The way businesses go about creating contracts has changed significantly over the last few years. Prospecting, sales, procurement, and closing deals – all of these have been influenced by technology at each stage of contract creation.
With the ramped-up tech evolution, some of the rules of engagement have changed with striking effect. Below are five of the most surprising ways online technology has transformed sales negotiations.
Enhanced Ease of Use
Most people expected technology to become more cryptic and mystifying. Businesses imagined having to hire large teams of IT experts to conduct business. While it’s true that technology has grown in complexity, how we use it has become simpler and almost hassle-free.
Nowadays, even little kids quickly grasp how to operate communication gadgets, and most salespeople don’t need an advanced course to work with an app or device.
Though businesses still need IT, experts, most services can be outsourced to specialists when necessary. Sales reps can ensure their offers and contracts follow legal requirements and company policies. With the use of pre-made document templates, you don’t need to be a lawyer to construct a fool-proof contract.
Improved Sales Training
In the past, staff training was costly and time-consuming. You also had to have a trainer physically present to have an impact. The training was usually done in teams, and everyone had to be present at the same time.
Nowadays, sales reps enjoy access to on-demand online sales training courses. Learning through virtual delivery can be self-paced and at the learner’s convenience. In these courses, the tutor only has to design a training course once and only occasionally appears live to answer questions.
Some people expected technology to result in the need for long, intensive courses and further on-the-job training. Instead, today most online negotiation and sales courses include lighter elements like interactive games. So, sales reps can now seize more opportunities to practice new skills through virtual delivery without needing to take time off. Onboarding new staff takes less time. Refresher courses are available at the click of a button.
Better Access to Market Insights
Years ago, sales reps had to rely on cold-calling and leaning on their networks to collect concrete information. Respondents would often be reluctant to share. Even when respondents did share, the information would not always be reliable.
As online technology advanced, at first, it might have seemed that information would become more difficult to collect. Increased anonymity and more avenues for disinformation would make a sales negotiator’s job harder, not simpler.
However, social media has changed the landscape in sales. A simple search query on social media platforms like LinkedIn can provide tons of information about your prospects and the companies they represent. Social media monitoring apps such as Mention and websites like Statista have made information more accessible and reliable.
Online directories, databases, and specialized courses have made it easy for anyone to gather and share information. For example, niche-specific listings can illuminate accurate insights into a market segment and the companies within that industry.
Streamlined Contract Management
In the past, contract management was merely an administrative task. It followed logic that technology would enhance the administrative aspect. What most people didn’t expect was how technology would strike a chord with multiple departments, making contract management a more dynamic role that can drive performance, orchestrate change, and improve team agility.
Contract management systems (CMSs) have harmonized the roles of legal, finance, procurement, and sales operations. Companies can use CMSs to:
- Build strategic alliances.
- Boost collaboration.
- Increase negotiation effectiveness.
- Standardize contract processes.
- Reduce legal and administrative costs.
- Automate workflows.
- Strengthen regulatory compliance.
When it comes to approvals, some sales contracts needed teams with specialized training to pore over all the fine print. All within extensive documents, sometimes spanning hundreds of pages. The whole process was inefficient, time-intensive, and costly.
Currently, there are many online negotiation platforms providing automated approval systems. Sales teams and buyers can review agreements and supporting documents fast and synchronously. Decision-makers can append their electronic signatures without losing time.
Increased Mobile Selling
The proliferation of mobile devices has changed how we sell and negotiate. At first, it seemed like mobile technology would only benefit retail merchants. Even then, the only benefit was for more accessible product pages and easier adding-to-cart.
Now, prospects are grasping for their smartphones and tablets to research, evaluate, and buy products and services. Mobile technology has transformed not just the retail market but the B2B business environment too.
Sales and marketing reps are using mobile apps for market targeting, lead nurturing, and product training. Mobile browsers, extensions, chatbots, apps, and other software courses are providing seamless integrations.
So, now you can open discussions with a prospect on your computer at the office. Then continue the conversation on your smartphone during your commute. Then invite your boss into the conversation using your tablet at home. All without loss of time or data. With today’s online technology, a sales rep’s effectiveness doesn’t stop when they’re on the move.