We’re living in the Age of the Customer. It’s an age without sales pitches.
That’s a conclusion from Salesforce’s second annual “State of Sales” report, which was released last fall.
“No sales pitches” doesn’t mean that salespeople are sitting anxiously in their cubicles, waiting for the phone to ring. It means consultative selling is more important than ever.
Thanks to the Internet, customers are far more informed about your products and your competitors long before your salespeople talk to them. As a result, customers are looking for a trusted advisor to help them sift through all the choices they have.
Instead of repeating formulaic sales pitches to prospect after prospect, salespeople need to listen, gather information, and provide guidance. This is the way to earn trust and close deals.
But this collaborative and holistic approach doesn’t work without data. To make the sales process truly effective, salespeople must be able to access a diversity of data that’s typically scattered across the enterprise and beyond, pulling together insights about the customer, the market and competition, in addition to locating internal experts and detailed product information.
Bringing all this together empowers salespeople and their customers to see the big picture and to jointly develop effective, customized products and services.
Data integration provides the comprehensive view that salespeople need to deliver the best possible customer experience — the kind of experience that’s going to help them close more deals.
As the Salesforce report points out, technology is helping transform the sales process from a high-pressure pitch into a rich, in-depth collaboration that benefits both buyer and seller.
Four Major Sales and Technology Trends for a Customer-Centric Age
The “State of Sales” report identifies four major trends in selling and examines how those trends manifest themselves in top-performing sales teams (teams that are in top 20% based on performance).
Let’s examine these trends to uncover their dependence on technology and to appreciate the way that data plays a key role in this new world of collaborative selling.
Trend #1: Customer Experience is Now the Top Sales Benchmark
Informed customers are in control. They’re the ones deciding which companies succeed or fail. Sales teams know this, and they’re responding accordingly. They’re reaching out to customers, and they’re working hard to ensure that all their customer interactions are well informed, helpful and productive.
Of course, it’s difficult to personalize interactions and deepen relationships without knowledge about customer interests and requirements. The deeper the knowledge, the deeper the potential relationship — and the better the experience can be for the customer.
Data integration helps with this effort by connecting Salesforce to key data sources, putting critical customer information at a sales person’s fingertips. Through data integration, Salesforce users become better informed and more up-to-date, enabling them to be more personal and productive in their customer interactions.
Trend #2: High-Performing Sales Teams Are Adopting a New, More Collaborative Approach
Seventy-three percent of salespeople report that collaborating across departments is absolutely critical or very important to their sales process, according to the Salesforce report. Sixty percent of salespeople say that collaborative selling has increased their productivity by at least 25%. And 52% report that collaboration has helped grow their pipeline.
To collaborate effectively, sales teams need a comprehensive view of the customer across all departments, enabling salespeople to understand every stage of the customer journey and every customer interaction. Such a comprehensive view is possible only through data integration.
The report notes: “While the majority of sales reps acknowledge the importance of an aggregated view of customer data, they’re having a hard time delivering with their current technology stacks.”
A data integration platform with ready-to-use connectors can help. And publishing APIs to data sources supports real-time access that can be made available to Salesforce and other critical business applications.
Trend #3: Teams Are Reducing Inefficiencies with Technology
Salespeople are more effective when they can spend most of their time selling. When their time and attention are diverted to administrative tasks, productivity decreases and sales take a hit.
How can sales teams reduce administrative overload? According to the report, sales teams are investing in analytics to improve data quality and decision-making, so that their daily work becomes more efficient. They’re also using workflow automation to streamline business processes, eliminating paperwork, procedural delays, and other factors that take salespeople away from selling.
Trend #4: Adopting Artificial Intelligence for Smarter Selling
Given the attention that artificial intelligence (AI) is getting in nearly every market and line of business, it’s not surprising that it would show up in a Salesforce report about high-performing sales teams and their strategies for leveraging technology.
Salesforce itself has invested heavily in its Einstein AI product. And no wonder. Almost 80 percent of larger companies have already invested in AI and have it running in production, according to a recent survey by Vanson Bourne.
The Salesforce report identifies AI as the top growth area for sales teams, with adoption projected to increase 140 percent during the next three years. Of course, the analysis made possible by any AI service is only as good as the data supplied to that service. Here, too, data integration is critical.
To learn how Boomi can help your organization, contact our integration experts today.