Long live processes – and humans too!

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Aren’t sales too unpredictable a process to be entrusted to humans? A little like everything else that goes on in a business incidentally, only worse. It is a complete nightmare for financial analysts.

The rapid roll-out of processes at every level of a company has enabled significant improvements to be made in quality and how quickly things get done. And it has also boosted predictability as demanded by shareholders. Above all, it protects us from the dangers of incompetence – and individual incompetence (no-one is indispensable). The aim of the Sarbanes-Oxley financial security law passed in the wake of the 2008 crisis is nothing less than to reduce “human unpredictability” through processes to control processes.

In the B2B world, the rolling-out of CRM has made sales strategies more professional. However, CRM rarely has an impact on the individual productivity of sales reps. It is often the tool used by “Finance” to gain control over “Sales”.

More recently, fusing marketing and technology has made it possible to “automate” client relations. Inbound marketing and lead generation processes have been successfully trialled in B2B and claim to have revolutionised B2B sales. Proposal management (the automatic generation of proposals) is gaining in strength. All this has been christened “Sales Intelligence”.

The innuendo is that before all this we were just great big idiots.

Now that all these processes are in place more or less, the next logical area for improvement would surely be the relationship between a sales rep and their client or sales lead. This would not only cover emotional and relationship aspects but would also extend to the relevance of the message and how to personalise pitches. Because selling, particularly when it comes to complex B2B solutions, is a co-production between the salesperson and the client.

In short, is it not time to reinvest in the ability of sales reps and make that difference by adding value?

François Drillon, EXECUTIVE SELLING (www.executive-selling.com)

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