Romancing the Sale!

by March 25, 2015 0 comments

Technology and selling are both such extremes. One an exact science and the other bordering on an art form. Selling has always been a people’s business whether B2B, B2C and even Retail. It is the same today and perhaps will remain the same tomorrow
– Rakesh Marwah, Principal Consultant, Dottedline
“The sales office of tomorrow will not have four walls but four wheels!” I first heard that in the early 90’s when PCs were proliferating into the Indian office. Today it’s a reality. With powerful hand held devices, fast connectivity and cloud based applications, the sales office virtually (no pun intended) fits into the palm of your hand for the salesperson on the go.
In the 80’s which was early times for technology in India, the salesperson had no technology to help him locate and meet prospective buyers, no data mining or analysis nor any app to help him record sales meetings and close deals. At best, he had to resort to an ageing sluggish PC and dot matrix printer and dog eared brochures to make his pitch. Period. Mental and physical faculties were stretched to locate the prospect by burning fossil fuel, beating the gatekeeper to his game, waxing eloquent that his rat trap was better than the competitors and push for closure of the sale. It was just another sale and just another customer. The customer was a line item in the order register. No buyer-seller long term partnerships there. Technology hardly figured as an enabler to the sales person.
The accent was on closing deals in those days. It was a pure play numbers game. The mantra of selling was A-B-C (Always-Be-Closing). A sale was a quickie and long term partnerships with the customer were either non-existent or often relegated to the background. “Coffee is for closers only!” is what Alec Baldwin, the sales trainer screams in the 1992 Hollywood move Glengarry Glen Ross. “It’s a tough racket,” he further states referring to the sales profession.
It was a real tough racket until the late 90’s. That’s when the internet came in and was the focus for speeding up business communications through email and learning more about the business environment. That it would help in actually conducting business was only a distant possibility.
A few years later I called a client to request for a personal meeting. “Why?” he asked. I tried to explain how I needed to meet him to understand his needs to show him how he could benefit from my solutions. “Why can’t we do this over VC?” he asked. That had me stumped. He was right. We could do it over VC and we did, saving me expensive travel and related time and effort. “How cool is this VC,” I thought even at a time when bandwidth and connectivity was not so freely available.
Picture this today. The salesperson learns about a prospective buyer by surfing on his smartphone, establishes contact, requests for a meeting on video, (by this time both seller and buyer know enough about each other thanks to presence on the net and social media, to take discussions forward) understand the prospects needs, positions the benefits of his solution above competition, shoots out a winning proposal from his laptop, loops in the tech, commercial and legal teams, gets on a video call, negotiates and closes. All this without a sweaty hand shake, expensive travel and anxious moments at the prospects reception. Neat! Maybe a bit of an exaggeration for sales people selling high value specialist solutions. So let’s throw in a meeting or two (with tickets for travel being booked online) saving precious time. Still, with technology enabling the sales process, the bang for the buck gets bigger for the seller and buyer alike. Technology is no longer just an enabler to business, it IS the business. With digital technology it’s no longer batch processing in an uncertain environment, it is real time, with real solutions based on real data and with real benefits.
For the marketing manager, technology means fewer time delays and migraines. No more visits to the graphic designers or printers as collaterals and communications are designed and distributed from under his nose and from within his team. Popular software applications provide for making or editing slick collaterals ahead of schedules. It’s soft copy all the way to all in the decision making panel in the client company. IT does make the world a lot greener.
In the retail space, online giants will continue to take bigger bites from the growing market. Good brands available online will woo the visitor with more attractive ‘add-to-cart’ offers. Online sites with innovative marketing strategies, quick and reliable supply chain capabilities will come out as winners.
In a fiercely competitive world, all solutions over time, reach more or less the same levels. To win deals more often the salesperson will have to be the differentiator. Among other things, he will need to constantly reinvent himself digitally to beat competition. He has to come up on top for all the client searches. The sales team needs to be SEO’ed. For the salesperson it will mean Sales Efficiency Optimization. Being optimized with digital technology, the salesperson will be able to leverage on the first mover advantage, before competition catches up.
Like never before, pre sales and inside sales teams can leverage real time information and data to build sales strategies in a demanding and unforgiving environment and provide cutting edge innovative solutions. Irrespective of the geographical location, the salesperson now has more time to touch more customers every day, more time to work on the customer’s needs, and more time to service the customer. In short, technology will enable the salesperson to romance the sale better and build long term profitable relationships with the customer. That’s why the digitally optimized salesperson will just love his job. The future of successful selling belongs to him.

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