Dolly the sheep was born in 1996. As you may recall, Dolly was the world’s first successful y cloned mammal. At that time, the world was abuzz with the news, and researchers Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell and the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland took center stage. Ethicists were horrified that humans would be cloned next and laws were passed to prevent it. Shocking news indeed!
Also at this time, another movement was afoot within corporate America. For the first time, many businesses were introduced to Sales Force Automation. Sales Force Automation held the promise that sales information could now be easily captured and shared throughout the enterprise. Moreover, these new systems would enable businesses to “clone” the activities of the most successful reps to deliver consistency in the sales cycle. Many businesses seized upon this opportunity, investing millions, all with the goal of empowering their sales people to do their jobs more efficiently. Along the way, business leaders felt automating the sales force didn’t go far enough; however, and eventually Sales Force Automation was replaced with moniker Customer Relationship Management. This new and expanded frontier included all Marketing and Support functions and the concept of a 360-degree view of the customer was born.
Fast forward to 2011, and these many businesses who have spent enormous sums of money on software and services have yet to see a significant ROI on these investments. Furthermore and more regrettably, they have lost some of the very benefits they looked to achieve. Why? In a word – Management. Rather than looking at SFA/CRM as a process enabler, management heavily over-engineered these systems and overburdened users with required fields, thus limiting their access to useful functionality. As a result, these systems stopped being a tool to help salespeople work more efficiently, and instead they became time consuming, burdensome yokes on the sales reps who find them difficult to use.
In closing, cloning the activities of top performers is a great idea that deserves a second look. In my opinion, it’s time for businesses to re-examine their implementations and strip out required fields that hinder productivity, and embed workflow that advances the sales cycle. By doing so, you now have the power to unlock the ability to clone many activities of top performers, which is what these systems were originally designed to do. While it’s perhaps crazy to believe that everyone will achieve top performer results, it’s not so crazy to believe that it’s possible to systematically raise the performance of low-mid performing sales reps, if SFA/CRM systems are designed and implemented wisely – There’s no reason to be sheepish about that.