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What’s A Fitbit Have To Do With Selling?

by David Brock on February 13th, 2014

I love my Fitbit!  Actually, I have several devices that measure my performance in my athletic endeavors.  Heart rate monitors for my running, computers measuring my power, speed, cadence, climbing, etc  on my bike, but my Fitbit is my go to “wearable.”

It’s always in my pocket.  I don’t have to do anything, but it’s monitoring my activity.  It counts the steps I take, though it does go crazy when I’m on my bike, it monitors the stairs I climb, hills I walk up, my sleep, my activity levels, and the calories I burn.   The Fitbit app allows me to assign goals for myself.  Currently, I have it set for 10K steps a day, 50 flights of stairs, and 60 minutes of high intensity activity a day.  It automatically sends the results to my iPhone and updates the Fitbit application on the web.  It shows me how I’m doing against the goals.

Contrary to it’s name, the Fitbit doesn’t make me more fit.  But what it does is makes me more aware.  Throughout the day, I’ll take a quick peak at the Fitbit or the app on my iPhone.  I’ll see how I’m doing against the goals, I may decide to take the next flight of stairs rather than the escalator or elevator.  Recently, in Narita, between flights, I needed to up my number of steps.  I think I drove everyone in the waiting area crazy by walking laps of the boarding lounge.

Often, the problem we have with our own performance is that we simply aren’t aware of what we are doing or not doing and connecting those actions to the outcomes they produce.  That’s why devices like my Fitbit are powerful.  Without requiring anything from me, it increases my awareness and monitors my performance against goals.  Once I know how I’m performing, I can take actions, change my performance to achieve my goals.

We’re seeing more of these kinds of capabilities in the technologies we leverage in sales and marketing.  CRM systems provide some capability.  As long as I keep my CRM system updated, I can see where I’m at on my weekly prospecting goals, I can look at my pipeline, seeing if it’s healthy or not, taking action to correct what I’m doing.  So CRM provides some very simple tools that increase my awareness of how I performing, enabling me to improve my performance and ability to meet my goals.

There are other tools that help us look at things like email performance, who opens which emails, who clicks through, and so forth.  They allow me to think about my email strategies and take action to improve the results I get from my email marketing.

We’re starting to see more capability in this area, systems which require us to do nothing, but monitor various aspects of our performance as sales people—responsiveness to certain kinds of messages, patterns in our communications and the outcomes they produce.  They don’t make us better sales people directly, but they make us much more aware of what we are doing.  They make us more aware of what’s working and not working.   That awareness enables us to take action to improve our performance.  Integrated into things like CRM systems, they enable our managers to become more aware, helping them better coach us on our blind spots.

Often, the problem that we have about our performance is that we are simply unconscious of what we are doing and how they impact our outcomes.  We are so focused on execution, that we don’t track critical things about what we are doing and the outcomes they produce.  So we aren’t aware of what works best and what doesn’t.  Or we don’t see the patterns.  Managers are supposed to help use with this by observing our what we are doing and coaching us.  But they aren’t around everyday.  They aren’t “counting the steps, the stairs,” and reporting back to us.

I think this is an exciting direction in new sales and marketing tools.  Most of us want to perform better, having the information that makes us more aware of what we are doing and the outcomes it produces, enables us to make corrections.

Until recently, I didn’t know what this was called, but Joe Galvin of the Miller Heiman Research Institute helped me understand.  He’s calling it Auto-Analytics.  There’s some interesting work being done in this area.  John Cousineau of Amacus has been evangelizing this for years.  Joe provided me some links on articles about this:   http://amacus.net/blog/2014/01/the-value-of-auto-analytics-in-improving-b2b-sales-productivity/, http://www1.smmconnect.com/welcome/Dave_Stein_Joe_Galvin_Feb6, http://customerthink.com/the-value-of-auto-analytics-in-improving-b2b-sales-productivity/#comment-21312

If you are a sales person, there are simple tools you can already use to help make you aware of your performance.  CRM is the most basic–use it to help keep you on track with the goals you set.  There are some email tracking systems that help you monitor email performance.  Even a simple Excel tally sheet can help you (though it isn’t passive reporting).

If you are an entrepreneur or developing tools to help sales an marketing people, think about how you can passively track what sales and marketing people are doing, helping make them more aware of their activities and the outcomes they produce.  Think of building Fitbit’s for Sales and Marketing!

Just as wearables are hot right now, Auto-Analytics will be hot in helping sales and marketing professionals perform at the top of their game!

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7 Comments
  1. Dave: thanks for your take on the value of using auto-analytics to drive better sales performance. Couple of things.

    First, as humans we’re remarkably capable of over-estimating how good things are going. A game I like to play with myself is guess how many steps I’ve taken today [I’m not as fit as you, nor as religious about butting in the daily exercise to be more fit]. It can be sobering to realize how far I am, some days, from my goal of 10,000 steps per day. By merely checking, I’ve prodded myself to do more of what I need to do to achieve my own goal. This kind of feedback’s important in developing better habits.

    Second, with the issue of being healthy from being active, the cause-effect connection between acttvities and outcomes is clear. More steps per day = higher odds of losing weight], In sales performance the cause-effect connections between what I’m doing and how it’ll affect my outcomes are, in most firms, much fuzzier. it’s in clarifying this that, in my opinion, auto-analytics hold their greater promise; by helping sales reps become more self-aware of how what they’re doing is affecting the results they’re seeing.

    Trust this adds some value. – John

    • Thanks for adding to this post John! Too often, we do activities because they keep us busy rather than being purposeful. Without understanding how our actions today, produce outcomes tomorrow–and are those the right outcomes, we can truly maximize our performance. The work you and others are doing provide a great complement to managers by helping people become more aware of how their actions tie to the desired outcomes. Thanks for the comment and for the outstanding leadership!

  2. Brian MacIver permalink

    I think, that you, John and Dave, are two of the most interesting people in Sales,
    and are driving the Next Big Thing:
    Sales Auto-Analytics.

    This is true Sales Thought Leadership.

    @John, although you suggest ‘more steps less weight’,
    this is only true with the right diet! And, in Sales we have a host of dysfunctional ‘diets’. The more you do the less you sell, akin to the more you step, the fatter you get!

    The beauty of Auto-Analytics is with a Sales Coach, like a nutritionist you get on the right path, and can stay on it!

    Keep up this great work!

    • Brian, thanks for the comment. I’m a little uncomfortable with the term Auto-Analytics. In some sense, many of our current dashboards, used properly, provide that function.

      However, there are some important new solutions, like Amicus from John, that are taking the concepts much further than we have ever thought about. So having the concept of Auto Analytics is very helpful in identifying the solutions and in helping us be more thoughtful about these concepts. Thanks for the comment, as always.

  3. Great post, love the comparison of Fitbit and keeping track of your sales performance.

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