More than 80 percent of high-growth sales organizations use five or more sales technologies, suggests a recent online survey of 400 companies. Velocify and the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals partnered on the research and released their findings on Tuesday.
The average number of sales technologies in use was 10, based on the participants’ reports.
“There are hundreds of sales technologies available … due to the explosion of inside and virtual sales,” said Kameron Hobbs, director of marketing and operations at AA-ISP.
“Customers want to interact digitally,” she told CRM Buyer.
CRM Is Not Enough
New technologies are layered into the mix as they come along, because they offer capabilities not previously even thought of, which impacts how many tools are being added, Hobbs noted.
- Nearly 80 percent of respondents believed automation was replacing daily sales activity for most companies;
- 75 percent expected half of present-day sales activities to be automated within 10 years;
- 59 percent of respondents named CRM as the top must-have technology; 50 percent chose email tracking and automation; and 42 percent said lead distribution and call management was most wanted;
- 71 percent of respondents planned to increase their use of Web and social prospecting within the next few years;
- 67 percent planned to increase their use of email tracking and automation; and
- 66 percent planned to ramp up their use of marketing automation.
Legacy solutions like CRM “are not enough to deal with the increasing complexity and pace of today’s sales environment,” observed Matt Reid, VP of marketing at Velocify.
Several emerging-tech capabilities have been filling the gaps, he told CRM Buyer.
“The challenge for companies is how [to] increase seller adoption of all these technologies, train them properly, and perform ongoing configuration and maintenance of these disparate solutions,” said Cindy Zhou, a principal analyst at Constellation Research.
Eighty-eight percent of respondents said automated chat bots already were useful or would be useful to their sales teams in less than 10 years; 72 percent picked virtual reality; 55 percent selected holographic images.
Artificial intelligence will be most useful for automating routine tasks such as appointment setting and data entry, respondents said.
Virtual reality and holographic images will be more impactful later in the sales cycle, at the pitch and negotiation phases, their responses suggested.
“Sales organizations are an area that, as a group, are likely to add or swap out technology solutions much more rapidly than other groups — such as HR or finance, for example,” noted Rebecca Wettemann, VP of Research at Nucleus Research.
This tendency is strengthened by cloud options, which drive down costs and reduce the risk of adding new tools, she told CRM Buyer.
Further, sales personnel increasingly download and use their own apps when corporate toolsets don’t meet all their needs, Wettemann pointed out.
“The Spiro app, for example, started as a free productivity download for individual salespeople, and is rapidly growing as a broader sales force automation competitor,” she said.
Still, technology “is never a solution for poor sales management,” Wettemann cautioned. “We see AI and automation helping to scale the skills of the best sales managers to make teams more broadly effective.”
Approaches to Selecting Technologies
Picking sales tech “is not a science,” said AA-ISP’s Hobbs. “We suggest a team composed of sales enablement, sales leadership and frontline selling reps to determine must-have tools, examine usage and define priorities.”
“Ultimately, the way your buyer wants to interact with you should be at the core of your technology decisions,” Velocify’s Reid said.
Put 80 percent of focus on core tech and the rest on experimental technologies, he suggested. “Take a play out of the agile development playbook here, determining quickly which experimental technologies drive actual business results.”
Dealing With Tech Overload
Technology or tool overload is a problem, Hobbs remarked. Some companies have begun consolidating their technologies.
Companies “should review their sales tech stack and curate if there’s overlap in functionality,” Zhou told CRM Buyer.
“If each technology serves a different purpose,” she said, “be clear on who is the user, and provide enablement by role or function.”