Rebuilding and racing cars has been a passion since high school. Back then, “bigger, louder, and faster” was the ultimate goal.
Then one day, I was challenged to race this tiny car, Alfa Romeo, on a curvy track. I got destroyed. Alfa Romeo was the better vehicle for that type of track. I had been focusing on raw power that performed great on straight short tracks, while the rest of the world was evolving.
In many ways, this story illustrates all of the changes occurring in the business world over the last two decades. Gone are the days of huge data centers and endless shelves of software awaiting deployment. Now, we live in the “consume as you go” and “download this app to your device” environment. “Smaller, quicker, and nimbler” are the descriptors attached to proofs of concept and pilots of solutions that are being considered.
As companies pivot to take advantage of the enormous power of the cloud, budgets are being consumed by large efficiency platforms: CRM, CPQ, marketing automation, etc. The stack of productivity-boosting software continues to rise, and they all come with the promise of “saving your reps time” and “making them more productive.” How can you be certain that what you have is, in fact, what you need?
Today, we must step back and ask, “How do I rationalize the technology stack I’ve built/inherited?”
Sales strategies continue to evolve, but the infrastructure to support them has often stagnated for several years or been built by the need of the moment.
Think about that — we’re asking our teams to adapt new strategies to sell new products in new markets with outdated and/or confusing tools because we haven’t re-evaluated the stack against the paths we need to travel.
Efficiency Means Nothing Without Efficacy
CEOs and their sales directors are much better today at time management and efficiency strategies. But when you emphasize efficiency alone, you neglect the time utilization aspect. Being able to effectively leverage the new time we have been afforded is equally as important.
The old adage “less is more” is quaint but true. Your sales team doesn’t need 100 tools to hit its numbers this quarter; it needs just a few essentials that are optimized for its goals. It’s time to lift the fog from the cloud and redefine what is critical for success.
Reclaiming your team’s efficiency means you’re willing to say “no” to things you would have OK’d a few years ago. This is as much a strategy alignment discussion as it is a technical tool rationalization. Some of the tools we’ve bought (or built) must go if we are going to be capable of the fast-paced change that business requires.
Ineffectiveness wastes your company’s money and slows your processes. How can your team members perform at the highest caliber when they’re learning 12 different systems and you’re constantly demanding that they pay attention to the next shiny thing? More importantly, how are you going to compete with businesses that are already on the efficacy train and moving full speed ahead?
A SAVO Group study found that 25.5 percent of companies invested in effectiveness measures in 2014, and firms that were proactive about efficacy earned 10.2 percent higher revenue than those that were not. Improving your processes allows for fewer unnecessary expenditures and shores up your position in the market.
Cultivating Effective Systems
Efficacy is not a one-time project; it’s an ongoing program. Projects have beginnings and ends, while programs evolve with a company’s needs and mature with its sales team.
Projects also need advocates to keep them alive, so your work here really is never done. To build a more effective culture, use the following elements to initiate a strategic change:
1. Show your appetite.
As an executive leader, be the first to roll up your sleeves and be part of the change. Transform the sales culture by helping to design the strategy and becoming part of the process. This shows your directors that efficacy is one of your top priorities and that you’re willing to do the work alongside them. They’ll be more enthusiastic if they know how much it matters to you.
2. Get a clear grasp of your company’s future.
You won’t see results without cross-functional alignment. Identify your goals, and include all of the appropriate team members in your strategies. Are you trying to achieve greater win rates? Build a different go-to market? Enter an emerging market? Get clear on where you’re headed, and pull in your sales, marketing, and product teams on the strategy.
3. Define an approach.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. In sales, we often spend a lot of time mulling over problems without addressing the core issues. But once you draw the line in the sand and lay out a clearly defined approach, you can work toward the solution. You may find that you need to adjust the strategy, but it’s better to pivot in motion than to sit around spinning your wheels.
4. Generate buzz (and good vibes).
Make efficacy synonymous with fun. Use incentives to generate buzz around your new campaign, and partner with internal advocates who can drum up support among their colleagues. If you can demonstrate how these changes are creating positive effects, people will want to be involved.
You can’t have true efficiency without efficacy. Time management is crucial to your organization, but so is time utilization. Without it, technology becomes an overflowing bowl of spaghetti that certainly looks good, but only makes your company fat and tired and doesn’t support your long-term strategy.