In the past, we have explored the topic of navigation in-depth. But this was only one type of navigation—toward those factors or destinations that had already been discovered. What about factors or destinations that have not yet been discovered?
Finding things you already know is easy, especially given today’s navigation technology. Or, in the case of navigating a ship or an aircraft, the trained navigator knows the hazards and routes to take when heading toward a particular destination.
The more critical and complex type of navigation is developing the skill for exploring unknown territory. Imagine yourself, as with our early explorers, landing on the shore of an island that no one has ever seen.
Alternatively, exploration or innovation becomes more complex when you don’t know if the destination is really there or not. Navigation is also made more complex if the route to reach the objective is not known or not clear—it’s common today to have a destination with many ways to achieve it, none of them necessarily ideal.
Or, there can be a case of multiple objectives or destinations, and not knowing which to travel to or aim for.
Confusion can really ensue when confronted with an unknown situation, and aiming for factors becomes complex because the factors themselves are unknown. A prime example is COVID—no one was at all prepared for it. Responses to it have been all over the map, quite literally. Just look at the different reactions by various governments worldwide.
In the field of technology as applied to navigation, I have stated many times my non-belief in artificial intelligence, because it is programmed simply and only to find factors, solutions or destinations that are already known.
Now we come to the opposite side of navigating toward known objectives—what is known as heuristic navigation.
The word “heuristic” is defined thusly: “obtained by exploration of possibilities rather than by following set rules” (Collins English Dictionary). The word comes from Greek heuriskein, which means “to discover.” In heuristic navigation, one finds one objective and, by evaluating it, calculates a possible way to the next objective. Neither of these destinations was known beforehand. Heuristic navigation is employed when one knows what a possible target is, but doesn’t know where it is or how to get there.
An example would relate to the game of chess. A set of algorithms could be used to delineate the rules of the game and the restrictions on how each piece—pawn, bishop, knight, queen, etc.—can move. But playing the game and employing strategy takes a heuristic approach. A player makes a move, and then waits for their opponent to make a move in response. When the opponent makes their move, the first player then calculates what their next move should be. This is heuristic methodology, as every step, taken in response to the other player’s move, is designed to strengthen the first player’s position.
Navigation in Sales
The difference between “known” and heuristic navigation is the difference between Pipeliner CRM and other CRM systems. Traditional CRM systems have “decided” they know what direction a salesperson should go, and what strategies they should take. These are then programmed into the CRM as known objectives.
Pipeliner doesn’t try and use algorithms for navigation, but takes the heuristic approach, as it is far more effective.
An example of a heuristic approach in sales would be in the development of a relationship. If a prospect responds to a salesperson’s email, the salesperson would take the next activity within the process, or the next step in the sales process. If there is no response from the prospect, then the salesperson takes a different action. Each step is based on the previous step, and ultimately results in a strengthening of the relationship.
Another example would be in flexibility. A salesperson has different ways they can offer their product or service, based on the prospect’s requirements or needs. This leads to flexibility in the salesperson’s relationship, and also leads to the bridge of discussion of different options and solutions to the prospect’s various issues.
The heuristic approach to sales carries the principle of responsibility. Whatever the salesperson offers to the prospect must be backed up. The salesperson, backed by their organization, must always deliver what they say they wlll. When a company, or a sales rep for that company, makes a promise, they need to stick to it. Otherwise promises become meaningless.
Going further, information about products, services and the company must be complete and transparent.
This responsibility includes assumptions. A salesperson must never assume that their prospect is not as educated as the salesperson, or that the salesperson is somehow superior to the prospect. Such assumptions can and often do backfire on the salesperson, and will also reflect poorly on the company and its products and services.
Understanding the Unknown
All of these different methods of acquiring information, establishing relationships and working toward sales goals equate to attempting to understand the unknown. It all leads to a better valuation of an opportunity.
It is only a heuristic approach, in my opinion, that can be effective in B2B sales. Every Pipeliner feature has been tried with this approach, and has found to be efficient. This includes our recently added labeling feature for opportunities, which provides companies yet another aspect of opportunity evaluation. Every such feature reduces risk and elevates the factor of opportunity.
In the end, we can never evaluate any opportunity, or create a forecast, with 100 percent certainty. You can be more confident a deal will come through if there is a signed contract—but even then, you can only be sure the deal has been finalized when the final invoice has been paid.
The closest anyone can come to navigating to success is with the heuristic approach. And this is what we provide with Pipeliner CRM.