The current state of sales tools – Q&A with experienced sales manager Nikolai Pietiläinen

Jukka HarjunenZero Keyboard

We met up with Nikolai Pietiläinen, an experienced B2B sales professional and sales team leader, and talked about building a great sales team and the current state of sales professionals’ digital tools.

Where will digital tools be in 5 years? Read on to find out!

Zero Keyboard: Hi Nikolai, great to have you! Who are you?

Nikolai: “I’ve done B2B sales for roughly 10 years, first in a major media company and then in a mobile advertising tech company. My roles have ranged from account management to sales team and country management.

Today, I’m a co-founder at Vapaus Bikes, a Cycling as a Service company that helps businesses create happy and active work culture. Exciting times!”

What are your top tips for leading a successful sales team?

“To be good at sales, you have to feel great about what you do. You must have positive energy, have fun at work and really throw yourself into it, 100%. Enjoy coming to work and selling your product. Now, a sales leader’s job is to create an environment that supports and nurtures all this.

Second, a sales leader should always show direction. As B2B sales is overall shifting to a more expert-oriented, consulting role, you can point direction and enable your team to work and build on their personal strengths to get there. When your team is better at sales than you, you are doing something right.

In a way, leading sales is like coaching a top athlete. You have to push for results but also take responsibility for support and direction. That’s how you reach top gear and keep the sport fun.”

Let’s talk tools. What’s the state of sales tools today? Has mobile shifted the B2B landscape?

“Too many sales tools are still desktop-oriented. As consumers, we enjoy doing stuff on mobile. When we go to work, why would we want to specifically boot up a computer?

Mobile has huge potential that is still missed today. Imagine managing your sales pipeline from your phone: call a contact, have a chat, punch in your notes – everything’s updated in your CRM just like that. Might not sound like a big deal but the convenience of an optimized mobile experience really beats booting your laptop.

Still today, many salespeople dislike CRMs, which is a really bad thing for team leaders. Many CRMs lack usability, optimization and proper support for customer-oriented sales processes – a CRM might be built on top of an accounting system, for example. Usability is essential as punching in your sales data should take just seconds, not minutes.”

Imagine the perfect sales tool in 5 years. What will it be like?

“Well, first, there won’t be one single end-all tool, but several tools that work seamlessly together during different sales pipeline phases. Data, digitalization and automation will take over. A wealth of client data will be readily available and inbound activities will become more and more important.

The salesperson’s job will shift toward a consulting, expert role. Pushing your product blindly won’t work anymore. However, when you create more value to your client, the quality of your work will increase and you will probably enjoy it even more.”

Thanks, Nikolai! If you want to promote a happy and active workplace, remember to check out Vapaus Bikes.

Jukka Harjunen – CMO