May 5, 2015

The Importance of Human Connection and Development in a Technology Driven World

Lauren Bailey, President and Inside Sales Advisor at Factor 8, recently sat down with the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share her insight on the seventh annual AA-ISP Inside Sales Leadership Summit. The Expert Interview Series, hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner, explores the business technology landscape through conversations with industry leaders.

Lauren joined Buckner to discuss the future of inside sales, how to develop leaders, and the importance of human connection with customers.

TECHNOLOGYADVICE: As the world becomes increasingly tech-centric and businesses use software to automate more and more processes, do you think the human-to-human connection is going to disappear?

Lauren:  No. In fact, I think we’re having trouble with it right now. One of the points I’ve made on stage was we’ve given reps so many tools, but a tool cannot replace a good relationship. Stories work because it helps us see that people are people. We’ve all heard it, people like to buy from people. It’s one of the oldest and strongest arguments for field sales.

What the experts tell us we’re supposed to do is engage human to human. I’ll tell you that I think tools are fantastic and reps need tools, but I think we’ve gotten a little over-tooled. And I disagree with Gartner saying we’re going to replace people in ten years. I think the pendulum’s going to shift the other way and we’re going to start crying out and saying, “Hey, stop already. I don’t need more email. I don’t need more messages. I don’t need more tools. I need more humans.” 

TA: That’s something that we hear on the series often. You don’t want your sales team to get buried with entering data all day long, you want them to focus on people.

Lauren: Exactly. The problem is there is absolutely a proven correlation between high activity and high revenue – as activity goes down so do results, when activity goes up results go up. Measure activity, but also manage the KPIs and results.

TA: Let’s talk a little about the conference you just got back from and some of the activities that happened at the conference. What was the experience like? 

Lauren: First, I’ll tell you that AA-ISP is committed to developing and improving the professionalism and the performance of inside sales. Topics include the future of inside sales, analytics, there’s always talk about social media and developing your leaders.

One of the big things that came out of this year was that there’s a huge gap of available inside leaders in our industry. Our president, Bob Perkins, gets calls weekly looking for global leaders of inside sales. The number of VPs of inside sales in our profession just keeps doubling every year, and we don’t have the talent to fill it and that starts at the management level.

So one of the big trends was our responsibility as leaders to be developing our managers, so that we can help fill this void. Because our industry is growing at a very rapid rate, and we’re already in a hiring crisis. 

TA: That reminds me of similar employee-centric conversations we have on this series: we often talk about how modern HR software helps develop talent and manage that talent, and create a culture of innovation and learning. It sounds like this conference is a full 360 experience of everything you need to be doing to establish, grow, and continue to nurture your inside sales team.

You’re exactly right because one can’t exist without the other.

It’s people, it’s process, it’s technology, and this conference absolutely covers all three. In fact, if you’ve been talking in some of the other series about HR and development – like you said, talent and culture – AA-ISP does a study every year of the top challenges in our industry. It’s a phenomenal study and here’s my favorite single quote from it, “The number one challenge at a leader level and in an employee level is people development. It is a crisis out there.”

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Listen to the entire show above in order to hear our full conversation, or download the show to listen later. You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes. This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Clark Buckner.

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