Overcoming technological challenges within the sales process

Technology is altering the way that companies interact with their clients. Social media channels, video chat and email make it easier to communicate over large distances, which is why businesses are moving to implement more technology in their sales processes.

Unfortunately the technology by itself is often not sufficient to increase revenue. Accenture's 2012 Sales Performance Optimization Study found that less than 15 percent of companies improved closure rates when implementing technology-driven sales tools. These results do not mean the new solutions are useless. In fact, consumer behavior studies have found that people prefer to communicate by email or live chat when interacting with companies. The solution then is to improve sales process management to increase the success rate of completing transactions regardless of the channel.

Reviewing the sales process and assessing which factors determine success can be a difficult process. Potential clients are reached through an increasing number of channels, making it challenging to collect enough data to provide reliable analysis for each one. Measuring the conversion rates can determine which channels companies need to concentrate their marketing efforts on to deliver more qualified leads.

However, once those potential clients have been delivered, the team needs to be supported with the right tools. Some informational material sent by email may not be as successful when sent to a client's mobile device. Fine-tuning procedures with coaching and incentive programs can eliminate these challenges, increasing the success of the sales team.

An article by Harvard Business review notes that for large-scale changes, sometimes a complete transformation can be more effective. Bringing in new personnel or altering the structure of the department can create significant changes in operating procedures. Oakwood Worldwide saw that an overhaul of their system was needed based on changing customer needs. The company moved from a relationship-based approach to consultative sales and as a result their sales cycle time dropped by 50 percent.

Regardless of the changes companies decide to implement, they still need to encourage participation from  staff. Incentive compensation can inspire staff to strive toward strategic objectives that can facilitate the necessary change. By setting the path for employees to succeed under the new operating procedures, the company overcomes their natural resistance to change and allows the company to succeed in its efforts to improve its sales force.