In Norman Juster’s classic, The Phantom Tollbooth, many of the book’s characters obsess about measuring things. Words, colors, sounds, and numbers are just things to be sorted and classified. Real life is askew—lacking both Rhyme and Reason.
Sales is in that position today. More specifically: sales enablement. Measuring detailed performance indicators has become an obsession, and technology for doing that is on the rise. Valued at $600 million in 2015, the sales enablement software industry was considered undervalued. In a 2015 Marketwired post, Doug Winter, the co-founder and CEO of sales enablement software firm Seismic, said, “only around ten percent is currently being realized.”
He went on to say, “In today’s fast-moving, mobile-first world, sales and marketing teams need an effective and efficient [emphasis added] way to manage, create and deliver content wherever they are.” Since then, the market has responded with many, MANY SaaS-based sales enablement products. The majority focus on solving efficiency problems. It’s all about QUANTITY and SPEED: more calls, faster, more reports, more details—measure, measure, measure!
The missing piece is effectiveness—the QUALITY of the results.
Efficient or Effective?
For sales enablement systems, it’s safe to say that efficiency enabling-tools are pretty much maxed out. Now it’s time to focus on EFFECTIVENESS. If you aren’t being effective, adding more “dials” is a waste of time. Let’s take a look:
If you have a conversion rate of .05 (effectiveness) and in an average day call 100 people (efficiency) = 5 appointments a day (result). Most sales enablement tools focus on upping the amount of calls. So if a rep can make 200 calls a day with the same conversion rate, you can up that to 10 appointments a day. But does that work in the real world? More volume is awesome, but is it sustainable. If the calls themselves are ineffective—or worse, unengaging and uninspired because the rep is making so many of them—that will hurt in the long run.
What we need to focus on is effectiveness. For the same amount of work, the same amount of effort, you can increase your result by focusing on doing the RIGHT work. In our example, upping conversion rate to .2 for the same number of people (100) would mean 20 appointments a day. No added effort! Just a better, more effective effort!
That’s why tools like Viddler and the Viddler Practice Workflow are more in line with enabling sales. It teaches and reinforces on a qualitative level—whether it’s a customer service associate handling an irate client or a sales person being able to articulate why their company’s pricing is 50% higher than the competition.
Soft skills are things to practice and make more effective. Doing them more often but incorrectly only reinforces bad behavior. For example, it takes practice to be able to handle a prospect interrupting you during a presentation—to ask about how your product works. That skill doesn’t develop overnight. You have to script out a response, and practice it over and over (like Michael Jordan practiced free throws) until it is internalized, and you’re able to perform and respond under pressure.
Only a tool with the right workflow, including coaching and feedback, will allow you to improve at human interaction. Just having access to data or reports or communication history will only make sure you’re speaking to the right person. It doesn’t prepare you to handle the human element of the sales process.
Remember, Practice Builds Confidence. Practicing the right moves will enable you to effectively perform under pressure.