There is no escape from technology today. Businesses that adapt to new technology faster will be able to gain a competitive edge – increasingly, with time. Technology is constantly evolving, and one must constantly be on toes to absorb the latest developments in the ecosystem. Businesses increasingly rely on technology to run their businesses efficiently, and Sales are no exception. If you do not use the latest trends, someone else will disrupt the competitive scenario, leading to a discontinuity. Whoever thought thirty years back that you could book orders through the internet?

The most significant advantage lies in freeing salespeople from routine, tedious jobs and empowering them to spend more time strategizing, planning, understanding the consumer, etc.

Effects of Technology on Selling

Source: MechoMotive

The entire sales Life-cycle are impacted today. Right from generating leads to closing orders, finally accepting delivery of a product or service, and making the final payment.

Here are the four critical technological components that are playing a role and are expected to continue doing so in the future.

Big Data, Analytics, and Artificial intelligence

A mass of data is lying in an ocean, calling for harvesting to predict your sales, analyze the pattern across demographic profiles and geographies, and gain consumer insights. It is not limited to data emanating from within the organization but also outside it in the form of Market shares, stocks at retail outlets, outlet-wise sales, economic forecasts, etc. There are statistical tools to forecast sales – Time Series, Exponential smoothing, Regression, etc., which can be made profitable. The data volume is humungous, which is why it is called “Big Data”. However, that should not impede because computing facilities are enormous and various tools are available. Analytics help organizations determine which customers to target. Use different profiles to pick lookalike customers and determine which buyers will most likely respond to different messages and offers. It is a complex analysis and not based on guesswork. It involves rigorous analysis of similar customers based on buying habits, demographic profiles, and geographies. In short, big data and analytics tools help organizations focus their sales efforts on the most promising and profitable activities and customers.

The increasing pressure to perform and reduce costs underscores the need to enable computing solutions where Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a role. It is becoming increasingly challenging to frame pre-coded algorithms to make decisions based on decision rules. This is because the dynamic situation in the marketplace and millions of patterns within the data do not permit structured algorithms. There is a particular element of discovery involved. Artificial Intelligence is thus being increasingly used to study consumer behaviors, especially in e-commerce environments. The AI software will scan through the data and discover patterns. 

For example, a particular gentleman orders his razor blades on the 2nd of every month.

Lead Generation

As mentioned earlier, technology tools are available to track leads generated by salespeople. In traditional CRM systems deployed by brick-and-mortar companies, salespeople manually enter data on leads on their device after visiting a customer– generally online but not in real-time. However, in an e-Commerce environment, the data is available in real time. There are several scenarios here:

  • The customer visits your site but logs out midway. This phenomenon is known as abandonment. Since logging in based on Mobile numbers is mandatory, customer executives should contact the customer to find out what went wrong. 
  • The customer starts shopping but abandons the cart midway—the same action as when the customer engages with the Chatbot for specific queries; the 1st thing is to capture his contact number, sort out his query and then pass on the lead to the sales team. Almost all Chatbots are programmed to do this.

Lead generation in a brick-and-mortar setup requires a series of meetings with the customer, waiting for appointments, and convincing the prospect. With proper CRM Software, it is possible to record the outcome of meetings, and your impression of the customer, assess the prospect of closing a sale and obtain automated reminders on the next task.

By locating servers on the cloud and through mobile devices, one can obtain immediate access to data from anywhere, anytime.

Social Platforms

The explosion of social technology has given rise to several social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Technologies must be aware of this trend. These are valuable platforms to attract and engage new customers, a vital step in getting a customer into the sales funnel. Social media platforms provide opportunities for companies to engage with customers and involve them in exchanges about products and services for useful insights that could lead to a sale. The advantage is that you can tap into a vast pool of prospective customers. The target consumers today for most products are connected through social media. They are savvy, conscious, and listen to peers they trust. (Surveys have shown that they trust their peers ten times more than salespersons of the organization). There are technologies to connect Chatbots and other software to social media. Web crawlers help to determine what the impression of customers is about your organization and its brands. What is it that they like or do not like? Searching through exposed Web portions – blogs, Facebook – is possible while searching for keywords. 

Sales Force Automation (SFA) 

SFA is a conglomeration of tools to automate a salesman’s operations to empower him. Collaboration tools help the salesman stay abreast of the latest products’ features, the expected future models, the pricing strategy, and any other issue the management occasionally wishes to communicate to the salespeople. It will also help the salesman obtain a clear picture of inventory levels, sales growths, general product issues, remedies, etc., and even the location of goods being shipped to the customer. When he visits a customer, he can apprise him of the above. He can also gain insight into the customer’s outstanding amount and ask him to pay. This is proving a game-changer.

 It also equips ordinary devices like GPS Devices, weighing devices, and RFID scanners with an embedded chip for recognisability. For example, a GPS device can be attached to storage containers or a truck. This device will transmit its location, which can be picked up by GPS satellites for tracking the movement of goods for conveying to the customer. GPS connections on the salesman’s cell will track his movement during office hours to ensure he visits the right places and follows the shortest routes.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality help to simulate reality. For example, a digital signature, finger scanning, or facial recognition can be used for expensive items to ensure that the genuine customer has received the goods. This is especially critical for expensive items.

 A real-estate customer can virtually walk through the apartment he plans to purchase. Ikea can provide a demo of assembling furniture to assist the customer experiencing difficulties.

Block-Chain Technology is commonly understood as the technology behind Digital currencies like Bitcoin. With the help of a distributed or decentralized ledger, transactions are stored across several computers. This ensures a tamperproof environment because a change on any server or computer affects the entire integrity of the Block-Chain and flags the tampered transaction. It can be creatively applied in Sales to store the history of every transaction. For example, the details of an item’s batch number (especially relevant for products where batch numbers need to be compulsorily stored like drugs and food items) at the time of manufacturing are preserved and traced right till the end – even till the stage of Reverse Logistics if the goods are returned due to malfunctioning within the warranty period, wrong dispatch of goods, cancellation of an order, poor quality like stale food, etc.

The retail shop of the future can be envisaged through increased levels of automation in the future. The day is not far off when you can plan for a zero-manpower outlet where the external partner (distributor or retailer) or consumer can walk in, establish his identity and trigger the fork-lift to load the relevant items on pellets automatically, and then the truck as per his pending order. The weighing machine would cross-check whether the loaded weight is as ordered, and RFID devices will flag if the partner is trying to smuggle out goods other than the one he has ordered for weighing similarly. The payment can be initiated through cards/bank transfers/wallets, and after the conditionality is fulfilled, it will allow the gate to open and the truck to depart.

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Snigdha Biswas is a seasoned professional with 12 years of experience in Content Development, Content Marketing and SEO across SaaS, Tech, Media, Entertainment, and News categories. She crafts impactful campaigns, adapts to market trends, develops content strategies, optimizes websites, and leverages data analytics. With a track record of driving organic growth and brand visibility, Snigdha's passion for storytelling and analytical mindset drive conversions and build brand loyalty. She is a trusted advisor, helping businesses achieve growth objectives through strategic thinking and collaboration in the competitive digital landscape.