Web Tools – The Fastest Way to Fail in Sales

Failing St sign

Photo by Chris Daniels/Flickr

For a guy who makes his living training sales execs about the benefits of online tools, writing that headline was a bit disconcerting – the fastest way to fail?

Getting through a maze of organizational charts and administrative staff to reach your desired prospect has always been a time-consuming, long-term project. However, a new generation of web tools has enabled sales execs to reach their prospects considerably faster than even five years ago. But this newfound speedway to your prospects has, in turn, exposed a new challenge: an ineffective message.

Using online tools, sales execs can reach 100 prospects in the time it used to take to reach just one prospect. In the past, if you were not prepared to provide a specific, targeted, well-researched solution to your prospect, you would probably fail, but now you can fail much faster because you are delivering a losing solution to a much larger group of prospects. The initial phone call you didn’t prepare for or the meeting that goes downhill the instant you turn on your LCD projector are now happening at an accelerated pace.

Think about it this way: If you have a potential pool of 200 customers in your territory, it’s fair for your management team to expect that you’ll be able to reach all of them by using online tools.

As with using any sales channel, the Web requires sales execs to review, update and modify their message to reflect the needs of their customers; if not, they’ll probably fail. But what the Web can giveth it can quickly taketh away.

Before you start using Web 2.0, take the time to review your sales message, your content, and your communication style. Ensure that what you have to say has relevancy to the customer.

While reviewing notes from a presentation I had given several months ago, I came across my closing remarks to the audience that I believe are still relevent here:

“This was not just a recession, we have transitioned to a different economy.”

Does your sales message reflect that sentiment? Take a look at your message from your prospects’ eyes. With an updated sales message, practiced well, your odds of success go way up. Using the Web can be a tremendous accelerator. It is up to you to decide whether it can accelerate success or failure.

 

  • That my friend is one heck of a closing remark and deserves repeating! “This was not just a recession, we have transitioned to a different economy.”

    The buzz around Sales 2.0 is great if it brings attention to that remark but so many times it the buzz just gets people looking at the bright shiny toys and not paying attention to basics around messaging and process. Said it before and will say it again.. “A fool with a tool is still a fool”.

    • Thanks for my new favorite Bertuzzi quote, ““A fool with a tool is still a fool”. It resonates with me on several fronts.

      It is incumbent on sales leadership to understand the new environment and to plan and act accordingly. At the same time each of us as individual contributors also need to invest in training and updating our professional skills.

  • Yes Miles, we are in a new economy that has placed quantity ahead of quality. Trish is right about tools not improving fools. Additionally, the best sales rep will have difficulty delivering a winning solution with impact to unmanageable quantities of prospects.

    The idea that we can have our sales cake and eat it too with “great automation” is a fallacy. There is give and take between quantity and quality. Without balance, the quality of engagement suffers at the expense of quantity.

    When the quantity of leads and customers are greater than sales reps can manage, the point of diminishing return is reached. Unless you’re selling $100 bills for $50, the finest message; regardless of how well it is practiced, falls short.

    Not only can we fail faster, we can now fail in greater quantities

    • Gary, great points all throughout and in agreement with as far as you went.

      When you say”… the quantity of leads and customers are greater than sales reps can manage, the point of diminishing return is reached.” I am thinking growth and opportunity. If this is beginning to occur, why would you not HIRE MORE SALES REPS? We all know of unemployed sales people that would jump into this situation with vigor and a renewed commitment to succeed.

      We both agree that we are now able to fail faster, but we can also win bigger. There is an opportunity for significant success if our sales leadership just takes the time to understand the new arena we are all competing in.

  • Miles,

    What a great statement to make as a guy who specializes in online tools to make about tools. I can’t agree more. Working at a contact management “tool” myself, I think the key focus for software is to enable people to be more strategic, personalized and targeted in their communications.

    It’s too easy to forget all of these interactions in your funnel are actual one-to-one conversations and not just percentage points of conversion down a funnel.

    Tools CAN help make engagement better and easier, through actions like

    – identifying the right person to contact at the right time
    – making it more efficient to research and create personalized messages
    – helping you test the success of your message and measure if it’s working
    – helping you proactively find opportunities to engage

    Relying on the tools as a substitute for a great message is a #fail.

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