To keep pace with companies’ digital transformations and stay relevant, sales has had to evolve rapidly. IoT is the next technology set to make a big impact. Though its integration is likely to drastically change sales procedures, adapting to the IoT offers significant rewards.
By understanding how IoT can increase sales efficiency, tech-ready sales leaders could take a share of the trillions in value it’s predicted to bring. According to a recent article in tech publication Wire19 ‘B2B applications will account for 62% to 65% of the total IoT value in 2030, which translates to around $3.4 trillion to $8.1 trillion.’
What is the IoT?
Put simply, the Internet of Things (IOT) is a network of connected devices or ‘things.’ The software embedded in these devices enables them to sense, process and communicate data.
We usually think of laptops and phones as connected devices. However, IoT sensors are being used in manufacturing equipment, vehicles, monitors for energy and healthcare management and it is spreading to other industries.
A major use of data from IoT sensors is identifying problems which can be used to improve product performance and enable remote servicing. However, IoT sensors also offer valuable insights which can increase sales opportunities and enable sales teams to work more efficiently.
Here are six ways sales teams can harness IoT data to increase their efficiency.
Increasing Sales Opportunities
A report by global technology consultants, TATA, explains how harnessing IoT data can increase sales opportunities. ‘Data gathered from IoT-connected devices enables companies to evolve from reactive to proactive selling.’
By analysing patterns in how B2B customers use products and services, sales are better able to predict a clients’ unmet needs. For example, ‘A network equipment manufacturer might notice usage patterns that are straining the customer’s existing infrastructure and use that data to sell the company more appropriate networking products.’ In this way, IoT data takes the guess work out of identifying sales opportunities.
More accurate forecasting
Having an accurate picture of upcoming client needs also improves forecasting. Where forecasts were once unreliable, being based on assumptions and guesswork, the real-time user data provided by IoT technology mean forecasts become much more credible.
As noted by a recent article in HBR, accurate forecasts ‘deliver the revenue predictability that is essential for companies to accelerate their growth and success’ making IoT data very valuable for sales leaders.
Whilst IoT data can be used to accurately forecast sales from existing customers, it can also target new prospects more accurately.
Personas are a common method of targeting high-fit prospects. You start by identifying the common traits of existing high revenue customers. These are then used these to produce a criteria with which to identify similar new clients.
Prior to IoT, time consuming research and guesswork was often the way. In contrast, as IoT supplies rapid, verified customer data, this method of targeting becomes much more efficient and reliable.
The first contact with the customer is no longer a cold call as the real data from similar customers means sales managers are able to show an understanding of the buyers’ needs.
Faster, more reliable data on pain points
Rather than relying on market research to discover the challenges clients encounter with products, real-time IoT data means sales managers have an accurate picture of these ‘pain points’ more accurately and rapidly than ever before.
Accurately identifying these pain points increases the relevancy and personalisation of communications with buyers, enabling customers to have effective tailor made solutions, which in turn improves customer relationships and long term understandings, increasing the likelihood of making cross-sells or upsells.
More efficient quotations
In addition to increasing sales opportunities, harnessing IoT technology can also improve the efficiency of the team. For example, combining IoT with CPQ (configure, price, quote) software makes the once complicated job of providing quotations simple.
Faster, more accurate quotes increase customer satisfaction, further improving the chance of securing sales. As the technology also greatly simplifies making quotes, this means junior sales people will able to handle a task which would have once required extensive training.
Reducing the gap between A and B players on the sales team
A Forbes article predicting how IoT would redefine sales, noted that ‘today it’s about copying the practices and methodologies of ‘A’ players to help ‘B’ players become more than gifted amateurs.’
IoT technology also simplifies the work of sales leaders by enabling them to identify the techniques high-performing team members are using. As noted in the recent article on ‘How the IoT Will Shake Up Sales and Marketing’ the technology also allows leaders to track ‘what the sales force is doing through internal systems for compensation, training, CPQ and other functions to see what individual salespeople are using or not using to achieve their numbers.’
This means sales managers have better tools than ever to raise the performance of their team by analysing the behaviours of the most and least effective team members, and provide concrete actions to help close the gap.