“I don’t try to tell clients what technology they should be using. We work with whatever systems they currently have.”
“I’m a sales development expert, not a technology expert.”
“We’re agnostic to technology.”
I’ve heard these messages from sales development experts for the last decade. I hear it when I’m talking with them about what our technology can do for clients, I see it on their websites, and I hear it in their sales conversations when they share them with me.
I have always cringed a little to hear it, but lately, I have become downright convinced that it’s the wrong message. It’s not just that it’s an inconvenient message for me, a technology vendor. It’s that the message is dangerous to clients, disrespectful, and ultimately damages the consultant’s business.
The sales technology ocean is vast and treacherous. Every day, new technologies crop up like mushrooms after a rain, often out of seemingly nowhere. They mingle and merge with existing technologies while existing technologies add new features and plug-ins and packages and pricing models.
This vast ocean is polluted with enticing point solutions that seem to be the perfect solution for whatever your client’s team needs right now. But over time, these point solutions become point pollution when the team has so many tools they can’t remember what tool is for what, and, furthermore, they’re wasting countless hours task-switching to find the right application. Or ignoring the technology altogether.
It’s also infested with Hydras that suck up profits and drag down your client’s ship with excessive complexity. They may have a traditional CRM or other behemoth technology that demands to be fed. Money, resources, custom coding, plug-ins, updates, bug corrections. And every time they correct a problem caused by the complexity of the technology, two new problems arise in its place like the head of a Hydra. This Hydra is pulling them down and sucking up resources they rightfully should be spending on strategy and skills development.
And as if the existence of point pollution and giant Hydras weren’t bad enough, there’s the Siren song of Big Data that lures your clients with promises of everything from clear pipeline views and predictive AI to serving up juicy sales on a silver spoon as though by magic. Promises, promises, often ending instead with more point pollution, more food for the Hydra, and a garbage dump full of useless and/or unused data.
As a sales development expert, you owe it to your clients to recommend the tools needed to go from theory to practice
As a sales consultant, I believe you owe it to your clients to help them navigate these treacherous waters. To have an opinion and a working knowledge of the technology they will need. To guide them past the Siren song and away from Hydras and pollution that will impede their progress or sink their ship.
And you owe it to yourself because these expensive technology mistakes are eating up the budget that could be used to pay you more.
By refusing to take a stance on technology, you leave a lot of money on the table. Technology expenditure is one of the fastest-growing budget items in almost every company. And if you’re calling yourself “technology-neutral” then you’re denying yourself access to any of that budget.
In fact, you’re allowing it to eat away at what they should be spending on you.
Organizations that lack clear technology leadership will almost always overspend on technology, and rarely get what they need from it. They’ll throw money at a hundred “solutions” while challenging you on why you haven’t given them the results they need. You’ll teach them all the right things, but when their salespeople sit down to do the work, the technology gets in their way, and they don’t DO the right things.
You’ll struggle to win adoption, to reinforce and coach effectively. You’ll spend too much time holding hands and not enough time providing value. And in the end, there won’t be money left in the budget for you to bring the full value you have to offer, because it’s all going to try to fix the technology problem.
Twenty years ago, you could be a sales training and development expert without knowing the first thing about technology. You could lean back on the fact that most of sales is “soft skills” and that you were focused on helping client teams to develop them. Technology, it could reasonably be argued, was unrelated.
Not today. Today, everything is entwined with technology.
Today, it’s disrespectful to say, “I don’t care what tool you use, as long as you buy my training.” The tools are too tightly entwined with how they will deliver your training, how your training will be reinforced, and how they will realize the ROI of your work.
If you don’t understand the tools they’re going to use to execute on and reinforce your training and your strategy, then you’re not a fully-fledged expert in your field. If you don’t have an opinion about which tools will most effectively enable your training to have an impact, you’re not an expert. Your competition will soon be eating your lunch.
Before the pandemic, many sales training and consulting organizations had successfully retained their leadership status without becoming experts in technology.
Today, I see many of those organizations drastically cutting back while they scramble to figure out the technology piece.
In a post-Corona world, nobody can afford to not understand the technology that enables their sales strategy work and training. It’s not enough to deliver training via video. This is not going to cut it in a world where your competitors are integrating their training into the technology, delivering it over sophisticated platforms that engage best practices. Reinforcing it using integrated tools directly inside the salespeople’s workflow. And providing their clients the ability to track ROI in a meaningful way, while optimizing the process using the same tools.
If your “technology neutral” stance hasn’t already created problems, it will soon as more companies get up to speed and leave the old school in the dust.
Obviously, I am not technology-neutral. I believe Membrain to be the absolute best tool available for complex b2b sales. I believe it is the right tool for sales consultants and trainers to use to enable their complex b2b clients, and we’ve developed a partner program that is a win-win-win for everyone. You can read more about our partnership program here.
I would love to show you why and how Membrain can help you increase your value and your margins while benefiting everyone. Feel free to schedule a demo to see how we can make your work come to life using technology.
George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills and processes.