Automation vs. Relationships

Back in the day before sales automation, we built relationships using index cards, pens, and the telephone.

We would send letters, notes, and sales material. Other than walking in the door, that pretty much was our tool kit. We made it work well because it was what we had. And WE worked IT.

Then ‘sales automation’ came along. I jumped on the wagon early because just a little leverage could make a huge difference. I wanted leverage.

Over the years, I’ve used flat databases, relational databases, spreadsheets, high-dollar-super-slick CRM’s, and also some pretty kludgy pieces of crap.

And you know what? I made every one of them work and get results because I understood a simple truth:

The tool is not the craftsperson.

I worked the system. I drove the system. The system did not drive me.

Sales are made because you do some fundamentals:

  • Contact people.
  • Sort buyers from non-buyers.
  • Stay in touch with people through each stage of THEIR buying cycle. (Hint: Know who people are as people, what they care about, and how they might need you now or in the future.)
  • Be there at the right time with the right message.
  • Follow a system to help people discover and deal with their problems so that you can fix those problems for them.

Last week at a talk I was giving, I stated, “It’s not rocket science.”

Then I corrected myself because it really is rocket science when considered from its practical application:

Fuel the rocket.
Point the rocket.
Fire the rocket.*

Your sales game plan needs to be that simple.

Fuel. Point. Fire.

Anything more complicated than that distracts you from your primary function as a seller. There are so many nuances to human behavior for you to manage in selling that you need a super simple system to do so.

You need the best combination of rich data with simple execution.

Write down steps on paper. Have a personal (human) operating system before you relinquish it to some kind of artificial intelligence. Then, whatever tool you use, keep in mind that unless you, the craftsperson/salesperson, are clear in your own mind about what you want to make happen, a CRM (that artificial intelligence) will just make things a bigger mess faster than you could imagine, one that you may not be able to unravel.

My CRM search so far has left me in the Cloze camp since I can quickly link to all my social media and, with a single entry into the database, find the information on any device (mobile, desk top, or phone). It is really cool. (No, they don’t pay me to recommend it. I’m working on them though 🙂 )

However, in every step of my career, I never have lost sight of the simple fact that as a Practitioner of Sellan my job is to know the value needed, to deliver that value, and to do so with another human being. Machines, AI, CRM, computers…all of that stuff…are all there as tools to make it easier to get on with the most important work: Being Human.

*Yes, I know there is more to rockets than that; however, unless you currently are sitting at a design desk with a slide rule (don’t know what a slide rule is – click here), it’s irrelevant for our purposes. If you’re at that design desk, why are you reading about sales? Get back to work on the rocket! Or talk to me about a career change.

Michael Stammer is a Sales | Life | Performance coach available for individual and group coaching and speaking to organizations. For more visit

Header photo by iwouldificould used under Creative Commons License.
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