For small businesses especially, sales is a key priority and driver for growth. It’s no surprise that ― in a recent survey ― 41 percent of leaders of fast-growing companies rated great sales and marketing as one of the top factors contributing to their success to date.

But this was not just a one-off result. In another survey conducted in parallel, 40 percent of SMB executives cited sales as their number one overall business concern. When asked to elaborate on their specific sales concerns, nearly half (48 percent) of respondents said they feel “extremely” or “very” worried about whether they are maximizing all possible sales channels. Many also expressed concern about the accuracy of their sales forecasting (36 percent) and their ability to provide the tools and training sales people need to be productive (30 percent). I can certainly relate. Once, I had to run sales for six months, and it was the hardest job that I ever had.

The good news is that with the right cloud technology, executives can address their sales concerns.

Transform Sales from an Art to a Science

In the past, sales was considered an art. It was strictly a relationships game. And while the success of today’s sales representatives is still largely based on personality, communication skills, and the ability to form relationships, technology has allowed us to transform selling into a science, not just an art.

Early-stage businesses may rely heavily on the “human” component to drive sales, but as companies mature, they need more than just great talent to drive sales and grow. They need the right technology to support that talent.

In other words, they need the science to support the art of sales.

For SMB leaders trying to (re)define their sales strategies and forecasting capabilities, cloud technology can provide greater clarity and direction. According to the survey, executives are beginning to realize the impact technology can have on business growth. Forty-one percent of respondents cited investing in technology, including cloud services, as a top priority for 2017.

What should these leaders consider as they invest in the cloud?

Best Practices

When thinking about how cloud technology can empower your sales team, consider a few best practices:

  1. Don’t do the heavy lifting yourself. SaaStr’s Jason Lemkin recently shared a key insight—and it is true for almost any business. With the wide array of sales cloud technologies available today, there is no need for companies to develop new tools themselves. Let cloud providers perfect the technology so you, the business leader, can focus on conducting business and growing the company.
  1. Forty-four percent of business leaders struggle to achieve integration across cloud products. Think beyond sales when choosing sales cloud solutions. Should your sales technologies connect with finance to support forecasting or streamline employee expense reports? How might you integrate with HR tech down the road? Solutions that can integrate across departments ― now or in the future—have the ability to boost productivity and simplify everyday tasks.
  1. Think long term. Avoid implementing point solutions. You are just applying a band-aid. While your budget or immediate needs may not require a suite of solutions, start your cloud journey with an eye to the future. Nearly 60 percent of leaders cite scalability and flexibility to support profitable growth as primary drivers of cloud adoption. Nothing can scale like technology. Physical infrastructure and hiring certainly cannot. Tech can scale rapidly while continuing to provide structure and automation, without adding additional work for IT admins or salespeople.
  1. Put the salesperson first. What do your salespeople need the most? Streamlined customer relationship management? Simple ways to forecast and track progress? Better mobile collaboration capabilities? Access to data-driven analytics and insights, via an easy-to-use dashboard? Look for the technology tools that will empower your salesforce and work for them—rather than force changes to the way they already work.
  2. Get to know your IT experts. As a small business, you may not have a CIO or CTO. An IT admin or tech savvy employee can share a wealth of knowledge and advice. Include these people in planning conversations, or look to technology providers for guidance.

Forty-nine percent of business leaders say effectively managing fast growth is the single biggest obstacle to maintaining their growth. Salespeople’s “human” skills will always contribute to their success and the company’s growth—but it’s the tools, insights, and infrastructure of cloud technology will help you manage growth, get past the tipping point, and provide the boost your company needs to continue to rapidly grow.

Educate yourself on the latest cloud options, and consider what may propel your company into its next stage of growth.