How to Navigate the Complex and Growing Landscape of Technology Point Solutions
If you have a need in your sales organization, the odds are good that there is a point solution technology designed to address it.
Need to record calls for coaching? Point solution. Need to improve prospecting? Point solution. Need to generate lists for prospecting? Point solution. Need to manage accounts and opportunities better than your CRM provides for? Point solution. Want to automate scheduling? Point solution. Want to provide org charts for your salespeople? Point solution.
On the face of it, this seems like good news, but the reality isn’t quite so simple. In fact, too many point solutions can create a bigger problem than the one they fix, a problem I call “point pollution.”
What is Point Pollution?
Point pollution is what happens when we get overzealous with point solutions and end up cluttering our sales process with excess technology complexity.
It starts with point solutions that promise to solve problems. We buy them and add them to our “sales stack” (a made-up word that puts a positive spin on technology complexity, but that reveals the reality that all you’re doing is stacking things on top of each other).
When we do this without a clear strategic plan and purpose, it creates problems throughout our organization.
For salespeople, multiple point solutions interrupt their workflow, forcing them to switch between interfaces and keep track of multiple platforms and workflows. This is bad for productivity, as it leads to constant task-switching. Psychology Today, reports that task-switching can represent a loss of up to 40% productivity every day.
In addition, each new point solution requires that salespeople stop their workflow and learn a new interface and new skills. If training is provided, this represents another expenditure of resources to provide the training. If training is not provided, it leaves the salespeople to flounder as best they can, losing time or perhaps simply not bothering.
The loss may be minor for any one point solution, just as the effort in picking up a piece of trash is minor. But when more solutions are stacked on top of the old solutions, it quickly becomes a burden, just as trash on top of trash becomes pollution.
On top of that, most organizations do not get the value they expect out of each point solution, representing cost without benefit.
Point solutions can create expensive point pollution. Think more holistically about sales technology.
Who Benefits from Point Pollution?
If point solutions are so bad for sales organizations, it’s reasonable to ask why they exist. Somebody must be benefiting from them, right?
The answer is yes, somebody is. And most of those somebodies are their creators.
Many start-ups develop point solutions for the purpose of eventually being purchased and integrated into a larger technology, such as one of the giant CRM platforms. Their goal is to sell a lot of licenses, get the attention of these giants, and then sell the company and walk away.
It might seem like good news for sales organizations when the point solutions are integrated into a larger platform, as it would seem to eliminate a lot of the “pollution” problem. Unfortunately, when that happens, it feeds a bigger problem: The many-headed Hydra of technology complexity, where as soon as you fix one part of your technology system, it creates a new problem elsewhere. This is what happens when a piece of technology has so much functionality that it can serve everyone–it ends up serving no one.
Instead, you have more plug-ins, more customization, more complexity, more development $$, more headaches and delays and frustrations and loss of productivity. And your salespeople probably still aren’t using the solutions the way you meant for them to.
Oh, but surely some organizations benefit from point solutions!
Actually, yes! Some organizations do. The key is to integrate your purchase of technology into your sales strategy.
Know HOW you sell. Document a process for selling YOUR way. Train your people in how to sell that way.
Then invest in the technologies that genuinely enable your sales teams to operate efficiently and effectively according to how you need them to sell. Your primary technology platform should be flexible, dynamic, intuitive, and it should contain exactly and only the functions you need–nothing extra, nothing missing.
Or, if something is missing, add a very few point solutions to solve the legitimately critical issues in your organization. In this context, those solutions can be real solutions, because they address a real need rather than being bolted into your organization in a vague hope that they’ll make things easier or better.
Point pollution is bad for everyone. By taking a strategic approach and carefully evaluating your technologies–not just choosing what everyone else has or the platform that promises everything–you can avoid point pollution in your organization and improve your team’s efficiency and effectiveness.
Author, George Brontén is Sales Effectiveness Pioneer at Membrain.com
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