In the past few days, several people have shared content touting the idea that technology can improve sales results. A number of the cited statistics point to a particular application that provides better outcomes. This belief began with the CRM and the promise of greater accountability and control, with neither being true.
Over the last few decades, the number and variety of software and apps have proliferated. One graphic showed the logos of many companies with offerings designed to improve sales and selling, many copycat versions of another company’s software.
It’s important to recognize that all these programs improve some activity. A good example is a prospecting sequence, managing the order of the salesperson’s cold outreach. While this may be helpful, it can’t win a client.
The Faith in Technology as Advantage
Those of us who worry about the profession of sales are concerned that sales leaders believe that technology will enable them to reach their goals, even if they don’t change their sales approach or other key activities. Many sales leaders believe that technology returns time to the sales force, giving them more time to spend with clients and prospective clients. However, the data suggests that the opposite typically happens.
One might expect that having more tech tools in the sales stack gives salespeople more time to spend on selling. This also turns out to be false because the technology places additional burdens on the salesperson’s time. In the past, before sales technology was so ubiquitous, salespeople spent more time on the few tasks salespeople need to do to succeed.
The Use of Technologies
Those of us that used index cards, a telephone, and a phone book won deals, and these analog tools still work well enough. The pager, not so much.
This isn’t to say that sales organizations should shun technology. You need a CRM and a data source. Every additional application to your sales tech stack adds an additional expense, plus the cost of time to use it. One carefully selected tool may make sense, but most are almost certainly unnecessary.
Selling is a conversation between a salesperson and their prospective client. No part of the sales conversation requires technology beyond a legal pad and a pen. If you are fancy, you can type your notes into an iPad, but even that isn’t necessary.
The Most Important Technologies in B2B Sales
Let us agree that conversational technology exists. One can argue that these elements can cause a prospective client to buy from the salesperson, something a tech stack can’t match.
Sales methodology: The most important conversational technology is your sales methodology. It should enable the salesperson to create value for their client during the sales conversation. The structure of the conversation is embedded in your sales methodology.
There is no reason to prioritize a software program over your sales methodology. Instead, spend more time and effort helping your team gain the true advantage of an effective sales methodology. Here, we make a rule: Prioritize conversational technologies over software tools.
A conversation guide: A conversation guide is a conversational technology that can also provide salespeople with the confidence they need to succeed. You might also refer to it as a playbook, and it may document certain strategies. Selling is a conversation, so good language choices are helpful and can improve and increase sales effectiveness.
A sales team that spends time role-playing common conversations and concerns will have an advantage over their competitors. After practicing good language in a safe environment, the salesperson will feel confident saying the words to their potential clients.
Coaching the conversation: Salespeople complain they don’t receive enough personal coaching. Coaching can help them master the sales conversation. This is especially helpful regarding the critical conversations that will end in a win or a loss.
The Conversation over the Technology
By prioritizing the sales conversation over technology, you may find it is easier and faster to improve your sales results. Many sales leaders who want their teams to have every advantage will eventually realize that technology does not convince buyers to make a purchase, and it often takes more time to manage and use.
Increasing a sales force’s effectiveness is more difficult than buying more technology. Those of us that have bought technology know that the salesperson and their company will provide a score card showing the time we and money saved by implementing their solution. There is nothing wrong with trying to save money, but that shouldn’t be the sales leader’s goal. Instead, their goal should be to win deals that generate net new revenue.
Weigh your sales tech stack and determine how you might lighten the burden on your sales force.
On the False Belief in Technology
Our technologies proliferate at a greater rate than they improve. A false belief in technology as the way to improve sales results brings a heavy burden. It’s often difficult to explain exactly how the technology increases sales effectiveness and how it results in won deals.
You may do better focusing on conversational technologies and a minimal viable sales tech stack. A lightweight tech stack is less cumbersome and less costly, and will give time back to the sales force, who does not need another thing to manage.
You are welcome to buy whatever technology excites you, but keep in mind that it is unlikely to help you win more deals. Your conversational technologies are a better investment and a better use of your sales force’s time.