With many organisations shifting to a distributed (remote) workforce model, the sales function will arguably become even more imperative in creating and maintaining high-quality customer relationships. Increasingly, these relationships rely on digital tools and a rigorous, data-driven approach to enable quality conversations with potential and existing customers — and allow for real-time responses to every customer interaction.
These needs demand one communication system that enables your website, high-end phone system, video conferencing platform, and internal and external chat to seamlessly come together and be consumed from anywhere.
Real-time responses have been shown to accelerate lead conversion rates and significantly shorten the “traditional” sales cycle. It is no surprise then, that savvy organisations are quickly embracing unified communications (UC) technology that, by design, empowers sales teams to operate with efficiency and impact in the “new normal”: building trust through an in-depth, data-driven understanding of each customer and their operational requirements.
UC platforms integrate and connect different communication systems for an increasingly virtual or remote workforce, and incorporate various key functions including voice and video calling; instant Web chats; document sharing; shared databases; contacts; and more. So, when your sales team is using the UC platform’s video conference function, for example, they can simultaneously integrate the video call with other capabilities in real time, such as quickly pulling up a contact from the shared database to include a colleague in the call; or screen-sharing a document for team collaboration on the call … all without having to leave the actual video call or scramble around on a different platform to find the right tools.
This seamless integration of various enterprise functions into one, cohesive platform (so that users and teams don’t have to switch between platforms or providers as shown above), is driving major investment and interest in UC technology and communication platform as a service (CPaaS) infrastructure. According to a recent International Data Corp survey, almost half of respondents (48%) reported they will be increasing investments in UC&C tools (compared to 32% reporting increased investments in datacentre networking).
Unsurprisingly, UC platforms and CPaaS models are gaining traction for the immense benefits the technology provides to every department in an organisation. Within sales, which is a particularly competitive environment and becoming more data-driven as customers have less time available for interactions, UC technology can mean the difference between converting a lead and losing a customer to a more responsive rival.
Let’s take a closer look…
Making every interaction meaningful
Across organisations, a successful customer and/or sales interaction increasingly depends on “meeting” or serving the customer on their preferred channel, whether it be WhatsApp, social media, a voice call or a Web chat. With this in mind, UC platforms allow sales teams to respond immediately (in real time) to new inquiries across every platform or channel, and critically each interaction or conversation is captured and stored in a secure, centralised database. This conversation can then be mined for essential data and information, that then informs and shapes the next interaction with the same customer — thereby eliminating any need for the customer to repeat information, and making sure that each interaction is personalised and achieves key objectives (for example, converting a sale or resolving a customer’s account query). In this way, there are no data “leakages” or lost/misplaced information, even though sales teams are operating over various channels.
Critically, this ensures that no potential leads are lost in the system, and every interaction is captured and accurately positioned within the sales pipeline.
Placing the sales team at the pulse of the business
In a world in which business deals are lost and won in the blink of an eye, sales teams need to be given the tools to respond to every lead almost instantaneously. Within our own organisation, UC technology has reduced our response time to less than a minute — and we are equipped to provide a real-time, personal response to every new inquiry (in other words, we don’t ask potential customers to leave a message or fill out a form). This puts the sales team right at the pulse of the organisation, and gives them an unparalleled ability to be agile, responsive and relevant in every interaction. In addition, UC technology gives an organisation powerful and cost-effective access to many more customers and clients at one time — thereby dramatically widening the pool of potential leads that can be pursued (and converted) on a daily basis.
When interacting with potential new customers, UC-enabled sales teams also have various tools at their fingertips to enhance their presentations and make more of an impact. For example, using video conferences, sales experts can share their screens and conduct engaging multimedia demonstrations of how the product or solution really works. They can also include various other subject experts in the meeting, use data to address unique customer concerns and pain points, and capture the interaction so that any queries or concerns are documented and addressed from the start.
Building trust with transparency and local support
With a multitude of technology products and solutions now on the market, the long-term success and viability of customer relationships depends on trust — and the ability of teams to fulfil the “promises” or contractual obligations that were made. By design, UC technology platforms foster this trust, not only through the efficiency and timeliness of responses, but by the informed, personal and data-driven responses that these platforms enable. Furthermore, by leveraging a locally developed UC solution, businesses benefit not only from cost-effective solutions designed for South African market pain points, but also from immediate access to a local customer support team. This dramatically reduces the likelihood of any costly downtime in sales systems and in communications that are essentially the lifeline of any fast-moving business today.
Additionally, when speaking of business continuity and consistency in communications, one of the challenges that many companies experienced during the initial shift to remote work was the ‘”fragmentation” or internal/external compliance required regarding engagements as teams used various different tools and providers for different functions. The use of different tools requires it to be aggregated and stored in a central place and a system that enables that. This meant that some call recordings would sit in one UC system, for instance, while other recordings would be in other UC systems, while important internal Web chats between sales teams would be captured on chat platforms, etc, with no ability to pull all of this IP together into one, secure and accessible place. Not only does this fragmentation of IP prevent the productive use of this data (while also requiring extra work to consolidate it), but it also presents a cybersecurity risk in the age of ransomware and targeted phishing attacks on unprepared employees.
When all of your enterprise IP is captured, shared and accessed in one, central place, your organisation immediately benefits from enhanced IP security as well as greater productivity and collaboration because everyone is working with the same tools and data.
Mobile-first and built for innovation
Whether sales teams are part of a distributed workforce or sitting within an organisation, they have to be enabled to work and communicate from anywhere, at any time — while capturing the key data for pipelines and future interactions. To meet this requirement, UC platforms “live” and operate in the cloud environment, and allow sales teams to switch seamlessly between voice, softphone, Web chats, WhatsApp, etc – without missing a beat. In addition, sales teams no longer have to spend time and resources on tracking their costs and logging expense data, because UC systems are designed to automate the tracking of expenses and capture this data instantaneously — giving sales teams more time to focus on building and nurturing customer relationships.
Critically, UC technology also harnesses open API platforms, meaning that new products and cloud-based innovations can be quickly and easily integrated into the platform. This means that not only are UC platforms future-fit in a rapidly evolving virtual workplace, but also that sales teams can always seamlessly interact with customers on their platform of choice (with no detrimental impact on the quality and outcome of conversations).
Armed with these tools, sales teams can be responsive, relevant and powerful in their response to every customer interaction – driving lead conversions with more success than ever before, and ultimately, business growth.
Telviva, formerly Connection Telecom, is a market leader in cloud-based communications for business. Seamlessly integrating voice, video and chat in one intelligent platform, Telviva enables you to have better quality conversations with customers, suppliers and staff. For several years, we have presented a portfolio of brands, namely Connection Telecom, Telviva and Fat Budgie. These have now been consolidated under the Telviva banner to better align our product understanding and messaging, enabling our customers to maximise the benefits of consolidating all their general business communications into a single cloud application. For more information, please visit www.telviva.co.za.
- David Browne is regional executive at Telviva
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