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Has Selling Changed Forever with the Technology Revolution?

So what exactly has changed?

Has technology forever changed selling?

There's no question about it - Over the last two decades selling has changed, massively. Is it for the better or are we worse off from where we started?

To help answer this question we've brought in:


 

Sam-Jefferies.png

Sam Jefferies: Digital Marketing Executive at Workbooks CRM. Providing CRM Software aimed at small to medium sized businesses. To find out more sign up for their 30 Day Free Trial.

Ian-Moyse_1.png

Ian Moyse: Sales Leader for Rackspace and Board Member of Eurocloud.

 


Q. So what exactly has changed?

Ian begins: "Sales has moved on a great deal from my early days of a fax machine, no mobile phone and a PC tied to your desktop. In those times you did not have an inbox full of emails, were not expected to be always accessible and would work from paper maps when on the road, using the now rare red telephone box as your friendly reach back to base.

Over the years sales has changed due to technology in many ways and now we have a status quo where if you ignore the technology and its implications you are at a major disadvantage if not dead in the water."

However of course it does have major benefits; when on the road you have email on the move enabling fast responses plus with free applications like Waze you can interact with other road warriors on real sharing of live traffic news, no longer the need to have the car atlas and stop and ask directions in that petrol station!"

Q. Sam, how did the technology revolution take place?

Sam notes:

"It all kicked off in 1983 when Martin Cooper (working for Motorola) invented the mobile phone (the first call was to a rival telecommunications company informing them he was calling through a mobile device!)1.

However mobile phones didn't integrate into society as quick as recent technologies (iPads, Amazon etc) but by the time the 90's came around (with Nokia exploding onto the scene) the world shifted to mobile communication.

Suddenly sales teams were able to call their head office to negotiate, call prospects remotely and even check in for directions.

Of course the next big shift came with the internet; at this point communication accelerated beyond comprehension and brought with it Google Maps, Email and LinkedIn.

"89% of marketers said email was their primary channel for lead generation. (Forrester Research)2 ."

Sales teams could now thoroughly research prospects on Google and Linkedin before calling. Mobiles (and later Tablets) advanced to connect to the internet allowing product showcasing and emailing to take place despite being away from a computer."

Q. Hold on? With this big shift in technology has it not brought disadvantages?

Ian continues:

"Potentially, customers now know more about you than ever before, with reports indicating that customers have done 60-80% of research before you are even engaged3. Previously a prospective client's view on you would be from your engagement, data sheets and any 1st hand experience or reference.

Today a customer can not only research all about you, but also the competition, how you compare and have live access to real customer feedback from very open social media."

Q. So what's happened since the internet revolution?

Sam continues: "We now see Marketing Automation and CRM Software as the norm for most B2B sales teams.

According to Focus Research: "Marketing automation has seen the fastest growth of any CRM-related segment in the last 5 years." 4.

Take for example Hubspot, entering the market at what appeared to be perfect timing they grew from zero to 8,440 customers in their first year and have since grown into a billion dollar company 5.

Google_Trends_-_Marketing_Automation.png

Throughout this period CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems also scaled and advanced; starting out at not much more than a digital phonebook.

They evolved to integrate with Finance, Marketing Automation and Email systems allowing sales teams to rapidly see a complete profile and health of  leads remotely allowing a stronger focus on the right type of leads.

Both of these solutions meant a shift occurred with sales teams spending less time travelling from door-to-door and more time creating stronger prospect profiles and pitches.

Will this continue? I believe  so, Gartner Research suggests by 2020 customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human! 7. So marketing automation will become further ingrained; quietly selling in the background to allow sales teams to knock on more half opened doors.

Q. So Ian, how can Sales teams keep up and use this technology as an advantage?

Ian: "As customers get increasingly comfortable with self service the danger you face is that on products where you cannot wrap service and value around them, the customer can find, research and procure without even engaging with you!  Margins in this area are tighter than ever and customers can often be comparing prices from around the world. No longer are you only up against localised regional suppliers!

You better research your customer before you engage, they will expect this. Don't go asking what they do, or show your lack of preparation as in today's world there is no room for excuses.

You can research them and their organisation through Linkedin (who else are you mutually connected to?), Facebook, Twitter, Duedil, their web site and of course your CRM giving you any history and engagement they have had with your organisation from marketing campaigns, enquiries and prior calls and meetings."

Q. Thanks, do you have any final thoughts on the future?

Ian: "Delivery methods are changing and where a service can be provided online in comparison to the traditional bricks & mortar approach - Seller beware!

Take Blockbuster, ripped out of existence by the likes of Netflix and LoveFilm. Ensure you have true value to the client to protect against the pure breed online competitor taking the 'wind out of your sales'!

Sales has changed and will continue to do so, empowered by technology, the salesperson and the customer will increasingly engage in new ways and the ability to adapt will be key in the sales persons arsenal."

Sam: "It's important to stay on top of the trends in technology, unfortunately it's also very easy to get lost in all the noise and forget the fundamentals. Take for example the recent shift to accessing the web via mobile phones, despite the hype; our own websites mobile traffic  only counts for around 5% of our total traffic:

overal-traffic-vs-mobile.jpg

Use technology to aid in selling your product (or services) but don't let it replace building that customer relationship. Focus on building a great product that delivers real world value to your customers and you're 75% there."


Produced by:

Sam-Jefferies.png

Sam Jefferies: Digital Marketing Executive for Workbooks CRM - Providing CRM Software aimed at small to medium sized businesses.
To find out more sign up for our 30 Day Free Trial.

Ian Moyse: Sales Leader for Rackspace and Board Member of Eurocloud.

Ian-Moyse_1.png


References:

1. Richard Goodwin, 2015. The History of Mobile Phones. [Online] Available at: http://www.knowyourmobile.com/nokia/nokia-3310/19848/history-mobile-phones-1973-2008-handsets-made-it-all-happen [04/06/2015]

2. Forrester Research, 2015. Marketers Lead Generation. [Online] Available at: https://www.forrester.com/home/ [04/06/2015]

3. Adam Eaton, 2015. Does the Hunter / Farmer Still Exist in Today's Digital Buying Cycle. [Online] Available at: http://www.pulsant.com/does-the-hunter-farmer-still-exist-in-todays-digital-buying-cycle/ [04/06/2015]

4. Focus Research, 2015. Marketing Automation Growth. [Online] Available at: http://www.focusmr.com/ [04/06/2015]

5. Growth Hackers, 2015. HubSpot - How to Grow a Billion Dollar B2B Growth Engine [Online] Available at: https://growthhackers.com/companies/hubspot/ [04/06/2015]

6. Google Trends, 2015. Marketing Automation 2006 - 2015 [Online] Available at:

https://www.google.co.uk/trends/explore#q=marketing%20automation&date=1%2F2006%20109m&cmpt=q&tz= [04/06/2015]

7. Gartner Research, 2015. Managing future relationships [Online] Available at: http://www.gartner.com/technology/research.jsp [04/06/2015]

More Stories By Sam Jefferies

Sam Jefferies works for Workbooks.com; A functional CRM system which offers 50-70% more value than Salesforce.

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