I recently attended a professional, well-staged sales conference with the theme of "Sales 2.0". The 2.0 in the title referred to the impact that technology was having on the way we sell in today’s economy.
The conference was well attended and featured engaging presentations by cutting edge providers of sales automation programs and sales enablement gurus . From the perspective of some of the presenters you could come away thinking that the sales teams working with the coolest CRM associated with the most applications would be the clear winner in the quest for sales growth in 2015 and beyond.
When prestigious well known research firms such as Gartner Inc. and Meta Group, Inc. state that historically anywhere from 50% to 80% of CRM installations fail you have to wonder, where is the disconnect? What am I missing?
Mark Twain once said “there are three kinds of lies, damn lies, outrageous lies, and statistics”. You should take the negative CRM statistics with a grain of salt because I truly believe CRM is an invaluable tool and there is no question that knowledge is power in sales the same as it is anywhere else.
That being said I don’t believe that the sales force that wins the most is automatically the sales force that is the most technology enabled.
The sales force that wins will ALWAYS be the sales force that is the most accountable to the right behaviors required to deliver the desired results. CRM is unquestionably a powerful tool in that quest.
The selling profession is and always has been rooted in A) the ability to build solid business relationships, B) the ability to deeply understand customer needs, and C) a well developed process to present and close on solutions aligned with those needs. How we apply those 3 skills has certainly evolved and there is absolutely no doubt that the seller’s role has changed.
Success now requires a higher requisite level of general business capability in addition to sales skills but that doesn’t diminish the importance of A, B, and C, as listed above. One of the most popular sales books of the recent past is The Challenger Sale which presents a “new” model for the ultimate sales professional.
I truly enjoyed the book but at the end of the day “new” wasn’t really much more than the "A, B, C" described above, a willingness to push back on the customer, and the higher level of business skill I previously referenced.
By all means invest in a Cloud based CRM solution that is fully optimized with the latest applications for pipeline management, competitive intelligence, social media, etc. Don’t hesitate to give everyone who works for you a smart phone, tablet device, and the latest slim line laptop.
Sales 2.0 can definitely have a positive impact on your business just don’t forget to develop the fundamental sales skills of your team as well. At the end of the day the best and fastest data in the world doesn’t mean a thing until someone leverages it to gain new business.