Two-hundred miles per hour is a scary and dangerous speed to most people. If you look at the history of Formula 1, it was even a dangerous speed for most professional race car drivers.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Formula 1 drivers didn’t take many safety precautions. They raced in trousers and dress shirts, and in cars without seat belts. They raced on gut feelings and reflexes. The result was some incredible driving, but also drivers being thrown from cars with a 50/50 chance of survival. It really was living on the edge.
Things changed in the 1970s and 1980s with the advent of “telemetry” and onboard computers that analyzed your car’s movement around the track. After the race, you’d get a printout that suggested how you could have “Kissed the Apex,” i.e., taken the fastest trajectory around the curves without crashing. Oh, and that’s when the use of seat belts and fire suits cut down on actual deaths.
Fast forward to today, and Formula 1 cars have sensors everywhere. Every move the car and its driver makes is streamed in real time, analyzed, and adjustments are suggested at pit stops. It’s no longer a car, but a high speed data hub with several terabytes of data generated in a single race. Suddenly, driving at 200 MPH isn’t so dangerous–it’s routine.
The same thing is happening in B2B sales.
Breakneck speed: B2B sales
There has been a revolution in customer expectations, driven by the Amazons, Apples, and Ubers of the world. These companies, which have so changed our world, have crept up out of seemingly nowhere to change our lives. Uber was founded in 2009. The first iPhone was shipped in 2007. That’s only a few years ago: a blink of the eye.
Customers now expect more and faster. And if they don’t get it, they switch vendors. The “switching economy” is $6.2 trillion dollars a year, according to Accenture. That’s larger than the economy of almost every country in the world. It’s driven by customers who have a bad experience or two — sometimes just a single bad experience. And it’s driven by customers who don’t feel much of a connection to the company they are buying from.
So sales needs to keep up with this dizzying pace.
And like modern-day Formula 1 racing, you need the tools to do that — tools to make those pit stop adjustments automatically so that you can keep driving with the optimal speed and trajectory.
Many of the failures in customer experience have to do with clumsy and disconnected sales tools, bridged by manual processes and “gut feel.”
In most cases, it actually isn’t the sales rep’s fault that a customer goes away unhappy. Too many companies have tools that provide quotes too slowly, and don’t provide a full view of a customer engagement and the actual order, from lead to tracking supply chain and procurement. When you ask a sales person about a product and get a blank stare, it’s probably because they don’t have the tools that could have provided them with the answer in a timely manner.
SAP Sales Cloud was borne out of this need for a hyperconnected and hyper-speed sales experience.
It was built to be fast with quotes, fast with information on products, and fast with answers on back-end supply chains. It was built with automation and machine learning, not on gut feel. It was built with personalization at a deep level, including custom pricing and custom product lists sometimes only seen by a single customer.
And it is built on signals from sales activity and customer interactions — not on inaccurate and out-of-date information on pipeline stages and deal probabilities manually entered into an opportunity.
It was built on the need to accelerate sales to 200 mph.