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Creating Crap At The Speed Of Light

by David Brock on April 13th, 2011

Before starting, I have to admit I’m a bit of a geek.  I love technology, I love leveraging the latest tools to help increase my productivity, impact, and effectiveness.  I was one of the “first kids on the block” using a PC (must have been IBM Serial Number 005) to help increase my productivity.  I started using rudimentary contact management systems in about 1989.  Recently I was surprised to learn that I was a relatively early adopter of  LinkedIn, being the 67,084 member.  I look at and adopt new technologies very quickly.  Part of it is my fascination with all things geeky, but a large part is finding ways to leverage my time and impact greatly.

I can’t imagine being a high performing sales or business professional without leveraging technology.  There are many powerful solutions being positioned under some sort of 2.0 label–Sales 2.o, Enterprise 2.0, Web2.0, etc.  They provide very powerful solutions to help us discover new things, extend our impact, and increase our productivity.

At the same time, these solutions enable us to produce “Crap” at the speed of light!  These tools allow us to do terribly stupid things, very quickly.  SPAM, used to be something that came out of a can and you ate–if you had the courage to do it.  Now SPAM consumes our in-boxes — not those malicious pieces offering the latest drugs or unclaimed riches in Nigeria—but that stuff our marketing organizations or we as sales people think is a good idea, but is really poorly thought out and even more poorly executed.  Take an email I just this moment received  from that king of Social Networking, LinkedIn.  Knowing that I am member 67084, seeing that I have a very large number of relationships, that I am very active in updating my status, participating in groups, and answering questions, I get an email:  “Learn how LinkedIn is helping So and So and 315 other of your friends!”  I click on the link see it takes me to a screen to upload my contact info to identify new “friends.”  What’s that about?

I won’t bore you with the dozens of examples I see everyday, whether it is SPAM, the prospecting call from someone that got information about me from one of the companies that scrapes names, phone numbers, and other information from dozens of sources.  I won’t give examples of the bad sales strategies I review because someone saw something on the Internet and it had to be true.  Each of us has too many examples of technology gone amuck.

The problem is less the technology or tools, but more the way we, as professionals, apply the tools.  Applied thoughtfully, they enable us to do tremendous things.  We can get information more quickly and more deeply than ever before.  We can leverage that information-wisely-to develop new insights and execute new strategies.

Just as easily, we can use these tools stupidly.  We can apply them blindly and make terrible mistakes–a couple of weeks ago, I spoke about someone contacting me for an introduction to a key executive they wanted to call on.  They had found that executive in a number of research tools.  They didn’t bother to check the company’s website, annual reports, proxy, or other information to learn that not only was the individual no longer an executive with the company, but he had died 10 years ago.  Or there are the great lead generation programs that we apply stupidly–addressing the wrong issues, with the wrong audiences, at the wrong time and through the wrong channels.

These technologies and tools are powerful, but they are just the starting point.  To have impact, we have to be thoughtful and purposeful in the way we apply them.  They are the starting point–on much of the online research, we get more than we ever had before, but it’s not necessarily true or accurate.  We have to do our due diligence to verify what we have learned.

We can leverage social media and social networking to tremendous benefit, or, as my friend Anthony Iannarino says, they can become “weapons of mass distraction.”

When we consider new technologies and tools, we have to look at them as powerful enablers, but they do not solve the problems of having no strategy, no vision, no clear expectations of how we will leverage the technology to make us more effective and impactful.  Without the underlying thoughtfulness, strategies, and processes, the tools won’t help you improve.  With that, they can accelerate your ability to improve.  When talking to vendors, realize they are only going to talk about the good side and will never talk about the misapplication of the tools–after all, they consider this user error.

Are you leveraging these tools effectively, or are you creating crap at the speed of light?

 

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5 Comments
  1. Brilliant, Dave.

    My favorite line: “The problem is less the technology or tools, but more the way we, as professionals, apply the tools.”

    We let selfish attitudes destroy (what should be) great actions.

    Staggering.

    Thanks for sharing such a candid reminder.

    Dan

    • Nicely put Dan! It’s the lack of thought fullness and selfishness that takes causes us to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory! Thanks for the insight. Regards, Dave

  2. Brian permalink

    Dave,

    Great observations and I like your succinctness.

    As business development professionals, we now have this new challenge of getting past cyber-clutter which is numbing even motivated and interested prospects as we pursue breaking into new accounts.

    I would rather send out much fewer, but finely focused intro letters using several media sources (EX:intro letter sent by mail with reference to my phone call at a specific time and date) then a shotgun approach with the hopes that I will catch someone at a weak moment and solicit a desired response. It only takes a few extra moments to complete due diligence and the extra time is almost always more effective and ultimately more productive.

    My Father-in-Law made an indelible impression upon me when he helped me build a deck 20 years ago when he said “measure twice and cut once”. There is a direct parallel to that notion that can be applied to sales prospecting and utilizing careful research that targets specific audiences which receive our communication. Note that this is applicable to both prospecting and continuing forms of follow-up with decision makers as well.

    When we consider that more often than not, just like the board which is cut too short as a result of poor measuring, it is almost impossible to make poorly executed communication effective–and thus it earns the right to be considered “Crap at the speed of light”.

    Thanks again for your comments on this subject.

    Brian

    • Brian, thanks for the nice comment—your Father In Law was absolutely right! We have so many powerful tools, but they support our processes and our ability to thoughtfully execute our strategies. They can provide great advantage when we use them in that way.

      At the same time, if we are thought-less and random in our execution of our strategies, the tools are very good at helping us produce garbage.

      I cut my “selling teeth” in the IT industry. We had a saying “Garbage In, Garbage Out” No tool can prevent sloppy or dull thinking. At best they can magnify our dullness!

      Thanks for contributing. Hope to see you commenting frequently.

  3. Brilliantly put, Dave, and we vendors must share some of the blame. There’s a tendency amongst some (ourselves included) to sometimes miss the point you’ve so eloquently made: at the end of the day it’s not how tools behave that’s important, it’s how tool behavior affects how sales people behave. The best of the bunch incite sales behaviors that create buyer value, not distracting crap. Thanks for the nudge. – John

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