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What Should Sales Managers Ask Their IT departments For This Christmas?

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Christmas is a time for giving, so perhaps IT teams will give their sales managers a bit of extra help this year. But what should sales staff ask for help with? Here are some ideas

Mark Fieldhouse, senior director, UKI at CA Technologies

“What sales teams really want is a seamless convergence of the tech they use. Sales managers are on the move constantly: commuting to different client offices, as well as working at home and in their office, so they want to be able to use the same software across all their devices and work environments. Technologies that make lives easier and cut down on process and paperwork, such as cloud CRM, CPQ engines, e-signatures, cloud documents, cloud drives, and federated identities are high on sales managers’ Christmas wish list.”

Javier Peralta, UK country manager for mobile sales management specialist ForceManager

“This Christmas, sales managers should be asking their IT department for a truly mobile CRM solution that provides their field sales reps with the mobility that they need. Such solutions remove the chore of reporting by automatically recording all communication that takes place between sales reps and customers, giving them more time to focus on selling. It also assists sales reps when they are visiting customers or prospects as they can quickly access customer information and sales material on their mobile device. The technology also benefits sales managers too, giving them greater reporting and analytics capabilities that they can use to assess the performance of individual sales reps and overall sales activity. Ultimately this improves sales force efficiency, productivity and results, while providing sales managers with a better insight into sales activity so that they can make more informed business decisions.”

Tom Castley, VP EMEA of Xactly

“Sales managers ask for the same thing every year – a highly motivated sales team that works hard to meet business targets. But since that’s difficult to fit into a stocking, they should ask IT managers for the next best thing: technology solutions that enable tailored incentive compensation schemes.

“Commission is like a Christmas present: it needs to be on time and what the recipient has in mind. The giver also needs to have a total gift-giving budget – imagine buying presents for hundreds of friends without a list! An automated incentive process will calculate compensation accurately and forecast total spend. But sales managers also need to think about the bigger picture – what are other people giving, how much are they spending? Insightful tech shows the level of commission other businesses are paying – so CSOs can avoid becoming the Scrooge who loses his workforce. Compensation is the gift that gives all year round, because an inspired sales team is for life, not just for Christmas.

Howard Williams, marketing director at digital engagement specialist Parker Software

“Without a doubt, prospect detection software. An advanced sales enablement tool can be a godsend to sales managers looking to improve their margins. Every day millions of potential customers visit business websites to check out products and services – imagine if you could find out who these people are and strike while the iron is hot!

“Prospect detection software can reveal the identity of website visitors in real time and generate a full sales profile, including what they’ve been browsing on the website and for how long. Key contact data such as name, address, social media channels and even business opening hours are then passed back as hot leads, providing staff with valuable information on potential clients.

“Quite simply, it doesn’t just ensure that sales opportunities don’t slip away, but also reveals those you never knew existed!”

Richard Neale, marketing director EMEA at Birst

“All organisations rely on their sales people in order to achieve revenue and meet profitability goals. Using sales analytics, sales managers can use data rather than guesswork and track the entire sales journey, pinpointing which opportunities their teams are most likely to win. For example, identifying an ideal buyer, industry, product mix, sales cycle length, and deal structure can help prioritise opportunities in the pipeline and where to concentrate resources on closing business. Over time, sales can predict where there are the best potential returns on investments of time and effort; this use of analytics can help the whole team deliver better results.

“As part of this, the role of data within sales organisations is changing. Analytics can and should be a great motivator that put individuals in charge of their own success. Based on this approach, sales leadership can build a highly effective team that makes good decisions and ultimately delivers more revenue for the business.”

Roy Wagemans, director of marketing and presales at IFS

“Enterprise Operational Intelligence (EOI) software should be a top pick for sales managers this Christmas.

“EOI enables sales teams to detect and respond quickly to changing business conditions. It achieves this by monitoring business processes in real time and providing proactive alerts, triggering responses to opportunities and threats within the business.

“The first benefit is a 360o perspective of the business. Using EOI’s business, operations and process management functions, the sales team can gain comprehensive visibility into processes and performance, which they can check against their enterprise’s broader strategic goals.

“Another important benefit is real-time analysis; this immediately identifies issues that are preventing the organisation from hitting its KPIs. EOI discriminates between issues, enabling sales managers to focus only on the most pressing.

“EOI combines all data sources within the organization and the performance management framework is easy to modify by business users. In this way, managers take ownership of issues and improve processes and dialogue across departments. They can address issues as they arise and also deeper, structural inconsistencies over time, providing long-term value to the business.

Justin Forrest, CEO, MindLink

As CRM technology develops and social media becomes more integral to the sales process, the role of the sales manager has also adapted – they need to be more than just an expert in persuasion. Today’s sales managers need to have full control of the tools available to them and should be asking their IT department for these five things for Christmas:

1.      Real-time collaboration tools – Enable sales teams to connect with colleagues, share data and access market intelligence and client information in real-time, giving sales teams the competitive edge. This will help ensure knowledge is shared instantly and avoid email overload.

2.      Connect and integrate tools and processes – Pulling everything into one central place will improve sales efficiency by saving time.

3.      Mobilise me – Yes they’ve got all the tools but half of them they still can’t use when on the go. Sales guys are on the road a lot so it’s vital to ensure they can access everything on a user friendly, secure mobile platform.

4.      Give me the intelligence nobody else has – Help them close deals by giving them gold nuggets of information nobody else has. Big Data is on everyone’s mind – make it easily accessible (and digestible) for the team.

5.      Create a collaborative culture – Educate each team on what the other is doing and why. Present it in a way that explains the mutual benefits to create a more collaborative culture that works together towards an end goal.