If you are a Sales leader, I want you to join me in a little game of imagination.
For a moment, imagine you are an airplane pilot. Now imagine you are flying through clouds and can’t see a thing outside.
Of course, you have the row of instruments in front of you to help you – Dials, Charts, Lights, what have you. And you are expected to guide this plane to its destination successfully.
So here’s your conversation with your First Officer – who is your right-hand man (literally!)
“P (Pilot – which means you ) : It’s been almost 2 hours since we took off – how much distance have we covered? Where exactly are we now?
F (First Officer) : Sir, actually I have data as of 1 hour ago – I am waiting for the latest update .. should be getting it any moment now.
P: Okay – let me see what height are we flying at. Hey – why are these two altimeters showing different readings? Mine says we are at 30,000 ft and one in front of you shows 25,000 ft …
F: Oh – I know, Sir. This is always a problem. The data source into these two is slightly different – so we always need to reconcile. I have raised a request with our engineering team to get the right data source. They are working on it.
P: Hmm – I wonder how I am supposed to fly this plane if we don’t have the latest data. By the way, it seems we have some storm ahead of us and I would like to change course. Can you help me reprogram the flight computer?
F: Sir – We will have to do that manually – it takes almost 2 days for our IT team to make that change and we don’t have that much fuel to stay in the air for 2 days … “
While we hope the above is not an accurate description of what happens in a real cockpit, this is pretty much what many sales leaders go through on a daily basis.
Even after investing in ERPs and CRMs, the sales and channel data in most companies are scattered, managed on spreadsheets and out of date or inaccurate. Data for “extended sales partners” such as channel partners, distributors, agents is even more problematic.
What is sorely needed is “one source of truth” about sales and channels – targets, quotas, hierarchies, performance, rewards and analytics.
It is time companies seriously looked at acquiring the right Sales and Channel Management capabilities.