Aside from hiring an assistant for your sales staff, there are
resources out there that act as a virtual assistant. TeleNotes is one
such service. It requires less than two minutes for the sales representative to dictate a sales call report by telephone. That report is then
transcribed by remote transcriptionists and automatically uploaded
into the TeleNotes system where both the sales rep and management can access current data and reports on every sales call. The
system requires no data entry, and frees up salespeople to sell more.
The Right Tools Make A Difference
While TeleNotes is one kind of software that can make a difference in a company’s bottom line, social collaboration within
existing applications can also encourage connectivity within an
organization and externally with clients.
According to Robert Sinfield, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at Epicor Software, tools like Outlook are being used less
and less with the onset of smartphones and tablets. “There are
a number of on-demand services that allow sales reps to access
customer or prospect data online and in real time. This could
be through application that can be downloaded from iTunes or
Google Market, or through a portal or ecommerce platform,” says
Sinfield. These services are available across platforms for users, so
they can have access whether they are in the car or at their desk.
This real-time availability keeps data synched across all their devices and access points, so that they are never without the information they need.
Many ERP providers are offering collaboration tools as a direct
part of their software application. Tools like Epicor’s ICE platform
and Infor’s Ming.le embed social characteristics directly into the
applications, allowing users to connect with clients and coworkers
on projects within the system. Mobile deployments of the appli-
cations on smartphones and tablets allow users to stay connected
within the same system no matter where they are.
“Using a collaboration tool that is either integrated to your
CRM or embedded in your ERP means that the salesperson can
send a short message using social media concepts to one or multiple people who can react almost instantaneously,” says Sinfield.
This allows multiple people to connect and contribute to a conversation as it is happening, enhancing the perception of a company
to a client, and helping salespeople close deals and address issues
in as short amount of time as possible.
“Perception plays a tremendous role into closing the sale,” says
Metcalf. Companies should be providing all the tools possible to
their reps to make that perception a reality.
Analysis Helps, Too
In addition to creating a culture for collaboration and providing
the hardware and software necessary for sales to be connected
and mobile, companies should also focus on ways to help their
salespeople collect and use data to help close future sales.
Metcalf encourages companies to stop sending out PDFs as
email attachments to their clients. PDF attachments don’t have
data that can be tracked, and salespeople need to be able to track
the data they are sending to clients and how they are interacting
with it. Services like MailChimp tie into Google Analytics and can
track what information was the most appealing to recipients and
how they interacted with it. With services like this, you can create
heat maps of your data and see what kinds of questions people
are trying to answer when you send out a mail merge or a new
marketing initiative. Companies can then use this data to influence future campaigns, helping them to target individuals more
directly and with more targeted information. Without clickable
content that provides data to you as a company, marketing efforts
by salespeople are a shot in the dark.
“Analyzing the white space in your customer base is crucial
when talking about upselling or cross-selling to customers,” adds
Sinfield. “Most salespeople are busy reacting to the customer
and serving existing needs in that account. A simple white space
analysis can increase the value and number of opportunities in
the pipeline by 200-700 percent.” Most modern ERP applications
include data analysis capabilities that help identify potential sales
opportunities that a rep might be missing.
Sinfield also notes that more advanced business intelligence
tools allow you to pull data from several sources – your ERP, CRM,
and quoting software, for instance – and roll it all into one overall
view of the client to identify white space across multiple platforms.
Ultimately, salespeople need tools that work for them. They
need a company that fosters a collaborative culture that enables
them to be proactive in addressing client issues and selling more,
along with the tools to make that vision a reality.