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Shiny Toys, Superficiality & Shortcuts
Blog / For Sales Pros / Sep 19, 2016 / Posted by John Golden / 4849

Shiny Toys, Superficiality & Shortcuts

Back in 2010 when I was CEO of Huthwaite I wrote a post for the company blog about what I termed the shortcut culture that I felt was becoming pervasive. The opening lines went like this:

I have just returned from a short vacation in Los Angeles, and while I was there it struck me how what I call the “Shortcut Culture” has pervaded the home of the entertainment industry. Once upon a time young hopefuls would get off the Greyhound in LA, find a job busing tables, save their tips to pay for acting lessons and endlessly trudge from one audition to another driven by the belief that their hard work and commitment just might make them a star.

Today some of those same hopefuls arrive in LA, look for the nearest reality show casting call and head straight there. Their goal is to be as noticeable as they can be regardless of the level of obnoxiousness they need to descend to in order to achieve it. The plan is a simple one: get on a reality show, any reality show. There are literally dozens and dozens to choose from. While most people are aware of the big mainstream ones like the Bachelor/Bachelorette, Survivor etc., the cable channels are awash with all sorts of nonsense like MTV’s Disaster Date and VH1’s Scream  Queens where aspiring actresses battle for a part in SAW 3D. Like I said the plan is a simple one: get on the show and get noticed by a film or TV casting director or, as with Scream Queens, win a role in a movie. In other words take a shortcut. Dispense with all those time consuming–and quite frankly difficult—acting lessons, and get noticed first, whatever it takes. Just like those thousands and thousands of American Idol hopefuls, putting in the hard work and developing their craft over time seems so last century. (SPIN Selling Blog)

Fast forward six years and this almost sounds outdated—because people have found shortcuts to the shortcuts! Now you don’t have to leave your living room, you can do ridiculous things right there at home, stick them on YouTube or Instagram and become a sensation almost overnight (not to mention you can buy Likes, Views, and Shares to artificially create a buzz and the illusion of going “viral”).

What is wrong with any of this you might ask (as you dismiss me as some old curmudgeon)? Well, I believe it creates a false sense that hard work and substance no longer matter. It also creates the mistaken belief that there is a shortcut to everything. An easy way, in other words. This is, of course, a challenge we face as parents as we try to teach our children who belong to the instant (or even Instagram, SnapChat, Music.ly) generation about how reward and gratification are not always immediate. Because the dirty little secret is that in the end those who work harder, invest more time, are more committed and dedicated are usually the ones that succeed in the long-term and sustain that success. Overnight sensations are often gone by late morning.

Ok, this is a business blog so you might be wondering how this is related to business and whether this is just a Gen Xer struggling to get to grips with Gen Y and absolutely floundering with Gen Z. Well, it is neither, I want to talk about how the shortcut culture has invaded business, and how the ease at which apps and cloud-solutions can be created has meant that we are now inundated with shiny new toys promising to solve problems we either didn’t know we had or didn’t know were a priority.

Now before you start thinking I am a Luddite as well as a curmudgeon, let me remind you that we are a technology company and have a ground-breaking CRM, so I am clearly in favor of using technology to power your business. But I also believe that we are being flooded with point solutions—and that many of these are hastily built, are often superficial and that focus on being “cool” rather than effective. These “shiny toys” are becoming a distraction, and wherein the recent past we had companies struggling with the “bring your own device” phenomenon of employees introducing their own tablets and smartphones into the workplace—driving many IT and Security departments to despair—those same employees now have a smorgasbord of cloud-based solutions that they can simply sign up in seconds. And it is often the case that the new app drives the need rather than the other way around.

It is far easier to adopt a communication tool than it is to spend the time investigating and validating what your communication issues may be. Why is this so? Well, in reality, it is because the elephant in the room is that hard work concept again. If you are really honest with yourself you will know it is efficient processes–and the adherence to and execution of those processes–that truly differentiates world-class organizations from the also-rans. In this digital, distributed, ever faster-paced world that we operate in, it is the process that keeps us from going around in virtual circles.

But investing the time and effort to build efficient processes seems so at odds with our instant gratification, shortcut culture. That is my real issue with many of the shiny new toys that are invading our inboxes on a daily basis; many of them seem to be focused on solving what are in reality process issues by trying to convince you that you don’t really need a process, you just need a tool that, for instance, aggregates communication! Let’s face it, this saves you the time you would have to invest in examining what kind of communications your company needs, establishing communication guidelines and protocols and mapping out a communication flow. In other words, it promises to avoid the hard work of process definition. And I will bet a penny to a dollar that in a year (or maybe even in a few months), a new shiny toy will emerge that “solves” the problems that you perceive your current (now less shiny) toy didn’t address and so you are caught in the classic “treat the symptoms not the cause”  syndrome.

We invested a huge amount of time and money (and continue to) into building and continually enhancing our product, Pipeliner CRM—not because we wanted it to be another shiny new toy that would hopefully outshine the other shiny objects (at least for a time). No, we took the longer road of building a software that has a process as its most fundamental component. We believe that it is our duty to truly enable organizations and individual salespeople to be more efficient by providing them with a tool that brings the process alive in its most accessible, visual and useable form. This is why our system has the ability to deliver long-term impact and efficiency to organizations. Efficiency built on the foundation of an optimized process will outperform any so-called timesaver tools.

And one last thought. We are still humans (at least for now, we can talk about robots another day!) and we have a limited capacity to integrate tools into our daily work practice (yes even you Gen Zers!). We owe it to ourselves and our companies to ensure that the ones we do bring in are truly solving business issues and that we have done the process groundwork to make sure they will become productivity enhancers and efficiency accelerators, rather than something that turns out to be just another shiny band-aid.

About Author

John is the Amazon bestselling author of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World’s Greatest Military Victories and Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged Sales & Marketing thought leader, speaker, and strategist, he has conducted over 1500 video interviews of thought leaders for Sales POP! online sales magazine & YouTube Channel and for audio podcast channels where Sales POP! is rated in the top 2% of most popular shows out of 3,320,580 podcasts globally, ranked by Listen Score. He is CSMO at Pipeliner CRM. In his spare time, John is an avid Martial Artist.

Author's Publications on Amazon

John Golden, best selling author of "Winning the Battle for Sales" presents "Social Upheaval: How to Win At Social Selling" to explain how every B2B salesperson can add social selling methods to their toolkits, and why it is so important that they do so without…
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FROM THE CREATORS OF SPIN SELLING―TRIED-AND-TRUE STRATEGIES TO ARM YOU IN THE WAR FOR SALES SUPREMACY "I distinctly remember my first VP talking about 'campaigns' and 'targets.' Indeed, successful salespeople have made learning from military tactics an important aspect of their careers. In this engaging…
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