How Salespeople Can Improve Value

Last week’s column solicited suggestions for a new data analytics acronym. I got enthusiastic responses. One was suggested by Michael DesRochers, CEO of MicroArts. He and his firm use “BRM” for “basic relationship management.” They’ve gone another step in coining “ARM.”

Although Michael didn’t define the “A” in ARM (calling into question whether the coinage is, technically speaking, an acronym), it does create a tidy A-B-C process.

“ARM is a handshake and a phone call,” he explains, “BRM is the basic digital tool set you need before CRM [customer relationship management], bridging the gap between how you work with customers today, and the millions and years you’ll be spending in the future.”

That just about covers it, wouldn’t you say?

We focus too narrowly on the sales and marketing of analytics rather than on value and substance, as another correspondent points out. “All that your article concerns itself with is improving an organization’s ability to sell. Your piece would have some merit if it showed interest in creating value for the customer. A process that improves the organization’s ability to sell — with or without an acronym — is looking down the wrong end of the telescope.”

Well said. Creating value for the client is the goal here. Why is it that the analytics and CRM industries are struggling to sell their products? Blame the economy — or is there more to it?

Too often, organizations blame their sales force for their own failures. In a given quarter, a sales group goes out to prove its company’s value to the market. It’s easy to assign blame when their numbers come up short.

The truth is that CRM projects and analytic software implementations often do not deliver enough value to justify their cost. There are two solutions to this problem: lower the cost or improve results.

Lowering the cost of analytics feeds right into the buzz saw. If there’s one thing sales is criticized for, it’s lowering prices.

Aren’t salespeople telling us what the market tells them? Salespeople are almost never to blame for discounts. They are motivated to raise prices. Salespeople actually learn the market value of the product your company sells. The real question is: Why isn’t your product worth more?

Improving the value of analytics is the heart of the problem. Too often, boosting the bottom line, which could be accomplished with a successful CRM project, is sabotaged by legacy infrastructure, poor interdepartmental cooperation, project creep, and a dozen other possibilities. Value is not delivered. The customer isn’t to blame.

How do we get out of this jam? The industry needs a discontinuous leap in value creation. Incremental solutions won’t cut it. Salespeople won’t have the answers, but they can point to the problem.

We should start with salespeople rather than creating solutions in a vacuum then figuring out how the sales staff can push them out the door. Improving our ability to sell analytics is the goal.

Figure out what sales can sell. Then build it.

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