Sales used to be strictly a relationships game. You hired people for their Rolodex and the access to new business it gave your company. While relationships are still hugely significant, the rise of the Internet has brought about other elements. According to Forrester, 74% of business buyers now conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. Selling has to change because buying has changed.
Almost every small business I talk to is trying to adapt and compete by becoming more operational in the things they weren’t as operational in previously. Using technology to build in this kind of rigor is how you turn your sales process into a science, not just an art. The organisations that will be successful in the future are the ones that find this balance.
A decade ago, salespeople would go to a trade show and come back with a bunch of business cards. They might input this information into a spreadsheet, but there was no way to score these leads. Now a rep can enter their new contacts into a customer relationship management (CRM) system and almost instantly get an idea about where these prospects are in the sales cycle and where they should be spending their time.
For sales managers, building science into the sales funnel of their company is not unlike compounding interest rates. Putting prospect information into a CRM solution and watching it is how you make fact-based decisions for your business. Say you want to grow from $3 million in sales to $20 million. How many salespeople do you need? How many more leads? How much more should you spend on marketing? How much bigger should your pipeline be?
As Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff likes to say, every CEO is in the business of growth. If a company is in great shape without technology, there is no near-term need to introduce it. But for those organizations that want to compete, grow fast, and increase profits, you need to embrace this science. I’ll leave you with this: Would you rather be the last horse-and-buggy salesperson or the first car salesperson?