Without revenue from sales of products or services, a business becomes little more than a hobby or a charitable organisation. Building sales requires a well-equipped sales team, and in today’s digital world, that means IT must become a strong support partner.
But aligning with sales leaders on transformative technology initiatives takes more than just rolling out their tech of choice. It requires a deep commitment to frequent, clear communication and coordination on mutual goals.
Is your IT organisation doing all it can to help sales team members build and retain customers? To find the answer, consider the following ways IT can help ensure the sales organisation is primed for success.
1. Form a strong partnership
Forming an effective IT-sales partnership requires embracing a start-up mentality, even at large, long-established organisations, advises Amit Vashisht, assistant vice president at retirement services firm Jackson Enterprise Technology. “This means remaining nimble, employing agile principles, and not falling into the trap of being too slow to pivot when needed.”
IT should maintain constant engagement with the enterprise sales team, says Vashisht, who recommends reaching a mutual agreement that both IT and sales team members should feel safe to fail as they test and evaluate new ideas.
Vashisht also suggests conducting internal “hot houses” that encourage business and IT leaders to work collectively as they solve real-world business problems. “These collaborative processes help IT understand what sales is up against and vice versa, so we can deliver the solutions needed that benefit the whole enterprise,” he says.
2. Supply insightful, actionable data
IT should supply sales team members with the timely, accurate data they need to become top performers, recommends Michael Tantrum, national sales director at IT consulting firm Resultant. He recommends delivering a continuous sales data flow to sales personnel, providing comprehensive views of the customers they’re working with.
Data should be both insightful and actionable. “When salespeople are working off good data, they will have a competitive advantage,” Tantrum states. “If your competitors are selling without the benefit of that [data] infrastructure, then you will know much more about potential customers than they do.”
Richard Baker, CTO at support and services firm TWC IT Solutions, agrees, adding that IT leaders should look to integrate CRM systems and data analytics tools into the sales process.
“This approach is invaluable, since it offers real-time insights and a 360-degree view of the customer, enabling personalised and timely interactions, ultimately leading to enhanced customer satisfaction and increased sales,” he explains.
3. Mind the communications gap
Any effective partnership requires a strong commitment to communication. To ensure IT and sales remain on the same page, Baker recommends establishing clear communication channels, including regular check-ins that ensure that IT is meeting the sales team’s needs effectively and resolving any lingering concerns swiftly.
“One mistake IT leaders make is allowing a communications gap to exist, leaving the sales team with inadequate or ill-suited technological solutions,” he says. “Continuous collaboration, communication, and a mutual understanding of goals and challenges are all essential for a successful IT and sales partnership.”
4. Seek close goal alignment
Ensuring shared goals is another key facet for forming an effective IT-sales partnership, says Burcak Balkis, customer success manager at business phone system, call centre, sales, and customer service software provider Hipcall.
Because IT and sales teams often have different priorities, coordination on goals and strategies must be intentional to ensure objectives are aligned, Balkis says. “When you have open and honest communication channels between IT and sales, regular meetings and updates can help bridge the gap between technical complexity and the market demands,” Balkis says.
For example, Balkis says IT can help support the sales team’s goal of ensuring effective communication with customers by not only equipping personnel with a complete array of modern and reliable communications tools, including email, chat, videoconferencing, and social media platforms, but also developing training to ensure their effective use. “This ensures that the sales team can engage with prospects and customers through their preferred methods, enhancing the customer experience,” Balkis says, while also ensuring technology ROI — a key IT goal.
5. Emphasise business outcomes, not IT buzzwords
After meeting with IT experts, sales team members often leave dazed and confused. Familiar IT terms can sound like gibberish to sales pros, who may be reluctant to ask for clarification.
Eugene Klimaszewski, president of security services firm Mammoth Security, says that when IT leaders inundate colleagues with intricate technical details, they risk alienating nontechnical stakeholders.
“One of the most detrimental actions IT leaders can take to harm sales is overemphasising technical jargon and complexity in their communication,” he warns. “Effective communication that translates technical concepts into tangible business outcomes is key to preventing this common pitfall.”
6. Strategise for efficiency and innovation
The most effective IT-sales partnerships thrive in a collaborative environment that prioritises innovation and efficiency, says Bill Tennant, chief revenue officer at digital strategy and transformation company BlueCloud. “Overall, both teams thrive when IT and sales focus on effective communication and come together to achieve a shared goal.”
Tennant believes that collaboration should lead to processes and tools that will allow the sales team to become more efficient and less likely to chase after multiple business units for essential information. “Beyond this, enterprise sales teams also require flexibility and innovation, allowing them to move quickly and drive value to their customers.” Additionally, when IT collaborates by supporting both top-down and bottom-up sales needs, and alerting sales leaders to efficiency opportunities, it helps sales become more productive, he adds.
Here, the most sales-damaging action IT leaders can take is failing to prioritise effective communication, Tennant says. A communication breakdown can lead to inefficiencies that hamper both parties’ ability to fulfil enterprise goals, sending IT and sales teams in opposing directions, he warns. “When IT leaders focus on streamlining processes without aligning their efforts with the sales team’s needs, it can disrupt workflows, create confusion, and waste valuable resources, ultimately hindering overall enterprise performance.”
7. Leverage promising new technologies — responsibly
Sophisticated new technologies arrive regularly, and many of these tools can be used to improve sales. It’s up to IT to spot potential sales-boosting tools and bring them to the sales leader for study and evaluation.
Jackson Enterprise Technology’s Vashisht believes that AI, and generative AI in particular, provide great promise for sales and marketing applications. An AI sales automation tool, for example, can be designed to analyse large datasets and make market predictions. Vashisht believes that sales departments that fail to take advantage of powerful new technologies are destined to fall behind the competition. Yet he also advises proceeding with caution. “Any new technology should be implemented in close collaboration, making IT and sales equal partners in the decision-making process,” he says.
While a strong advocate of promising new technologies, Vashisht warns that a tool that’s too complicated, or that’s poorly integrated into an existing process, can easily backfire. “It’s critical for technology and sales partners to effectively communicate their insights.”
8. Be responsive
Sales teams are, by their nature, highly responsive, fast-paced organisations. Team members must accurately answer customer questions as soon as possible or risk losing sales. When it comes to technical issues, sales teams should be able to collect the necessary information quickly and accurately from knowledgeable IT team members.
“In this type of situation, quick responses from the technology team means more satisfaction and trust on the customer side,” says Reycan Cetin, growth manager at document, identity, biometric verification and authentication company Techsign.
To build a tighter relationship between IT and sales, Cetin advises scheduling regular meetings designed to increase awareness about general enterprise activities and goals. He believes that periodic meetings, held every few months by the department leaders, is not only useful for helping sales and IT teams work together more efficiently and effectively, but also creates a collective awareness about overall enterprise goals.