The Challenges of Sales Tech and Skills Demanded by the Job Market 2021
The wave of digitization is sweeping across all industries and sectors, and the use of technology is becoming increasingly common in business units. The term "data-driven sales" has been coined in the sales sector, and the use of digital tools has become a reality on the sales floor.
Now that sales tech has begun to permeate the market, it can be said that we are in a transitional period, moving from an era of earning money with feet and guts to an era of making numbers with data and theory.
In this column, we will look at the skills needed in this sales tech era and the challenges that sales tech faces.
Table of Contents:
1. Challenges Faced by Sales Tech In Japan
- Low IT Literacy
- Inefficient Use of Data Accumulated Through Sales Tech
2. Why Do We Need Sales Tech?
- Diversification Of Needs, and Changes in Purchasing Behavior
- Shortage of Labor Due to Low Birthrate and an Aging Population
3. Skills Required in Sales Tech
- Communication Skills
- Basic IT Knowledge
- Ability to Read and Understand Data
4. Sales Tech Services and Tools
- Pipedrive (SFA/ CRM)
- Cloud Business Meeting Anywhere by SHOWBY
- Google Data Portal
Challenges faced by Sales Tech in Japan
First, let's look at the challenges facing sales tech. Here, we will focus specifically on sales tech in Japan.
Low IT literacy in the field
In many cases, sales tech is driven from the top down by sales managers and senior management. However, if the sales force is not IT literate, the implementation will not go smoothly. Especially for experienced salespeople, who have used their instincts and experience to generate numbers, embracing digitalization can feel like a rejection of their traditional sales style.
However, in many organizations, those who have always had an interest in digital equipment are only a small part of the team. If the IT literacy of the frontline employees is low, it will be difficult for the implementation to take root, and it will be difficult to move to the utilization phase, which in the end will be ineffective.
Inefficient Use of Data Accumulated Through Sales Tech
When sales tech is promoted and some digital tools are introduced, various data related to sales activities are accumulated in them. This data is the company's asset and should be handled and analyzed appropriately, with data cleansing and other measures to help improve sales, but many companies don't go that far. If your existing tools don't have the functionality to make the most of your data, you will need to introduce new BI tools, and you will need people with a certain level of skill in using data, so it's not an easy task.
However, it would be a waste if the accumulated data could not be used, and this would not lead to the expansion of sales tech.
Why do we need Sales Tech?
Despite the challenges outlined in the previous section, the following reasons make it necessary to actively promote the use of Sales Tech.
Diversification of Needs, and Changes in Purchasing Behavior
For a long time now, it has been pointed out that consumers' needs are diversifying and their purchasing behavior is changing via the web, especially in BtoC. This trend has also spread to the BtoB market, where it is becoming increasingly difficult to win orders by conducting business negotiations in a uniform manner with all potential customers, and salespeople are required to have a consultative approach.
The first step in this process is to understand the direction and level of interest of the potential customer. This phase is more in the realm of marketing rather than sales. This means that every company needs to be involved in marketing from now on.
Labour shortage due to low birth rate and aging population
According to the "White Paper on Measures for Society with a Decreasing Birthrate" published by the Cabinet Office, Japan's total population is expected to fall below 100 million by 2055.
As the birth rate declines and the population ages, the working population will also decline.
As the working population declines, so too will the number of salespeople. The number of employees in the companies we sell to is also likely to decrease. If this happens, we will need to make our sales activities more efficient. For the sake of your customers, one will need to reduce the burden of negotiations as much as possible.
One of the ways to do this is through the use of digital technology, and this is where Sales Tech comes in.
Skills required in Sales Tech
What skills will be required of salespeople as sales technology is expected to become more widespread in the future?
No matter how much digital technology permeates sales activities, the business meeting itself will not disappear. Therefore, communication skills are still necessary.
This includes the ability to listen and make proposals, understand the issues involved in conversations with prospective clients, develop the most appropriate proposals in a logical manner, and present the necessary figures and documents.
Basic IT Knowledge
As mentioned in the section on the challenges of the Japanese market for Sales Tech, basic IT knowledge and skills are required to use the digital tools introduced in the Sales Tech initiative to drive sales activities.
What may be obvious to the generation native to digitalization may be difficult for the older generation to get used to. However, with increasing longevity and the pension age being raised, it should be important to keep improving your skills so that you can remain active in the workforce even when you are older.
There are also a certain number of people, regardless of age, who are not good with digital devices. However, given the need for sales tech, at the very least, they should have a basic knowledge of the technology and be able to keep up to date with new technologies to some extent.
The ability to read and understand data
As we move forward with SalesTech, we will accumulate a lot of data within the sales department. Data is an asset for the company, but simply accumulating it is a waste of money, and it is only when it is put to use that it comes to life. To make full use of data, you will need a data scientist or a data specialist.
However, the tools only provide visualization and rough analysis of the data, so it is ultimately up to the sales team to interpret and use the data. It is up to the sales team to interpret and use the data, but they will need to have the skills to decipher the visualized data. You can start by asking the vendor of the digital tools you have installed to share their know-how and teach you how to read the data so that you can develop your skills without difficulty.
Sales Tech Services and Tools
Finally, we would like to introduce you to some of the specific services and tools of SalesTech.
We will focus on the most popular ones and those that are likely to attract attention in the future.
Pipedrive (SFA/ CRM)
Pipedrive is a sales CRM product that is used in 179 countries around the world. The pipeline management UI is easy to use and the drag-and-drop interface is intuitive, making it easy to use even for those who are not familiar with IT tools.
It also includes a feature that allows you to send out emails to customers who match your criteria and it is reasonably priced.
Cloud Negotiation Showby
SHOWBY is a business meeting tool with voice call, screen sharing, camera, chat, and note functions. It also includes a Kanpe function for use during business meetings and a function for asking customers to complete a questionnaire after a meeting.
The most distinctive feature is the 'virtual entrance' function, which is included as the standard. The monthly fee starts from 1,980 yen.
The handbook is a cloud-based content management system that allows you to distribute sales materials, product catalogs, etc. to mobile devices and PCs.
Originally marketed as a sales enablement tool, it was designed to be used by salespeople in the field to present tablet devices to potential customers while conducting business negotiations, but it can also be used to share internal meeting materials, manuals, training materials, etc. to promote a paperless sales department and company.
In addition to distributing content, it can also be used to analyze its browsing status.
uSonar is a data integration tool from Landscape, a pioneer in corporate database services. It is important to regularly cleanse your company's customer and prospect data, as duplicate registrations, company name changes and mergers can occur during the course of the tool's operation. This is where a data integration tool can help.
uSonar provides you with 930 million pieces of company information that you can integrate with your own data. It also comes with a business card OCR function to capture business card information and can be used as a business card management software. It can also be used as a business card management software.
Looker is the world's most popular data analysis platform (BI tool) and is designed to maintain data integrity over the medium to long term. It was developed by Looker Data Sciences, which was acquired by Google's Cloud division in February 2020.
The intuitive dashboards and Google Spreadsheet integration make it easy for people without data expertise to add data, but it does require learning LookML, a proprietary language, so it's a product for companies that want to make serious use of their data.
Google Data Portal
Google Data Portal is a self-service BI that is free to use. A self-service BI is a tool that is designed to be used by people without data expertise or skills and is often visually and intuitively operated so that anyone can retrieve the information they need when they need it.
As a Google product, it can be quickly integrated with data stored on other Google platforms such as Spreadsheets and Google Analytics, making it easy to create dashboards and reports.
In this article, we have looked at the future growth of SalesTech in the field of sales, the current challenges in Japan, and the skills required of the salesperson of the future.
The introduction of sales tech may not always go smoothly, due to the financial costs and employee learning costs involved, but it will be essential in a future business environment that is becoming increasingly digital, including the promotion of DX.
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