Striking the Balance Between Behavior and Technology
Technology has advanced to the point where humans and technology have a very symbiotic relationship—they increasingly rely on each other.
Of course, a large segment of society has become addicted to technology. The most obvious example is smartphones—wherever you go today people are staring at their phones. It’s sometimes impossible to talk to someone because their attention is fixed on whatever they’re texting, and they won’t look you in the eye. If you go to a restaurant, you’ll even see whole families with attention wrapped up in their phones and not talking to each other.
This goes back to when television—once referred to as the “idiot’s lantern”—invaded everyone’s living room. Prior to that, families were talking to each other, playing games or reading. Suddenly everyone was all silently staring in the same direction, and not at a person.
But in terms of technical revolution, nothing is comparable to the smartphone. It has changed the lifestyle of almost every person. According to Statista, the current number of smartphone users in the world today is 3.5 billion, which is 45.12 percent—almost half—of the Earth’s population. This is a blessing and a curse.
Smartphones are certainly one example of technology adoption. In other areas, we see the adoption of technology when there is some kind of instant gratification or benefit involved.
An example is the masses of retired people who use the internet to locate the cheapest prices on cruises. They also have become experts in finding the cheapest flights. Life expectancy is longer, now, and such skills are part of being retired.
Technology Adoption in Sales
What does technology mean from a sales perspective? We certainly have to examine this, because technology is such a driving force and nothing happens without it anymore.
In sales, there has not been 100 percent adoption of technology. In fact, adoption of CRM—which is the technology we’re talking about when it comes to sales—is a problem that CRM vendors still face. Why is this? My answer is that, just as with individuals in their private lives, “you use what you like.” When someone likes a piece of technology, they’ll use it. You don’t have to convince them. I’m sure you’ve experienced this yourself.
Unfortunately, this has not been thought through in designing the UI for CRM and other software systems. Developers just slap a bunch of features together but don’t make it cohesive, intuitive, or easy to use and understand. Conversely, we’ve developed Pipeliner CRM from the beginning to take these exact factors into account.
Behavior Change: Treatment Like Royalty
There is a behavior change that has happened throughout time, that has materialized in technology. This is a change that is absolutely necessary for salespeople and their companies.
Interestingly this behavior, going back 150 years or so, was only reserved for royalty and the upper class. An example is the cotton industry in my native country, Austria, which 150 years consisted of factories in which people worked 12 – 14 hours per day, 7 days a week, to service only the upper class and royalty. This held for other services as well.
Today, anyone who purchases any kind of service—for example from a restaurant or hotel—expects to be treated as only the upper class and royalty were treated 150 years ago. It’s a very customer-centric approach. When customers are not treated this way, they tend not to return in the future. And companies will service anyone in this fashion, no matter how they appear or are dressed. In Los Angeles, it’s not uncommon for the very wealthy to be attired in torn jeans and a T-shirt. And if they have the money, they’ll get the service.
In other words, the buyer has total power.
The Sales Attitude
Salespeople don’t always understand this concept. In their private lives, salespeople are buyers themselves and expect this treatment. Yet they don’t provide this same deference to their prospects and customers.
Another example from history is the plunderers, plundering being the opposite of trade. Kingdoms and empires would plunder other countries for their land and riches, rather than trade for them. Unfortunately, some salespeople have carried a version of this attitude forward, and are pressuring the prospect so hard the prospect feels like they’re being plundered.
Incorrect behavior is not something that salespeople can get away with for long—they’re swimming against the tide, and the tide is going to drown them. In a sales situation, you must bring respect, wisdom and additional value to your buyer; otherwise, they’ll go elsewhere. The buyer is going to go where they’re treated the best, and where they get the most value.
I’ve often said that the currency of the future is recommendations, thanks to the speed of the internet. A salesperson behaving in a non-servicing way is not going to have a good recommendation, and will not have a job for long.
While technology has become a major part of our lives and business, technology cannot replace this all-important behavior—technology can only support it. As a note, Pipeliner does everything it can to fully support salespeople, who we believe are the wealth creators and peace producers of the world.
The right technology allows a sales manager to reinforce buyer-centric behavior. Technology, such as Pipeliner CRM, reveals all sales activity through totally visual analytics and data. Armed with this precise information, the sales manager can correctly coach salespeople.
A sales manager will want to watch two specific aspects of sales activity: the creation of new business in the pipeline, and the velocity of opportunity movement through the pipeline. Monitoring these aspects, the sales manager can view the mindset of the salesperson, and coach accordingly.
Precision technology allows a sales manager to put their finger on the weak points of their reps. Reps can then be supported in the required changes in behavior. If a salesperson won’t change, they’re dragging the rest of the team down to a degree, and they should probably be replaced. Sometimes you have to remove a limb to save the patient.
In a recent article, I spoke about the difference between tangible and intangible elements, and the fact that the intangible factors today are more important. One of those factors is the salesperson’s approach to the buyer. Technology greatly empowers that approach.
Technology has absorbed many of the tasks that in past years were manual so that salespeople can concentrate on truly important activities. What’s truly important? The trust being created, the relationships being built, the intimacy, the win-win being sought and attained.
And this is the balance between behavior and technology!