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Saturday, 18 September 2010

Sales Automation leads to low productivity


I read Richardson’s Blog on Sales Automation,
I reply with a 2010 Blog I wrote on the same theme.


The inappropriate use of Sales Measurement and Management systems is doing more harm than good.

burger flipper

Workflow systems may have eliminated the need for skilled short order chefs (burger flippers), at Burger King.  Replacing the Cook’s Judgement with thermostats, bells and buzzers does work with fries and patties -
but it does not work in sales!

Instead, Low Productivity becomes the norm due to an ‘adaptive method’ of handling the contingencies of Buyer/Seller relationships.  The poor use of a complicated, rigid and large-scale sales system, itself borrowed from an engineering production system with little modification. 


Simply put, applying the same approach to two radically different situations
is not likely to have the same outcome.

The rise of ‘Process Selling’ (steps of the sale) and Sales Force Automation was not due to a need, but to a perceived failure of Sales Departments and the widespread availability of low cost Hardware and Software to implement the ‘systems’.

What was the perceived failure of Sales departments? 

Steadily lengthening Sales Cycle Times.

In IT and Telecoms, this has moved from four months to seven months,
in major Projects (Data Centres) it moved from 12months to 24 Months. 

In fact, Sales Cycle Time does not exist!
It is Buying Cycle time, which has increased!



BMAC research into Buyer Behaviour has found consistently that the Buying Process has become more structured, more formal, while involving more people, more activity and a greater degree of complexity than before.  Buying has adopted technology in Searching for alternatives, Evaluation of alternatives and Information assisted Decision Making.

Buyer sophistication has meant that basic facts are gathered on the Internet, negating the need for the ‘Talking Brochure’ salesperson.

Yet Marketing Departments continue to produce Brochures and Boilerplate Presentations (death by PowerPoint).  Marketing has also failed to educate and inform Salespeople in Market Sector Knowledge, leading to the situation where Buyers know more about the Product than Sales, and Sales know little about the Product’s Application in the Market.

The net result is you have Salespeople following a Sales Cycle driven by Management reports, following a Sales Process, which is disconnected, from Buyers, Markets and Applications.  Managers have implemented Measurement and Control, and Salespeople have to adapt for function and utility.  Dissonance occurs where Salespeople daily use Outlook for mail, Time management and document filing.  Then, they reluctantly update their sales automation application weekly.

The real problem is that Selling has not extended to take account of the New Buying Process;
Selling is a team responsibility, a team effort.  It involves integrated roles for Marketing, Sales, Product Management, Technical Support, Implementation, Finance and After-sales Service. 


The key dimension is NOT the Sales Cycle time,
it is the Product to Cash Cycle time,
and that is an organisational duty, not a sales responsibility. 

BMAC’s proprietary Sales Process to Market Model delivers Product to Cash.

Where are you Integrated or Process driven? 

Cash target behind or ahead?

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