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  • Mercer Smith-Looper

5 ways to modernize your sales team

Times they are a-changin’. Inside sales and sales development roles are on the rise. More teams are tracking customer satisfaction than whether they meet their quotas. New technologies come out every day that make it easier to understand precisely what your customers want. Now is the time to make moves.

Even if your sales team performs above all of your goals, there’s still room to improve. Bringing your strategies into the modern world gives you a competitive edge. If you’re already there, finding the next big step future-proofs you against your competitors.

We’ve aggregated five ways to consider modernizing your sales team, from strategies that focus on individual rep performance and ongoing maintenance of your data to automating traditionally human-held roles with machines. Read on to bring your team up to speed.

Make use of your CRM

The CRM came into existence in the 1980s, but it’s come a long way since then. Are you using it to its full potential? A CRM isn’t just a place to check-in and ensure that your employees are doing all of their work as expected. It’s also not just a place for all of your customer data to die. A CRM should be a living, breathing artifact.

First, bring your CRM into the modern world and find ways to get all of your data connected. Tools like Zapier and IFTTT make it easy for you to funnel your customer information and data around your interactions into your CRM. Depending on what tools you are looking to connect, there may even be a native integration available.

Associating data with individual records makes your salespeople even more effective at their jobs. Use this information for more effective targeting and better rationale for knowing when to stop working a deal. Automatically create personalized proposals using CRM connected tools like Qwilr that can pull in data and reduce busywork. You don’t have to use guesswork or rely solely on your intuition when you have history and data to back you up.

There are also connector tools like Clearbit. These tools give you even more contextual information about contacts, like whether their company has recently received funding, whether they are the decision-maker, their company size, and other information that may help when prospecting. Building relationships is good, but building relationships empowered by data is better.

Automate

Do you know how much or your sales rep time is spent selling? Probably less than you think.

Most salespeople only spend 26% of their time selling. That means that you could be working on automating at least some of the other 74% of work that they are doing to free up a bit more of that time.

There are a few low-hanging tasks that many sales organizations tackle first. Those are: 

  • Allow your customers to book their times and automate calendar functionality.
  • Follow-ups emails or reach outs.
  • Playbooks to cut down on your sales cycle time.
  • Notifications for proposal and document updates
  • Data capture so that your reps aren’t spending a bunch of time entering in CRM data and activity.

Automation doesn’t need to be inhuman. Take care to add it to your cycle where it makes sense, not just where it fits. Even if you only automate a few things, it will still significantly impact your day-to-day.

Use AI

Have you ever wished that you had a third hand or more hours in the day? Using an AI tool does basically just that. Use AI to build pipelines, enhance your sales team performance, close your deals, and maybe even predict the future.

Build pipelines

AI can help source you the best leads in your network and rank them based on how likely they are to buy. You don’t need to spend time trolling through the depths of LinkedIn if an AI can surface someone based on their web browsing history and how much time they’ve spent looking at your site.

Boost performance

AI tools make it easy to listen back on sales calls and know exactly how much time you spent talking and how much you spent listening. Beyond that, you can do better call reviews, get customized insights into how your team is performing, and even get guidance on where you could do better. Do a more tailored review of rep performance to get even better at what you’re already doing.

AI can also process historical sales performance data and use it moving forward to help scale your sales operations and predict when you’ll need more team members.

Close deals

Some AI offers functionality to interact with your leads when your reps don’t have the time. But even if you don’t use AI to drive the interaction, it can help you make informed decisions and engage in a personalized, data-driven way. Use AI to help you understand the best times to reach out and which parts of your sales process knock the socks right off your leads.

Predict the future

Forecasting is something that all sales teams have to do. You want to understand how you’re going to perform (or how you need to perform, in some cases) to set benchmarks and goals for your team. AI can help with that. Artificial intelligence that uses your historical sales performance data can predict and help guide you into behaviors that will ensure the team’s long-term success.

Give social selling a go

Salespeople that are committed to social selling sell 78% more than their peers who aren’t. Social selling may sound a bit smarmy for people not used to it, but it feels pretty natural and familiar to the people on the receiving end of the interaction. It doesn’t need to be forced, creepy, or awkward if you just meet your customers where they are at.

Take, for instance, Amanda working in sales for a point of sale (POS) software. She has a few hashtags that she follows on Twitter, and she sees that a person named James is opening a bakery in the same city as her. He’s asking for recommendations for companies that create marketing collateral.

Amanda has had to order marketing materials in the past, so she reaches out to James with some recommendations and anecdotes about her experience. James takes a look at the message and responds with his thanks. Then he notices that Amanda works for a POS company—he’s been meaning to look into that for his shop. He follows up with her in a couple of weeks and goes through the sales process to become a customer.

There’s nothing creepy about it—Amanda is helping James with the knowledge that she already has. She builds trust with him so that when he is ready to start thinking about buying, she’s one of the first people that comes to mind.

Make it personal

The best way to modernize your team’s practices is to get them selling where your customers are buying. Most Americans check their phones a whopping 160 times per day—that’s more than basically anything else. While you could reach out to them via email, why not strive to differentiate yourself and make it more personal?

Try sending texts, videos, and other content that sets you apart from the crowd of salespeople vying for attention in a lead’s inbox. Not sure if videos are your target market’s cup of tea? Approximately 60% of executives say they prefer watching videos to reading text. The more you can make it personal and memorable, the better it will be for your team!

Take a chance

Some of these things will work for some sales teams, but not others. Experiment and see what works best for you. Your CRM is a great place to start. Funnel all of your information into one place and connect it to give your salespeople the best context.

Automate as much as you can. The more time you can give back to your salespeople, the better. AI is another excellent way to free up salesperson bandwidth. Lastly, make it personal. Take a chance on social selling and being slightly less direct with your prospecting. Out with the old way of direct sales and in with the new.

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