All the way back in 1966, Carroll Shelby understood something about racing that no other car designer or manufacturer did at the time.

The recent film Ford vs. Ferrari documents the story of how Shelby partnered with Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca to try and unseat the Ferrari racing team from their longtime dominance of the Le Mans 24 hour race in France. Throughout the endeavor, he had to fight tooth and nail to get them to understand one fundamental principle:

The engineering of the car itself is only part of the equation. Without the right driver – the critical human factor in every race – the machinery alone won’t deliver a win.

This is a poster for Ford v Ferrari
Ford v Ferrari - 2019 film

Shelby insisted that Ken Miles, his crack British driver, be the one to pilot the Ford GT40 and it was that decision that propelled Ford to the overall checkered flag at Le Mans for the first time.

There’s a lesson here for today’s sales teams.

Technology Can’t Solve Human Challenges

In a digital age, it seems like the go-to solution for most business problems is technology. And sales is no exception.

Sales intelligence technology alone is projected to be a $3.4 billion market by 2024, and sales tech overall boasts over a thousand applications and solutions from granular point solutions to cornerstone technologies like CRM.

But the reality is that technology can’t solve every problem.

Technology is good at automating processes, scaling some operational and mechanical things, and providing visibility to broad groups of people around unified views of information.

Just like Shelby knew, though, the best sales technology relies on the talent behind the wheel in order to realize its potential. Most sales organizations struggle not because they are lacking technology but because fundamentally their sales teams are spinning their wheels, poorly educated about customer needs and patterns, or are wasting precious time on repeatable, mundane tasks that take them away from what actually matters: time and conversations with prospective customers.

So the question becomes: where can sales technology make the right impact?

Technology is good at automating processes, scaling some operational and mechanical things, and providing visibility to broad groups of people around unified views of information.

Where Smart Investments Matter

Designing a tech stack for your sales organization involves putting your drivers – in other words, your sales professionals – front and center and building the tech around that.

The human relationships in sales are how deals get done, so technology should remove friction from your sales reps’ ability to build those relationships and help their managers and leaders equip them to do that at scale and depth.

Invest in tools that help:

  • Reduce or eliminate the time that sales teams have to spend on repeatable, easily-automated administrative tasks
  • Surface and identify signals in sales conversations that will help reps capitalize on growth opportunities, avoid or address potential relationship risks, and connect the dots between customer needs and relevant solutions
  • Help managers see patterns across the sales organization that can help them better design training and enablement programs that can clone their most successful sales strategies and approaches
  • Allow leaders to understand macro trends in customer needs and objections, long-term business challenges, and pipeline health

It’s vital to internalize what Carroll Shelby knew when he headed to Le Mans: the fastest car can get you in the race, but the right driver can help you find the line and beat the competition.

As you build your technology stack for your business, remember that the technology should serve your sales team, not the other way around. Equipping and empowering your talent to focus on the customer relationships that drive your organization’s growth is the most important investment you can make.