Sales specialization. A word that is often used by the sales pundits of our day, sales trainers, venture capitalists, and bloggers (sometimes all three of these can even be the same person / company).
The message about sales specialization meets the needs of these pundits. It’s trendy and gets contemporary sales trainers gigs. It results in more spend on personnel and software, which pleases investors looking to deploy large funds. And it generates click throughs onto blog articles.
But is specialization truly what’s best for you, the small to medium business?
We would argue that it’s most likely not. In fact, as far as we can research the concept of sales-related specialization was developed at Salesforce.com by Aaron Ross, who (according to his LinkedIn profile) joined the company just over 18 months before it went public at around a $1 billion valuation. That’s much larger than most small to medium businesses.
So what IS best for your needs? We think it’s simple: whatever generates your business the most revenue for the least expense. Also known as profit.
There are two types of “assets” to consider specializing. Your people. And the systems they use to do their jobs. Where we agree with the pundits is that personnel specialization can definitely increase productivity. We agree with that message wholeheartedly. We simply believe that personnel specialization is most effective for most small and medium businesses when planned on your profit curve, not your growth curve.
On the other hand, we believe systems should not follow the specialization trend for the majority of small and medium businesses out there. Quite simply, IF you can get away with fewer software subscriptions, your profit margins will go up.
As a small business ourselves, here is what has been made available to us, should we choose to buy into all of the “ROI” promised by the people selling the tools:
- Landing page systems.
- Lead list subscriptions.
- Systems that nurture those leads lists for us.
- Email marketing systems to keep the leads informed with newsletters.
- Drip marketing systems to enable each lead get the same message series from us, whenever they hit the go button with researching our offering.
- Marketing automation systems for us to nurture leads (once they get to us from #3, 4, and 5).
- Contact management systems to try and maintain a master list of all the contacts in all of the systems.
- Pipeline management systems for us to track opportunities after they are “qualified” by the marketing automation systems.
- Sales email systems for us to nurture and work email communication with our opportunities.
- Pipeline visualization tools for us to graphically see how great our pipeline is.
- On-boarding systems for us to nurture the opportunities who converted to customers.
- Surveying systems for us to reach out to existing customers and gather data, which will in turn result in more customers.
- Connector systems which will try and connect data from each of our specialized systems to one another.
- Marketplaces to find all of these tools and more.
- And on, and on, and on….
Holy cow! That’s overwhelming in so many ways. From the potential costs, to the time to research the “best” option in each category, to the sunk costs of setting everything up, to the resources to maintain and manage, and, and, and… Overwhelming indeed! In fact, we’d probably go broke trying to generate all of the ROI promised to us.
What if there is a simpler way that is more inline with your goals for profit?
Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to worry about all of these tools! Well, first and foremost we suggest you do a little house cleaning. Take a step back and figure out what NOT to deal with. We even wrote a blog article about how to choose what not to do.
Once you decide which systems are actually important to your business, evaluate what’s out there using these criteria:
- Is one option a standalone feature or part of a larger system? (software is so easy to build these days that we believe too many “products” are really just features).
- If the feature is part of a larger system, do the other aspects of that system meet the needs of what you’ve decided is best for your business? (And if not, might they in the near’ish future).
- What are the total costs of all of the systems you need? (We’ve found that often times even if you’re only using part of a larger system, the cost is comparable to a competitive feature, which means the larger system gives you upside into more functionality without adding to your costs).
- What will be the sign up, setup, and ongoing maintenance required for each of the tools you choose? By maintenance we mean subscription costs and time on your end to utilize the tool(s) correctly.
We at VipeCloud offered a few specialized tools for a while, and then realized that we believe too many small businesses (like ourselves) are being shoehorned into overspecialized products. For example, many CRMs don’t include email marketing. And if they do, they have tight limits and only offer partial functionality. That doesn’t make sense to us from the perspective of the small to medium business’ needs.
So we recently launched our own All in One CRM offering, designed from the perspective of what most small and medium businesses need. As such we offer sales, pipeline, and campaign tools all in a single system. We welcome you to consider VipeCloud as a system that will address most all of your sales and marketing needs.