Mistakes are being made. One of the biggest is the substitution of technology for the things that produce real results. This substitution, or more accurately, the replacement of mind sets and skill sets is a factor that is causing sales results to decline—even though the intention is quite the opposite.
Some are collapsing mind set and skill set into tool kits, and in doing so, they are reversing John Boyd’s axiom, “People. Ideas. Technology. In that order.” They are putting technology first, believe that technology is the idea, that automation is what is needed. This is to confuse efficiency with effectiveness, preferring things that can be counted over what cannot, what is objective over what is subjective, mostly because it can be quantified.
- The CRM is not a replacement for the relationships that are supposed to exist between the client and the person who owns that record in the CRM.
- A list of generated leads is not a substitute for a well-defined list of target accounts, or what I call dream clients, who would perceive what you do as compelling, differentiated value. Nor is it a replacement for knowing the people inside those dream clients and nurturing them.
- A slide deck put together by marketing to provide insights is not the same as a salesperson with real business acumen and situational knowledge. That slide deck is not going to be a trusted advisor, a title that is only available to those who have both trust and advice, the proof of which is determined only by the client’s experience and opinion of working with that individual.
- The social tools are not a substitute for prospecting. If anything, they are simply a tool that provides some value above the funnel, especially as it pertains to shaping mindshare if you have the content to do so. It doesn’t replace referrals, nor does it replace the need to call your dream clients to create new opportunities.
- The web demo is not a substitute for value creation, the catch-all concept for serving the client’s needs, having an excellent sales process, or knowing what commitments your dream client needs to make. The demo may remove the barrier that is physical distance but it does nothing to remove the barriers to change.
All of these technologies are important. They all have the potential to create efficiencies. None of them, however, improve effectiveness. If there is a gap in sales performance, you are not likely to find the answer in technology. That gap is a competency issue that lives inside a salesperson or salespeople, and that gap is not going to be addressed without helping the individual or individuals improve what they do and how they do it.