There is no doubt that we have more tools to choose from in sales than ever. Making things more interesting are the number of tools and apps available to buyers, and the direct impact that has had on sellers and their craft. One can argue that the gains available to buyers have more than negated any advantages sellers gained with their adoption of technologies, leaving sellers no further ahead. Witness the dreadful stats around the number of people in sales making quota, and the even sadder state of affairs when it comes to saas reps and quota.
Technology has definitely stream lined some sales processes, and has automated many tasks that unnecessarily consumed sellers time and energy. One would think as a result sales productivity would have gained., but clearly not the case. While we can talk about how and why there has been no or little gain in productivity, the bottom line remains that while we do things “more efficiently”, do them “faster”, and have greater visibility than ever into what is happening; just one thing, there is not that much more happening than before.
Many of the apps have ended up doing things that many reps just refuse to do, even when they have to be done to succeed, or menial tasks, that expensive professional resource are too valuable to have do. But this concept only works if the freed up time and resources are reapplied to higher value activities which they are not.
Where apps and even social selling cannot help you with is that last inch, that moment where buyer and seller engage, that human to human connection. In case of commodity sales, be that consumables, toner, nails, IT components, and more, where developments in IoT and other areas, make it easy, in fact more efficient for buyers to leverage tech and apps to keep things humming. The Amazon Dash Button, will quickly eliminate “sales people” (Well, order takers, social, but no longer required). This is why it is not surprising that Forrester forecasts 1 million US B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce by 2020, accounting for 20% of the B2B sales force. Fear not, because someone still has to sell that first button, and for that they’ll need a sales person.
Don’t get me wrong, automation is key, but in most instances, it just levels the playing field, any advantage you are going to have will still come down to how you sell, not how you automate. For example, I have a client who was able to triple the number of outbound dials by introducing a power dialer, and as a result doubled the number of conversations, and number of conversions to opportunities. Impressive, but nothing their competitors couldn’t replicate with a similar number of dollars. The real pay-off was in the investment in the last inch, how his reps handled the call to actually increase the percentage of conversions. This led to a 30% increase in conversions, leading to a combined impact of 200% increase in engaged opportunities.
Ah, the human factor, there is no app for that.