I was impressed by the announcement by Salesforce.com last week of a new product combination it calls “Sales Reach.”
It’s supposed to be a mashup of sorts between Sales Cloud, Pardot and Communities functionality that helps reps run micro-campaigns, perform nurturing and develop communities. As someone who once carried a bag for a living, my reaction was, “Oh happy day!”
The reasons are not very hard to figure out. While marketing automation has taken the industry by storm over the last couple of years, I don’t know any business that generates all of the leads a sales person needs.
When I sold, companies did that — it was called the phone book, and the task was dialing for dollars, a mind-numbing job that must have been invented in some Russian gulag. (I think it’s good to poke Russia these days, don’t you?)
At any rate, the point is that reps always have been responsible for generating their own leads, and any help that came from marketing was considered extra. For many people, it still is.
Don’t get me wrong — I think marketing automation ranks up there with the invention of the wheel and red wine. However, the sales beast is a voracious consumer, so we do what we must to appease it.
So Salesforce introduced Sales Reach to help reps do what they’ve always done but with an eye to the 21st century. What I like here are the nurture and community aspects that, for the first time, put sales people in the center of an information hub.
This gives them instant credibility, because they can sell without selling. It helps them to touch customers more frequently — and at significantly lower costs than old school sales calls.
What the Sales Job Should Be
A while ago, I was speculating that marketing would become sales, or sales would become marketing, because with their sophisticated automation systems, marketers could do more to land a deal than conventional reps.
So I see this as that idea reimagined and favoring the sales side of the equation. I think that’s appropriate. In any situation that requires sales people, you’ll most likely have a sophisticated, complex and expensive product.
Moreover, the decision makers on the customer side will to one degree or another be betting a piece of their hides that their purchase decision will work.
When you put it that way, the sales rep really is a thought leader/consultant/aide to the decision-making process. That’s how reps earn their keep — not by dialing for dollars. So as I see it, this introduction goes to the heart of what the sales job should be.
My only disagreement is that I doubt it will accelerate sales for reasons that I have explained before but that boil down to this: Decisions take time, and we are reaching an asymptotic limit to shaving down the sales process.
However, a big “but” goes with this. The apparent result will be a kind of acceleration, because while no single deal truly will be accelerated, the leverage reps can get using a product like Sales Reach will put more deals into the pipe.
That will be the next best thing — more in, more out. A fatter pipe is a good thing. In fact, only a curmudgeon like me would split that hair. But hey.