Carrying the Torch

July 29, 2016

If you carry the torch of sales innovation, you truly understand the forces that oppose it.

If anyone in the sales optimization arena has attempted to implement a new technology in the name of innovation, you have probably met some resistance. If you haven’t, please skip to the bottom of this post and message me ASAP, I’d like your secret to success! For the other 99% of us, resistance has taken many forms: direct resistance, indirect politics, unwillingness to adopt, not paying attention, or just being plain difficult.

In building and managing our own sales innovation lab at InsideOut, I have some very specific ideas on why sales people are hesitant to adopt new sales innovation technologies. Sales people don’t fear innovation simply because the technology is new, but because innovation often means losing a piece of their identity or their normal work habits. Innovation can separate sales people from their natural state, or more importantly, their sense of purpose. These are fundamental to the human experience, regardless of whether you are in sales, marketing, finance, or human resources.

Challenge: Sales people may oppose innovation even when it is in their best interest.

Farmers who worked their land for money were inclined to resist the advent and adoption of mechanical farm equipment. Seems like a ridiculous concept now, but people are afraid of what they don’t understand and fear the loss it will bring. As sales people, we often end up opposing the technology that will make our lives easier.

Innovation Solution: It takes leadership and clear vision to ensure that your sales teams ‘get the picture’ and see how the new technology can show a clear advantage: more sales, more leads, more time, and better conversion rates. Make sure you document that vision in advance and show the benefit before you get started.

Challenge: Sales people might make decisions about new innovations with their gut rather than evidence.

People once claimed that coffee could make you sterile or drive you into a state of hysteria (thank goodness that’s not true). On either side of the adoption equation, sales people will often make bold claims to bolster their argument, calling upon math, science, psychology, or any other number of disciplines to gain support for or against adoption of new technologies. We must acknowledge that this is an instinctive “gut” fear of new technology rather than a reasoned response.

Innovation Solution: It takes upfront and ongoing training certification to drive the positive perception into reality, making it fun via gamification, rewards, and high engagement; you can turn the tide of “gut” response to seeing the necessity of the tech stack.

If you carry the torch of sales innovation, adoption of your ideas and technologies can be hard work. I ask each of you to continue to carry that torch forward; your cause is a great one, and your ability to make a difference at your company is critical to sales success. We at InsideOut are here to help, as we carry the innovation torch forward every day, no matter how difficult, innovation will not cease.