Sales Performance Management is Not Just All About Technology

Sales Performance Management technology has come a long way over the last twenty years. Through the years, we have realized that the promise of SPM cannot be met just by technology alone. Sales are incented to make money selling solutions. Services are incented by billing customers. Sales might sell regardless of fit. Services might try to extend the project as long as possible. Heaven help the person responsible for customer satisfaction.

Whenever I hear an SPM vendor saying “align corporate goals with objectives”, I have to hold back a laugh. Truth is, technology is just part of the solution; it is not the solution in and of itself.

I have had the opportunity to attend World at Work conferences since 2000 in Seattle when they changed their name from ACA to W@W. Every year I have attended, there is a common question people are looking to get an answer for: “How can I roll out plans so people can understand them?”. That means the question is still being asked after 20 years. Clearly this is not a simple fix and there are no silver bullets. However, I do have a thought that might help get us closer.

In 1987, former President of Scandinavian Airlines Jan Carlzon, wrote a book entitled “Moments of Truth”. In the book, he tells a story that has stuck with me for 25 years. He talks about a trip to Italy where he is walking around and comes across a quarry. He sees a man working and asks, “What are you doing?”. The man responds, “What does it look like I am doing? I am breaking up this rock”.

Jan continues his walk and sees another man and asks the same question. The man responds, “I am part of a team, building a cathedral”.

My takeaway from this is while technology is great, the key questions actually are:

  • Does leadership show their teams what the cathedral is? Can leadership show them what their place is on the team that is building it?
  • Does everyone on the team understand what leadership really means?
It cannot be one or the other. We need both.

If we can get these two questions answered in the affirmative while using SPM technology, it will help the company develop loyal customers.