Overcoming technophobia: Three ways to switch your sales team on and improve business performance 06 December 2016

By Paul Black, CEO, sales-i

The global manufacturing industry is home to hundreds and thousands of veteran salespeople. Their years of experience and solid track record make for an impressive combination that goes a long way to maintaining business success and winning new customers – not to mention contributing to the world economy. In fact, according to data1 from the World Bank, manufacturing accounts for approximately 15% of global GDP.

There’s only one caveat in the success story of manufacturing sales. A lot of experienced salespeople are still reluctant to adopt new technology – and it’s not always easy to understand why. Perhaps it’s the rising threat of cybercrime (a valid cause for concern), a fear of the unknown, or quite simply the philosophy that there’s no need to fix “what ain’t broke”. Whatever the reason, it’s undermining the speed and efficiency of companies operating in manufacturing sectors like fastening, and many risk losing out to their tech-savvy millennial competition.

This is particularly apparent in smaller companies that rely too heavily on traditional sales tactics. Unless they overcome their reluctance, these suppliers will increasingly battle to compete with their larger rivals that are far quicker at investing in new technologies to empower their sales teams.

But regardless of actual size, a business needs to encourage its salespeople to adopt these innovative tools and systems sooner rather than later. The correct use of technology will give a company a clear competitive edge in this very busy market – and turn a good salesperson into a great one. Here are three ways to get a sales team using, rather than fearing, technology.

1.Highlight the benefits
Most of us have a mobile phone and depend on it to keep in touch with not just friends and family, but colleagues and customers too. This convenient tool has revolutionised our lives and is a prime example of the benefits of technology.

Business Intelligence (BI) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems may come with daunting titles, but this shouldn’t put off first time users. These technologies are powerful professional aids that can achieve great results across many different departments, including marketing, sales, business development and finance.

How? These systems use data to track, store and analyse customer buying patterns. While your sales teams are busy actually selling, smart sales tools are able to accurately forecast new, up and cross-sell opportunities to take advantage of. In the fastener and fixing sector, for example, a bulk purchase of bolts will naturally require some nuts – a timely alert from your sales intelligence tools will enable you to undercut your competition with a well priced deal. Plus, these tools can flag any decline in sales that need to be immediately addressed, as well as automate certain administrative (and very time-consuming) tasks, such as creating reports.

The ultimate benefit is without doubt speed and agility; all these tools are easily accessible on the go via any mobile device. Rather than trawling through data manually, or having to rely exclusively on their gut instincts, a sales team is only a click away from tapping into important customer information that could save a deal, make a good impression, and improve the overall customer experience.

2.Track use, measure results, and encourage feedback
The only way to successfully implement a new software system is to involve salespeople at every stage of the adoption process. A sales team needs to feel like the technology is working for them – not making them work harder or, even worse, replacing them. Establish a forum that enables employees to air their views on how well the software is working, highlight any potential problems, and ask pressing questions. Management then needs to respond to and solve any issues as quickly as possible.

Show a sales teams how much the technology is benefitting business by measuring progress from the beginning. When they see how their sales performance is improving, they’ll feel more encouraged to continue using the new systems.

Always manage a sales team’s expectations and clearly communicate that the new software systems won’t do their job for them – but when used correctly, they can help them do a far better job. The fundamentals of the job remain: Seeing to customers’ needs, perfecting sales pitches, and ensuring an excellent customer experience. At the end of the day, technology is the enabler – not the endpoint.

3. Provide the right (and regular) training
Successful adoption of new technologies doesn’t happen overnight. so don’t dump the sales team in at the deep end and then leave them to drown. Even those who are relatively tech-savvy will need some ongoing guidance to get them up to speed as quickly as possible.

Regular training sessions are a must-do. If a team doesn’t know how to use their new tools, the investment will crash and burn. No technology can improve overall business performance without first giving some instruction to users, so draw up a training schedule and make it compulsory. The training sessions can be in-house or outsourced, and tailored to groups or individuals – whatever the most efficient method might be.

Of course practice makes perfect, and over time a sales team can work its way towards more advanced training sessions to increase its proficiency. When your salespeople feel confident about their ability to use technology, they’ll be able to help train and guide colleagues in the future to do faster, better business – and show any rival upstarts that they’re still the boss.


1. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NV.IND.MANF.ZS

Content Director

Will Lowry Content Director t: +44 (0) 1727 743 888


Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 15 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.

Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the Magazine is renowned.