Monthly Archives: May 2016
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.
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; this second post focuses on the consistency provided by the sales process.
Consistency Across the Organization
The leading concern of sales executives is the lengthening of sales cycles, with deals getting stuck in the pipeline. According to research reported by the Aberdeen Group, in September 2015, 52% of sales executives reported this as a top concern. The Aberdeen report also found best-in-class sales organizations reported a 16% shorter average sales cycle than under-performing companies.
More research, this time by Harvard Business Review, also in 2015, discovered that salesforces were “most effective in managing their sales pipelines if they had invested time in defining a credible, formalized sales process. In fact, there was an 18% difference in revenue growth between companies that defined a formal sales process and companies that didn’t.”
As you might expect, just having a sales process doesn’t guarantee success. The process itself must meet a number of qualifiers to be effective.
It must be aligned with the buying process of customers It must provide clear direction for sellers’ activities and outcomes at » Continue Reading.
Using the Sales Process as a Blueprint for Rapid Behavior Change
#1: Establish a Common Language
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 will discuss three ways in which the sales process can be used as a blueprint for rapid behavior change that drives better results. The first in the series focuses on the importance of establishing a common language to be used within the sales process.
Common Language is Essential
Change happens when a majority of people begin doing new things repeatedly. For sales organizations attempting to achieve a step change in performance, it all starts with the sales process. An effective and intuitive sales process will introduce a common language that sales professionals and their managers can use to discuss opportunities and their stage-by-stage progression through the pipeline.
Language is important. It’s not only what people say, or how they say it, but what they mean when they use certain words. When people share a common language, they become more unified. They “get” what the other is saying. They’re on the same page.
This doesn’t mean everyone has to speak English or Spanish or German. It means whatever their native tongue, sellers should speak the language of selling. At Richardson, we focus on terms like verifiable outcomes to mean leading indicators » Continue Reading.
Part 1 of my series on insight selling reviewed the importance of maintaining a focus on the rest of the pursuit, while part 2 took a quick look at the traps of insight selling. Today, I close out my 3 part series on the risks of insight selling with a post that discusses the value of not only focusing on the dynamics of the new selling environment, but also making sure that you focus on what has worked in that past.
What hasn’t changed in the buying and selling landscape is just as important as what has changed. While buyers are savvy, busy, pressured, risk-averse, and more demanding, they still need guidance to make the best business and personal decisions. Even though customers have unprecedented access to knowledge, they face the difficulty of sorting through what matters most and finding the value among all of the options. More information doesn’t always translate into accurate, clearer understanding; they still need sellers to accurately diagnose their unique situation and identify the best solution to make an informed buying decision that drives the results that they need.
While sellers also have access to more information on the Internet, they still need the information gained through dialogue with the buyer to tailor their solution to differentiate themselves and win business on something other than price. Trust is still the number-one factor in making a buying decision. Sales Professionals must still connect with the customer on » Continue Reading.
Our first post on the risks of insight selling focused on the importance of not ignoring your traditional sales pursuit process and only focusing on insight development and delivery. In our second post, we review the potential traps you may fall into when you do have the opportunity to provide insights.
Action based on assumptions
Any time you prepare an idea or insight to bring to a customer, you are making assumptions. It doesn’t matter whether your insight is thoroughly researched and its validity fully tested — you are still preparing for the interaction with your customer by making assumptions about how relevant that insight might be to that customer at that time, whether they already thought of the issue themselves, whether that particular business issue is of greater importance than something else going on in their business and, ultimately, how they might react to what you share. Does that mean you shouldn’t do it? Of course not! Rather, you need to be highly skilled in when and how you position an insight, including validating your assumptions first to ensure relevance and engaging the customer in a collaborative discussion that fosters openness to new thinking.
Inability to maintain objectivity to deeply understand needs
Leveraging an insight to generate a need certainly doesn’t replace the critical steps of deeply understanding the customer’s unique situation and current perception of their needs and testing your own assumptions before jumping to pitch your » Continue Reading.
An insight-based selling approached can help a seller differentiate themselves, drive business outcome-based discussions, create a sense of urgency in the buyer, and provide value to a customer or potential customer. But providing insights for the sake of insights can create risks that can have an adverse effect on the potential deal. Today we start a series of blog posts that will review three potential risks of adopting an insight selling approach. In my first post I will look at the importance of staying focused on the pursuit.
There is no doubt that leveraging insights in the sale is important today. You have been living under a rock if you are in sales and haven’t read about or experienced the changes in buyer behavior — they are more informed, have increasing demands, have set higher expectations, etc. The use of insights at the right time and in the right way can truly help a seller. Sellers can encourage customers to think about their business issues and needs in a new way. This includes helping the customer to get past their own misunderstandings and misperceptions in order to make the best decisions for the business. Sellers must bring relevant insights and ideas to create value in the buying experience itself rather than just in the solution that the seller delivers. If sellers themselves do not become a point of differentiation, they will find themselves responding to a set of requirements defined » Continue Reading.