Technology Solves People Problems

“Jon, I don’t know exactly what your software does, but I know if it’s going to be successful, getting buy-in from frontline sales reps is everything. I’ve seen new processes and technology — regardless of which generation — get bounced from an organization because the people in the trenches didn’t embrace it. There was little benefit to them.”

Playing cards with JR.

This past weekend I spent with my dad and grandfather “JR” down in Florida. Other than blessed, there isn’t another word to describe growing up with him in my life. Out of college, JR was a reporter for the Associated Press, turned PR man for The Ford Motor Company, before selling and advertising canned soup to American families for over 30 years at The Campbell Soup Company.

“Understand the sales reps motivation and what drives them to succeed — now if your software can help them with those goals, you’ll have a winner,” JR added.

When explaining Rivalry, the sales process management software company we’re building, it would first take 20 minutes to catch him up on the past 40 years of sales technology. CRM might as well be one of FDR’s alphabet soup programs to him…and the concept of SaaS? Yeah right.

However, what JR does know really well is people.

“When I was at Campbell Soup, I didn’t lose one union vote, not one, and we had at least 40 of them. I was one of the few executives who did everything I could to understand the needs of the front line.”

As we’re building the MVP for Rivalry, we’ve been focused on the sales manager. They’re our buyer, user, and main focus as of now. After this trip, I’ve marinated on how the valuable data and insight we’ll be gathering with Rivalry can help the sales rep do their jobs better everyday. The possibilities are endless in improving a sales rep’s workflow with Rivalry, but little mental energy has gone into exploring these ideas.

“Half the time, the wives knew the husband’s sales numbers better than the husbands. Make technology that will change the discussion they have with their pillows under their heads,” he continued. Meaning, if your technology is making such an impact that it’s altering the discussion at such a personal moment in the day, you’re on the right path.

Whether it’s the typewriter or the latest SaaS web app, technology solves people problems.

If a sales organization can exceed their numbers, bigger paychecks get delivered. Now that sales rep can buy the car he’s wanted or send his kids to private school or join the golf club he’s been eyeing for awhile now. Those types of discussions.

This past weekend, after hanging out with JR, I’ve placed a higher priority on including features for the sales rep sooner than I had before. Customer feedback will be the final decision-maker, but if Rivalry can dramatically improve the lives of the frontline sales reps who are in the trenches everyday, the sky is the limit for us.

Technology has been around forever, using it to solve human problems is everything.

Thanks for reminding me JR.




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