An Open Letter of Apology to J. Michael Arrington

Note to self: don’t say the term “proctology” on stage at a TechCrunch Disrupt Event.

While I’ve heard every expletive imaginable at a Disrupt event, I seem to have crossed some imaginary line.  Apparently the twitterati are in a tizzy over my use of term “proctology” when relating it to what Foretuit does to ease the pain a typical Sales Rep experiences each and every week from Executive Management.

Here’s a sample:

  • @nwjerseyliz: ”Most of what sales managers do is proctology”. Say what?
  • @kdsasser: Proctology! Everybody drink!
  • elliotloh: Even if your product has something to do with proctology, don’t mention the word “proctology” in your demo.
  • keithpepper: Call me old fashioned, but in my Marketing 101 book, I don’t want my product and proctology mentioned in the same breath.
  • lol the foretuit guy says proctology and seems like its now going to be a trending topic at #TCDisrupt .
  • jonmarkgo: People say that proctology has no place at #tcdisrupt – but ButtArt proves them wrong!

So I sent this tweet to J. Michael Arrington, TechCrunch Founder, this morning and by the virtue of the fact that he retweeted it to his followers, I’m going to assume that he has accepted my humble 140-character apology:

mliebow RT by arrington: @arrington, so sorry, didn’t mean to demean the decorum of disrupt “@keithpepper#TCDisrupt is unravelling. First proctology now Butt Art?”

Most people with some history in or around a sales organization know exactly what we’re referring to when we say the words “Sales” and “Proctology” in the same sentence.  For those less aware,  I can see how the term can evoke a rather rude and unappealing vision (no offense to you actual practicing proctologists, we’re glad you’re out there).  But, if you’ve been fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of a weekly sales pipeline review you know exactly what it feels like.  And I can assure you, it’s not pleasant.

For the uninitiated, the fact is that the data in any CRM system is suspect at best.  So, what sales managers actually do is spend upwards of 20-30% of their week grilling their sales reps to find out what’s really going on and to get a feel for when deals might or might not close.

The CRM application is a system of record for any size enterprise.  The application only tells a sales manager what deals are in the pipe, which deals they hope to close, when they hope to close them, and how much they hope each deal is worth.  Rarely, if ever, does the application give a sales manager a sense of confidence of what is actually happening around the deal.  Sure, most every organization has a some form of uniform selling methodology with required terminology around deal stages, but, and this is a BIG BUT (sorry Butt Art), the terminology is highly subjective and prone to broad interpretation.

The selling process today boils down to a combination of 2 things: Trust and Credibility.  Most sales managers either say they can only trust 20% of what they hear, or 20% of who they hear it from.  Either way, a former boss of mine at IBM once told me that “you get what you inspect”, so the managers, and frankly each tier in the management chain, are forced to spend significant time each week getting a handle on their quarter so that they can feel confident in their resource allocations across their field sales teams and how the information they share impacts other parts of the organization (like finance, manufacturing and procurement).   So they work really hard to get to the truth around their sales cycles, questioning everything the sales reps tell them – which often gets adversarial.  To the sales rep at the receiving end of this process, it definitely feels like a proctology exam.  Every week.

Foretuit’s solution is designed to remove, or significantly lessen, the tension from the process by making transparent all the activity “around” the deal leveraging the communication flows from/to the rep, the internal deal team, and out to the customer and/or partners.  Come see for yourself!

Thank heavens I didn’t say “water-boarding.”  Oops!


One Response to An Open Letter of Apology to J. Michael Arrington

  1. JimS says:

    God Bless you Michael! From a marketer’s perspective, you’ve ignited a conversation, built awareness of your fledgling business, and used a metaphor that gets the point across … something I try to do every day. It’s not like you Tweeted your genatalia for God’s sake.

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