Is this another one of Tonkin’s made-up things?  In short, no, but yes.  There is a QWERTY effect in the literature.  The short version is that words typed with mostly the right hand are more accessible and easier to type than those with the left hand when using the QWERTY keyboard.  Thus, those words mostly typed with the right hand have a positive meaning, while from the left side, the more difficult side, they have a negative meaning.  I’m not sure how practical that is for us, but there you have it.
However, my query was a little less deep.  I wondered — why are your keyboard letters set up as they are?  I know I did, so I searched (I need to get out more often).  It’s a rather ingenious reason, at least for that time. For those that remember the typewriter, each letter had a “hammer” that, when you would depress that letter key, the hammer would imprint that letter on the page.
Now, it took time for the hammer to leave its resting position to get to the page and back.  Sometimes the typist would go so fast that the hammers would jam since they could not get back fast enough to their setting place before the next hammer (later) was in motion.  Inventors took the QWERTY keyboard to Remington, a large typewriter manufacturer, to slow down the typist and have fewer hammer jams.  It worked.  Now, here is the problem.
Welcome to the Computer Age
This keyboard layout transitioned to the computer keyboard as the input device.  Given that everyone now knows that layout, it seems to make sense, but there were no more hammers.  No jam, yet we were using a keyboard that was made to slow us down.
Since the inception of the computer, a few generations have gone by.  Certainly, my adult children did not have to use a manual typewriter but did have to use the QWERTY keyboard.  They go as fast as possible, given the headwinds from the system.
Continuing to delve into typewriter history, it was in 1936 that the Dvorak keyboard was created.  Its goal was to optimize the placement of letters to increase speed, given that hammers were not an issue.  It is calculated that the Dvorak keyboard can increase typing speed by 74% over the traditional QWERTY keyboards, and yet, here I am typing on a QWERTY keyboard.
Why all the fuss?
By now, you should see the irony of this story, but I could not help myself thinking in what other areas, such as sales and sales embalmment, did this type of “Tonkin QWERTY effect” occur?  Here are three that come to mind.
Smile Sheets
Smile sheets are a euphemism for surveys handed out after the training session and ask questions like, “Did you like the trainer?”  or “Did you enjoy lunch during your sessions?”  There is plenty of evidence that these questions have no bearing on whether or not someone learned anything that they can apply to their job.  Especially if these are the ONLY questions asked.
Some may argue that the learner must enjoy the class for learning.  If enjoyment means that the learner was challenged, then yes; however, a comfortable atmosphere that creates psychological safety throughout the session is not an actual good sales skills learning environment.  For brevity’s sake, listen to this podcast for my explanation of this phenomenon.
Minimum number of SDR calls
The adage of “practice makes perfect” has influenced this model; however, the logic breaks down pretty quickly.  What the saying should be is “practice makes permanent.”  If I’m doing it wrong many times, I will be good at doing it wrong; that’s it.  Making cold calls poorly that yield little success without any correction is problematic. The SDR may actually require fewer calls (for a time) so they can focus on each call with the attention it deserves (and possibly supervision for coaching).
The average success rate for a Sales Development Representative is about [2%].  That has been the number forever.  Thus, sales managers play the percentage game and have SDRs make 50-60 calls daily.  The idea is that we are to get as much use of that 2% as we can.
What if, instead, we work on the 2% and make that a more significant number?  We are talking about cold calls, which is a challenge to increase, but if that number were 4%, that might make each call more productive down the line.  What has been useful for me is to look for learning and not for sales.  It helps with the rejections as well as building a relationship.  Easy, no, but useful, yes.
The Use of CRMs
Keeping track of your sales contacts, what you discussed, and the opportunity are great reasons to use a CRM, but what the CRM has become is self-inflicted pain by the rep.  Once a week, the sales manager asks all of her reps to update their CRM and then promptly uses it as a club to hit them over the head as to why something  is amiss (e.g. pipe went down).
Yet, we all know that deals never occur in a straight line.  There are a ton of memes on LinkedIn and the internet that make fun of this belief, but what makes it so funny is that we still hold those beliefs.  Thus, the sales rep becomes apprehensive to update the CRM because their deal went sideways (as we know that they sometimes do), and the cycle starts all over again.
The short answer to this is to change the way we react to “bad news.”  We will then get accurate and timely data; thus, we may be able to address it, as opposed to the built in latency of the fear of repercussion for telling the truth.
The second idea, and one that is further away from reality, is to create a CRM reporting system that considers a non-linear view of the sales cycle.  We at the Sales Conservatory have designed a system that does that.  It’s not automated or productized since we don’t believe the market is ready for such a product, but there will come a time when this view will be common place.