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What Arthur C. Clarke Predicted about Sales Ops

Back in 1973, science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke published an essay in which he stated, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

When Clarke first wrote that sentence, which has become known as Clarke’s third law (his first two laws are far less quotable), he was thinking about basic word processing. He said that in the 1960s he would have believed that a book-sized device could hold an entire library, but not that the device could convert that library into any typeface or search for a particular word in a just a second or two.

Today, of course, we consider word processing to be the most basic of computing functions. But you may have seen similar “unbelievable” technologies become reality during your lifetime. When I was a kid, I certainly never would have believed that I would

  • Make a few taps on a device in my pocket and have a car arrive to pick me up to take me exactly where I wanted to go.
  • Wear a watch that can detect when I have a bad fall and automatically call emergency services.
  • Carry a phone (not connected to the wall or a car!) that recognizes me by my face and unlocks only for me.

They didn’t even have that kind of technology on The Jetsons! It definitely would have seemed like magic, and I probably would have laughed at anyone who suggested that one day all those things would seem so normal that I would take them for granted.

In the same way we might have had trouble imagining everything a smartphone can now do, many of us in sales ops have a hard time wrapping our head around the kinds of things that sales technology is able to do these days. For example, today’s tools can

  • Show the sales team which customers are at risk of leaving to a competitor.
  • Automatically generate account plans that direct sales to the accounts that could be buying more and show exactly which products to pitch to them.
  • Expose the price that a customer is willing to pay so the deal is won with maximum profit.

If these things seem like magic to you because you aren’t using them today, it’s time to investigate modern analytics solutions. Your competitors are already likely already using them, and every day that you put it off, you are falling farther behind. If you aren’t sure where to start, we have some resources to help:

  • Predictive Sales Analytics explains some of the core concepts behind these tools and debunks some common myths.
  • Making Sense of Sales Technology details the similarities and differences among different types of sales tools and provides a decision tree to help you figure out which would be best for your company.
  • Whitespace Analytics outlines a seven-step process for determining which opportunities you are missing, as well as providing an overview of some of the technological solutions that can automate this process.

Given how quickly technology changes, you don’t need to be a genius to predict that in the very near future, sales ops tools will advance to do even more things that seem impossible today. Smart B2B firms that deploy analytics technology now will not only gain a competitive advantage today, they’ll be even farther ahead as these new solutions come online.

People schooled in formal logic could tell you that the contrapositive of Clarke’s third law would state, “Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.” Make sure your company is one of the sufficiently advanced.

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