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April 13, 2012

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Glance and the Mechanic

My husband spent the first 1/2 of his career as a mechanic.  More specfically, a truck mechanic for Coca-Cola.  He knew every Coca-Cola distributing mom and pop store within 100 miles, and the best roads to use during high traffic times.  Why?  Because as a mechanic, it was his job to fix and maintain trucks.  Only some of that job took place IN the garage.  The other part took place under the broken-down truck, wherever it was, regardless of the weather.

As a mechanic, he was trained to know which pieces of equipment he needed to do the job.  He knew which ones would get the job done, vs. get it done right.  He had relationships with the Snap-On guy, and also knew when he could get by with a Craftsman alternative.  He knew how much time he had to get the Coke to the store, get the truck back home safely, and take the environment that particular day into consideration.  As a result, he has a high appreciation for the right tools, and I have a garage full of big red toolboxes on wheels, and very few recognizably branded tools.  

Sales is no different, and Sales 2.0 has evolved the choices of tools to a similar level.  There are tools that should get the job done, and then there are tools that are designed specifically for a particular task.  

We've seen an explosion in business intelligence tools, lead generation, content management, webinar, marketing automation, CRM, collaboration, sales incentive management, pipeline tracking and proposal management tools.  For some tasks, there are certainly as many choices available to sales as there are to mechanics.

Why then, do we seem to arm our sales reps with a marketing tool for a sales function?  Most of the collaboration tools I come across as a buyer (and even as a seller) are designed to host webinars, with the capacity to share some slides with up to hundreds of people, point a fancy mouse highlighter for all to see, poll the audience and more.  

How often are all those bells and whistles needed in a sales call?  Most of the time, sales calls are short, sweet and directly to the point, with little time for bells and whistles --- it's more about quick diagnostics and a visual concept to get past the next gate.  For that, sales reps need a collaboration tool that's light, fast, easy, reliable -- the right tool for the type of collaboration that occurs in the sales process.  The tool that will get the buyer back to their day job as quickly as possible, and help the sales rep move that conversation to the next step efficiently.   

Even in a Sales 2.0 culture, we've become so familiar with the tools from 1.0, that we just don't think about how important speed and simplicity is to the sales rep.  But the primary tool sales reps need are knowledge and listening skills, not fancy technology.  Technology that gets OUT of the way builds the relationship and accelerates the selling cycle.

Glance Sales Director Diane Fonseca is a Black Belt in Uechi-Ryu karate and is currently gearing up for the AA-ISP conference in Dallas. Follow her on twitter @DawnLeighF

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