Yesterday I was on a call with a client of ours, who is one of our C-level executive champions. He received a call from a sales leader from one of their divisions and asked an interesting question. He said:
“We’re having issues with sales pipeline right now. Our sales force is getting younger and younger, and they just don’t want to pick up the phone. I see that Salesforce.com (our CRM) has really been exploding with apps in their AppExchange. Is there an app that can help?”
My champion, a baby-boomer 30-year executive who has been a CEO and CRO at multiple global companies – was on a video call when telling me this story. He actually rubbed his face with exacerbation and couldn’t believe what he had heard. You could see both frustration and humor in his face. I didn’t know if he was going to laugh or explode.
You’re probably laughing in silence at this story, but you know there is a dash of truth and irony in this story. Yes, global salesforces are getting younger, and their communication media and methods are different than my generation (I’m a GenX born in 1978 who didn’t have my first cell phone until I was 25!). But, there’s no app for pipeline creation—just like there is no app to shovel your driveway. Yes there are tools (apps are tools) to potentially accelerate the shovelling process, but input of action = output of results. You can look out the window all you want in a snowstorm and wish the snow away, but nothing is getting rid of that snow unless you take action.
Apps, and all sales acceleration tools, are tools. You even hear marines in the military call their rifles “tools”, because they accelerate a process, not the process itself. There is a great new sales tool evaluation company called Vendor Neutral that reviews all of the hundreds of sales tools. You could spend a lifetime evaluating these tools, and hyper-accelerate (in the wrong way), your Cost of Customer Acquisition (CAC) by “sales stack”.
You have a sales pipeline issue. Ok – that’s like having a cavity. Don’t react and go to the drugstore in search of a $100 electric toothbrush. Take one step backwards and evaluate your daily routine and dental process:
– What do you eat?
– When do you brush?
– What is your brushing motion?
– How are you flossing?
– How are you rinsing with alcohol-based mouthwash?
– How often are you chewing gum in between meals?
From a sales prospective, ask yourself:
– How are you selecting and targeting accounts?
– How are these accounts verified “Competitive Advantages” vs. “Competitive Disadvantages”?
– What is your key account plan?
– What are your storyboarded sales plays deployed against these key accounts?
– How is the team either Activating or Replacing accounts in a defined Activation Cycle?
The best sales leaders are investors. Investors build a process first, then identify the tools that will help influence the execution of that process.