TALKING SALES 28: “Avoid Point Solutions to Improve Sales” – Sue Barrett

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Sales ecosystem can be unbalanced by a new ‘point solution’

In this 3 minute interview Sue Barrett talks to John Smibert about the need to avoid implementing ‘point solutions’ in your sales operation.

Sue emphasises how important it is for an organisation’s sales strategy and sales ecosystem to be balanced and integrated.

By implementing a point solution – be it training or technology – it needs to integrate with – and complement – the sales strategy and sales ecosystem or it can do more damage than good – no matter how fantastic the point solution is in its own right.

Sue emphasises that their are no short term quick fixes in sales.

Sue is an authoritative thought leader and an accomplished author on the selling profession. She’s also founder and CEO of Barrett and SalesEssentials.com.

See more of the ‘TALKING SALES’ series here

Interview

John: Welcome back! I’m here again with Sue Barrett. Sue’s an authoritative thought leader and an accomplished author on the selling profession. She’s also founder and CEO of Barrett and SalesEssentials.com. Welcome back, Sue!

Sue: Thank you, John!

John: You have written a lot about ‘point solutions’ causing issues and problems in sales and destroying sales productivity. Can you explain what ‘point solutions’ are and why it can ruin sales?

Sue: Okay. Well, firstly it’s important to note that selling is a complex environment, so there’s many variables. Whenever we’re looking at running a good sales team – and an operation – we need to take into account a range of things. And they can affect different things, like you could put one thing in and cause a ripple effect on others.

What we’ve had in our profession for many, many years is people coming along – and it’s not just in sales, it’s in other professions too – they come along with the latest and greatest; whatever it might be. CRM is has been the classic in this.

John: Oh, yes.

Sue: Because a lot of people don’t look at the complexity of selling, they’re looking for the silver bullet, the knight in shining armour that’s going to actually solve their sales issues, and so they’ll look for things like CRM and it will solve everything. In fact, it can make things worse if it’s not properly embedded, as we know. Training is a classic. There’s lots of fads out there – you know, the latest training module here or the latest training module there; that will solve all your ills.

John: I know, and it really destroys me to see so much investment going into training and no return coming out of it, in a lot of organisations at least.

Sue: Absolutely. There’s a lot of money that’s being wasted, a lot of time that’s being wasted because of this ‘point solution’ focus. What we have to be careful of is false prophets coming along and promising us that “You know, this is going to solve all your ills.” Because in life we know that it’s part of a complex ecosystem.

John: And the issue with a lot of technology providers is that they’re exactly that, aren’t they?

Sue: Yes. I think when we have to think about running good sales teams and operations is to consider “Does this support our strategy? Does this support the level of capability that we need to have out there?” and then if it does then how well does it integrate and connect with the other aspects of our sales operation.

John: Become a totally integrated part of our operation, part of our culture and so on.

Sue: Yes. If the vendor or provider is not able to speak in those terms then I’d be looking elsewhere, even if the promises they’re making sound fantastic.

John: Really good advice. So, in summary, what should those sales directors and sales managers out there need to be thinking of and doing to address this point?

Sue: Well, not going for a short-term quick fix approach. They should actually be looking at, if it’s training “Does this actually build out capability over the long term? Does it help us get into those markets and actually build out the sales, the deliverables that we want?” If they’re looking at technology then they have to say “Okay, how easily is that going to be integrated into my current ecosystem? Is it going to cause too much disruption, or is it going to be easy for my people to adopt it as part of what they’re doing?” I mean, these are just some examples that we can think about.

John: So, in a bottom line I would say: think more strategically and less tactically. Don’t just put point solutions in, think about how the whole thing end-to-end will work effectively for you.

Sue: Yes, so you’re not being expedient.

John: Sue, thank you very much – I look forward to our next discussion!

Sue: Thank you!

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See more of the ‘TALKING SALES’ series here

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John leads three related organisations, Custell, Strategic Selling Group and Sales Masterminds APAC. These help B2B selling organisations, who recognise the need to transform their sales capability, to respond to the tsunami of change that is starting to wash over us all. He works with people who recognise that to survive they must more strategically support their customer in their buying journey - and understand that they must become specialists in the customer's domain in order to be of value to them. He also helps sales teams build differentiated personal brands and leverage the digital and social worlds to engage to create trust and value.

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