The cult of sales efficiency worships at the altar of more, faster, and automation—the Gods they worship. They believe that success comes from being efficient. To pursue the cult’s objectives, the members use tools and technologies to improve their productivity.
The cult of sales efficiency promises that you can sell more by using technology to save time. Any member will show you how they use their tools to achieve some important outcome. In recent days, the cult leaders have demonstrated how to use AI to find a personal detail about a contact and use it to “personalize” cold outreach. From there, they automated a sequence.
Cold Email as the Height of Efficiency
Today, across the Earth we will send 347 billion emails to 4.73 billion people. Around 45 percent of these emails will be spam. Efficiency aims to use automation to send more emails faster—just what the world needs.
One thing you can count on when studying a cult is that they strongly believe something that isn’t true. They cannot understand why you can’t see what they see. In the case of the cult of sales efficiency, they believe that sending emails that arrive in the right inbox is efficient. They don’t look past that to see how their efforts drive their sales performance, Instead, they see their increased output as the goal.
Efficiency means achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. If the outcome is delivering emails, this approach is highly efficient. But if the outcome is getting the right contacts to read or respond to the email, then this approach is inefficient.
How to Prevent Becoming an Expert or Authority
One cult member shared that he is using ChatGPT to research his prospective targets. He uses several prompts to capture information about the company and its competitors. He is proud of his prompts and shares them with other cult members.
ChatGPT did the research. The salesperson did not do the research. He has information, but because he didn’t do the reading himself, his knowledge is limited. He is unlikely to retain what GPT provided him, and he certainly missed out on understanding the target company’s full business context, something true research can provide.
Shallow research is tied to a lack of curiosity and understanding of the company, their industry, and the headwinds and tailwinds that could cause a client to change. When the cult of sales efficiency uses AI to research clients, their information is shallow and fleeting. If the salesperson did manage to schedule a first meeting with a contact, they won’t know enough to engage in deep discovery or impress the prospective client.
The future of B2B sales will be one of haves and have nots. A salesperson can either be an expert and an authority that can guide their contacts and help them with an important decision, or they can be a peddler struggling to sell a solution.
Outsourcing your research to an algorithm is like buying a robot to lift weights while you stand by and watch. It does not strengthen your skills or prepare you for the sales conversation. When you sit across from buyers and decision-makers, you will not be able to rely on AI to handle the conversation for you.
The Cult of Human Effectiveness
I must confess that I am a member of a cult. I belong to the cult of human effectiveness. Our cult is not concerned with more, faster, and automation. Instead, we value less, slower, and by hand.
In sales, working with a small, carefully selected set of targets is more effective than dropping thousands of emails into an automated sequence to spam already overwhelmed contacts. It’s false that more and faster is better.
One reason it’s important to slow down is that you can go no faster than your contacts without risking a deal. In a time when buyers are distracted and give salespeople too little time, going faster can alienate contacts and encourage them to withdraw. Working at a slower speed can get you through the sales process more quickly. Fast is slow, and slow is fast. You want as much of your contacts’ time as possible. You are investing in a relationship that will serve you and them for many years, so give your conversation with them the time it deserves.
Another problem with the cult of sales efficiency is that they fail to recognize how easy it is to tell that ChatGPT wrote their email. When you outsource your email to automation and send the same message to thousands of people, it’s clear that you consider the relationship a transaction. The more you do “by hand,” the more it feels authentic and personal—because it is.
Buyers and decision-makers complain that salespeople know too little about their company and their industry. They also gripe about salespeople’s lack of business acumen. One way to avoid creating value for your clients is to do your own research and own it.
The definition of effectiveness is “the degree to which something is successful in producing the desired result.” The definition of efficiency doesn’t include the word “success.” If what you do doesn’t produce the desired result, it is inefficient and wasteful.
See also: Success is Individual
The Problem of Cheating Nature
You can’t cheat nature. You can only cheat yourself. Most people are aware that bots and other automation send cold emails. Many of these messages are delivered to a spam folder, which typically captures the definition of waste. If an automated message makes it into a contact’s inbox, it is likely ignored and deleted. If you want someone’s attention, email may not be the best use of your time and energy.
When humans need help, they engage with other humans, especially someone who has the knowledge and experience they lack. This requires a relationship that can develop over time. The cult of sales efficiency prefers transactional approaches over building relationships, something their choices project.
The cult of sales efficiency looks for hacks and cheat codes, avoiding the work that would improve their effectiveness. The cult of sales effectiveness knows that better results come from doing the work to become more effective. While this may seem inefficient, the time and results prove that this approach helps salespeople close more deals with less effort.
Wasted Time and the Cult of Efficiency
If you were to ask a recovering productivity guru about wasted time, they might tell you that all the hacks and software take more time and effort to maintain. If they are honest, they might say that the goals and processes of productivity and efficiency are wastes of time. They encourage salespeople to focus their energy on the wrong thing, specifically how to send more emails instead of how to build meaningful relationships with contacts. Ultimately, a dogmatic focus on efficiency is ineffective.
You can spend a lot of time and energy trying to produce results and avoiding the important work. Much of the time, failing to do the work causes ineffectiveness. Do the work, learn from it, and work to increase effectiveness without trying to cheat nature.