Getting Somewhere – Interactive Sales Automation As Your GPS

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Since it was Teacher’s Day in Brazil last Wednesday, I turn to a discussion that I recently had with students in my classroom about comparing the methods and sales models implemented in sales force automation with GPS applications.

While the GPS takes us from where we are to a certain destination we want to reach, sales automation supports the sales professional as he moves through the sales cycle trying to reach a successful conclusion. In both cases we can reach the destination in several ways.

Some are shorter, but jammed. Others longer but less congested. How do you decide the best way?

Sales professionals use many diverse interactions to take the opportunity from beginning to end. Some of them are more direct and objective, focusing on opportunities and business, while others are more subjective and focused on the relationship. There are certainly many ways and many paths to achieve success, some efficient, others scenic. So how to find out the best way in every case?

To solve the driver’s problem there are GPS navigators. Enter your destination and it guides you over a pre-determined route. For salespeople, sales force automation applications guide you through the sales cycle. Both navigators and applications need to be based on a clear and effective method, as well as reliable and adequate maps or sales processes. Without these, we wouldn’t get anywhere.

What’s the secret to being a great GPS instead of a good GPS? The method that it uses to find the best way. Likewise, a great sales force automation uses better methods than just the good ones.

Let’s look at Google Maps. It’s a good application, isn’t it? Quite accurate and complete, but unfortunately it doesn’t use real-time traffic feedback to find the best route. It is static and does not react to changes in road conditions such as accidents or construction and other disruptions.

The same can be said of traditional sales models like Solution Selling and similar stage-based sales models. They use static processes, step 1 then step 2, etc. They assume certain premises without being flexible enough to “understand” the sales environment and to alter the paths or processes when there are significant changes that may affect the course of business.

On the other hand, there is Waze, a very successful GPS navigator. Why? It is interactive, it considers current traffic conditions and generates routes that avoid congestion. Moreover, it is capable of changing a route in progress due to an accident or any other problem. It is dynamic and takes into account what happens in the environment in real time.

So should the sales models and processes that support sales automation and guide the user accurately. They must be dynamic, interactive, and able to read the changing sales environment, providing information and indicators to the salesperson that allow him to make the best decision and follow the path of least risk to be successful in their business.

When you use the GPS, which one do you prefer?  The static, that does not interact with the environment, or the one that is dynamic, flexible, identifies disturbances and guarantees you the best alternative?

Think about that when you take the next steps in sales automation. After all, the concepts are very similar.

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