The Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management (JPSSM) dedicated its entire issue to social media research in sales this summer. It’s impossible to escape the explosive innovation of IT enabled practice into the selling arena. Many sales directors and sales excellence managers will be wrestling with challenge of what technology to back, how to implement it and how to avoid apathy among the sales force in using it. The big question is, does introducing such methods actually make a difference? Is it really worth it?
Parallel to the JPSSM’s focus, the latest Harvard Business Review featured a special issue dedicated to “Big Data”, or the use of multiple sources of data by organisations to improve their performance. The magazine demonstrates how savvy companies look for trends and maximise revenues based on quite complex insights. Whilst for many companies, this kind of resource is out of bounds, we always know that such technology eventually becomes cheaper and more accessible.
It’s like the evolution of “extras” when buying a car. Once upon a time, air conditioning was an “extra”. Can you imagine buying a new car today without it? Applying this to sales data, means that big data technology is likely to become a “passport” feature: Without it, companies may struggle to compete. They may become left out in a technological arms race.
Fortunately, the JPSSM regularly features some good insights into how to implement technology more successfully in sales forces. Particularly in the Spring issue, an article by Weinstein & Mullins (2012) showed some valuable insights:
1. More experienced sales people are often more resistant to new technologies
2. Empowering teams to manage implementation is ineffective – a more directive approach is called for
3. Peer influence within sales teams is a powerful driver and can be managed for successful uptake i.e. identify “technology promoters” and give them an active role.
Therefore, if you find yourself faced with the complex decision of CRM / Salesforce.com / A.N.Other technology, there is now a lot of practice-based wisdom out there now to make implementation easier.
And, doing nothing is risky, given that the enormous amount of activity in the big data arena. You could be left out in the cold if you are not maximising insights from your sales universe.