Sales productivity tools have exploded along with technology over the past decade and a half.
But metric leader CSO Insights reports that productivity in selling has actually gone down: 1 on 1 selling time has dropped from 47% in 1998 to 37% as of 2013.
The Damaging Truth About Sales Productivity Tools
John Fakatselis of Accent Technologies has written a damning article on the unproductivity of sales productivity tools. They do more bad than good.
Earlier this year we looked at the CSO Insights Report on the state of selling. Their research confirmed the things I have known and been saying for a long time: that salespeople do not know how to prospect or qualify effectively.
Fakatselis argues this is because salespeople are distracted by and torn in two directions by so-called sales productivity tools. First, he shares Telesmart's findings that 80% of a rep's time is spent on non-revenue generating activities, because the salesperson doesn't know how to find and identify good prospects. Second, the salespeople seem forced to choose between spending the extra time to develop a one-of-a-kind, personalized presentation for each individual prospect OR getting a canned presentation in front of more prospects. Either they strive for winning, precise content or ditch that in exchange for reaching more potential customers.
John's description of what happens next is very accurate: in the salesperson's attempt to integrate technology and tools, wasted time rapidly accumulates and overwhelms the chances to uncover new prospects. The pipeline either gets clogged with unaddressed opportunities, some of whom leave to find a sales team that "has their stuff together", or sit waiting for a customized presentation...or dries up due to lack of prospecting activity.
So instead of reaching prospects, salespeople are afraid of change, struggling to use technology, and distracted by so-called sales productivity tools. Even if they try to adopt the technology, their sales process becomes murky with the attempt to integrate it.
Can We Still Use Sales Productivity Tools?
Fakatselis' solution is sensible. But it has a "black box" in the middle.
Turn down the technology. Okay, we get that.
Put personalization on autopilot. Here's the black box. John is suggesting an "all-inclusive solution" here; perhaps his own? This part of his article needs more details on what he means. Right now I can't see any way to personalize presentations other than for it to take time. Perhaps this burden of actually creating the material should be taken off the salesperson and given to a marketer? Interviews and ongoing discussion can transfer the knowledge and ensure the presentation content remains on target.
And then an admonishment to keep the pipeline in mind, always. Makes sense. If you're not filling the pipeline and processing prospects through the steps, you aren't prospecting or qualifying. The very two things I said, and the statistics confirm again and again, salespeople are bad at.
The takeaway here is to notice the fact that the latest whiz-bang app or software is NOT likely to help you in selling. When it comes to results, sales productivity tools are unproductive!
Incidentally, I keep technology to an absolute minimum when it comes to my sales process. I'm not at all interested in fighting technology, so I use a simple spreadsheet with some basic conditional formatting as my CRM, together with Google Calendar. I have Timetrade for booking appointments, but don't use it that often; it's typically for people who buy while I sleep and haven't spoken directly with me yet. I wouldn't miss it if it disappeared. I don't waste a lot of time on presentations; my qualifying does nearly all of that work. Fact is, you don't need all those expenses for shiny tools. They probably aren't making a difference for you anyway--and may even be hurting your business.
>> Jason Kanigan is a sales force developer. What productivity apps are you using? Have they had an effect on your sales? Tell us below in the Comments! Also, if this was helpful to you, please Like or Share! And if you're struggling in sales, get the FREE Sales Effectiveness Report. <<
There are tools that combine productivity and sales force automation, both free (Bitrix24) and paid (Salesforce Chatter). They certainly save a lot of time.