I have recently had substantial hands-on experience with cloud-based sales software, specifically SalesForce.com. While I have to admit that I am still brand new to SalesForce, I can speak to an interesting feature, namely the method by which SalesForce instructs users to differentiate leads from opportunities. Actually, I need to ask “Is this Really Necessary?”
After all, if we are in the sales business (let’s face it, even if you merely own a business you are still, at some level, responsible for sales), then we ought to have burned into our psyche the qualification that needs to be in place to move a mere lead into the hallowed company of true opportunities. But evidently we have not gone through this fire, at least according to SalesForce and the MARCOM team at another product that I have recently looked at, Marketo. Rather, they plan to “spoon feed” us through the stage of calling a lead a lead and an opportunity an opportunity with automated techniques (all of which, by the way, still require our manual input) that will let us know when to “convert” the matter at hand to something that will lead to some good old fashioned gelt.
Sorry state is all I can say. Perhaps the root need that these folks are addressing is the reality that in today’s marketplace leads for enterprise business products and solutions are growing very slowly. Sales and marketing teams are, perhaps, growing just a tad impatient with the slow pace that makes a turtle crossing a path look like a Ferrari on the track. So, let’s serve them up some systems to “nurture” and “convert”, but only at just the right time.
Bottom line is that technology innovators selling to today’s enterprise prospects are embarking on the complex sale. No ifs ands or buts about it. Leads will take lots and lots of time to progress. Technology innovators will have to frame value propositions strictly around why product or solution xyz is the only method of saving tons of cash or “fugettaboutit”. To get there much work will have to be done. Many contacts at the enterprise will have to be contacted to vet the real decision-makers and the real owner of that big hole in last quarter’s results. Therefore, to fail to track contacts by “accounts” while in SalesForce’s “lead” stage is, in my book, a big mistake.
Get used to the trenches. You are going to be there for quite a while.
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