By Nicolas Votano
Head of Strategy – Global Accounts
Frost & Sullivan
Digitalization. Disruptive technologies. Innovation. These ‘’key words’’ are reshaping our world on a daily basis. Most companies have to reinvent themselves, thinking about the new role they will play in a value chain that does not exist yet. Competitors are becoming potential partners. Clients or suppliers are becoming potential competitors. Business models are multidimensional and growth expectations are more and more challenging.
Technology is a fantastic growth accelerator across regions, across industries. This is a fact. A lot of theories are embracing the idea that one day, technology will be a substitute for the human brain. Maybe.
But let’s be precise: In the future, technology will probably be a substitute for our left brain side. And here is the thing: sales and talent management is mostly about our capacity to leverage our right-brain side. In this case, technology and humans are not competing with each other. They are tag teaming in order to improve company performances.
Like a lot of business executives, I completed a Master’s Degree in one of the best European business schools. Fine. But, after 10 years spent with sales teams, clients and partners, I keep wondering why these big schools do not include an intense training on human psychology. Sales and Talent Management is all about our capacity to read minds. Is technology able to read minds? Some predictive analytics experts will probably claim it. I still believe that the success of a company is highly depending on the collective journey you are able to build with and for your employees. It is the story of men and women defined to succeed together.
Do not get me wrong, it would be a huge mistake to describe technology as detrimental to our societies. Technology is enhancing our capabilities. More important, technology is a dream maker. It is driving our technical and rational barriers to unlock unlimited creativity. In a sense, technology is allowing us to be more artistic, more imaginative. To a certain extent: more human.
Let’s come back to talent management. Of course, technology speediness and intensity has a huge impact on our day to day mission. We have to permanently adapt ourselves to a world in constant evolution. We need to be more flexible, more reactive in a complex environment. But, let’s see it as an incredible opportunity to better manage our talents and our clients.
With the explosion of data analytics, we are now able to factually analyse our performances, and our way of doing business. Nice. We are also able to personalise our client strategies, based on their actions. Personalisation: this is the bridge between talent, sales management and technology.
Technology is supporting us in building customised messages and actions in each interaction. Personalisation is helping us to understand key psychological factors (KPF), behind each discussion.
Remember my initial statement: talent/sales management is all about our capacity to read minds and adapt our behaviours to our interlocutor. In the past, management methodologies, rules, and principles were defined, and formulated as a common recipe to maximise our chances to win. But, from experience, each client contact, each management meeting, each pipeline session, each performance review is different. If you want to be a successful manager, you have to know how to read the invisible, see the intangible. Understanding the psychology of your team members, or the unsaid words hidden behind a client discussion is a key success factor building trusted relationships.
We used to call this intuition. Today, we can consolidate this intuition with an analytical layer offered by data, ratios, and coefficients. But the most important action is to leverage this analytical layer to consolidate human relations. Technology will never replace a feeling, an emotion, or a hand shake that will make a critical difference between a ‘’Yes’’ and a ‘’No’’ from a client. Sales teams will follow their leaders if and only if they believe in him or her. If they trust that you are capable and credible. Computer analysis can help you to deeply understand and measure your team’s performance. No technology will help you to improve your level of empathy, and charisma.
To conclude, we live in time when technology is becoming a key pillar in our roles and missions. But, let’s keep in mind that this pillar will only be a precious complement to all the other features that you need to become a respected leader in your organization. A company is human adventure. And when you look into the eyes of your team, never forget that your position is highly dependent on them, and on their desire to follow you…with their right-brain…;)
Nicolas Votano has worked in Italy, France, the United Kingdom and the U.S., bringing international experience to his current role as Head of Strategy, Global Clients at Frost & Sullivan. Over the last ten years, Nicolas has worked very closely with sales teams and clients at a global level. His specialties include corporate strategy, sales, sales management, and sales training.
Before taking the lead on Frost and Sullivan’s Global Accounts Strategy, Nicolas was Director of Technology and Innovation at Frost Americas.