During the corona crisis, companies had to use the digital turbo, especially in sales. Because in times of social distancing and remote work. face-to-face is a thing of the past. Technology now takes on administrative tasks – and determines the value chain in sales.
Attributing the digitization success of companies exclusively to the Covid-19 pandemic does not fully reflect reality. Many companies have been investing in digital business models and the corresponding infrastructure for years. And yet: Digital tools have seen a quantum leap in cross-company and cross-functional acceptance in the past fifteen months. Even industries that live and benefit primarily from human contacts have developed into true pioneers of digitization due to lockdowns and social distancing. Sales are particularly affected by this development.
Sales Is A Pioneer In Digitization
The “State of Sales” survey conducted by CRM provider Pipedrive on the status quo of the sales industry also shows that sales are one of the pioneers in digitization. In total, the company surveyed over 1,700 sales employees worldwide. Only four percent of sales employees stated that they use pen and paper to track sales. Instead, spreadsheet programs predominate in 17 percent of cases. And four out of five salespeople use a CRM solution. In addition, the study shows that technologies are not only purchased by employers but are also increasingly used and accepted by employees. Three-quarters of those surveyed are happy about the existing CRM tools to support their work.
Sales: New Understanding Of Digital Tools
Digital tools have long been seen and used in sales – as little helpers for tedious or repetitive administrative tasks. But that falls into the “nice-to-have” category and, if so, indirectly creates value. However, during the pandemic, there was no alternative to integrating software into integral parts of the sales value chain.
Even old-school salespeople, who have always sought customer contact and visited customers face-to-face for face-to-face meetings across the sales territory, had to consider new exchanges and product demonstrations options. Because face-to-face doesn’t work if personal customer contacts are not allowed.
The same applies to lead generation: If trade fairs and networking events no longer occur, business cards can no longer be exchanged. Lots of canceled or postponed face-to-face events, reduced budgets, and office closings suddenly determined the everyday life of sales employees worldwide in the pandemic.
Virtual Product Demos Instead Of Face-To-Face Meetings With Customers
The alternatives are online product demos or zoom calls instead of personal customer appointments and lead-gen software instead of trade fair visits. What sounds striking at first but quickly led to the conclusion that with the help of technologies, sales can scale significantly better:
- More video calls can be made every day than booking appointments with customers, including travel time.
- The software flushes more leads into the databases than a fair trade date.
- Potentially interested parties can be better qualified if the artificial intelligence has checked beforehand whether the right contact person is at all or whether there is any interest at all.
Of course, sales remain a face-to-face business – and appointments with customers come back, of course. But sales have learned that digital tools can take over routine activities and create value if used well. Technologies and automation tools for generating and qualifying leads will be used eleven percent more often in 2021 than in the previous year, at 63 percent. The sales results confirm this trend.
Competitive Advantage Through Digital Technologies
And so, in the past year, virtually the entire value chain in sales was digitized. Many decision-makers created technological alternatives to the analog processes and thus kept sales going. Because of the positive consequences, even the last refusal to digitize should slowly run out of arguments. Because of the sales employees who were able to fall back on automated technologies for lead generation and qualification, 63 percent achieved their sales targets despite the problematic framework conditions.
In contrast, just over half of those who did not have technology and automation tools at their disposal fell short of expectations in the same year. These numbers fill many salespeople with confidence that they will be able to increase sales further. Nine in ten salespeople believe their professional skills will positively impact the economy this year, not least because of a new digital understanding.
ALSO READ: Process Optimization: Techniques And Tools