Each month, the Technology At Work Series will examine technology’s impact on a different functional area of the workplace.
It’s hard to chase dollars from behind a desk. That being the case, sales teams are on the move quite a bit. It’s a little ironic that for a job that revolves around and is centered on communication, sometimes finding a means to communicate effectively can be incredibly difficult. But technology is working to change that, and that’s the focus of this month’s edition of Technology At Work (so I have been told).
Paging the past
To really know where the relationship between sales and technology stands today, we need to recall what that relationship was in the not-so-distant past and how it affected sales professionals. When you were out of the office, your pager was your lifeline. Someone needed you, the pager would go off, you would pull over or find the nearest payphone, and you would call that person back. That probably sounds incredibly archaic to our younger readers, but that’s what you had to do.
A little later on, and things still work this way at many businesses, if someone tried to get a hold of you, they called your office phone first and then your cell phone. A little better, but still not ideal. Both of these scenarios ignore the the issue of how to make contact with your prospects or leads. If you were on the road and weren’t lucky enough to have one of the giant, field-radio-sized cell phones, then get comfortable with the rotary phone in your hotel room.
“Celling” the present
When the concept of this series was pitched to me and I was asked my thoughts on technology in sales, my first response was to simply hold up my smartphone. That’s where we’re at now. It’s all about cell phone integration. Currently, the goal of every sales team should be to make sure you have a hosted or premise-based phone system that integrates with, or twins with, your mobile device and rings both phones at the same time. That means you can be reached via one number, one call. It eliminates a barrier for clients and leads trying to get a hold of you, and that can make a world of difference.
Unified communications has also really changed the game and enabled a much higher level of mobile communications for sales teams. You’re not using payphones or hotel phones, sometimes you aren’t even using a phone at all (think laptops or tablets). What technology has basically done for sales teams is tear down office walls. You’re getting the same features that made it easier to get things done at your desk, but with the mobility necessary to close more deals.
Forecasting the future
I see the office desktop phone mirroring the residential landline in certain respects. Once all the features that made the desktop phone necessary are effectively and successfully integrated into mobile clients, the desktop phone will go extinct. It’s the same path landline phones are following now as cell phones become more prevalent.
Eventually, the cell phone is going to become a comprehensive or complete unified communications device. And if no one has claimed that (CUCD) as a valid acronym in the telecom sphere, I would like to do that now as well, because that’s where we’re heading. It’s a response to the 24-hour work cycle that is expected of today’s salesperson. You’re always on the clock, so you need to always be communicating, and you need solutions that enable that communication, whether it’s inbound or outbound.