Sales Technology: Why Systems of Engagement Trump Systems of Record

By Kelly Dotson

Sales Technology: Why Systems of Engagement Trump Systems of Record

Sales organizations have been pursuing the optimal sales process since the beginning of time. As technology has evolved, solutions have emerged to help smooth out and fill gaps in the sales process.

The sales tech stack is in endless pursuit of enhancing the effectiveness of the seller, increasing the velocity of the sale, and increasing the volume or productivity of each seller.

Achieving this has meant striving towards a shorter, more efficient and predictable sales cycle.  But where does that leave the messy variable of creativity?

Sales Technology: Systems of Record

Initially, most sales tech solutions focused on sales infrastructure or “plumbing” and are commonly called Systems of Record.  These are tools that help your seller internally – before they even engage with your customer – and include technology like CRM, territory management software, asset-management systems and automated quotations.

Not surprisingly, the sales stack has focused on the systems that automate – smooth out – the gaps that can be solved through a replicable process.  Hence the dominance of systems of record like CRM and SFA that align territories and opportunity management.  Noticeably, they’re typically systems of much more value to sales management than to the seller themselves.

The reality is that there are still things that get in the way of smoothing out the sales process, things that can’t be solved with a replicable process.  And it is this non-linear, noisy sales activity that gets in the way of achieving those goals of enhancing performance, velocity and volume. In short, people get in the way.  People … with their wonderful, creative, instinctive capabilities.

Sales Technology: Systems of Engagement

To be disruptive in the sales process, you need to complement these Systems of Record with technologies that are customer-facing, interactive, and personalized.
Hello, Sales Enablement!

Sales Enablement technology is a System of Engagement that serves up the right information at the right time, so sellers are empowered to guide customers through the purchase process. There are two ways to approach this:  automate the creativity and independence out of the seller (by designing it into the technology) or automate creativity and independence into the seller.

Both approaches have a place.  As marketers seek to extend down the funnel from lead gen into pipeline management or even automated deal closure, creativity and independence are replicated into the system – as good enough.  The fewer the variables (e.g., the less complex the sale), the better this approach.  On the flip side, the more complex the selling situation, the more creativity and independence is needed by the seller.

The same goes for sales management strategy:  the more they want “more of the same,” the more they can lean on systems that automate in that creativity.  There’s a place for that. Sales management looking for transformation has a different challenge and it requires a different tool.  The transformation of sellers from farmers to hunters requires immersive learning and just-in-time coaching and training, as does the transfer of institutional knowledge as a generation of top sellers gets ready to retire.

In short, they need systems of engagement that inspire creativity and support the thinking seller.  In a world of increasingly complexity, our bet’s on them.

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