Technophobia: A Luxury That Sales and Marketing Managers Can’t Afford

Paul Black, CEO of sales-i

The villain of the “Terminator”series isn’t the Terminator; it’s Skynet, the evil computer. It’s the same in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, and countless others. In some quarters, technology – particularly automation technology – is viewed with suspicion.

Sales and marketing managers are particularly prone to this. In Sales Management: A Multinational Perspective, it’s said that more seasoned salespeople “resist new technology, largely due to a lack of knowledge and technological fear.” Being made up largely of a generation that grew up without today’s sophisticated software, it’s understandable why this demographic might feel this way – and over time, it will prove a self-correcting problem, as more digitally-savvy millennials enter the world of work.

Of course, that’s time most businesses struggling to compete in this age might not have: they need results now, and if you’re working as a sales and marketing manager, technophobia is nothing less than a millstone around your neck. Why? Because without a technological edge, you’ll have to deal with…

… smarter competition
Sales is a people-centric industry, and even with the advent of e-commerce, it always will be. A charmless or off-putting salesperson with a great product will, more often than not, lose out to an effortlessly appealing salesperson peddling an inferior product; thus was it always, thus will it ever be. What technology can do is make the former seem a little more like the latter.

Customers want to feel valued. A good way to make them feel otherwise is to come to a meeting without all the information you need: while you’ll (hopefully) remember names, they expect a bit more than that. They all want you to act like they’re your only customer, because that’s the level of service they’re getting from sales teams in other companies. If you can’t rattle off an itemized history of your entire relationship with them from memory, you’re already at an immediate disadvantage to your closest rivals.

How are they doing this? Sales intelligence software, using big data analytics, allows them to automatically record the pertinent details of a call or meeting and recall them as and when they are needed – at a moment’s notice. This allows their team to simulate deep investment in hundreds (if not thousands) of clients, immediately improving general customer disposition – and the likelihood of them buying additional products and services. But the technology’s capability doesn’t stop there. It also means you’ll have to deal with…

… faster competition
One of the main issues facing sales and marketing teams is the amount of time they spend bogged down in non-business or mission-critical tasks. Whether it’s general admin, fruitless cold calls or research, there’s a good chance your subordinates aren’t spending their time as well as they could be.

For your rivals, sales intelligence solves this problem by quickly and effectively identifying ways to streamline certain processes and mitigate wasted time. By way of example, if they’re spending 5 percent of their time manually inputting user data into the CRM system when it could be automated, that’s 5 percent of their time that could be redirected toward acquiring new business – a margin that may not seem like much, but could, over the financial year, amount to thousands of pounds. Equally, if server downtime overlaps with the time they’re using the network, big data technology can identify an opportunity to reschedule it – making sure these salespeople are never without all the tools they need. And that’s not even the most potent advantage sales intelligence software presents. You’ll be facing…

… seemingly psychic competition
Ever notice that your rivals seem to be just a little bit ahead of you? Maybe you’ll call a long-time recurring customer only to find they’ve been snatched by a close rival; maybe you’ll find that your attempt to pre-empt a competitor’s summer sale has itself been pre-empted long in advance. Whatever you plan to do, your competition do it first. It’s almost like they’re psychic, isn’t it?

Well, almost is the key word here. Again, software is what’s keeping your opponents on top. With superior sales intelligence capability, they’re able to spot trends well ahead of time. The importance of this marketing advantage is difficult to understate. It means they know when key customers want more of a certain item: if you sell drinkware, for example, this could be cocktail glasses in summer. The right tool will identify when these opportunities arise the very second they actually do – as well as opportunities for cross selling (for example, the little umbrellas people like to have with their martinis). This extends to things like shortages – they’ll have a far easier time retaining clients than you if they know the precise moment their clients tend to run out – and contributes to an overall impression of borderline omniscience.

Of course, the dirty little secret is that they’re not all-seeing at all. They’re simply very well-equipped for the modern market, while their competitors languish as analogue companies in a digital world. The good news is they haven’t got a monopoly on this big data technology: it’s available to anyone with the gumption to take advantage of it. Any sales and marketing manager working in the industry today would be well-advised to do so.

Paul Black is CEO of sales-i, a developer of award-winning business and customer intelligence software that levels the playing field so every business can compete with the “big boys” in the market.