happen if the sales team is armed with the latest tools to communicate and collaborate across their internal and external networks.
With the market demanding increased personalization, new communication technologies enable a more focused approach with prospects as opposed to the mass market positioning that heretofore has been the definition of sales.
Most people define collaboration as a richer form of conversations, such as a community discussion with a group of team members providing updates on an idea or a task. Others see collaboration where productivity delivers output.
For instance, contemporary collaboration tools allow immediate and concurrent conversations with researchers, peer sales reps, customer service personnel, and other resources needed to make a compelling customer approach. These conversations can now take place online via voice, video, chat and more. Meanwhile, micro-blogging, sales communities, commenting and team sharing give everyone a chance to be responsive to new relationships and share what they know. No longer do salespeople have to act in silos, only using individual resources because gathering team knowledge was a time consuming proposition.
Collaboration technology enables sales teams to better leverage rich data to prepare for tailored customer conversations, as opposed to delivering a standard positioning presentation. And collaboration can be embedded into the tools these sales teams use every day, automating many processes to gather customer/prospect intelligence and making it simple to collaborate from within CRM suites and sales tools like Salesforce.
The benefits that collaboration technology delivers to sales professionals are significant. By properly leveraging the right information, at the right time in the cycle, salespeople can become a true source of knowledge for customers. The goal, of course, is to have each sales call be a meaningful interaction, and that’s made easier when the client feels that the salesperson is providing access to relevant information in real-time.
Collaboration technology delivers team selling to the masses and helps shorten the sales cycle. Collaboration empowers the sales organization to connect with peers, advisors, and other information resources and break existing sales silos, while facilitating team learning and broader organizational involvement.
Connecting the dots across the organization, using collaboration tools, enables salespeople to move more quickly and engage more deeply with the insight needed to win.
Collaboration technology is enabling a fundamentally new kind of sales conversation. One that combines the early research and vetting that a prospect does on their own, with the rich and customized information that collaboration tools have allowed the sales representative to assemble.
Read the Aberdeen report Sales and Marketing Alignment: A Primer on Successful Collaboration
Davide Petramala is EVP and Chief Evangelist for Esna, a leading provider of real-time communication and collaboration solutions. With over 20 years in the communications and collaboration business, Davide has a deep understanding of how enterprises leverage communication software to improve productivity, reduce costs and foster greater collaboration. Follow Davide on Twitter at @davidepetramala.