The Future of Your Sales and Marketing Organization


By Gerhard Gschwandtner

What does the future hold for B2B sellers and marketers? In this Q&A, Gerhard Gschwandtner, publisher of Selling Power magazine, and Tiffani Bova, global, customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, discuss how technology is affecting sales and marketing organizations.

Gerhard Gschwandtner (GG): What is the biggest challenge for sales teams today?

Tiffani Bova (Bova): A sales team’s success today depends on the investment a company is willing to make in individual customer relationships. Companies need to provide salespeople with valuable data points that enable more intelligent outreach and facilitate connections with prospects at the right time and with the right content.

That means sales representatives need immediate access to rich data and artificial intelligence (AI). The most frustrating aspect of the selling process is technological limitations – and that’s preventable. Sales and marketing leaders need to be laser focused on ensuring that speed and access to data never present a roadblock.

Fortunately, as machine learning and natural language processing become more integral to CRM, sales representatives are offered more opportunities to leverage these tools for selling power. The growth of your team is based on its selling know-how and the technology it uses to assist them in identifying buying habits and surfacing customer preferences. Teams need to  access, consume, analyze, and update customer information from any place at any time; this can mean the difference between closing a deal and losing it.

GG: What does the future of sales look like from Salesforce’s perspective and how will sales strategies evolve?

Bova: At Dreamforce, we announced Salesforce Einstein, a layer of AI across the Salesforce platform that delivers intelligence to our sales, service, marketing platforms, and more.

With Einstein, companies of all sizes can drive more intelligent conversations with customers thanks to features such as Predictive Lead Scoring (helping sales reps stay focused on their most promising leads) and Opportunity Insights (providing reps with alerts when a deal is trending). The future of sales is evolving into a personalized experience for the customer. And it’s lending itself to faster processes for sales teams as each bit of data gleaned from a customer interaction helps Einstein become smarter.

GG: How will the implementation of AI change the selling landscape and how will it enhance the role of salespeople?

Bova: It would be impressive if every sales representative had a clairvoyant gift that permitted him or her to identify customer and prospects’ interests with perfect accuracy. While we’re not quite there yet, AI is showing remarkable promise. Sales teams can now look at a prospect and predict deal closure probability given geography, seniority level, and other key factors. Using analytics and intelligence has created a better selling process that translates all the way down the line to a seamless customer experience and, ultimately, higher customer retention.

As AI becomes more widely adopted, sales teams will become even smarter and better informed – spending more time targeting prospects with the highest selling potential.

GG: As we move from Sales 2.0 to Sales 3.0 and new technologies become more prevalent, how do you encourage buy-in from the entire team?

Bova: Despite the promise of AI, as with many new technologies, sales leadership may be faced with initial reluctance from their teams. This reluctance will quickly give way to acceptance as salespeople understand how AI helps them do their jobs better and provides more time to focus on establishing improved relationships with prospects.

Sales leaders are under constant pressure to reach monthly sales numbers and keep the company aligned on the end goal – increasing revenue. The process starts at the top. Sales leaders should set an example for the company by embracing new technologies to promote the shift to Sales 3.0. Training is an obvious, yet critical, aspect of gaining internal traction, and wide adoption starts with sales reps developing an understanding of the problem before they move to solve it. Additionally, designating a sales rep on your team as the point person for a new tool will ensure challenging questions and obstacles are quickly and efficiently resolved on the ground level. Plan for the future of your sales operations by strategically  planning for an implementation strategy and understanding the short-term and long-term outlook of technology in your company.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-9-06-11-amTiffani Bova is the global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, where she is focused on enhancing the overall customer experience. Prior to Salesforce, she spent 10 years at Gartner as a vice president, distinguished analyst and research fellow, covering sales transformation and indirect channel innovation.



gerhardgschwandtnerGerhard Gschwandtner is the Founder and CEO of Selling Power and the publisher of Selling Power magazine. He is the regular host of the Sales 2.0 Conference. Follow him on Twitter @gerhard20.