We forget sometimes just what exactly it is all this technology in business is supposed to be doing for us.
The point of it all is that ultimately we want to replace the aspect of human intuition….or do we?
On the surface you’d think that was it, right? If anything, we want sales to be predictable. It’s all the variables that get us tangled up, nervous.
Which source of leads is working? Which rep is doing the calling? Does that rep know the target market? Is the prospect really a right fit, or are they just a pie-in-the-sky, wishful thinking opportunity? Are we going too fast, too slow?
How do we sound to our prospects? What are they talking about behind our backs? In their budget meetings? Are we on the top-5 vendor list? The top 2? How’s our collateral look? Is our product demo up to snuff? Why’d they say that on our last call? Were they really looking for Feature X, or were they just feeling out our response? Why does it take X days instead Y days to close deals?
How much of a difference does technology make in answering these questions?
The answer, of course, can be “lots,” “none at all,” or occasionally both.
Sales technology is, and should be designed to replace guesswork. There’s dozens, maybe hundreds of points along the sales process where real, hard data makes a big difference. Knowing, for example, what your highest-converting pay-per-click ads are tells you where to focus energy, time, and money on your marketing. That’s hard metrics–“We convert 22% of clicks into contactable leads.” Then using your software tools, you track lead conversion: “We convert 55 % of contactable leads into opportunities within 30 days, and another 16% within a year.”
Here’s what the numbers don’t tell you:
How the prospect/customer perceives you in your market (though the numbers can be trailing indicators). Why you have a strong presence in a particular vertical. Which features of your product are most in need of update, which need to added, and which need to be dropped. Why you just lost a deal when the prospect was an ideal candidate. Why you just won a deal when the prospect is nothing like any of your existing customers.
Data is data, intuition is intuition. Data is only meaningful when interpreted, and that requires the ability to recognize the reality of what is being measured.
Technology produces data designed to answer classic If/Then statements: “If I do Action X, the data shows me Result Y should happen.”
It just won’t tell you why the prospect thinks Result Y is important, or if Result Y is even going to matter in 6, 12, 24, or 144 months.
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