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What’s the right mix between technology and people?

caffeine group - demand generation for financial services
I had a lively conversation this morning with an old friend, that can best be summarized as : ‘tech stack or rep stack’?
Now, I can argue both sides – passionately – I’ve experienced the transformative power of a well-oiled tech stack, but the realist that I am, I fell firmly on the side of ‘Rep Stack’ – having lead sales teams – and seen many more – the simple power of an effective performance management system in the hands of a capable leader is like a maestro leading an orchestra – the tech stack are really just tools.

Sales technology stacks most commonly involve tools to helps us prospect, communicate, and manage leads more efficiently:

  • Automated programs do the heavy lifting for us while our CRM notifies us when we have a new lead…how cool is that?
  • Automated dialers amp-up our call productivity while adding a new layer of scoring capability, as we touch more prospects than ever before.
  • Basic email now even has score/open capability to give us further lead-intent intel.
  • Even snail mail is more efficient than ever at generating leads and pin-pointing who is a prospect worth following-up and who isn’t.
  • CRM has finally graduated from the clunky network-based systems of the old days to cloud-based, freeing Reps and Distributors to hit the road, while teams back at the office work on the same data.

In the real world, when the pressure is on to deliver those revised quarterly results…we need to close business – now.

Technology gives us the edge – by identifying ‘who’ we should be calling on, if we’re lucky, it gives insight into ‘what’ we should be talking about with them – but in the end, it’s up to our Reps and Distributors to visit prospects and present proposals…and get contracts signed.

So, let’s take a look at the ‘Rep Stack’ – the services that are currently in place to assure that your Reps and Distributors are motivated to perform at peak capacity – especially when you need the extra ‘oomph’ to close more business:

  • Competitive pay and benefits
  • Competitive bonus and commissions – based on SMART goals, paid on-time, and paid graciously
  • Periodic monitoring (and actioning) of Rep and Distributor engagement (or at least satisfaction) – to prevent flight to a competitor with your data, or other adverse condition
  • Non-Cash Incentive Program – above and beyond your bonus and commission plan.  Aberdeen Research found that organizations that provide non-cash rewards experience 3 times higher revenue increases than those that rely on strictly cash.  Significantly, they also found that companies with the highest customer retention and sales growth rates in their sectors also provided incentive travel programs.  Non-cash incentives such as travel rewards have been found to be the most effective at activating discretionary sales effort – those deep wells of passion, talent, energy, will, and time buried deep within each of us.
  • Internal Marketing – how effective is your internal marketing to your Reps and Distributors?  Are messages to Reps and Distributors ‘policy-and-memo’-style, or are Reps and Distributors also engaged at a personal, visceral level, frequently?  Companies that engage Reps and Distributors via internal marketing messages are more likely to achieve sales-growth, and report higher findings of Rep satisfaction with their jobs.