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Richardson’s annual research survey of field reps, senior sales professionals, and sales leaders across industries aims to paint a clear picture of existing sales challenges and how they are evolving. We asked 350 sales professionals to tell us about the biggest challenges their buyers face when making purchasing decisions.
26% said combating the status quo would be the greatest challenge their buyers face making purchasing decisions in 2017 21% said comparing their options would be the greatest challenge their buyers face making purchasing decisions in 2017 16% said building internal consensus would be the greatest challenge their buyers face making purchasing decisions in 2017
Buyers can be too comfortable with the status quo, adverse to the risk of something new and hesitant to stretch outside of their current comfort zones. They may be tired of change or skeptical. Even those who welcome change may feel degrees of concern, stress, or anxiety.
Comparing options is made increasingly complex with the more information there is to consider. When sellers present something that buyers consider irrelevant or not tied to their specific issues, it only adds to the noise in decision making.
With more decisions being made by committee, building internal consensus grows more difficult. Sellers who engage all stakeholders, providing relevant insights and demonstrating value, can help move the process along.
Richardson’s Insights into Buyers’ Decisions
Creating a compelling case to combat the status quo doesn’t just mean sharing impact data. As » Continue Reading.
Best wishes for a happy holiday season and our sincere thanks for your loyalty and goodwill throughout the year!
According to Aberdeen Research, coached teams achieve 15% higher lead conversion rates and 14% shorter sales cycles than teams that are not coached (Aberdeen, 2014) … but we don’t really need research to justify coaching — it’s intuitive to anyone in sales. With almost universal acknowledgement and such obvious benefits, one would think that sales coaching would be a science by now. Unfortunately for our sellers, it is not. The typical sales organization struggles mightily to build a consistent and effective sales coaching program. When coaching fails, we tend to throw frontline sales managers under the bus, but in our experience, the problem is broader and so is the solution. There are three typical reasons for failed sales coaching programs:
Lack of visibility at the top Lack of practical processes and tools in the middle Lack of accountability on the frontlines.
The key to building a successful coaching program is to address all three levels simultaneously.
Signs of a Poor Sales Coaching Program
The tell-tale sign of a poor coaching program is a sales leader who has no idea when, where, or even if coaching is taking place in his/her organization. Visibility is essential to execution, not only because it fosters accountability, but because execution needs direction, and direction is only possible when leaders have insight into the behaviors of their teams. Ultimately, good coaching programs require » Continue Reading.
Modern sales leaders and managers are often faced with the challenge of providing multigenerational sales coaching. Providing sales coaching to millennials might seem like a particularly challenging endeavor – this is because there are many myths about the preferences of the millennial workforce that are not true. Understanding how to connect with your millennial salespeople can help you learn how to coach top performers.
MYTH #1: Millennials do not want to be coached.
Not true. In fact, recent studies show that millennials want coaching at work nearly 50% more often than other employees. Also, they seek feedback more frequently than older generations in the workforce (SuccessFactors, 2015).
MYTH #2: Taking a quantitative approach with your coaching feedback dehumanizes the coaching relationship.
Using a numerical rating scale, either against a standard or against a millennial’s colleagues, helps contextualize feedback and provides an opportunity to monitor progress. It’s likely that higher performers will embrace an internal ranking against their colleagues, while a moderate or lower performer may be better served with a comparison against an external standard. The ranking or comparison is not for punishment, but for growth. It can help you establish a common language and calibrate change consistently. Be mindful of your choice.
Key considerations for Multigenerational Sales Coaching
Consider that connecting with millennial employees frequently resonates with their cadence for information and their digital world. Millennials are accustomed to instant access to » Continue Reading.
Why do car dealers still put sticker prices on car windows when we all know that “Dealer Invoice” is not what the dealer actually paid and MSRP is just an artificially inflated number? It would stand to reason that if we recognize this obvious sales tactic, it won’t work … but it does. In fact, experiments show that even a randomly generated price has a direct influence on what we are willing to pay for an item, even when we know that the price was randomly generated. This phenomenon, called the anchoring effect by social physiologists, suggests that we have a common human tendency to use the first available piece of information to make a decision. The initial information is the anchor and provides our brains with a mental shortcut when considering a decision, such as what a reasonable price is for a specific product or service.
The Anchoring Effect In Action
In 2006, Drazen Prelec and Dan Ariely of MIT conducted research to test just how influenced we are by an initial anchor price, even if we know that the price is completely disconnected from the value of the item we are buying. In the experiment, Prelec and Ariely auctioned off everyday items, such as a bottle of wine, a trackball, and a textbook, to their students. Before students could bid on an item, however, they were asked to write down the last two digits of their own social security » 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.
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.