It’s (Still) Not About the Tools

I ride a bicycle. Well, that’s not really true; when the weather cooperates I ride a bicycle. I am not in the same shape I was a few years ago when I rode my bicycle 160 miles across Death Valley. And, I have never, ever been fast.

So, extrapolating the lessons many would have us learn from Sales 2.0 and Social Selling, I have decided that the only way I can become the cyclist that I wish to be is to buy a new bicycle, a new kit, new shoes and cleats, a new helmet, and new gloves.

Upon donning my new attire and my new bicycle, I will be magically transformed into a cyclist that can hold his own with Lance Armstrong, right?

Resisting Shiny New Tools and Novelties

That’s a ridiculous premise, isn’t it? You don’t get into bicycle shape by buying a new bicycle. And you don’t get better at selling by focusing on all of the tools that are available to you, either.

It’s easy to understand that the tools don’t give you the massive improvement you need in everything outside of sales. Why then is it so difficult to resist the shiny allure of new tools when it comes to sales effectiveness?

Excellent sales force automation software is a real asset to a salesperson (and their organization). But the software does very little to increase the salesperson’s effectiveness when it comes to creating value for their dream client in face-to-face sales interactions. Effectiveness in sales meetings is made up of something deeper.

A killer sales process can guide a salesperson through the progression of taking a dream client from target to close, ensuring that they know what they need to do to increase their odds of winning at every stage along the way. But put in the hands of a salesperson that doesn’t have the ability to ask for and obtain the commitments that open opportunities, any process that would occur beyond that point is meaningless. Creating and advancing opportunities is made up of something else.

All of the social media tools available can be a wonderful addition to a salesperson’s toolkit. Personally, I have enjoyed some great wins that were enabled by this blog, by Twitter, and by LinkedIn. But these tools only enabled them; I still had to be someone with the whole compliment of sales skills, including being someone with whom it is worth doing business.

The Last Few Percentage Points

I love all the advertisements in the cycling magazines, all of which suggest you can become faster and stronger using their gear. All of their claims are true, provided you are at the very peak level of fitness and have gotten all of the gains you can from training hard, from riding every day, and from paying the price.

The claims made of Sales 2.0 and social selling are also essentially true—as long as you have already paid the price to build the full compliment of sales skills and attributes that are necessary to winning your dream clients. The tools aren’t a substitute for learning to sell; they are a compliment to it. They are only good for helping you bridge the last few percentage points of gains that are available to you.

On the bike, the minute the road turns sharply upwards, your fitness level is exposed for what is. The same is true with sales.


What tools do you believe are a replacement for the underlying attributes and skills that are required to sell effectively?

What does it really take to improve and increase your sales effectiveness? Are tools by themselves ever enough?

Why do we sometimes fall for the promises of tools?

How do the right tools help enable your already excellent sales skills and abilities?

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Filed under: Sales

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