What a fighter pilot can teach us about increasing sales

In the gulf war, before an F15 pilot friend of mine went into a dogfight, he would turn off all but a couple of his heads up warning and information systems . Why? Because the “feature-rich” environment created so much information overload that it kept him from being focused on the two things he needed to focus on – shooting the other guy down and staying alive. What does that have to do with increasing sales?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, as with most software, suffers from the same “feature-rich” problem. And it actually has the opposite effect than intended – it actually keeps us from making more money.

The key to making more money in less time is not feature rich CRM software, butsimplicity, intentionality, and speed of execution.

We actually think more is better, but our usage doesn’t gel with our thinking. Some say that 90% of MS Word buyers use only 10% of the features. I would guess the gap is even bigger. In CRM software, we over-pay for a feature rich environment that should be turned off so we can concentrate on the two things we should focus on – 1) moving people through the sales pipeline while 2)growing raving fans of our existing clients.

Why do we buy CRM software? Largely because our addiction to information, reports, and dizzying statistics makes us feel like we’re actually growing our business when we’re just being really organized. “I have a great database, I must be doing well in sales.” This is EFFICIENCY without EFFECTIVENESS.

What we really need to build our sales:

  1. Simplicity – a) who are we talking to, b) where are they in the buying process, and c) what is the next thing and date I need to do to move them forward? With exceptions, the rest of the features are just distractions to make us feel like we’re working when we’re really just playing office. Go talk to people.
  2. Intentionality – the key isn’t more info – it’s having a specific date for every action that moves the relationships forward – just get out and get it done on that date.
  3. Speed of Execution – stop looking at your spreadsheets/CRM and go talk to people. A robust CRM with tortured reports is not the basis for making more money. Speed of execution is the #1 indicator of success among successful sales people. Time kills deals.

I need something simple that will get me out of my office, off my computer, away from my database and in front of my clients and potential clients, developing referrals, and making more money in less time. A CRM that could do that would be worth buying. I haven’t found one yet.

I use a spreadsheet that tells me who I’m talking to, where they are in the process, and the next thing/date for moving them forward. Then I go do it. It isn’t very impressive, and I can’t print out graphs, charts, and complex reports. All it does is help me make more money in less time.

Do you have a simple pipeline management system that serves you and keeps you moving forward? (FYI – having no tracking system is even worse than having something that is too complex.) Turn off all the distracting features that aren’t focused directly on making more money, and get focused on speed of execution in doing the two-three things that will bring you more clients. Happy hunting!