Obviously, I am a HUGE proponent of the use of technology in business. I buy wholeheartedly into content marketing, SEO, and the social media revolution. I believe customers can be reached quicker and easier than ever before. For small businesses, technology has leveled the playing field. The same devices are available for little guy as are available for the major corporation. The Internet is the Wild West of business–a free-for-all in which all gun-slingers have the ability to participate. Technology can make you incredibly more efficient. It can help you do what you are already doing better than you are currently doing it. Without a doubt, technology is a good thing.
Dave Brock, one of my favorite experts on sales, recently wrote an article about sales 2.0–the idea of selling in the age of the Internet. The question was raised as to whether or not selling in today’s technologically inept environment makes sales people better at their jobs. Dave’s conclusion? “Sales 2.0 tools will not fix bad sales people.” If sales people are executing poor behaviors regarding the basics, all of the technology in the world will not help them. As a matter of fact, it will only make them be bad sales people more efficiently. It will help them, for example, kill 5 good leads in 20 minutes instead of in 2 hours. If you, as a sales person, are not doing your job in the first place, doing it faster isn’t going to help.
EFFICIENCY, EFFECTIVENESS, AND TECHNOLOGY
Management guru Peter Drucker is recognized for highlighting the key difference between efficiency and effectiveness. “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” In other words, being effective means focusing on the best way to accomplish a task. Being efficient focuses only on accomplishing the task itself. If you are completely effective and not at all efficient, you will accomplish your goal but it will take you forever. If you are completely efficient and not at all effective, you will have climbed the proverbial ladder only to realize that it was leaned up against the wrong wall. For business, both efficiency and effectiveness are important.
Technology is about efficiency. Why won’t sales 2.0 tools fix a bad sales person? Because they only making the sales person more efficient–not more effective. The same is true for small business owners. It doesn’t matter what tools you have at your disposal if you don’t know how to interact with your customers. Just because spamming your customers with endless advertisments is easier today than ever before, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Certainly, it’s more efficient. But is it any more effective? Sometimes, technology simply helps small business people do stupider things faster.
What does your social media look like? Is everything you post talking about your products? Again, you are more efficiently sending targeted ads than you could have every thought possible. But is it working? Is it effective? So, you have an automated email system for new leads? How many times has a customer received the wrong automated email? More efficient. Less effective. It’s time to get back to the basics. Understand your customers. Care about them. Look out for their interests. Do all these things first, and THEN technology will be able to help you. Be effective before you are efficient. Do smarter things faster.