By Kevin McGirl
A great sales team is difficult to build but is the cornerstone of a successful business. Motivated, productive sales personnel that can consistently generate revenue by winning repeat and new business can be a major driver of growth. Suppliers, manufacturers and distributors often rely on traditional sales techniques such as cold calling and door-to-door selling, but these are labor intensive and heavily reliant on the charisma and natural sales ability of the team.
With new technology entering the market, remaining dependent on the hard slog of a few key sales people no longer needs to be the case. Software, applications and tools that improve efficiency and information sharing for businesses have enormous value for an industry expected to be worth $15 trillion by 2025. Now is the time for suppliers of plumbing, heating, cooling and piping products to really push forward to avoid being left behind – there’s a real opportunity to snatch up market share and establish a position ahead of the competition.
‘Big Data’ (simply referring to the extensive amounts of data now available to companies) is a term used more so than any other in businesses today, and rightly so; big data means big money for businesses. This is because having reams of customer data, as well as the technology to understand and use it strategically, enables companies to make better,more informed decisions.
Any company with the ability to properly analyze and make sense of its customer data is immediately at an advantage. This is especially true in the PHCP industry – where being able to understand and anticipate what customers need and when they’ll need it is crucial to generating repeat sales.
But managing and analyzing data manually is inefficient and occupies a huge slice of your sales team’s time. It also becomes increasingly difficult, and almost impossible to keep on top of as the customer base grows. One of the best ways businesses can manage their data effectively is to use Business Intelligence software. Keeping the sales team focused on sales, rather than administration and reporting, requires the ability to quickly collect and analyze data to provide personnel with all the information they need to identify and seize selling opportunities.
Targeted sales and marketing campaigns
Business Intelligence software analyzes customer information in an instant. It can identify customer buying patterns and trends, including the best (and worst) selling product lines and make note of any seasonal changes. Access to this information can help PHCP wholesalers and distributors run targeted promotion campaigns based on actual customer data, rather than intuition and traditional sales approaches. If a salesperson sees that a particular customer has purchased a delivery of hand tools last month, but no power tools, they will be alerted to pick up the phone and engage with that customer.
Improved customer management
Most suppliers manage a huge number of customers across multiple product lines, so maintaining customer relationships can be difficult at the best of times. Business Intelligence software organizes customer data into sections that are easily manageable, so sales teams can access invaluable information such as purchasing history, changes to the account and when they last spoke in a matter of seconds. Recalling vast amounts of in-depth knowledge about account histories and requirements will impress any customer.
A mobile sales team
Most PHCP suppliers spend a great deal of time out on the road, meeting prospects and existing customers. Business Intelligence software is easily accessible via smart phones and tablets, meaning that customer information can be accessed at anytime, from anywhere. Carrying endless papers and customer files around is inefficient and runs the risk of being left back in the office or worse still, lost in transit. With everything easily accessible on a mobile app, sales professionals can quickly access all the latest customer information, review recent purchases and compile customer reports on the move.
The advent of new technologies such as Business Intelligence software in no way renders traditional sales techniques redundant – the very best sales pros still need the ability to pick up the phone and build rapport with the customer or potential customer in an instant. But Business Intelligence software makes this process easier and faster. Instead of wasting time trawling through endless spreadsheets, trying to identify patterns and find out when a particular customer is in need of a certain product, what they last purchased or speculatively cold calling prospects, sales teams can equip themselves with the necessary information to make a sale. For suppliers to really take advantage of industry growth, they must make use of the technology now available to them so that sales teams can get on with what they do best: building and maintaining those all important customer relationships, selling more and helping the business grow.
Kevin McGirl is president and co-founder of sales-i. He and partner Paul Black shared a vision to deliver an on-demand sales and customer intelligence service for busy, frontline and desk-based sales people. With information moving at a faster rate than most businesses, sales-i recognizes the importance this collected business data has on generating new sales opportunities. Contact McGirl at 847-868-8175.