When my children were small, they loved to celebrate New Year’s Eve with the grown-ups. Staying up late, eating delicious snacks, and watching fireworks explode–what could be better?
Sparklers, which we in Sweden call “tomtebloss”, were always a highlight of the evening. I remember fondly the glow of a child’s face in the light of that brief but spectacular personal firework.
What I remember less fondly was the aftermath. New Year’s Day was a day for eating, resting, and–cleaning up the mess of burnt-out fireworks and tomtebloss sticks.
The way sales organizations sometimes choose and implement technology reminds me of New Year’s tomtebloss. A cool new tech comes on the market. It’s inexpensive and non-intrusive. It promises a new beginning and sparkly results.
But in the end, the promised benefits have a short life and create more messes you have to clean up.
For example, this slick sales technology is frequently purchased like a tomtebloss
Many sales organizations suffer from the problem of salespeople complaining that they don’t have enough leads to work with. If only they had more leads, they would make more sales, the story goes.
Quite a few startups offer products that they pitch as a solution to this problem – subscription services that give you access to a massive database of businesses. Its search engine lets you find prospects by industry demographics, the technologies companies are using, the number of employees, and many other criteria. It provides phone numbers and contact details so salespeople can spend their time reaching out instead of digging for prospects.
The pitch for these products is slick and compelling, and it’s an easy buy for most companies. It’s non-intrusive. It’s inexpensive. It promises a lot of bang for the buck.
And, at the end of the day, it usually provides about as much benefit as a tomtebloss.
While there are exceptions, most companies purchase the technology to solve a problem without first determining the true root of that problem.
In this case, lack of leads is rarely the full root of poor sales performance, and solving it in isolation rarely leads to lasting results.
Buying a technology that provides easier access to potential leads may stop salesperson whining (temporarily), but if the real issue is lack of skills, motivation, poor process, or lack of strategy, it will only provide a temporary diversion until the real problem surfaces again.
Worse, by adding new technology without a strategic approach to the purchase, these organizations add needless complexity to their tech stack. The more technologies salespeople have to navigate in order to do their jobs, the less effective they become at sales.
In short, when the salespeople are done playing with their shiny new technology, it becomes garbage for someone else to clean up.
Buying technology to make whining go away, without seeking the deeper cause of the whining, is bad practice. Other common, bad practices:
- Buying technology because it’s cheap
- Buying technology because it’s non-intrusive
- Buying technology because it promises lots of functionality you might someday use
- Buying technology because it’s fun
How to get real sales results from your technology purchases
If you’re ready to stop chasing the brief glow of tomtebloss technologies and invest instead in sales technology that delivers results for your organization, here’s what you need:
- Solid, customer-focused strategy
- Strategy-aligned process and methodology
- Training and coaching for your salespeople and managers, aligned with the process and methodology
- Goals and KPI’s to show how effective you are and to quickly make improvements
- Investment in technologies that support and enable execution of all of the above
Many organizations approach the technology puzzle upside down, thinking that if they have the right technology in place, the strategy will take care of itself.
In reality, until you have a solid customer-focused strategy, no amount of technology (or process, or methodology, or training, or coaching) will yield lasting performance improvements.
Other organizations may invest in process and methodology without first ensuring it aligns with the customer experience they want to create and the strategy they have developed. This is a great way to make progress toward something other than what you want to make progress toward. Technology purchased to support the wrong process only contributes to the problem.
Almost every sales organization invests in training, but few align the training effectively with their strategy and process. This sets salespeople up for failure by creating a fundamental disconnect between what they learn in the classroom and what they’re expected to execute in the field.
Finally, very few sales managers coach effectively and how could they? When the foundations of strategy, process, and training are misaligned, what exactly are the coaches supposed to coach to? Once those pieces are in place, however, it’s important that the managers be trained to them and trained to coach them effectively.
When the company focuses on these three things (strategy, process, training), then the technology decision becomes much easier and clearer.
- Choose technology that enables strategy and process to be executed in the field.
- Choose technology that enables training and coaching reinforcement.
- Choose technology that enables you to continually optimize your strategy and process based on data and analytics.
These things will give you a solid foundation to drive lasting performance. Then, and only then, you might want to purchase a couple of tomtebloss to celebrate.
We had a stat at some point showing this. Do you remember where, +firstname.lastname@example.org ?
Can we link each of these to a membrain.com article on the topic? Preferably “how tos”