Magazine article CRM Magazine

2015 Will Be the Year of the Highly Optimized, Process-Driven Sales Force

Magazine article CRM Magazine

2015 Will Be the Year of the Highly Optimized, Process-Driven Sales Force

Article excerpt

Sales organizations will experience major changes in the coming year, most of all in the way sales reps handle their day-to-day activities. As big data, analytics and social networks reach maturity, applications built on these increasingly solid foundations will become much more effective and user-friendly, changing the workflow for the person doing the selling. 2015 will be the year that the benefits of sales technologies extend from sales managers to sales reps, allowing individual sellers to focus more on communication and engagement and less on manual tasks and administrative processes.

The transformation of selling based on new tools will be felt throughout sales departments in 2015, and it's impossible to predict where the greatest changes will take place. However, there are a few innovations that I think will be especially transformative in the coming year:

1. AUTOMATED COACHING ADVICE THAT SALES REPS ACTUALLY LISTEN TO

Most sales technologies have been designed to give sales managers insight into the performance of their teams, which managers use to guide individual sales reps and set overall goals and priorities. However, we have recently started to see more applications and CRM systems provide direct coaching to sales reps--on which lead to follow up with, when to reach out and how to engage a prospect. While some of the earlier attempts at automated coaching often failed to provide meaningful advice to sales reps, newer machine-based recommendations are now actually improving conversion rates and productivity.

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Much of this progress comes down to advances in big data collection and analytics. Data-driven answers to sales questions used to take much longer to deliver, and could only address broader trends across the organization. But as analytics systems get smarter and more user-friendly, sales reps will be able to get advice they can use in real time, driving real results. As sales reps receive more process-oriented advice from applications, sales managers will be able to focus more on teaching the art of selling rather than monitoring call volumes and communicating outreach plans.

2. SOCIAL PROXIMITY REDEFINES HOW LEADS ARE HANDLED

Technologies that leverage social networks and other personal data to improve sales will reach a tipping point in 2015. Today, more than 70 percent of adults use social networking sites, and higher earners are even more likely than their peers to use social media. …

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