I borrowed the title for this post from a recent entry on Seth Godin’s blog called Genius is misunderstood as a bolt of lightening. With his usual insight and economy of words, Seth gets straight to the central point. “Genius is actually the eventual recognition of dozens (or hundreds) of failed attempts at solving a problem.” and he adds “It’s about using human insight and initiative to find original solutions that matter.”
For the audience of this blog, there are many problems for which there have been many failed attempts to solve. Here are just three of the many that we at The TAS Group try to help solve.
Problem #1: Accurate sales forecasts
Predictability is important in any business. In the life of a sales person or sales manager it’s the main compass they need to direct them to their journey’s end – achievement of quota. Why then is it so that CRM systems are so bad at sales forecasting? I know there is the ‘Garbage-in, Garbage-out’ argument. (I will address that in Problem #3 below.) But, when you think about it, there is so much information that the CRM system knows – don’t you think some of it could be used to make the sales forecast more accurate?
Run the forecast report in whatever CRM system you’re using today. How many of the opportunities are forecasted to close in February or earlier? Now that we’re in March, you know that’s not going to happen. But, surely it doesn’t need to be that way. Your CRM ‘knows’ today’s date. It ‘knows’ the Close Date you entered into the CRM. If the Close Date is earlier than today – the forecast date is wrong. Don’t you think the CRM system could do something with that? That’s not Genius. It is – to quote Seth – just about using human insight and initiative to find original solutions that matter. (Click here and here if you want to see how to apply some simple heuristics to determine the likely close date of the deal based on the typical sales cycle and the ‘verifiable’ progress the sales person has made.)
Problem #2: Sales training that sticks
Here’s another problem that exercises the minds of our R&D team, as they toil away in pursuit of perfect sales effectiveness solutions: Sales Training That Sticks. You might remember a post I did called What’s Miller Heiman Afraid Of? In that post, I used a graphic that both depresses and excites me at the same time. I’m depressed that the problem is so widespread – but excited because the evidence from our customers would suggest that maybe we’ve made some progress in solving the problem.
As you can see in the graphic (click to enlarge), the typical level of knowledge retention after a sales training event falls off dramatically (87%) after 30 days without effective reinforcement. Perhaps instead of forcing compliance (by the salesperson), we should work really hard at designing solutions that entice adoption. The goal should be that the sales person wakes up in the morning and says, “Today I want to use my sales methodology / sales process / CRM, because it will help me win that deal.” That’s not what I’d call genius, but it is what Seth would refer to as ‘the eventual recognition of dozens (or hundreds) of failed attempts at solving a problem’. (Click here if you want to see how we address the ‘knowledge transfer’ and ‘always-on-learning’ part of that problem.)
Problem #3: A CRM System that a sales person wants to use
I ran a survey on LinkedIn in January of this year to check out the ‘How much I love my CRM’ score. The results overall were inconclusive, except when it came to what the salesperson thinks. As you can see from the graphic below, less than 1 in 4 sales people view their CRM as a ‘must have’, and in support of the 22% who believe it’s primarily for management, the higher up the hierarchy you go, the more value is placed on the CRM.
For me, it’s not just about the sales forecast problem I addressed above, but it’s about the general lack of context-sensitive intelligence that a CRM system provides to help a sales person progress a deal. It knows so much. It has so much data. It’s criminal that in many organizations the salesperson is viewed as a data entry clerk, rather than a Dealmaker. I think it was Joe Galvin over at Sirius Decision who said that SFA actually stands for Sales Force Accounting, not Sales Force Automation. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will know that the future is Sales Performance Automation. The following table illustrates the difference between the two. (Again, this is not based on an overall flash of inspiration, but is the eventual recognition of dozens (or hundreds) of failed attempts at solving a problem.” and ” using human insight and initiative to find original solutions that matter.)
I’d love to hear what you think. What important problems do you think fall into Seth’s category for the eventual recognition of dozens (or hundreds) of failed attempts at solving a problem.” and ” using human insight and initiative to find original solutions that matter.)