June 23rd, 2016

Building Selling Skills: Avoid Always Saying “Yes”

selling-skills-avoid-immediate-yes

When you are thinking about developing your selling skills you might focus on your ability to demonstrate execution proficiency. This sales proficiency is a desired objective for anyone who wants to improve their ability to build client relationships. The ability to execute against client requests denotes competence, expertise, know-how, and mastery. Yet, providing an immediate “yes” to all client requests can sometimes lead sales professionals into a trap that winds up sabotaging relationships with clients. In this post I explore the sales trap that involves excellent execution. To learn more about other common sales traps, check out this article on The Technical Trap.

Your Selling Skills Should Be Built on more than Execution

Sales professionals who build client relationships based on responding to their requests with outstanding performance can find themselves in an execution trap.

Consider this scenario:

You have a legacy program or solution in place, and because you have such a solid relationship with the client, he/she asks you to do something else. You are such a known entity that he/she feels comfortable making this request, and you respond by doing what is asked. What could possibly be the problem here?

The trap is that your strong client relationship gets diluted every time you immediately say yes. When you simply do what the client asks, you become just another order-taker. Instead of seeing great value in your ability to execute with excellence, » Continue Reading.

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June 20th, 2016

Build Sales Skills: Avoid Relying on Technical Expertise

build sales skills & avoid technical traps

Improve Your Sales Skills by Avoiding Over Reliance on Technical Expertise

The ability to demonstrate technical proficiency is a desired objective for anyone who wants to improve their sales skills. It denotes competence, expertise, know-how, and mastery. Yet, certain proficiencies can lead sales professionals into traps that sabotage relationships with clients. In this series of posts, I will share four sales proficiency traps and how to employ alternative sales skills to avoid them. The first trap involves an over reliance on technical expertise. To learn about other traps to avoid, check out this article about the dangers of always saying yes.

Your Sales Skills Should Be Built on more than Technical Expertise

Sales professionals who possess superior technical expertise can easily fall into the trap of making this the focal point of relationships with clients. In doing so, they tend to overlook the strategic, organizational, and personal value they could be providing.

As soon as a client need is identified, these technically savvy sellers jump straight to solutions. They talk about themselves, their company, and their expertise to solve the problem. The dialogue becomes focused on the seller, not the buyer, so the client is less engaged. The scope of the solution discussed is limited to the initial need uncovered.

Improve Your Sales Skills by Employing Strategic Dialogue

To avoid this trap, a more strategic dialogue approach can be implemented — one that frames client needs » Continue Reading.

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June 16th, 2016

Using the Sales Process to Measure Success: 3 Sales KPIs Everyone Should Follow

Sales KPIs

Sales KPIs Everyone Should Follow

Sales KPI measurements are an important part of your organizations sales process. Sales is a measurement-based business. Metrics are tracked for quota attainment, sales by product line, sales by segment, sales by territory, new business versus renewals, forecast versus actual results, number of sales calls, etc.

Lagging indicators of success, like revenues, are cumulative. They describe commitments and deals that have occurred. They mark the status of an opportunity at the end of the sales process.

Leading indicators of success are incremental. They are based on actual customer behavior and reactions to what the sales rep does or says. They predict future customer commitment and provide insights into the status of an opportunity during the sales process.

Sales Process and Sales KPIs

So what key performance indicators – Sales KPIs – are most important to track? Following are three sales KPIs everyone should follow, you might be able to capture some of these metrics in your team’s CRM. They are a blend of lagging and leading indicators because both are necessary for transparency into the progression and ultimate outcome of opportunities. Focusing on these three will tell you whether you’re going to be successful – and whether, at the end of the day, you have in fact been successful.

Forecast accuracy is an important leading indicator. » Continue Reading.

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June 14th, 2016

Taking Your Sales Process to the Next Level | HINT: Think CRM Integration

sales-process

How CRM Integration Can Be Used for Training and Improving Your Organization’s Sales Process

Sales managers are the front line in promoting adoption of the sales process with their reps. They achieve this through consistent and ongoing coaching sessions that focus on moving deals through the pipeline. When utilized correctly the sales process can be a powerful tool to facilitate rapid behavior change within your organization. Taking your sales process to the next level can open a new world of opportunities, just like Super Mario getting the power-up mushroom in the popular platform video game series. The secret is sales CRM integration in the sales process.

Integrating Your Sales CRM in the Sales Process

Sales CRM Integration into your company’s sales process sounds simple enough, but the reality is that most companies treat their CRM as a data repository.

Sales reps are required to input and update information about their calls, and sales managers access the data to make forecasts – and to adjust those forecasts, when necessary.

In reality, the level of adoption of the CRM is limited because the tool itself offers limited value to sales reps. Typically, they use it to discuss their activities with their sales manager, schedule appointments, and set reminders. Some companies try » Continue Reading.

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June 9th, 2016

Richardson Launches New Sales Coaching Research Study

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Richardson in partnership with Training Industry, Inc., has launched a new Sales Coaching research study, Best Practices in Sales Coaching Across the Workforce. The complimentary research report is available for download by clicking here.

Richardson and Training Industry, Inc. conducted a comprehensive study on how organizations across industries are supporting sales coaching. The study focuses on how effective coaching programs create leadership alignment, build communication plans, and develop measurement strategies for their learning programs.

Companies that participated in the study completed a survey reporting their companies’ use of coaching programs in support of sales personnel. The research report outlines the key findings from the study, and based on the results, recommends seven best practices for implementing a successful sales coaching program.

By comparing effective and non-effective coaching programs, the study provides key best practices around sales coaching structure, coaching cadence, and coaching roles and responsibilities. In addition, the survey takes a look at generational influences on coaching and how successful coaching programs adapt to generational shifts in their workforce. The research study helps to define coaching best practices in effective sales organizations. In addition, the research also illustrates how vital it is for sales coaches to interact with their teams in a way that emphasizes their sales team member’s strengths and performance, as well as provides advice and on-the-job learning.

Click here, or on the image below, to download the report.

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June 7th, 2016

You Have a Sales Process. Now Use it.

sales-process-high-impact

If your organization has an established sales process, congratulations. According to “Companies with a Formal Sales Process Generate More Revenue,” published in the January 2015 issue of Harvard Business Review, such B2B companies generally saw an 18% boost in revenues by using their planned processes.

The two keys here are 1) to have a credible process and 2) to use it. The best way to make sure sales reps are using the process – and using it effectively – is through coaching conversations between sales managers and their teams.

As the HBR article also reported, companies that spent at least three hours per month managing each sales rep’s pipeline performance saw 11% greater revenue than those spending less time.

Further, how those three hours were spent was equally important. “The primary focus of a pipeline meeting should be to help reps develop a game plan to move deals forward, not just scrubbing CRM data and forecasting revenue,” say authors Jason Jordan and Robert Kelly.

At Richardson, we call this “pipeline coaching.” This term is part of the common language we advocate for sales teams in order to keep everyone on the same page. Simply put, pipeline coaching involves a conversation between sales manager and rep that focuses on deals in the works.

High-impact coaching questions help managers confirm that their reps have the level of skills and knowledge needed to achieve verifiable outcomes at every stage in » Continue Reading.

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May 26th, 2016

Improve Sales Forecasting with a Consistent Sales Process

sales-forecasting-accuracy

There are two things that unite virtually every sales organization: 1) the desire to improve sales performance and 2) to achieve results as quickly as possible. In this series of posts, I discuss three ways in which the sales process can be used as a blueprint for rapid behavior change that drives better results. The first post in the series focused on common language; the second post focused on consistency provided by the sales process; and this final post addresses forecast accuracy.

Improved Sales Forecasting Accuracy

For sales forecasts to be meaningful, they must be credible and accurate. Yet, on average, “24% of all ‘sure-thing’ sales deals — current customer relationship management (CRM) opportunities deemed 80% or more likely to close in the current month — eventually slip out of the real-time forecast into subsequent selling windows … or actually don’t ever close at all.” This sobering statistic comes from research reported by the Aberdeen Group in June 2015.

The time to discover unexpected deal slippage or loss is certainly not at the end of the forecasting period, be it quarterly or monthly. It is important to pinpoint problems as quickly as possible to allow for course corrections. This takes a dynamic sales process that incorporates a considered series of stages, activities, verifiable outcomes, and high-impact coaching questions. The process should be flexible and scalable, with room in the execution for good judgement by sales professionals.

Companies » Continue Reading.

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