Business in the 21st-century is evolving faster than it ever has before. In the era of digital disruption, you always hear about how Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data, Analytics, and Natural Language Processing are all reshaping and in some cases replacing the human workers that once performed business tasks manually. Sales have always had a permanently human element to it (we will elaborate later as to why), a human element that will be challenging to replace permanently with a computer. Sales have always been a benchmark profession. Salespeople have quotas and are measured by how much or how little volume of business they can produce for their respective company. So the question then becomes how do we “digitally disrupt” the sales industry? The key may lie in looking at sales as a story, and the sales professionals as the authors.
87% of high performing sales reps have reported that “in-person” communication channels are still crucial for sales success. Adding to that the fact that sellers who engage the right buyers earlier in the buying process have a 30% greater win rate and it is clear that sales engagement along with in-person sales plays a crucial role in sales success even in the digital era. Even in the age of digital disruption, there is something special about that in-person meeting with a potential customer. Sitting down with a buyer, being able to shake their hand and learn about their business first hand is a powerful and impactful part of a successful buyer-seller journey. You get to learn about their goals, their concerns, any challenges they believe they will face, and their plans for overcoming them. That understanding allows sales professionals to help provide potential buyers with a customized look at their products and services and the value that they can bring in helping them achieve those goals and conquer their challenges.
So where does “digital disruption” come into play here? It’s in all the events leading up to those meetings, the lead generation, the initial phone calls, product demos, emails, meeting scheduling, identifying key decision makers, etc. Sales professionals are chasing down dozens if not hundreds of leads every week, engaging with them trying to schedule meetings and product demos giving them that in-person moment to wow the potential customer. Each lead and opportunity is sort of like its own little story, the ebbs and flows of each interaction between buyer and seller are like chapters in a book, each one bringing a new twist and turn to the story. Sales Intelligence tools should be designed to interpret that story and help determine what direction the plot is headed. Making sure that the sales professionals that are working on writing these stories are spending their time on the stories headed in the most promising direction.
In-person selling is a powerful tool for sales professionals even in the age of digital disruption; it is a crucial component of the overall buyer-seller story. However, AI, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and Sales Intelligence software can still bring value to sales team by acting as the stories editor. Reading and reviewing the story after each chapter helping the author (the sales team) figure out if the dialog is headed in the right direction, or if it is time to scrap the script altogether and start a new one. Just like for an author, time capital is crucial in sales. By maximizing our time efficiency working only on the stories (leads) that are heading in the right direction then not only are we more likely to win more deals, we can also save sales teams time on writing stories that aren’t going anywhere which will make time for new more promising storylines (leads) that end up as future masterpieces.