Is Technology Hurting You More Than It's Helping?
Updated: Feb 17, 2020
Before I begin, let me say that I have a particular fascination and love toward all things “tech”. I started and grew my early career in telecommunications, and most of my career has been working for or with leading technology organizations and organizations that creatively implement technology into their practice. I love new “geeky” tech products and am usually the first of my peers to purchase them. Technology: I dig it.
I tell you this because of what I’m about to tell you next: that most sales technology you’re using today -- sales “stacks” as we often call them -- is hurting you more than it’s helping you.
Technology, as a replacement for things that technology can do far better than people, is powerful. By all means, exploit technology for order taking, chatbots, fulfillment, and transactional selling processes. There’s no argument that such technology reduces time and overall cost.
But now let’s look at the application of technologies to complex buying/selling processes. It offers huge promise, and, sometimes, it even works. Implemented correctly, such technology enables us to more quickly and more deeply research markets, customers, and individuals. We can leverage technologies to recognize patterns in markets, organizations, and functions within organizations. I get daily alerts that enable me to more accurately reach out and engage the right customers, with the right insight/messages, at the right time. Within our own company and a small number of our clients, we have seen technology enable huge results and dramatically improve productivity.
Unfortunately, most of the applications of technology I see are actually hurting organizations’ ability to drive sales and revenue. It’s not necessarily the fault of the tool, but how it’s being exploited–or not exploited.
Consider marketing automation platforms. They’ve been around a long time, and they provide us a great opportunity to segment, target, and personalize our messaging. Unfortunately, very few organizations use this technology very well. It’s very easy to send everything to everyone, and most organizations do. If you don’t believe me, check your junk folder. My guess is that you have multiple emails from the same sales enablement platform selling you multiple things with no applicability to your business. We see data supporting this. Email opens; click-throughs, forwards, etc. are plummeting. Companies create volumes of electronic garbage in an attempt to get a response and instead wind up in spam folders or blocked completely.
The same is true for power dialers and related technologies. Designed to help us actually reach customers and talk to people, we’ve instead managed to train prospects and customers not to pick up the phone. Tell me the truth: Do you answer the phone from a phone number you don’t recognize?
The problem with poor selection and implementation of technology is that it has the opposite effect of what we are trying to do: Instead of helping us reach and engage customers, we’re driving them away. Instead of using technology as a tool, we’re using it as a crutch, giving up the ability to think critically, listen, and engage in deep conversations. Considering how distracted it all makes us, it’s time for a new approach.
Again, I’m a big fan of technology, so don’t mistake my criticism for how we select and implement it as an argument to rid ourselves of it. It’s just time to get smart about technology.
And, here’s the good news: Getting smart about technology is going to simplify your life. You likely don't need a ton of stuff, so say goodbye to the constant distractions, training, and implementation lessons on multiple sales tools.
First, when selecting a sales tool, make sure it meets the following criteria:
It helps salespeople follow their sales process.
It helps salespeople stay organized in their efforts to close business.
It provides sales leadership with important, real-time data.
It provides insight and visualization into the sales pipeline.
It gives salespeople more time to sell and less time doing paperwork.
It makes salespeople more efficient.
Next, be very honest about what will actually help you accomplish your sales goals. In working with clients, I often find that the following 4 tools are all they need initially:
A CRM that makes sense for your organization (hint: It isn’t necessarily Salesforce).
An e-signature application for getting agreements signed
A calendar scheduling application to avoid sending emails back and forth when trying to schedule meetings.
Really, that’s it. These 4 tools will help salespeople be more efficient, more effective and more focused. They all meet the criteria above. They can be implemented fairly seamlessly. Down the road, there might be space for more, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Remember, tools for tools’ sake won’t help you. They may actually harm you. Technology is a powerful force in sales, but you must choose and implement it carefully. In the end, it cannot replace the work of live, talented, well-qualified salespeople who develop relationships, ask good questions, and truly listen to prospects, so never select technology thinking you can use it in that manner.
For assistance in selecting technology that will truly and positively impact your sales numbers, give us a call.