Virtual Selling: Going Beyond the Automated Sales Force to Achieve Total Sales Quality
The days when a salesperson could carry the company catalog around in his or her head have disappeared. From high-tech to low-tech industries, today's salesperson often represents thousands of products available in countless permutations. According to Thomas Siebel and Michael Malone, although more than 500 companies are rushing to market with information technology to aid millions of salespeople world wide, these systems are destined to fail. Why? Because, the authors argue, they focus only on improving efficiency, rather than on increasing the effectiveness of the selling process.
Instead, Siebel and Malone demonstrate the need to incorporate Sales Force Automation (SFA) within an overall philosophy that supports the sales force by fully informing sales reps to assist them in real selling, not just data recording and analysis. The authors show how this new vision, called Virtual Selling, will spearhead a new generation of SFA design to provide powerful tools -- from opportunity management systems and marketing encyclopedias to product configurations and team selling across multiple distribution channels -- which will enhance customer contact and heighten the effectiveness of the sales representative.
By assuming the larger role of "point person" at the center of every transaction, the members of what the authors call the "Informed Sales Force" will resemble independent entrepreneurs directing their own business by developing long-term customer relationships, generating proposals, managing the configuration and creation of products, and providing customer service and support. Siebel and Malone explain how this reengineering of sales can enable firms to achieve the perfect balance between the needs of sales and the operations of the rest of the company. Finally, the authors reveal how, in their equation, the Informed Sales Force uses Virtual Selling to reach Total Sales Quality, with great leads, smart pitches, irresistible closes, and above all, sales.
The potential benefits of SFA to business are enormous, from cutting costs to boosting productivity and revenue. Siebel and Malone's innovative and inspiring approach to this important subject will enable corporate managers and sales professionals in all industries to transform the virtual selling vision into reality.
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