“Everything is hard before it is easy,” Goethe said. Considering his substantial contributions to literature, philosophy, science and politics, Goethe knew a bit about pushing through difficulty to achieve greatness. Today, Goethe’s maxim often gets used as a motivator in business. But the truth is, in sales, a lot of things are hard. Generating leads. Finding the time to process leads once you identify them. Connecting with decision makers. Finding the information you need when you need it. So how do you actually make it easier?

1. Go Beyond CRM

Most businesses rely on the extraction of historical data to gain a view of the customer and the industry. Extracting this data from customized enterprise systems and delivering it to users via mobile devices is an expensive proposition requiring custom integration and mobile app development that can take months and cost millions of dollars. And it’s only marginally useful in predicting future trends. Spend more time looking forward. Mine social media and news for insights and trends that help determine when and how to connect with prospects.

2. Spend More Time Selling

Sounds obvious, but the fact is most sales reps spend only 35% of their time actively selling. B2B sales reps and executives in customer-facing roles spend 65% of their time on emails, updating CRM systems, scheduling meetings and researching customers and industries for information to use in their prospecting activities, sales pitches or preparing for meetings.

3. Embrace Technology

Work is no longer defined by 9 to 5. The office is anywhere. Information is instant. Business as usual no longer exists. The world of B2B sales is increasingly becoming more like B2C with the consumerization of enterprise applications. B2B companies are utilizing more customer touchpoints to create a consistent voice and create a seamless customer experience. Smart B2B companies are also adopting mobile applications as tools for market intelligence, order entry and tracking. Those who embrace the change will make their jobs simpler, their customers happier, and they’ll have more time to put toward the stuff that matters (see item 2).

4. Don’t Make It All About You

Your customers are people who want to be inspired, entertained, and informed. Think about every engagement with your customer as a chance to build a better relationship. Approach your interactions by looking for ways to help your customer. Ask questions. Provide solutions. Solve your customer’s problem and you’ve made the sale. The best sales people know their customers are more than numbers in their quota.