Is your sales process too complicated? How would you know? Do you have too many steps? Too many tools? Too many templates?
The easiest way to know if your sales process is too complicated is to look at how well it is being used. If there is any significant variation between your process and what actually gets implemented then you’ve made your process too complicated.
The beauty of simplicity – Think Google and Apple
All of us are attracted to simplicity. Think of the unprecedented success of Google’s search page and Apple’s iPhone.
When portals like Yahoo and Alta Vista were adding more and more clutter and phone manufacturers like Nokia and Blackberry were adding more and more functionality, both Google and Apple figured out how to create simplicity on the other side of complexity. This isn’t easy. It takes deep knowledge and comprehension of everything in order to reduce it and distill it down to what is essential.
At the end of last year, I spoke at Cox Automotive’s annual sales conference. Cox is a 55,000 person organization. I had the opportunity to work with their elite sales team. Afterward, their Senior Vice President, David Pyle, quoted a line to me from American physician and poet, Oliver Wendell Holmes:
- “For the simplicity on this side of complexity, I wouldn’t give you a fig. But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, for that, I would give you anything I have.”
After quoting it, he said that I brought his sales team simplicity on the other side of complexity. That got me thinking, “why is simplicity on the other side of complexity so highly prized?”
1. Complexity needs to be tamed.
While we are figuring things out they become increasingly complex. We are in discovery mode and we are building our understanding. Simple solutions seldom work in real life because there are so many exceptions to the rule. We need complexity to handle the myriad of situations we must face. Unfortunately, as we add complexity, we also add confusion. When your people are confused, they become overwhelmed and they abandon ship. At the moment you need them to get in the ring and fight, they freeze or take flight.
2. The future belongs to the clarifiers.
Our world is increasing in complexity and disruption. It’s moving too fast for most of us. In a fast-changing and complex world, people need clarity. As a leader, you need to galvanize your team. If they are already swimming in a world of complexity and you layer on even more complexity, it will be very hard for you to create real and sustainable excitement.
3. Execution is what matters.
There is an intellectual fulfillment that comes from figuring things out and documenting what we know. Unfortunately, the documentation doesn’t bring in sales – execution does! Complex solutions can look very robust on paper and in the classroom. If it looks good on paper or in the classroom, but no one actually does it, what’s the value? We must have an eye toward execution. The simpler it is, the faster it will be implemented. The simpler it is, the faster it will be shared with others. This is the value of simplicity on the other side of complexity. We have to consider the comprehensiveness of complexity in order to distill our knowledge down to the effectiveness of simplicity.
Don’t underestimate the power of simplicity in a world of complexity. Reducing your sales process to its essential and most practical elements will do far more to drive your team’s success than any sophisticated sales process.