Earlier this week I posted about the how your sales stack stacks up, (couldn’t resist) How Productive Is Your Sales Stack? Exploring how many companies and sales leaders are actually contributing to their team’s’ lack of success by overloading them with “sales tools”, the “Stack”. While many are sold, and think they are buying “productivity tools”, they are in fact hindering productivity, revenue success and growth. While I have had some interesting feedback, the question comes up as to why this is, and why these folks would continue to invest in things clearly working against them.
To be clear, that is not an opinion, but supported by the data. Which interesting since many of these buyer, and certainly all the people who sell these tools point to data, but as with many things, leveraging data for success is a subjective exercise, allowing people to ignore those data points that don’t support their current opinion. Sorry to confuse the issue with facts.
While on the one hand there is no argument that sales have changed, especially when it comes to tools available for both sellers and buyers, but the motivation for buying those tools is fairly established. Sales leaders are looking productivity, more output from the same inputs, or same outputs with less resources. In the past when VP’s of sales needed more output, their rallying cry was “I need more headcount”, they would employ some Voodoo Economics, and voilà, come up with rationale for additional headcount. These days, they throw technology at it instead. Vendors are happy to supply the case studies, ROI calculators, white papers, and all the rationale one needs to at that next app to their stack.
As they add things, they add complexity, complexity as presented Monday, impacts productivity negatively. What I have seen is that all too often, there is little adjustment to the sales process to integrate the efficiencies captured, it is not reflected in the work-flow or the execution path. It is a cycle that repeats itself again and again. This leads to the decision to add something else to the stack, that final missing magical piece that will change everything.
Going a bit deeper and further, the question remains, why do they need these additional tools, well, the most frequently reason, stated or not, is that their people won’t do things that need to be done if you are going to succeed in sales. No saying they can’t, many can, they won’t and don’t do specific things that are crucial to consistent execution and success. So the easiest thing to do is automate, get some technology that will do it instead. Good plan, clearly not working though.
Some things, like say dialers (sorry accelerators), make sense, but one I saw recently prompted sellers to offer the buyer other SKU’s that other similar buyers have bought with similar orders. Implementing this app, requires integration, new approvals, approval process, etc. Seems to me if McDonald’s can train their counter clerks to if you want fries with that shake, how hard should it be for your team to do that without an app?
In a day where everyone is talking relationships, the importance of people buy from people, and everything that goes with that, the obvious solution to get more sales and reduce complexity, and improve productivity is to invest in the human side of the equation.
Please don’t take this as being against automation, I love it, use it, and live off it. But automation for automation sake, or strictly as a fashion statement clearly does not add to productivity. The sales productivity Holy Grail will continue to elude those who focus on one side of the equation while ignoring the other. Just as in the old days adding body count without proper development, process adjustment, and the right tools did not lead to productivity gains. Nor will adding more and more technology while ignoring its impact on the balance of things, and the ability to of your team to execute. Next time instead of adding more technology, add more development for your sellers, have them sell not just babysit your stack. This will allow those comparing stacks now, to compare results in the future.