Industries across the board are struggling to attract and retain new people at every level from graduates to qualified personnel, leaving businesses with a tough task to tempt new talent into the sales role - let alone retain their services for the longer term.
But technology is changing the face of sales as we know it, bringing fresh opportunities for sales professionals to master their craft, and the most tech-enabled sales operations are best placed to attract the brightest prospects coming into the industry. Here’s why.
Sales role revolution
The sales role has evolved significantly over recent decades. From a single-minded focus on closing each individual deal, the role has increasingly moved to a more consultative sell and is increasingly intertwined with the business development function. Access to increased data around buying patterns and key customer insights has provided an invaluable tool in this evolution.
There are still many distribution businesses slow to adopt more technology solutions.
Today’s sales representatives of course still need to close deals, but the role is so much more multifaceted, with a major emphasis on client relations, customer service, product and sector knowledge, and of course access to data. That said, there are still many distribution businesses that have been slower to adopt more technology solutions and still rely on spreadsheets to record and inform their sales activities - something that can actively hinder recruitment efforts when candidates are considering their options.
Shaking off the stigma of sales
As advancements in technology have reshaped the nature of the sales role, attitudes to the wider discipline have evolved too. Historically, there has been a perception that anyone can enter the profession and that it somehow lacks the credibility and professionalism of wider marketing disciplines.
While elements of this sentiment still prevail today, technology is helping shift the needle, with a vast array of tech solutions available to help sales pros hone their craft, understand their customers better and ultimately act as the trusted advisors clients need to ensure they make the right purchasing decisions.
One of the most powerful and effective sales tech solutions comes in the form of sales enablement software. The beauty of a leading solution like sales-i for the user lies in its simplicity of use.
At the touch of a smartphone screen, sales reps can gain immediate access to a comprehensive range of customer buying data, enabling them to identify trends and spot opportunities to cross and upsell. What’s more, the technology is fully accessible for younger sales pros and their more senior counterparts alike.
Being able to recruit the right sales talent will be essential.
From our own customer research, we know there are a surprising number of senior sales pros well into their 60’s and beyond who are regular users of sales-i, thanks to its intuitive functionality that can start delivering opportunities and results from day one.
Tech adoption in the sales arena has essentially levelled the playing field for all, giving the most forward-thinking organizations the opportunity to develop vibrant teams made up of a rounded mix of younger and more experienced talent alike. This approach can bring multiple benefits, especially when it comes to aiding personnel succession planning efforts over the longer term.
When it comes to attracting fresh talent into sales, the industry most definitely has a significant challenge on its hands. Today’s school, college and university leavers have grown up with technology and have a strong expectation that it will be available in the workplace to help them do the job to the best of their ability.
This puts sales teams where tech provision is robustly embedded at a strong advantage compared to their less progressive counterparts when vying to attract new starters. Powerful solutions like sales-i can act as a strong motivational tool for new starters, delivering actionable opportunities from day one that translate directly to bottom-line impact.
We like to think of sales-i performing much as a caddy does for a golfer, working with the player to advise on the prevailing conditions, potential challenges and opportunities in play and, ultimately, providing all the data required to help the professional make the most informed decision.
Future-proofing sales team recruitment
As we move towards the recovery phase of the pandemic, being able to recruit the right sales talent will be essential for businesses looking to cement market share and gain ground on their competitors.
Of course, technology provision isn’t a cure-all for the recruitment challenge – with pay and benefits packages, training provision and nurturing talent pipelines all have a major role to play, but sales teams across the distribution space are increasingly finding that the tools they provide to help new starters do their job more efficiently and effectively are an important differentiator for candidates.
With AI and machine learning set to reshape the way the profession goes about its craft over the coming years, many operators will find they need to board the tech train sooner rather than later to avoid being left behind.