Are You Prone to B.S.O.S? (Bright Shiny Object Syndrome)


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Funny how expressions all of a sudden seem to appear, sometimes from out of nowhere. For me, “bright shiny object” is one that I started to notice a few years ago. Now it’s all over the place. (I looked it up on Google’s Timeline and found the first occurrence representing a syndrome to be March 2001: “The annual report has long been disdained as a bright shiny object unworthy of attention from the serious investor.“)

Bright Shiny Object Syndrome (“B.S.O.S.”) is still alive and well in the world of B2B sales. It hurts those with the affliction and, though negligence and distraction, the people that report to them.

Sales 2.0 hype cycle

Early in the Sales 2.0 hype cycle we found that some shiny new technologies offered false hope to many companies seeking a higher degree of sales effectiveness and efficiency. (Note: There were then, and are now, great Sales 2.0 solutions.) But back then, the predominant thought among too many impatient and tactical sales leaders was this: buy the shiny object and you don’t have to worry much about the dull things like infrastructure, strategy, process, methods, the right people, measurement, reinforcement, leadership, management, etc. The awesome power of the shiny object would far outweigh a wheelbarrow full of pain-in-the-butt discipline. Understand this: It just wasn’t so then and it isn’t so now.

Hard work

Doing the right things that build and sustain sales effectiveness is hard work. Bright shiny objects are easy; silver bullets (definitely bright shiny objects!), tips, and tricks are ever so much more exciting.

Are there bright shiny objects in sales effectiveness? Sure there are, but I’d prefer to call them something else:

  • A $200 million software company implemented process, tools, learning, and reinforcement around financial selling, resulting in their salespeople actively seeking out their customers’ senior executives, being able to build strong business cases, and closing more business sooner, with less discounting.

  • A technology company developed a leading edge software tool that overcomes a significant new customer challenge. Then they employed a powerful messaging process that captures both the imagination and business requirements of their visionary, early adopter customers.

  • The senior sales leader in a media company understood that an investment in sales effectiveness wouldn’t pay a dividend without identifying, defining, and meeting their change management requirements. He hired a firm specializing in that capability to guide and direct his team through the transformation.

  • A professional services firm found that implementing a formal hiring process made the difference for them. A key business development position was little more than a revolving door. It’s now (finally) staffed by a person who is driving the geographic expansion specified in their business plan.

I try to remember that the bright shiny object is just the means. Sales effectiveness is the end, and there are likely much more proven, effective, and efficient ways of getting there, however dull they may be.

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Stein
Dave specializes in helping his clients win critical B2B sales opportunities as well as helping them hire the best sales talent.Dave is co-author of Beyond the Sales Process. He wrote the best-selling How Winners Sell in 2004.


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