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Enabling sales through technology
By Lazar Detchev, Head of Business Transformation, Philips
Business transformation should start with the process redesign, followed by understanding the information needs and requirements. Based on these we can identify the technology that will enable them. Last, but not east we should consider the impact on the sales people – what is changing, the new capabilities they need to learn, the new behaviors we expect from them to exercise in order the transformation to be successful and to deliver the desired impact.
Over the past few years, we witness a rapid, even disruptive development in the technology platforms that can be a great enabler to the sales people. Cloud based solutions allow access of information in real-time, anywhere, and anytime. Big data allows us to identify patterns and buying behaviors, increase predictability and have more objective view on our business performance. For example, advanced data analytics allows us to build objective, statistical models taking into account past performance to define potential outcomes of a deal.
Do not to overwhelm the sales people with data, they need the right information
With all the benefits from the new technologies, we have to be careful not to overwhelm the sales people with too much information. We should understand their real needs and offer them only the right amount of information at the right time and place. There are many examples where we develop and push so many dashboards and alerts to the sales people, that they get confused what and where to look at. It is like having a car dashboard with 25 dials and let’s not forget that you should focus on driving first.
Today, in the fast-growing market of cloud based applications there are so many platforms that it becomes difficult to choose. I see examples where people are desperately looking for the best of breed application for each capability, often coming at the cost of how to integrate them and offer a seamless user experience which is more important for the adoption.
Last but not least, let’s not forget the old saying “fool with a tool is still a fool”. Only state of the art technology will not make our sales professionals better. We should have a holistic transformation approach looking at new processes and ways of working, data needs, new technology platforms and most important – our people. We should invest heavily in change management, learning, coaching, standard cadence where sales directors regularly review the performance and have a dialogue with the account managers and coaching how to close deals. This will ensure that new ways of working are well embedded and sustained in the organization.
To summarize the main takeaways are:
1. Technology is a great enabler, but should not be used on its own. It goes hand in hand with processes, information, coaching and learning.
2. Do not to overwhelm the sales people with data, they need the right information.
3. Change management is the key to ensure that new capabilities are well embedded and sustained in the organization.