The recent pandemic has demanded a rise in virtual connections and communication channels. It is interesting to note that despite the pandemic subsiding considerably, the usage of technology to communicate is still at an all-time high.
While technology has made work easier and faster, it has led to a reduction in physical communication which help form emotional bonds. Virtual calls rarely have the same impact as physical meetings although they help in connecting customers and colleagues across the world.
How have things changed?
Technology has helped teams collaborate quickly and get the point across more effectively online. Platforms such as Slack and Wrike help sales teams speak to each other and assign tasks for the team to see. Furthermore, it helps the team stay organized and save their data on the cloud or drives.
The advancement of technology has also reduced the need for human intervention significantly over the years. Earlier, if clients had any grievances to be resolved, they would demand meetings in person at the earliest. Today, these meetings have been reduced to quick video calls and text messages. That is if the grievance isn’t sorted out by a bot in the first place.
“Take food delivery apps for example. I recently had an issue with my order where some items were missing. I filed a complaint and immediately, a bot responded to my query with a few questions. I didn’t even have to escalate the issue to a human being as the bot itself refunded my money and promised to change its behavior in the future! This is how far ahead we are as the need for human intervention is at an all-time low!” said a sales team leader from a Chennai agency.
But it is worth noting that no matter how much technology evolves, the need for a human mind can never be replaced. The emotional need to stay in touch and share knowledge will always keep us in the game. Even though technology can help us save time, energy, and money in many ways, it can only perform actions that human minds feed it. In the world of sales, it a sales team personnel can make an impact in ways the automation cannot.
Leveraging technology for better work
Technology has helped sales leaders learn online through platforms such as Skillshare and Udemy. Not only can they expand their knowledge, but they can also teach other sales enthusiasts through their courses. This shows us that sales teams (and any other team or niche for that matter) can enhance their skills and share knowledge more effectively online. Communication has become instantaneous which has led to better sales calls and meetings for quicker conversions.
Apart from communication, productivity is the next most important thing in any company. It is better to have three employees who work productively than ten who get the same task done slowly and poorly. Productivity can be boosted by using the third dimension of technology — apps that help us stay connected both internally and with clients. Sales teams can collaborate better with the right software and use their talent in the best ways possible.
Furthermore, online surveys have turned out to be a boon for reducing work across several sectors. Especially in terms of B2B industries, sales reps had to travel door to door with pamphlets during the early years. Today, a quick form circulated online can get the job done with minimal effort. Sales prospectinghas helped teams turn their focus to tasks that need human intervention while automating various aspects.
Can technology can replace field sales teams & sales leaders?
Despite such benefits, it is still worth noting that technology can never replace human interactions completely. Connections, spontaneity, and creativity cannot be automated despite the rise of automated prospecting and more. Although prospecting new business can be automated to a certain extent, nurturing the leads and closing the deal requires a human mind that can think on its feet.
Bots cannot pacify customers during crisis beyond a certain limit. They cannot phrase your pitch in a customized way to connect with the client. They cannot innovate and adopt new skill sets that have not been programmed into them. Hence, technology lends a hand only in helping sales leaders reduce their workload and expand their skill sets.
“Can Tech replace sales? AI & ML have can predict the outcome of a legal suit or diagnose a complex health condition. But it is still at automating sales process and has not emerged as an alternative to sellers. Sales involve touching both the heart & mind of the prospect. In the post-covid era, the urge for human-to-human connection has increased as much as virtual connections. People still need the warmth of a meet & greet. Sellers will embrace technology to remain relevant, but the technology used can’t perform 100% selling,” said a sales professional from a Singapore agency.
Where do human minds come in?
As mentioned, technology can only perform the actions a human mind feeds into it. Even if medicine and engineering become automated, arts and creativity can only be done by talented human beings. There are moments when situational fluency and customizations are required — things that a bot cannot fathom.
“Technology can at the maximum enable salespeople for better performance, not replace them. It can become a tool to aid customer management, but it cannot manage customers by itself. We need sales professionals who can enhance the art of customer management as technology cannot understand empathy. It cannot understand emotions which play a crucial role for buyers to decide,” said a sales manager from a reputed agency in Singapore.
This sales manager further narrated an incident to us which further reinforced our stance. Sales prospecting can be challenging sometimes and sales reps have to be on their feet at every instance. Clients could ask tricky follow-up questions which need a proper presence of mind. Technology can’t communicate with them the way they wish to be spoken to.
The sales manager said, “I remember a client meeting in the early part of my career. My CEO and I visited this client for a crucial discussion. There was heavy competition for the deal. We were highlighting our advantages to convince the customer to buy our product. At one point, the client started comparing our product with the competitor’s product and he directly degraded our product. My CEO got upset and he reacted by sternly saying, “If you don’t want to buy our product, it is ok. But don’t denounce our product”. The customer was upset and a heated exchange ensued. I started thinking about how to bring both of them back to normalcy and realized that my sense of humor and spontaneity are my biggest strengths. I cracked a joke which eased the situation and the conversation continued after that. Subsequently, we won the deal. No technology can replace this situational fluency!”
While technology can help teams collaborate and enhance their focus better, it can never replace sales teams entirely. Human minds are capable of great things and are creative in handling different situations. A human mind can create new technology but technology can never create a human mind.
One of our sources, a SaaS developer, mentioned that his products could source contacts and perform automated prospecting with ease. But once the relevant prospects have been sourced and the appointments have been set, it requires a person to close the deal and speak to the client at the last stage. This shows us that no matter how advanced technology becomes, there are some things only we can do. Technology cannot learn from experience and customize its responses based on people’s preferences.
Prospecting new business can become much easier with technology but the need to use our minds and expertise will never fade. Do you agree? Let’s keep this conversation going and understand the scope of technology for field sales teams and sales leaders in the future.