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Doing Less With More!

by David Brock on April 23rd, 2017

It’s become trite to say “sales has changed more in the past 5 years than in all preceding history.”  Indulge me with leveraging this trite phrase.  Usually, I look at these issues from the customer point of view, knowing that much of what has changed about sales has been a result of the changing buyers.  Permit me to look internally only, let’s look within our own organizations and within our profession.

Let’s look at some of the things that have happened:

Content is king:  Billions are invested in content development–much focused directly on customers, creating awareness, driving interest, creating demand, hopefully driving leads.

Beyond just content, marketing invests billions in other areas, all focused on helping create more customers and supporting sales through the entire buying cycle.

In the past 5 years, thousands of sales and marketing automation tools have hit the market, with thousands more every year.  All these tools are intended to “help” sales people become more efficient, more productive, more knowledgeable, better prepared, more impactful.

Training has skyrocketed.  Training in all forms, workshops, seminars, eLearning, webcasts, podcasts.  It’s available where ever we turn.  Where affordability might have been a barrier in the past, much is free or near free.

Information and data available to sales people keeps growing.  We can research each company, each individual understanding them in ways we have never been able to do in the past.  We can “stalk” them through the digital world, develop relationships with them.  We have analytic tools giving us insights on buying behaviors, propensity to buy, and all sorts of things–all focused on helping us talk to the right customer, at the right time, about the things most relevant to them.

We have new business models in sales, rather than having to be masters of everything, specialization reigns.  There are prospectors, qualifiers, demoers, account managers, closers, product line specialist, value engineering specialists, support teams and resources—and of course all the tools and technologies enabling us to collaborate and communicate with everyone.

And then there are the thousands of blogs, articles, books, videos, podcasts all helping us be better, more productive and more efficient.  You can attend conferences focused on every aspect of marketing and selling every week.

Yet, virtually every study shows sales performance flat to declining.  The number of people making goal is horrible.  While I haven’t seen research data, in our own consulting practice, we see skyrocketing CPOD (or the equivalent), declining overall productivity.

Time available for selling, voluntary attrition, employee satisfaction, absenteeism, and other indicators — all going in the wrong direction.

We see more data and articles focused on things like seller distraction (from all this help we are giving), cognitive overload (it’s a brain thing—Google it).

Somehow in a world of abundance of tools, information, training, content, data  we are accomplishing less.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink things.  Perhaps rather than more, we should be simplifying, focusing on the few things that are most critical, excelling in executing those.

Perhaps we should think of how we might to more with less, rather than the inverse.

 

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4 Comments
  1. Martin Schmalenbach permalink

    I wonder what impact local & global economies have on this data?

    I take your point though Dave.

    We’ve been in discussions with CRM vendors for ages. They try to sell on reduced costs. We are incredibly well run, and whilst we wouldn’t say no to reduced costs, we are actually focused on increased and profitable revenue.

    No tool by itself can bring that…

    They can help, I get it.

    I wonder if in all this spending on sales enablement etc, those buyers/users forgot one thing – their culture – that of the sales organization…?

    Clients may have changed, client cultures have, especially since the financial crash. Sales cultures… maybe not so much.

    Are sales people still incentivized largely as before? Is no real time given to adopting & practicing new behaviours? Is no true importance model by leaders for all this change? Are sales managers still being super sales people? Are sales people, marketers & collateral still largely about the vendor & its products?

    • Martin, sorry for the slow response. Undoubtedly, there are some economic and market impacts on the data, but we see similar issues across many industries, markets, and regions.

      I think are on parallel paths in our thinking. Too often, many of the enablement technologies and approaches seem to ignore the culture, processes, and what works in the organization where they should be complementing and amplifying the best practices of the organization.

  2. Really interesting article David. Agree that is trite to say “sales has changed more in the past 5 years than in all preceding history”. This is one of those completely untrue statements that becomes part of the popular lexicon. Yes, selling is changing (as is marketing) but the fact that these changes are not adding to sales productivity is not all that surprising.

    As you suggest, the volume of new tools, training, content, data, etc. is adding to the complexity of the selling mission, and prospects are finding ways to avoid our best efforts. The best way to address this is not to find ways to sell better but rather to find ways to help people buy more easily.

    • Great points Christopher. The other day I was being interviewed, I was asked to comment on how much selling has changed. My response was, “Buying has changed profoundly, unfortunately selling hasn’t changed or kept pace with the change in buying.” Despite all the new tools, we are still making the same mistakes, only at higher volumes and velocities.

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