Jordi Salvadó, Vincle’s Sales Director, will share his vision on how the sales world is changing and how has technology affected nowadays’ selling techniques. Here you have his interview!
How is the world of sales evolving?
The world of sales has definitely changed a lot. Firstly, because the market itself has changed, and secondly because the consumer’s profile, and, as a consequence, the seller’s profile, have changed as well.
Regarding the market, we must take into account that nowadays it’s way more competitive and there are many different solutions for everything. In the sales force automation tools’ field, which is mine, the competition increases day by day, and all the tools are quite similar regarding the quality and the price, although of course each of them has its own competitive advantage.
In the 80s and 90s, the sale of information technologies was based on trust, as there weren’t that many app providers, there were only big hardware multinationals. The clients chose the solution basing themselves on the relation they had with the brand and on the complicity the sales people achieved. Back then, the human factor was more important than the technical characteristics of the solution.
This has definitely changed because, due to globalization, competition is now very strong. We are not only talking about big multinationals, which still exist, but about local providers. As the supply is overwhelming, the client has started to focus on the different functionalities every option offers, and the seller has been forced to put aside that emotional factor and focus on demos and presentations, prices, ROI explanations… the selling process has become more professional and less personal.
What role does technology play?
It’s inevitable to think that technology has had a lot to do with this evolution, but it hasn’t been the reason for the change. It’s true that we’ve transitioned, and very quickly, from the hardware era to the software one, but the force for change have been society and the clients: new technologies make our work easy, and the client knows that, and that’s why he asks for more. It’s him who decides what turn will the market (and the sales world) take.
How has the selling process changed and which factors have affected it?
As I mentioned before, the process has changed because the market has too; the transition from hardware to software, for example, boosted competition, and it became more difficult for the client to choose a solution.
Sales people have been forced to focus on their product’s technical characteristics, explaining its functionalities in detail, proving its ROI… They have been forced to put aside those natural qualities that a seller must have. They have chosen aptitude before attitude.
What do clients value the most?
They obviously want to find a product that meets their needs; however, let’s say that a company needs a solution that covers a particular need, and many solutions can do it. How do they decide?
They decide focusing on other factors that don’t have that much to do with the product itself; one is the impression of the company. Clients value feeling taken care of by a team that works well very much. Feeling supported, feeling that the deadlines will be met and feeling that the team is transparent are the things they take into account.
Apart from offering a quality product, it’s important that we offer a good post-sales service. This obsession with the good treat comes because the client knows he can find similar solutions in the market, so he wants to make sure that he is going to be well treated as well.
In web pages like Trip Advisor, people do not only give their opinion on the food of a restaurant, but also on the service and the place in general; this works the same way. More and more pages dedicated to comparing technology are appearing, and users don’t usually focus on each solution’s functionalities, but in the general service the company offers, and that says a lot about what the client really values.
Which are the challenges sales people face nowadays?
It’s important to be updated on your sector’s novelties, due to competition. The product must be worth existing in such a competitive market, but the seller must know how to transmit its qualities to the potential client. He should know by heart everything his product can do, which functionalities make it different from its competitors, etc.
However, the seller can’t lose that emotional component that must characterize a good sales person and that, most of the times, is what makes the client choose our product. That is, maybe, the biggest challenge: having enough technical knowledge on the product without losing neither that hunter attitude, which will gain the client, nor the farmer one, which will engage him.
Which technological novelty would you highlight?
Artificial intelligence is something that is starting to get implemented in many sales force automation solutions, and I think it’s something that will entirely revolutionize the commercial process. It gives the sales person the opportunity to focus on sales, which is his job, and forget about other tasks.
We are talking about tasks like analyzing every clients’ information, planning the most efficient route or simply collecting the shelves’ data manually. Using artificial intelligence, the system does this for you; it will communicate you which clients could you lose, which client should buy more products today, which route to follow… through an algorithm, artificial intelligence gives the commercial the necessary information so he can focus on selling.
Why would you choose a tool over another?
There are two main reasons people choose a tool over another nowadays; one is the undeniable passion some people feel towards a brands; that engagement will make them choose that brand over another almost every time.
The second is the treatment the human team gives you; if the tools the market offers are that similar, I’ll take into account the company and the quality of its services.
If the commercial who has showed you the solution has been able to establish a nice relationship with you, that will be a crucial factor: people like to feel well treated, feeling like a person and not like a number, and that implies that the company offers you an emotionally good treat. It’s the human factor that makes the difference.
Focusing in your field, what does a sales force automation tool have to have for you to choose it?
Let’s think that 20 years ago, sales force automation was a team of sales people with a pen and a notebook collecting data and orders manually. Why has this changed? Because nowadays’ client requires immediacy.
A good example is Amazon and its Amazon Prime delivery service; we can buy something in the morning and have it in our house in the afternoon; that is what people expect!
A good sales force automation tool must be an efficient model that meets the standards and deadlines both for the seller and the client, a model that makes the order and delivery process a quick one. The chain must offer immediacy but also excellent quality standards.
Let’s talk about the future of sales. What will the following years trends be?
There’s people who ask why companies don’t order online just like the rest of users do. Why can’t a pharmacy place an order through an app? Then the commercial wouldn’t have to go there, right?
I don’t think this will ever happen, because not everything can be controlled by machines. It’s not the same that a user purchases an SPF lotion that that a pharmacy purchases a whole batch of lotions to distribute. When making that investment, the pharmacy needs some information that an app or a computer is not going to provide: human information.
A commercial can explain the trends, why the price is higher than average, the I+D that the lotion has behind, the different projects that the company is taking part in… Through Internet, I can only purchase the product and, at most, read its description, which will never be the same.
Maybe the role will change a bit and telesales will boost also in the B2B world, but that will only make us value more that emotional part. I only believe in pure telesales or in chat-bots as long as they exist to give basic support; a real person must be behind them. The order may be through Internet, but the commercial will still visit the clients to explain and promote the product. I think we’re still a society that needs that human contact.
Lastly, which is the secret to a good sales person?
A good sales person must have that hustler attitude that characterizes every seller; he must be a hunter, search leads and transmit that attitude in every phone call. He has to combine this with the farmer attitude, connect with the client and engage him. The secret in in empathy.
Ask yourself a question: among all these solutions that compete in price and quality, what will make you decide? The commercial and his attitude.
Now make yourself another question: with which commercial you see yourself dealing in case of a problem? With which will you work better? In your answer you will find the provider of the solution you will choose.