OK, I understand the importance of being able to grow a business by scaling activities that work. Heck, one of the main benefits of our Dealmaker software is that it helps to scale sales best practices across the entire sales team. This blog helps me to serve 25,000 visits every month, something I could never do manually. But, of late, I’m observing a worrying trend in some quarters. Maybe it’s the Sales 2.0 frenzy, but in certain places it seems that the goal seems to have shifted from quality to quantity, where more is better, irrespective of what we’re doing more of. And that’s just plain stupid.
I spoke recently with Mike, an executive leader (and I use that last word loosely) from a mid-size technology company. He bemoaned the fact that his sales team were not performing. They were missing numbers consistently. They couldn’t get access to senior decision makers in their target customers’ organization, or when they did, they failed to convince the customer that their solution was right for the customer. When I asked Mike what he was doing about it, his response was “Well, we just need more leads. We need to get up to bat more often. I’ve asked the marketing department to turn up the volume on our email campaigns.” Big oops. He wanted to increase the number of failures.
I asked Mike if he thought about what wasn’t working? When did he, or any of the other executives, last visit a prospect with one of the sales team? Did he think that perhaps an executive-to-executive conversation with the customer might be more productive? My proposition was that if Mike accompanied his sales team on a few sales calls, then even if they failed to win the sale, at least he would know at first hand the challenges facing the field sales force. His reply was depressing in its ivory-tower-ness. “Look”, he said, “I’m busy here at the corporate office. Anyway, if one of the executives has to go on every sales call (not what I suggested), then that just won’t scale – so we’re not going to do that.”
Being able to scale your business processes is very important, and you will be hard pressed to find someone who is a greater proponent of that than me. But, if it’s not working, then doing more of it is Darwinian in its stupidity. Just because it doesn’t scale doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Sometimes you’ve got to do the manual graft. Get on a plane. Go visit a customer. You just might learn something and figure out a solution to the problem. Then, scale that.
And by the way, if each of your executives is not visiting with customers or prospects today, they’re not doing their job.