In the past, the sales profession has often been referred to as an “art,” an intuitive discipline rather than a science. Over the last decade, the industry has changed radically with developing technologies and data science – a dramatic shift in the relationship between the buyer and seller; the rise of the empowered, well-educated, and demanding buyer; and movement from traditional outbound to inbound marketing and sales. These developments have created very challenging sales environments. Sales acceleration technologies are the next wave to transform the industry with tools for sales organizations to embrace in order to be competitive and at the forefront.

Over recent years, technology and data science have brought significant efficiencies and more predictability to the sales industry. First was the adoption by sales departments of customer relationship management (CRM) software and systems, tools to organize customer information and sales efforts. Gartner estimates the worldwide CRM market grew 13.3% in the last year, from $20.4 billion in 2013 to $23.2 billion in 2014.

Marketing automation software and systems were developed for marketing departments to automate routine and repetitive functions in the scheduling and tracking of campaigns. It is estimated that the marketing automation software market will grow to $5.5 billion by 2019.

The next wave is often referred to as sales acceleration – platforms and sales software that bridge the gap between the sales department CRM systems and the marketing automation systems. After all, it is all part of the same process for a buyer, moving through the sales cycle from being a prospect to eventually converting to a customer. If this process is seamless, it benefits both the buyer and seller and makes it more likely that the buyer will complete the journey.

Marketing and sales departments often have not been closely aligned, with marketers focused on lead and demand generation, handing off leads to sales without an in-depth understanding of buying scenarios and the sales process of presentations, negotiations, and conversions.

The pace of business is continuously accelerating with time-sensitive business processes that require current, up-to-date information and speedy well-informed decisions to maintain a competitive advantage. It is estimated that in the B2B environment, buyers engage with sales at a very late stage of the purchase process – after sixty percent of the process is over.

At that point, prospects then expect a sales team to have detailed product and industry expertise, which requires information, speed, and agility.

Sales acceleration technologies respond to today’s sales environment that is driven by data, technology, and speed. They gather and analyze a vast array of data relating to the sales process, outreach, a prospect’s behavior and prioritize or implement actions based on that data. As the name reflects, these are tools to accelerate sales – make the entire sales process faster and shorten sales cycles. They improve collaboration between marketing and sales and may include data visualization, analytics, sales intelligence, automated email, email tracker, gamification, online video conferencing, and social media, as well as tools to accelerate quotes, proposals, presentations, and contracts. Sales organizations must maximize the use of their data resources and ensure that these tools are seamless for both sales and marketing teams across a platform for greater collaboration.

The digitized and data-driven information age has rapidly changed the dynamics of most sales environments. Sales organizations must use more science than art, taking advantage of available technologies and data science to provide the right, tailored response in a rapid, timely manner to today’s empowered and demanding buyers. A sales acceleration software is essential to compete in today’s sales industry in order to improve a sales team’s ability to respond to increased opportunities; increase collaboration between marketing and sales; provide a better purchase experience for the buyer; and improve efficiency, sales, and return on investment.