Have you ever experienced the irony of technology designed to simplify your work, actually complicating it and fueling your frustration?
As a team deeply committed to the growth and success of sales teams, we are inspired by the insights presented in the recent Harvard Business Review article titled “Sellers Are Overwhelmed by New Technology”, and we wanted to reflect on it from our point of view.
Let’s delve into the article’s key points, offering our perspective and shedding light on how sales leaders can navigate the evolving technological landscape to empower their teams for greater success.
Overwhelmed by Technology: A Familiar Dilemma
The article astutely observes that the relentless pursuit of innovation in the sales industry has led to a dilemma. While sales leaders have continually asked their teams to acquire new skills, master emerging technologies, and adopt the latest tools, they may have inadvertently created roles that have become too complex for many salespeople.
As advocates of lifelong learning and continuous improvement, we understand the challenges faced by sales professionals. It’s crucial to recognise that the sheer pace of technological advancement can be overwhelming.
However, it’s also an incredible opportunity for growth. We’ve seen that with the proper guidance and a strategic approach, sales teams can not only cope with changes but thrive in this dynamic environment. It’s about finding the balance between equipping salespeople with essential skills and preventing them from becoming overwhelmed.
The Role of Technology in Sales: A Double-Edged Sword
As the article suggests, in response to this complexity, many sales leaders have turned to technology as a solution. However, nearly half of all sellers report feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of technologies they are expected to use.
We share the concern outlined in the article regarding technology overload. Our experience has shown that a haphazard approach to technology adoption can indeed backfire.
Gartner reports that 77% of B2B buyers encounter growing complexity in sales. This complexity is compounded by the requirement for sales teams to juggle an array of tools that exclusively handle data and follow a linear approach.
The solution lies in the strategic, thoughtful integration of technology into the sales process. We must use technology judiciously, return to quality sales conversations, and rely on emotional intelligence for deeper discovery calls, as technology can’t replicate this.
It’s not about throwing every tool at the sales team and hoping for the best; it’s about carefully selecting the right technologies that can empower salespeople to make a difference.
Rebuilding the Seller Role: Less is More
The article suggests that to address this issue, sales leaders must reimagine the seller’s role, focusing on core competencies and reducing unnecessary complexity. The seller role of the future will require salespeople to master fewer skills, bear fewer responsibilities, and manage fewer tasks. This transformation hinges on the concept of treating technology as a teammate rather than just a tool.
The most successful salespeople of the future will be those who are open to acquiring a diverse set of skills and behaviours, enabling them to effectively harness technology for their projects.
Success hinges on embracing sustainable change, requiring a shift in mindset, not just behaviour, as one’s beliefs shape actions and outcomes.
To achieve better results, it’s crucial to recognise how your perspective influences your actions, creating a feedback loop for continuous improvement. To fully embrace and benefit from change, you must view it from a fresh perspective.
The Revenue Technology Revolution: Four Stages of Sales Tech Maturity
The article identifies four stages of sales technology maturity, ranging from basic automation to fully autonomous selling. In the first two stages, humans make decisions with machine support, while in the latter stages, machines take on more responsibility, reducing the burden on salespeople.
This framework for sales tech maturity is a valuable guide for sales leaders. It highlights the progression from human-centric decision-making to a more collaborative approach with technology.
However, it’s important to recognise that 80% of the global workforce comprises frontline workers in essential industries who don’t work at desks, and they will experience the most immediate impact from the technological transformation.
While sales may be affected in the long run, the primary gains in productivity and efficiency will initially be seen elsewhere. As technology matures, it will eventually affect sales, but buyers are increasingly savvy and aware of sellers’ tools and tactics.
The winning technology solutions will be those delivering precise and robust offerings closely aligned with what clients value, opening the door for greater customisation in products and services.
Focusing on High-Value Use Cases
As indicated in the article, sales leaders should prioritise high-impact use cases to leverage technology effectively.
These include automating administrative tasks, generating value-focused messaging, streamlining prospecting efforts, and facilitating solution design and deal closing.
By doing so, it’s estimated that up to a quarter of salespeople’s time can be freed up, allowing them to focus on more strategic endeavours.
While freeing up time is valuable, it’s counterproductive if that time is spent on non-core sales activities. In the sales industry, the pursuit of more leads, emails, content, and contracts often overshadows underlying challenges.
Many businesses prioritise client acquisition over improving customer experience or value, which is an unsustainable approach. The true opportunity lies in using technology to streamline low-impact tasks, providing salespeople with the space for strategy and execution.
Imagine working with clients who closely align with your values, fostering organic growth with the help of technology, if managed sustainably.
Building Trust in Technology: The Key to Success
The article conveys the notion that, for technology to truly function as a teammate, salespeople must trust it. This “tech receptivity” depends on several factors, including trust in technology, confidence in its use, and a willingness to adapt sales approaches. Leaders can play a pivotal role in influencing these factors.
The challenge in adopting any technology or tool lies in its setup and the principle that what you input determines what you get in return.
While CRM systems offer incredible solutions on paper, many organisations lack the commitment required for meticulous setup, making it arduous to maintain data accuracy and integrity.
This undermines trust in CRM systems, despite their potential benefits for sales teams. Trust and successful tech adoption in sales depend on full organisational support, careful integration, and strong data integrity safeguards.
Often, it’s not the technology itself but the impact of change, driven by shifts in the business landscape, personnel, and strategic direction, that hinders technological effectiveness.
Thus, the keys to successful future adoption lie in the setup, management, and integrity of the technology.
Mentalising: The Seller’s Superpower
The article highlights that one critical aspect of the seller’s future role is mentalising, which is the ability to understand unspoken beliefs, feelings, and intentions to predict and influence buyer behaviour.
By leveraging technology as a teammate, salespeople have the bandwidth to engage in mentalising, bridging the gap between themselves and buyers.
Soon, advancements in natural language processing and emotion AI will enable sales leaders to enhance their teams’ mentalising skills.
These tools can provide valuable insights into buyers’ emotional states and engagement levels, aiding salespeople in real-time decision-making.
We are also closely monitoring the potential for natural language processing and emotion AI to contribute to salespeople’s mentalising capabilities.
However, there are potential risks associated with technology in sales, and they are twofold: firstly, there’s a concern that sellers might become complacent, relying too heavily on these tools, which could hinder their ability to adapt and reflect on their beliefs and behaviours.
Secondly, there’s the risk of new cognitive biases emerging as a result of such technology. It’s crucial to exercise caution, recognising that it can cause lasting harm when misused or employed to manipulate customers.
To mitigate these risks, it’s imperative to prioritise the cultivation of a progressive sales mindset and emotional intelligence among all salespeople.
The Seller of the Future: A Harmonious Blend of Human and AI
Following the article, in the evolving landscape of sales, the salesperson of the future will focus on doing fewer tasks but doing them exceptionally well.
By treating technology as a teammate and refocusing sales teams on their unique strengths, organisations can achieve remarkable gains in salespeople’s productivity.
We enthusiastically embrace technology and its potential opportunities but firmly believe that stringent checks and balances should precede widespread adoption.
Throughout our history, we’ve held steadfast to the belief in the paramount importance of human capital, recognising that the ultimate differentiator has consistently been the salesperson.
In essence, our approach revolves around embracing technology cautiously; it is not a panacea for all sales organisations’ challenges. While it offers new possibilities, it also introduces unforeseen obstacles.
Our focus lies in meticulously ensuring that every detail is attended to, and we maintain a keen awareness of our objectives and how technology can effectively facilitate our processes.
Conclusion: A Bright Future for Sales
As we conclude this inspiring article, we believe that embracing the opportunities of the future, rather than exhausting ourselves with its challenges, is the path to success.
In an era where technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace, sales strategies should be shaped by a keen understanding of how technology may influence and impact your industry.
Remember, the future belongs to those who not only acknowledge change but also actively seek out ways to harness its transformative power.
If you have questions about empowering your team to thrive, you can always reach out to our team; we are more than happy to help.
The future of sales is bright, and we look forward to being part of your team’s journey toward success through our e-learning programs, coaching, and resources.