Smart Enterprise Magazine

Volume 7, Number 2, 2013

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One True Thing Disruptive Technologies Revolutionize the Art of Sales CIOs and sales teams must work together and use transformative technologies to drive success. | By George Fischer 42 smartenterprisemag.com from all the noise. And there's no guarantee that the wisdom of certain crowds is all that wise. Six Ways to Better Teamwork When sales managers and CIOs work together, they can use transformative technologies to their own, and their customers', advantage. Here are six ways sales and business professionals can fully tap the potential of today's disruptive technologies: Don't focus on just one technology. Instead, orchestrate a mix of innovations into a synergistic whole. That will give your sales professionals more flexibility in how and where they work, especially if they are armed with tablets and apps. Begin conversations with clients before the sales call. Pre-meeting communications — via social media postings, texting, IMs and Web conferencing — both inform customers and create a context for maximizing the value of live and phone meetings. Stay on message. When discussing specific solutions, present proof-points gathered from internal resources, outside analysts, customers and social channels. These bolster your message while blunting the arguments of competitors. Practice aggressive innovation. Opportunities made possible by today's heightened information availability let salespeople ask questions the customers haven't thought of themselves, then create out-of-the-box solutions that beat the competition. Communicate with clients using their pre ferred channels. That way, as they gather information for buying decisions, they'll look to you as a knowledgeable resource. Appoint yourself the accuracy police. Proactively expose misstatements and errors across information channels. This will reassure customers that they're making critical decisions based on facts — not on fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). These are the table stakes for doing business today. If you can reach customers early and make a powerful impression, you have a chance to control the conversation. To successfully deploy solutions today, you must take a page from Paul Revere's playbook: Harness the delivery system that most effectively presents your message. n George Fischer is Executive VP and Group Executive, Worldwide Sales and Services, at CA Technologies. photograph: COURTESY OF CA TECHNOLOGIES P aul Revere had it easy. When he had important news to deliver, all he had to do was climb on his horse, ride through the winding streets near Boston, and spread the word about the impending British invasion. No need for engaging patriots across multiple communications channels or monitoring how people were spinning his message in the blogosphere. Today's sales professionals aren't so lucky. By the first meeting, IT buyers have fully researched what a company's products can do. They've read analyst reports that rank how competing vendors stack up against each other. Social networks have given voice to industry peers who discuss the pros and cons of their chosen solutions. Potential consumers can watch demos online, download free trials or read crowdsourced reviews on a particular product — instantly, and from anywhere – before ever meeting with a salesperson. Sales reps who can speak extensively about their solutions — and the impact on each client's specific environment — thrive in this information-rich world. If the rep isn't coming to the table armed with real, actionable insight, then the conversation is over before it begins. Fortunately, the disruptive impact of today's always-on communications channels isn't only about challenges and risks for the sales staff. These same technologies also present a wealth of new opportunities. Smart sellers who know how to use these tools effectively can stack the odds of success in their favor, but only with support from their CIOs. Verizon Enterprise Solutions is a perfect example. The company is leveraging big data to create tools that enable the sales force to access information with great speed and precision. "With data in the cloud, our sales team can now stay connected to their clients using any device from anywhere at any time," says Ajay Waghray, Senior VP and CIO. "We're helping transform the customer experience through the strategic use of information." Opportunities for the sales staff stem from two main factors. First, the same tools that turn potential buyers into hyperinformed buyers can also give sales professionals a deeper understanding of their customers' needs. Second, 24x7 information availability isn't all good news for buyers: A glut of information makes it hard to filter valuable insights

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