Member Article

Sales: The Oft-Neglected Piece of Digital Transformation

By Jens Oberbeck, VP of Sales at Pipedrive

The business community has for years been bombarded with messages of business transformation, and many organisations managed a successful rapid revolution as the pandemic enforced a flight from the office. Organisations behind the curve with cloud computing rapidly onboarded, and many reduced costs, made business processes simpler, and improved their service provision.

However… The sales process is an often neglected area of the wider digital transformation project. Salespeople are the engine of a company, yet they often remain trapped in stale processes whilst the organisation transforms around them. They become a bottleneck instead of the engine of growth the business needs. This impacts on delivering customer success, and on revenue generation. Yet organisations are often reluctant to change anything in the sales department for fear of tampering with a ‘good enough’ process.

This is wrong. It’s hugely important to keep the sales pipeline a part of any organisational digital transformation projects. Given the growth function of the sales and marketing teams, to protect them is sensible, but to lock them out of the improved technologies reduces their effectiveness. All of those benefits that other departments enjoy, from increased up-time, remote access, automation, and advancements from machine learning and cloud computing can boost sales performance too.

When we talk about digital transformation in sales what we’re really talking about is unleashing the power of tried and test automation tools. Sales roles require a mix of people-skills and business processes. The people skills part isn’t going to be replaced by a non-human any time soon. That’s where humans deliver unique value. But a robot can work much faster at ‘rote’ process tasks - and that’s where automation aids the human.

If the sales team is spending too much time on repetitive tasks, like manually sending emails to leads, or creating follow-up activities one by one such as scheduling a call involving negotiating times and setting reminders, it’s time to digitally transform. By creating automated workflows and tasks, sales teams save time by eliminating mundane tasks and working to a streamlined sales process. It also gets them to the skilled, creative, and empathetic parts where they should be spending quality time communicating and problem solving.

However, to really improve a sales team’s performance in the right way means establishing winning processes aligned with business goals. It’s only by starting at the top that all the constituent parts will align. At the same time, an agenda set from the top that doesn’t take into account the real activities and needs of the working functions will fall apart. Consultation and open communication are required just as much as clear leadership and shared goals.

Work with your salespeople to create workflows the team can follow. Don’t add to their mental or daily workload unnecessarily. Additionally, reduce human error by letting automation handle important yet otherwise easily forgettable or error-prone tasks that don’t require creativity, but do take concentration. These include: Setting reminders; arranging meetings with multiple parties’ diaries; personalising and sending emails; moving deals along CRM workflows; creating deal records when new contacts are added; or transferring ownership between sales team members as deals progress.

A lot of the benefits of automation come from turning actions that could become small impediments into a smooth workflow. Industry research suggests that lost sales productivity and wasted budgets from poorly managed leads costs $1 trillion, annually.

It’s like slicing bread by hand: Humans can do it, but is it the best use of a skilled person? By automating aspects of the sales pipeline and augmenting our staff we give sales professionals time to leverage their empathy, creativity, and people skills.

We live in a cloud era, and most businesses will have some experience of migrating data to the cloud, or between services. It is not the challenge it once represented. There is no longer a business imperative to preserve the sales team from all change. It’s time to allow them to fully join the digital era, like other departments have managed.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Technology Experts .

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