There is a new debate just beginning to bubble to the surface and it promises to be lively and the views divergent. Forty years ago computer technology sent a man to the moon. Thirty years ago computer technology began taking over the running of autos, trucks, trains and the rest of our transportation system. Twenty years ago computer technology began to change forever how small businesses are run. Ten years ago computer technology began to change how we shop, find information, and even communicate with one another.
Now, finally, computer technology is just beginning to tackle the greatest mystery of all-what do salespeople and sales managers really do with their time? How do they really find new prospects? Who are those prospects? What do they sell them? How long is the sales cycle really? These and dozens of other questions are in the process of slowly being answered.
The technology that is delving into these questions is in its infancy. Client Relationship Management (CRM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), and Sales Force Automation (SFA) programs are inching their way into every company-even the smallest. How and why companies use these programs are myriad-and to some extent unknown-not just to the developers of the programs but also to the companies themselves.
Today, there are dozens of programs on the market with many more in development. Some gather minimal information, others are designed to gather great chunks. Some focus on compensation management, some on defining the profile of customers, others on defining sales team profiles, and others focus their attention on the performance and activities of individual salespeople. Some, such as CRM are stand-alone programs while others such as SPM and SFA are typically integrated into CRM programs.
In other words, the sales metrics industry is still searching for its place, its function in the marketplace.
However, the result is going to be a shockwave through companies and in particular the sales department. For the first time companies will have far more real data on their sales and prospecting efforts than ever. And the volume, width and depth of that information will continue to grow.
No one knows exactly how these programs will change the way the sales function will be managed. However, there are a great number of questions that must be addressed-and they must be addressed now as companies, salespeople, and managers struggle to adapt to and work with this technology:
• What do companies really want the technology to do?
• What, in the end, can the technology really do well?
• How do companies integrate the systems into their sales teams and get the support of salespeople and managers?
• What will managers really do with the information?
• How will the information be used to change how companies and salespeople sell?
• Will the information be used for coaching and training their salespeople-or as a club to threaten and cajole?
• What will this information mean for marketing, production, advertising and the other departments?
• More fundamentally, which programs work and which don't?
• Which programs are salesperson friendly and which aren't?
• Which programs gather truly useful information and which don't?
• What do real live salespeople, managers and executives think of the programs they are using or contemplating?
The list could go on and on.
The debate about technology and how it will be used and integrated, how it will change the sales function and the people within sales departments, and how it will change companies themselves should be of importance to all of us. This technology is going to affect every one of us-salesperson, manager, executive, shareholder, trainer, consultant, developer alike.
Yet, the discussion and debate has barely begun.
A new blog, The Management Curve, has just been launched to discuss and debate this very issue. The blog will tackle the questions above-and much more.
Hosted by Paul McCord, the blog will bring in other trainers, consultants, developers, managers, executives, and salespeople to discuss and debate the impact this technology will have. The focus of the blog is narrow-how metrics gathering technology will change the way the sales function is managed and ultimately how that will change the way salespeople sell and how that will change the company itself.
I encourage you to visit The Management Curve, add it to your RSS feed reader, add it to your blogroll, save it to your favorites file, visit it often. Over the next few weeks you'll find more and more guests coming on and offering their opinions, insights, and positions. It isn't a homogenous group-there will be many perspectives and many opinions. No matter your position on the subject, it is one that is going to have a tremendous impact on you in a very real and personal way.
Link to original post