Sales leaders should explore technologies in two key areas to improve sales execution and innovation.
What if an algorithm could help you pick which deal had the highest probability of closing that day? Better still, what if it provided you step-by-step guidance on what to do? Predictive and prescriptive technology may help this become a reality for your sales rep.
Sales leaders, working alongside application and IT leaders, must increase sales operational efficiency and effectiveness to optimize sales outcomes such as revenue or profit margins. Many of those leaders look to technology, but struggle to identify which are hype and which are a necessity.
“Sales leaders must understand the risks and benefits of technology as they seek to increase productivity,” says Melissa A. Hilbert, research director at Gartner.
The Gartner Hype Cycle offers a graphical depiction of a common pattern that arises with each new technology or other innovation — from hyped excitement through a period of disillusionment to an eventual understanding of the innovation’s relevance and role in a market or domain. A Hype Cycle can help executives gauge relative risk and timing of emerging technologies and evaluate trade-offs between risk and innovation.
The Gartner Hype Cycle for CRM Sales, 2018, shows two main areas on the verge of mainstream adoption, suggesting a near-term need for investment in those sales innovations — predictive and prescriptive technology and application programming interface (API).
Predictive and prescriptive technology
These types of technologies, including capabilities such as machine learning, will provide intelligence, predictions and prescriptions of next best actions for your sales force to increase efficiency and drive better results.
“Gartner sees a large number of vendors deepening their process automation with machine learning technology,” says Hilbert.
Sales organizations can use a combination of predictive algorithms to score opportunities that are likely to close and use prescriptive advice to the reps on the next best action to take with that opportunity to provide the desired outcome. This results in increased deal velocity, or the time it takes to close a deal, and increases profits. Sales leaders won’t have to rely on sales reps or managers’ “gut feelings” on opportunities, but rather, they will have data and fact-based backing.
“ Sales reps who are better able to understand their buyers will have an easier time selling, which will increase sales efficacy and give customers a better experience”
Sales will benefit from the scientific or algorithmic intelligence that can be leveraged to personalize and contextualize content for guided selling, provide recommendations on optimal quote configuration and offer a better understanding of the customer journey.
API integration, or the tools used to manage software integration, is a second area of investment. Synergistic coordination allows for sales organization to have a bigger picture of the buyer and the sales process. Sales reps who are better able to understand their buyers will have an easier time selling, which will increase sales efficacy and give customers a better experience.
These technologies can help sales reps with routine data entry, take a training course from a mobile device during a commute or get translation of a recorded phone call. Cost, price and quote (CPQ) software and sales performance management (SPM) solutions are being more tightly integrated through published APIs for sales compensation estimation.
This provides the ability to create an optimal quote that will bring in the deal and maximize revenue for the organization and, consequently, a good commission for the sales rep. Gartner sees more organizations making the connection from lead to cash, which includes lead management, SFA, CPQ, SPM and sales enablement solutions.
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