Now that sales conversations have evolved, and gone more and more digital, there are dozens of types of technology that can support us and make our conversations even stronger. But technology can also be a key distractor from the focus of discussions if we’re not careful, especially now that sales teams are using much more technology during the sales cycle.
Prior to 2020, sales development reps used about 6 tools on average. Many sales leaders now recommend up to 11 tools in the “essential” tech stack—some say you should have 30. Why so many tools? Because we need technology to support us before, during, and after the conversation. But there aren’t many strong tools to support during because of the distraction factor. We need to make sure the sales tech we implement during the conversation is comfortable to use, arms us with the knowledge we need, equips us to be efficient, and gives us the flexibility to go where the conversation takes us.
1. Don’t Let Flashy Features Erode Seller Confidence
Our team interviewed B2B buyers on how sales reps have adapted to change in 2020 and one respondent said, “The ones who are comfortable using technology and willing to use it and change their normal way of meeting with people are the ones who stand out.” So how do we make sure we appear comfortable using technology, even if we’re not?
The right tech should fade into the background so we can focus on the conversation rather than making the tech function properly. If we’re not comfortable with the tech we’re using, we can appear unconfident and unhappy—even incompetent. Showing discomfort can lead to our prospects ignoring our meeting requests. Who wants to book a meeting with someone who seems uncomfortable every time we connect?
There are three things to juggle during the sales conversation:
- Understanding the buyer’s needs and purchasing dynamics,
- Leading the buyer to a solution/outcome we desire, and
- Using the technologies while we’re doing 1) and 2). The attention we commit to making the technology work detracts from our true mission, so we need to keep distractions to a minimum.
What’s important is understanding the customer’s needs, how to solve those problems, and how to position the solution so the customer has an ‘aha’ moment. If we’re spending too much energy on making the tech function, we’ll have less energy to focus on providing our expertise and paying attention to buying signals.
2. Make Access to Knowledge Possible
Prospects expect us to know a lot—likely more than anyone can be expected to know offhand. We have to know what we’re selling inside and out, as well as the landscape of our client’s industry. We need to come to every conversation prepared with the collective wisdom, knowledge, and expertise of the company we’re representing (a big ask for one person).
We’re not always going to be the right person to answer a prospect’s question, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look up the answer on the fly. When we can’t answer the majority of a prospect’s questions, we run the risk of being seen as a middle man instead of a trusted resource. To represent our company’s expertise, it’s important to keep the entire library of sales content at the ready so we’re prepared to answer all the questions a prospect asks.
We also want to make sure we’re capturing all the knowledge we’re learning during the sales call. Sales teams are notoriously bad at capturing their conversations in CRM because data entry is not their strong suit and intel about the opportunity suffers as a result. Choose technology that’s present during the conversation to automatically capture data and sync to CRM. Minimizing data entry prevents the typical ‘garbage in, garbage out’ problem that befalls many CRM implementations.
3. Ensure Technology Doesn’t Slow Them Down
Remote meetings are still meetings. If we schedule what’s supposed to be a productive and consultative meeting and then it isn’t, that’s disappointing to both parties and we’ve wasted our prospect’s time. So can we make the conversation more productive and consultative? And even avoid a second or third meeting because we have answers to all their questions the first time we talk? If so, it has a direct impact on shortening the sales cycle.
Finding intuitive, easy-to-use technology will help prevent us from wasting time training on tools that need to ‘just work’ for them to be of any use in a demanding real-time setting. Starting a meeting late because of a tech glitch, whether or not it’s our fault, will make us look unprofessional and disrespectful of the buyer’s time. It’s important to streamline the tech we’re using during the meeting and make sure the tools we’re using are ones that we’re fully comfortable navigating (and troubleshooting if there’s an issue).
In addition to finding intuitive technology, having easy access to a large library of selling content/media during the conversation will help us be more efficient so we’re not wasting the buyer’s time digging for an elusive file. That way we won’t have to follow up later or book another meeting on the same topic (i.e. shorten the sales cycle).
4. Give Sellers a Way to Go with the Conversational Flow
During any conversation, both participants likely have an outline in their head of how they expect or want the discussion to go—and they may or may not line up. Even if we’re both on the same page, we’ll likely talk about things we hadn’t considered before we started the conversation. And our prospect will likely ask unanticipated questions to which we’ll have to provide answers on the fly about topics we weren’t prepared to discuss.
Conversations are much more fluid than presentations. We need to be prepared to deviate from our script. We can go into the conversation armed with the perfect deck and gameplan, but if the conversation goes elsewhere, we’re left scrambling to recover and get the dialog back on a productive track. It may seem counterintuitive, but to be ready for a strong conversation. Often we need to prepare less and have fewer expectations about where the conversation should go.
Focus on What Matters Most
People sell to people. Two-way dialog leads to discovery and solutions (and sales) that one-way presentations never will. The right sales technology needs to deliver confidence, knowledge, efficiency, and flexibility during the most important part of the sales process: the conversation. It’s important to choose a technology that we can forget about. Our focus is best spent on the topic at hand and getting the most out of our discussions with prospects. By choosing sales tech that supports our conversation, rather than distracting from it, we’ll be ready to make stronger connections with our prospects and sell through collaboration with them.