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How to Balance Technology and the Human Element in Sales

Talking about new technology is fun.

Finding new tech to increase the efficiency of sales and marketing and to increase revenue is very exciting. That’s why everyone spends so much time talking about it and reading up on new tech that enters the field.

Still, with this emphasis on technology, it can be easy to forget the most basic elements of business.

Most notably, the human factor that goes into both sales and marketing can be overlooked.

In this episode, Garth Moulton, SVP of Business Development for Pipl, talks about why it’s important to remember that while technology is useful, it’s still less important than the human element in sales and marketing.

“Not having enough data has never been the problem. It’s being able to link it and find meaning.” – Garth Moulton"

“All the tech in the world is not going to replace a contextual human relationship.” –Rick Holmes

Talking about new technology is exciting because everyone wants the big easy button for sales and/or marketing.

Everyone wants the new application or platform that’s going to take away all of their revenue worries. This desire for tech to solve all the issues is misguided. Sure, technology can increase efficiency and revenue, but it will never solve all of the problems involved with sales and marketing.

"Tech will never solve all of the problems with sales and marketing."

Technology will never replace salespeople or marketers because the human element will always be important. You’re selling to humans, and they prefer to deal with other humans.

With that in mind, here’s a look at a couple of specific areas where it’s important to remember that 1) not much has really changed and 2) the human element in sales and marketing is here to stay.

Not having enough data has never been the problem

The Enduring Power of Phone Calls

With the ability to automate so many things, specifically email, it’s easy to think that phone calls are a dinosaur of the sales world and that the meteor to destroy them for good is just around the corner. It’s easy to believe, but it’s also wrong.

Phone calls still play an important role in closing deals. The only thing that’s really better for this than a phone call is an in-person meeting, which isn’t always possible. A good salesperson on the line can help an executive who’s teetering on the edge of a decision to make the jump and throw his or her support behind a deal. Could this happen over an email? Sure, but it’s less likely.

Of course, it’s worth noting that mobile has thrown a bit of a kink into the direct dial strategy. It’s difficult to get direct dial phone numbers in general, but it has become particularly hard since there are more laws surrounding the use of mobile numbers than landlines for sales or marketing purposes.

That said, the real power of phone conversations comes later in the sales process anyway.

Email and social media are great for setting up a phone interview, so newer technology is certainly helpful. However, the really important conversations are still going to take place over the phone for the foreseeable future.

Sales and Marketing Alignment

One of the biggest buzzwords in the industry is “account-based marketing.” The term sounds fresh, exciting, and really smart. But despite the way it sounds, it’s not so different from what a lot of companies have already been doing for years.

The reason ABM really seems so revolutionary is that it’s going back to the basics of sales and marketing alignment. Now, that in itself is sort of a buzzword these days, but it’s also an idea that’s been around for a long time. Everyone likes to bewail the fact that sales and marketing just can’t get along.

Marketing delivers crappy leads because they don’t understand the buyers. The salespeople have no idea how to sell an umbrella when it’s raining.


Yet, everyone knows that the truth of these allegations is somewhere in the middle. At this point, everyone knows that the real issue is miscommunication, so that’s what companies have been working on for a while now.

The important part is sales and marketing working together to connect with prospects in order to increase revenue. It’s just one group of people working with another group of people to reach a shared goal. ABM is just another strategy to make that happen. Of course, various products and services have sprung up to help with the strategy of account-based marketing. While these may increase efficiency, they really aren’t doing anything terribly revolutionary, either.

One-to-one emails are nothing new. Organizing leads into groups isn’t new. Neither is opening up communication with the sales team so that they can work together with marketing. These are all pretty fundamental concepts. The first step for selling a new product is to understand who the buyer actually is rather than who the founder or the product development team believes the buyer is. That involves talking with both sales and marketing to create a common language and shared goals.

At its heart, ABM is a very basic concept that had already taken root in the sales and marketing psyche long before it became an industry buzzword.


Salespeople and marketers will always be necessary.

While it’s fun to talk about the newest tech or latest strategies for increasing revenue, in the end, not much really changes.

People and their very human interactions are still at the heart of sales and marketing success.


This episode is based on an interview with Garth Moulton, Senior VP of Business Development at Pipl. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to  The Corporate Data Show.