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Why Salespeople Must Use Technology To Achieve ‘Insight Selling’


To succeed, today’s sellers need to use “insight selling” to avoid competing on price alone with today’s super-informed customers.

That’s according to a very long article in the November issue of the Harvard Business Review about the macro shift in selling. Essentially, the article argues sales reps need to be “creative and adaptable” and empowered to use customer-specific situational judgment rather than being forced to remain glued to protocols. They need to be able to “offer unexpected solutions,” HBR suggests.

The nearly 4,000-word article focuses on the organizational change management aspects that are needed to create this new selling culture. Sellers need managers who provide guidance and support rather than inspection and direction. While we do believe this is spot on and we like the research based nature of the article (more than 2,000 sales professionals in 30 companies were interviewed), as is typical for us at Tellwise, we would add a technology dimension to this.

At Tellwise, we believe that technology can significantly support and drive this necessary change management process. Candidly, one of the reasons why most sales teams are still stuck in the “inspection world” is because current technology driven workflows make them do it.

Unfortunately, most of today’s CRM systems — Salesforce, Dynamics CRM, Sugar CRM, Oracle/Siebel and others — are optimized to support the old world of sales. Compliance and inspection are the name of the game here. This is why so many front-line sales reps see little value in using these tools in today’s customer situations.

Furthermore, these systems are optimized to be reporting and pipeline inspection tools with a rigorous workflow and process setup that sales reps must follow. CRM tools, for example, are designed to be entirely internally focused rather than customer focused. This means the sales rep can’t possibly use CRM to connect or engage with a customer. Nothing in a CRM tool promotes the active dialog, sharing or collaboration side with the customer.

So what’s the solution?

We believe that sales representatives need new technologies to achieve insight selling. These tools should empower sales reps to create individual workspaces for their customers. They should also actively encourage sales reps based on their customer insight to share the right sales assets in a compelling way. This change will open doors for collaboration beyond email and phone to some kind of social interactions. They also empower front-line sales professionals with customer analytics and insights into how customers work as well as how they consume the sales assets.

The Tellwise Nutshell (TTN): Over the last few years, marketing departments all around the world have received new technology to help them gain insights about top- and middle-of-funnel activities on entire segments of customers. To be successful, sales departments must be enabled to have this kind of technology to allow for individual opportunities they are following up on. This will help sales reps make the next decision points in order to close the deal.

Source: Harvard Business Review, November 2013

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