Initial Thoughts from the Sales 2.0 Conference: Technology versus Productivity

By Jeff Weinberger

Today at the Sales 2.0 Conference Andy Zoltners of ZS Associates recalled a colleague who, at the height of the Web 2.0 boom, claimed that we would only need half as many sales reps in the future because technology would do much of the job.

This has turned out not to be quite as true as his colleague (and many of us) once thought. But what has turned out to be true (as has always happened with the automation of business functions) is that salespeople have become more productive through the use of technology.

This slide from Gerhard Gschwandtner’s morning keynote shows that, at these six companies below which have adopted social selling practices, spending on Sales 2.0 (including social-selling technology) ranges from $3,000 to $5,000 per sales rep.

Investment in Sales 2.0 Tools

But would your sales reps be twice as productive, doubling their revenue production, if you double the technology investment to $10,000 per rep or more?

Of course not. While it’s true that some people produce more work than others, there’s still a limited amount of work any one person can produce, and a limited number of hours in which he or she can produce it.

So how does technology break that limit? Mostly it doesn’t. The focus should be not on how to get people to do more work, but how to make the work they do more productive.

To do this, look at three main areas. I suggest in this order:

1) Are the right people doing the right work?

You can also ask whether your people’s skills are well matched to their work, or whether your highest- value people aver doing the highest-value work.

In the context of sales, make sure that people who are good at initial contact or lead development are doing those activities, and the people who are good at closing are closing. It seems obvious, but sometimes the simple act of creating teams that take care of different parts of the whole process can accelerate your process significantly.

2) Do you have a good process in place and are your people coached well?

We heard from almost every presenter today about the importance of process and coaching. Studies have put the productivity increase anywhere from 20% to 50% just from having a great process and helping your people follow it effectively.

And as with matching people to work, making sure that people are focused on getting the critical process steps right can make all the difference.

3) Do you have the right technology?

Technology can make your people much more productive, but only the right technology and only in the right amount.

Look carefully at what you can automate, where you can add direct and timely value to the execution of your process steps, and how your people actually interact with technology (including their level of comfort with various technologies).

Then choose only technologies that serve those needs. And — importantly — no more.

You’ll need to experiment to find out what works for you and your people. Don’t be afraid to try a few things, pick one that works, and then try a few more. Otherwise, you won’t really know what works best.

And don’t overdo it. Too much technology is just distracting and difficult.

If you stick to this plan, you can watch your sales reps’ productivity grow and grow.

Then, try it with marketing….

Jeff Weinberger Sales 2.0Jeff Weinberger is the founder and principal of DS3 Consulting. He helps growing companies develop sales and marketing strategies to improve customer relationships and increase renewals and repeat business.

About Lisa

Editorial Director at SellingPower.com.
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