Are Your Salespeople Poised to Sell to Today’s Buyers?
Few people need convincing that considerable power and influence has shifted to customers and prospective buyers. Much of this has been driven by technology and access to information.
The challenge isn’t necessarily to recognize this change in the buying and selling environment, but to know what to do about it.
Sales organizations or individual reps mired in the old ways of selling are destined to fall short of their target and find themselves in trouble or replaced by those that “get it.” Are your sales reps poised to sell to today’s buyers? Are they confident doing so, is it a stretch, or is it far beyond their comfort zone?
Selling SaaS: Essential Activities and Key Dialogues to Expand After You Land
Closing deals is important. However, closing alone is not sufficient for SaaS company success. Driving to profitable growth requires generating renewals, maintaining cash flow, and minimizing customer churn. This quest for lifetime customer value depends on two key activities and two key dialogues:
Decision-making Needs Room for Big Data and Emotions
Few people need convincing that big data is not a phenomenon or fad. The ability to collect, track, measure, and analyze vast amounts of information to know more about your business, including sales, customer habits and trends, internal business processes, and supply chains, is too much to pass up. In fact, it’s often more than most businesses can handle. It’s not industry- or function-specific either — a quick scan of headlines across trade publications reveals that taking advantage of big data is on everyone’s mind.
Building Healthy SaaS Revenue: 4 Keys for Landing New Logos
Cloud computing, and the evolution of software as a service (SaaS), has transformed the technology industry. According to IBM, 85% of all new software is now being built for the cloud, and by 2016, one quarter of all applications being used around the world will be available in the cloud.
At the same time, SaaS solutions have transformed how businesses select, buy, and use software. At least half the time, if not more, SaaS vendors will sell directly to functional or business-unit stakeholders rather than just to IT people. The sales emphasis is now on a SaaS solution’s value to the business — not on the underlying technology. The nature of the sales dialogue between SaaS vendors and customers looks and sounds very different than it did in the days of on-premises applications.
Cross-selling Effectively into the Crosswinds of Financial Services
It is said that oak trees grow strong in contrary winds. In the crosswinds of deregulation and re-regulation, financial institutions have gotten bigger, more complex, and more attuned to risk. As they turn up the pressure to drive revenue, cross-selling effectively takes on new levels of urgency and complexity. So, how does a client-facing professional stay grounded in these crosswinds while still advocating for his or her clients?
Six Emerging Competencies for Sales Success in the Age of the Empowered Buyer
It’s been well-documented that buyer behavior is changing, with power shifting from sellers to buyers. The primary reason for this shift is availability of and access to information.
Why Customized Sales Training for “Strategic Relevance” Drives the Best Results
In order to achieve desired training outcomes, adults have to be willing to actively participate in the training and take advantage of those opportunities for learning. People have to decide to be open and receptive to learning, and to engage in the experience. One of the biggest determinants of active disengaged participants is the relevance of the training content. Sounds simple enough, but many sales managers and training leaders fail to connect those very basic dots.
New Research from Aberdeen Highlights Best-in-Class Sales Training Reinforcement
Most of us appreciate that ongoing professional development is essential to success in this rapidly changing and ultra-competitive market. Basic skills need to be reinforced, and new knowledge, skills, and experience must be acquired to stay at the top of your game. Training is important but must be reinforced and sustained to make a lasting impact. We’ve heard it all before, but we don’t always invest the necessary time and effort into sustainment to really make a difference.
The Ultimate Checklist for Mission Critical Group Sales Presentations
“Mission critical” is a term that you see in many different activities, up to and including military operations. When mission critical aspects do not go well, barring an extraordinary piece of luck, the mission fails. If your group sales presentation does not go well, barring an extraordinary piece of luck, your sales effort will fail and you will not get the contract.
Insight Selling: The Next Frontier of Sales and Marketing Alignment
If you think back five or ten years, the focus of sales and marketing alignment at that time was on the sales process. The emergence of usable CRM systems like Salesforce.com and marketing automation platforms like Eloqua and Marketo enabled tracking across the customer lifecycle from lead to close and beyond. As companies made investments in these sales and marketing platforms, it made sense to agree on a single integrated process enabled by the integrated systems and operationalized through concepts like the “lead waterfall,” marketing qualified leads, sales accepted leads, service level agreements, and the sales funnel. Many organizations are making great progress in this area, and others no doubt have a ways to go. However, from an operational standpoint, there’s been tremendous progress.
The Benefits of Sales Enablement Tools for Sales Managers
In a previous blog post, Advice on How Sales Enablement Tools Can Increase Efficiency, SAVO’s CEO Mark O’Connell talked about a number of benefits from sales enablement tools for sales reps. Here’s what he had to say about benefits for sales managers.
What is a Chief Sales Officer’s biggest gripe about their forecast? Many point to CRM algorithms used to identify at-risk opportunities. These don’t improve visibility because they’re dependent on data input by sales reps, and sales reps only tell sales leaders what they want to hear. As a sales manager, I need to know the productivity of my teams, a deal’s likelihood of closing, and when it’s necessary to intervene on a deal.
How to Get Your Ducks in a Row for Effective Team Selling
Team selling has become a way of life today. Because of the increasing complexity of business, the need for specialists, and the need to match up with players on the client’s team, you will often find yourself involved in team selling. I have been discussing various aspects of team selling in other articles. This article is about selecting the team.
A Day In the Life of a Sales Rep: Advice on How Sales Enablement Tools Can Increase Efficiency and Success from SAVO CEO, Mark O’Connell
Mark O’Connell is the President and CEO of SAVO, a fast-growth enterprise SaaS company and strategic alliance partner of Richardson. SAVO’s technology solutions improve productivity and performance of sales organizations and salespeople. This is the second part of our interview with Mark regarding sales enablement technology. (Read the previous post here.)
Dario: Are CRM and marketing automation tools enough to help sales reps?
Mark: The life of a salesperson has become more difficult with the pressures of time, complexity of selling, and ability to meet buyers’ needs. The simple idea of sales enablement having presentation material and content available at the right place and time is still a central idea, but the way it is served today has changed tremendously in recent years to align with how salespeople sell and how buyers buy.
Most companies have invested in CRM technology and marketing automation tools, which either create more opportunities or provide a place for salespeople to report on their progress on their current opportunities. Prior to implementing SAVO, most of our clients’ sales reps begin their day by opening Outlook and CRM. Most salespeople believe CRM is a management tool that they have to support. They are required to update their CRM system with information about the status of an account and progress » Continue Reading.
Sales Process Optimization: Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater!
In this time of tremendous change in the buying and selling dynamic, we’ve seen a real spike in client interest in updating and optimizing their sales processes.
Your sales process has to reflect how your customers buy. Your sales process has to be designed to help your customers through their buying process. Your sales process has to be based on your best and most effective practices and support your strategic direction. So, as the buying process changes, it only makes sense that selling processes need to change.
How to Amp Up Your Presence in Must-win Sales Presentations
What is it that causes a group of clients to respond to one salesperson’s sales presentation and reject another’s? With similar solutions, and not always significant price differences, something else makes the difference. The difference is the way solutions are presented to potential buyers.
The Sales Learning Curve: Getting Sales Process, Skills and Tools Right before a Full-scale Product Launch
Over the past 18 months we’ve launched three significant new offerings: Richardson’s Selling with Insights®, Richardson QuickCheck®, Richardson Sales Process Pro®. It is interesting looking back at how we prepared our sales team, especially in light of a very thoughtful and highly relevant article I picked-up from the Harvard Business Review. The article was written by Mark Leslie, the managing director of Leslie Ventures, and Charles A. Holloway, an emeritus professor of management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in California.
Richardson Named to Selling Power Magazine’s 2014 Top Sales Training Companies List
Richardson, a leading global sales training and sales force effectiveness company, today announced that it has been named to the 2014 list of the Top Sales Training Companies by Selling Power Magazine. The list appears in the July issue of Selling Powermagazine and recognizes those sales training companies that excel in helping sales leaders improve the performance of their sales teams.
Be Quick or Be Dead — What B2B Buyers Expect When They Submit Your Contact Forms
Clearly, the web has become a critical part of the buying process, and the emergence of mobile and tablets further influence the radical change in how buyers move forward. Zogby Analytics, a spin-off from the famous Zogby political polling firm, recently studied customer expectations online when purchasing significant products, services, or solutions. They came up with some interesting results. (http://www.slideshare.net/digitalinsurance/velocify-online-buyer-expectations)
Abused Stats and Figures: Maintain a Healthy Degree of Skepticism 100% of the Time
Stats and figures help people make decisions or convince others to make a choice. Whether you’re a sales rep or a consumer, these numbers can be beneficial, but they are also easily misunderstood, misrepresented, or abused.
Uri Simonsohn, a research psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, sensed that something was amiss with several sets of research findings published in his field. Upon investigating, he discovered that the studies’ authors had taken liberties with the data and were forced to back away from their published articles. For his efforts, he was labeled a “data vigilante,” which paints a portrait (either white hat or black hat, depending on your views), but more importantly, presents us all with cautionary advice: be careful how you use and interpret data and statistics. (See the full article “The Data Vigilante” by Christopher Shea in The Atlantic from November 28, 2012.)
The article in The Atlantic offers a somber comparison between massaging data to suit your study’s needs and doping by professional athletes: “Outright fraud is probably rare. Data manipulation is undoubtedly more common—and surely extends to other subjects dependent on statistical study… Worse, sloppy statistics are ‘like steroids in baseball’: Throughout the affected fields, researchers who are too intellectually honest to use these tricks will publish less, and may perish. Meanwhile, the less fastidious flourish.” In essence, cheaters with » Continue Reading.
Building Confidence in Sales Negotiations by Understanding the Role of Power, Time, Information, and Skill
Four basic elements determine how successful you will be in negotiation. These four factors are: power, time, information, and skill.
Power is not what people might think. Power might be best defined as the ability to accomplish things — the ability to do, not necessarily the ability to order things to be done. Power is a state of mind. It is a multidimensional concept that involves how you think, feel, and act. Power is not related to position. If you think you have power and project it, you have it. If you don’t, you don’t. Power is confidence. If you feel powerless, you cannot be an effective negotiator. You will communicate your lack of confidence.
Why Sales Training Sustainment Fails and Five Steps to Improve Success: Part II of an interview with Gregg Kober
This is the second part of an interview with Gregg Kober, Richardson’s Vice President of Change Management, to discuss our experience and point of view on sustaining the impact of sales training. Part 1 focused on the three phases of behavior change. In this article, Gregg explains why sales training sustainment fails, and our 5-Steps of Sustainment Framework.
Dario: Why does sustainment fail?
Gregg: There are a lot of reasons why sales training sustainment can fail. This failure potential is one of the reasons that learning and development leaders have been somewhat reluctant to take on the sustainment dilemma. Learning and development leaders typically do not have any kind of direct control over the systems, the processes, the metrics, the HR practices, and the management practices that people go back into and return to after training. Because of this lack of authority over those things, learning and development leaders are justly reluctant to be held responsible for making changes in areas where they do not have any authority.
Sustaining Sales Training Impact, An Interview with Gregg Kober, Richardson’s VP of Change Management
Here at Richardson, we work closely with our clients on what to do not only during training, but also before and after to ensure that sales training sticks and delivers impact. I sat down with Gregg Kober, Richardson’s Vice President of Change Management, to discuss our sustainment framework. Gregg generously shares his expertise on the thinking and approach we take on sustaining sales training impact.
Advice on Rapid Growth and Enterprise Sales Success from SAVO CEO, Mark O’Connell
Mark O’Connell is the President and CEO of SAVO, a fast-growth enterprise SaaS company and a strategic alliance partner of Richardson. SAVO’s technology solutions improve productivity and performance of sales organizations and salespeople. Mark has led SAVO since the fall of 2010. He graciously shares his perspective on growing a company that ranked among Deloitte’s 2013 Fast 500™ list of fastest-growing companies in North America.
Understanding Group Dynamics to Prevent a Sales Presentation Nightmare
A group of people is more than just many single persons. You have to be aware of this basic reality. Group dynamics can be quite complex. Look at set theory, studying the characteristics and interrelationships of groups. I am sure you remember this from basic math class. When you are talking with one person, you either convince the person or do not. When talking with as few as two people, you can convince them both, neither, or either one. One of them can convince the other to support you or to oppose you. The more people, the more complicated things can get. The combinations, and complications, grow geometrically (1, 2, 4, 16) rather than arithmetically (1, 2, 3, 4). Group dynamics can affect the behavior of crowds for good or for bad. People influence each other.
Don’t Let Your Written Proposal Torpedo Your Deal
What I am about to say may be an example of life being unfair. Obviously, a poorly prepared written proposal could cost you a deal. However, the most expertly prepared, well-written, catchy-reading proposal brings no guarantee of winning. To make things worse yet, an overly slick proposal might be a turn off.
Let me give an example of the third possibility, because I know that calling something “too good” sounds illogical. Take, for example, the redevelopment of a low-income housing project. Residents of the project will be represented on the committee making project decisions. Is an expensively produced proposal likely to impress them? Or, will it more likely send a message that you can’t related to them? Someone who kept in mind the human element could be more likely to win.
14 Adversarial Negotiation Tactics and High-impact Countermeasures to Save Your Hide
Adversarial negotiators work through manipulation. These buyers use a range of pressure tactics to defeat you and get what they want. Fortunately, adversarial negotiators are easy to spot if you know what to look for. Once you recognize their tactics, they quickly lose power. Below are some common adversarial negotiation tactics you might encounter in the course of closing a sale along with some brief countermeasures.
Sales Transformation – No Guts, No Glory
I read somewhere recently that organizations should consider very carefully whether to undertake a full-blown sales transformation initiative, because of the time, effort and cost involved.
Really? Whatev! (Sorry, I live with teenagers.)
Yes, perhaps if your basic strategy or business model is flawed, your product has serious quality or value-delivery issues, your service delivery destroys customer loyalty, or your costs or pricing/profitability are grossly out of line, you might plug another hole first, while bailing water.
But before long, you need to address revenue, profit and growth. No organization has ever cut their way to the top. Sales remains the lifeblood of organizational success. As the old adage goes, “Nothing happens until someone sells something.” I simply have a hard time imagining a more worthy corporate endeavor than transforming your sales force into a more effective, well-oiled machine.
And I’m not talking about 3 or 5 percent incremental improvements, either.
Aim Low, Hit Low
You’ve probably heard the quote that we use only a small portion of our brain’s potential capability, right? I’d argue that generally-speaking, we’re in the same boat with our sales effectiveness.
Perhaps you’re thinking that so many organizations are already doing extraordinarily well at growing sales year-over-year, that sales transformations aren’t necessary? I do know this is true in some specific cases. Some organizations are doing quite well; have already taken a logical, organized, piece-by-piece, evidence-based » Continue Reading.
12 Business Needs for Customized Sales Training
In my role, I spend a lot of time surveying the sales effectiveness market, interviewing buyers, and examining and articulating the need for organizations to customize sales training. We believe that customized sales training that leverages a company’s unique strengths combined with leadership that is ready, able, and willing to support and sustain change are the essential elements for improving sales performance. This is our core business, and we want to continue to excel at it for our clients and partners. Consider our approach:
Step Right Up: How L&D Professionals Can Help Sales Managers Sustain Change Post Training
Learning and Development must help sales managers to guide their sales reps after the training in order to sustain the changes introduced. Some sales managers may not be used to coaching and may need guidance themselves. Consider the following:
After Sales Training: Question, Observe, and Reinforce
In the first two posts of this series, I talked about what sales managers should do before training programs to support strategic change and during those programs to ensure that sales reps derive the greatest benefit. Where should sales managers focus once the training is over and sales reps are back to work?
How to Prevent Your Front Line Sales Managers from Inadvertently Sabotaging a Sales Training Event
Sales training programs to support strategic change initiatives should be approached with the weight and attention they deserve. If this sales training is essential to getting your reps on board and in line with the new way of doing things, then do all you can to ensure its success.
The first post in this series discussed what sales managers should do before a sales training program for their sales reps takes place. If there’s one theme for the pre-training activities, that would be communication. Sales managers need to convey to their reps why the training is important and how it will impact their jobs and remind them of what needs to be done in advance of the training in order to make the most of the time spent.
Sales Training Without Sustainment Is a Wasted Investment
When sales training is treated as a one-time event, participants have been shown to lose up to 87% of skill and knowledge within four weeks. This “brain drain” needs to be dramatically reduced and significantly reversed in order for companies to optimize their investment in behavior change.
4 Ways Sales Leaders can Better Leverage L&D Teams to Execute Strategic Initiatives
Working in harmony will almost always yield better results than constantly working at odds. Everyone can agree that Sales and Marketing are at their best when they work together, hand-in-glove style. Leaders of both business units are on the same page, working toward the same goals and on the same timeline. Conversely, when the relationship is contentious, there’s a lack of faith and respect toward each other, which is bound to yield subpar results that not only do each unit a disservice but the organization as well.
6 Steps to Enable Your Sales Team to Sell with Insight
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, it should come as no surprise to you that buyer behavior has changed dramatically. I’ve come across a number of well-written research documents, such as Base One’s “2012 Buyersphere” report and Forbes Insight’s “The Rise of the Digital C-Suite” study, that highlight how this is playing out in the marketplace. Simply put, buyers are more educated, better prepared, and further along in their buying process when they engage sellers.
Dear Challenger: Sincerely yours, Willy Loman
In their article, The End of the Solution Sale, Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson, and Nicholas Toman explain that there is no longer a need for salespeople to uncover customers’ needs because customers define solutions for themselves. They propose that salespeople “altogether change how they sell;” for example, deliver a teaching pitch that enlightens customers and tells them what they need and what they should do. The authors assure us with their research that this is how the new breed of successful salespeople win.
Solving “The Forgetting Curve” to Help You Execute Your Sales Strategy - Two powerful lessons in learning from the medical profession
Helping sales reps to recall and apply knowledge and skills would not only increase their effectiveness on the job, but also improve the ROI of your investment in training. To solve this issue, Richardson has partnered with Qstream to provide QuickCheck™.
Using a patent developed at Harvard Medical School, Qstream’s solution helps clients’ sales reps and other employees who go through training to retain what they’ve learned over a longer period of time through a series of weekly short quizzes that continue to jog the memories of the trainees and help them recall the necessary details when the time comes.
Lessons from the Gridiron: Do You Have the Right People to Execute Your New Sales Strategy?
After attending the recent Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, it was clear to me that there is no shortage of ideas and technologies for developing revolutionary sales strategies. Yet executing your sales strategy will be nearly impossible if there’s a big disconnect between the people you need to execute and the people you have today. Remember, you have to sustain performance today while you transform for tomorrow. You can only disrupt your organization so much in the process.
5 Commonly Overlooked Activities in Sales Effectiveness Budgeting
In case you haven’t noticed, summer vacation season has ended, football is back, and we’re all focused on closing our year out strong. Believe it or not, in a few weeks, we’ll be head down budgeting for 2013, trying to figure out our priorities and the investment required to deliver on these important initiatives. Although budgets are never set in stone and will ebb and flow over the year, it behooves us to cover our bases so that we don’t miss anything substantial.
I recently read a white paper by a competitor that I’ve long known and long respected. The paper reflected the influence of The Challenger Sale on this company’s sales methodology. The concept of “Challenger” has captured the interest of the mainstream press and social media and sounds appealing to many sales leaders who are looking for new ways to drive business in a slow growth economy. Several voices in our industry have argued against Challenger. My initial reaction was to recognize it as an approach that I didn’t buy into — live and let live. But the interest in Challenger that I have seen has spurred me to add my voice.
Content Marketing and Insight Selling - Companies Need to Become a Source of Ideas and Insights for their Customers to Add Value
Buyer behavior has changed, fueled not only by the economy but also the ever-available and increasing sophistication of online marketing and social media. Our clients recognize this and agree that they need to do something about it or risk not being heard by their customers.
Sales Reps Need to Earn Their Clients’ Trust — And Keep It
Trust is tough to build and easy to lose.
Buyers in the process of making a purchasing decision consider many factors, but none might be more important than trust. When hiring or renewing a contract with a product or service provider, a lack of trust can undermine any other variable and isn’t likely something that can be haggled over, such as price or delivery dates. This is especially true of large, long-cycle, complex sales typically found in sectors, such as financial and professional services, IT, HR, and accounting.