It’s time to stop treating the symptoms and focus on the cause of the problem instead
I wrote a blogpost not too long ago, explaining where the name Heresy came from. In this post I’d like to focus on what’s behind that name and more specifically, why we decided to build Heresy in the first place.
Sales is fundamentally broken
Sales management practices are massively obsolete. Moreover, they are based on assumptions we believe to be fundamentally wrong. The main one being — salespeople are “phone monkeys”, whose only motivation is money. They have no morals and will sell their own mother without blinking an eye. This view has been enforced for years in popular culture and cinema. You don’t need to look further than Hollywood blockbuster The Wolf Of Wall Street or classics such as Boiler Room and Glengarry Glen Ross. With that assumption as a starting point, it should not be surprising that heavy-handed, top-down management has become the gold standard in Sales.
“First prize is a Cadillac El Dorado.
Second prize is a set of steak knives.
Third prize is — you’re fired!”
This command and control mentality has also set the tone for what sales management tools should look like. The CRM — a system of record which serves as the source of canonical truth in an organisation, is largely considered the be-all-end-all of sales tools. It’s the perfect tool to keep an eye on what sales people are doing. There is however a fundamental problem with this — CRMs are built to address the needs of sales managers and executive teams, but depend on data being fed in by the salespeople (to whom they add very little value). This always leads to the same problem — salespeople don’t keep the CRM up to date and even if they do, the data is often questionable, which in turn means weak reporting.
There is however an even bigger issue caused by the paradigm outlined above and the consequential adoption of top-down management. Salespeople are incentivised to work in silos, which makes collaboration and sharing of best practice near impossible. This often leads to low job satisfaction and high staff turnover rate, which is waved off as “natural” in Sales. Ironically this makes the job of sales managers harder, and significantly hinders growth potential altogether.
So how do you fix this mess?
While the CRM space is incredibly competitive, all current solutions are built upon the old paradigm outlined above, that could be largely classified as a “systems of record”. Everyone agrees that Salesforce.com is “crap”, yet no-one questions why that is. As a result, all new entrants in the space are treating the symptoms rather than addressing the cause of the problem.
We are not afraid to question the status quo and approach the problem from a completely different angle. Instead of seeking marginal improvements in the “system of record” and thus trying to make the life of managers and exec teams a little less crap, our focus is on addressing the needs of salespeople instead. We are therefore building a tool that adds value to salespeople first, helping them get better at the thing that really matters — closing deals. Our focus is therefore on improving and facilitating workflow (work prioritisation, accurate forecasting, visualisation, etc.). Reporting is still a key part of our offering, but is a byproduct that comes from aggregating data generated from the product’s usage. Furthermore it is something that we want to make equally available to the folks in the trenches, not just managers and executives.
This is only the beginning for us. In the long term, we are looking to make Sales more open and collaborative, enabling salespeople to learn from their peers (both internally and externally). We believe that adopting a collaborative approach to sales does not only lead to much better team performance, but also makes for happier employees and significantly reduces staff turnover rates (which is sales managers’ number one enemy). This is something I got the chance to do at Stack Overflow and I am absolutely thrilled at the prospect of now doing it not just on a company-wide, but industry level.