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August 2009

The Sales Manager’s 7 Biggest Blind Spots

Let me start out by saying that it is much easier to see other people’s blind spots than our own. We all have our misperceptions, but we believe that we’re appraising reality with a clear and objective eye. If only we could recognize those things we don’t know that we don’t know. For example, we easily see when our products or services become obsolete, but we have a huge blind spot when it comes to recognizing an obsolete sales process. Here are some of sales managers' most significant blind spots:

1. “I know a good salesperson when I see one.”
Sales managers have a notoriously low batting average when it comes to hiring good salespeople. Why? They tend to hire those who mirror themselves, not who can do the best job for the type of customer the company is serving. Advice: Get help from testing companies like HR Chally, Caliper, or DDI. These companies test thousands of salespeople better than any sales manager can.

2. “We hire experienced professionals, so we can save money on training.”
Good luck with that worn out philosophy. Have you ever noticed what happens to a silver plate or trophy that sits on a shelf? Like silver dulls over time, salespeople lose their edge over time. Why? They try to make shortcuts. They stop listening because they think they know what their prospects are going to say.They stop explaining customer benefits because they assume that their prospects already know them. When your skills atrophy in golf, your score goes up. In sales, when your skills atrophy, your score goes down.

3. “We have a customer-focused organization.”
That’s great. Who says so? Oh, CRM vendors promised you that CRM gives you a 360-degree view of the customer. That 360-degree view is only only about 90 degrees. What’s missing? Salespeople may capture customer data, but who captures the voice of the customer? There is only one company I know of that recently introduced a solution: Sogistics. Its Smartpen records the customer's voice while the salesperson is taking notes. The amazing part is that after the call, the salesperson can use the Smartpen to touch any word or graphic on his or her notepad and will instantly hear the customer’s voice.

4. “We have great relationships with our top clients.”
That’s terrific. Can you name your top three customers? When was the last time you saw your top three customers face-to-face? What are their plans for next year? What are the three most important challenges they are facing now? How much time do your top executives spend each year with these top three clients? How do you define “great”? How do you measure the quality of the relationships? How do you measure the value you deliver to these customers? How do your top customers measure the value that you are delivering? Note: These questions are all designed to probe for potential blind spots.

5. “Salespeople are motivated by money.”
Sure, money is a great way to keep score. But is there more? According to the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA), every year corporate America spends nearly $50 billion on incentives - celebrating the Magic of Human Achievement. What’s interesting is that the right sales incentive, carefully chosen to tug at the hearts of high performers, provides much more enduring recognition than cash. Four out of five firms surveyed by the IMA said travel and merchandise awards are remembered longer than cash incentives, and three out of four said these tangible awards are also more exciting than cash. Don’t forget that salespeople want to be recognized. I know one salesperson who quit his job after he got a $50,000 bonus check from his sales manager, who had a motivational blind spot the size of a jumbo jet. As the sales manager handed the salesperson his check he said, “Here is your bonus I don’t think you deserve it.”

6. “I have good instincts, and I rely on my hunches.”
While successful sales managers rely on analytics (birst.com, right90.com, or businessobjects.com), "blind" sales managers make decisions based on what they feel is right. During the last three years, we have seen more and more companies bring more science into the sales organizations. Remove your blind spot and create a culture of measurement where all salespeople know their numbers, where marketing knows how many of its leads convert into a sale, where you know that your forecast will be 98% accurate. Good analytics takes the guesswork out of sales management.

7. “The best way to get new business is through cold calling.”
This reminds me of a street sign I saw in NYC which read, “Don’t even think about parking here.” If you are a sales manager, and if you still believe that cold calling is effective, please go to the nearest intensive sales care facility and request blind-spot surgery. You are paying a salesperson $60,000 - $120,000 a year to close sales. That’s $30 - $60 per hour, which translates into $240 to $480 for a day of solid cold calling. The blind spot: You don’t know about sales lead providers such as InsideView.com, DowJones.com, Zoominfo.com, Hoovers.com, and many more. There are many outsourcing companies that can get sales-ready leads to your team for a lot less. Also, check out this white paper: "Don’t Cold Call, Social Call"

Over time blind spots grow bigger and they can threaten your career. What causes our blind spots?
a) Unchallenged assumptions
b) Distorted thinking
c) Neurotic pride
d) Fear of change
e) Lack of courage

Someone wise once said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” What do you see in your organization? Where are your blind spots? What are the best ways to cure our blind spots? Share your comments.

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What Can Failure Possibly Teach Us?

I just finished reading a book titled A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers. Authors Lawrence G. McDonald and Patrick Robinson portrayed the CEO as one who was obsessed with growing and risk-taking and ignored the warning signs of a collapsing mortgage market. The company’s aging board of directors seemed happy with the aggressive growth and did not object to leveraging the company’s assets by a factor of 40. Lehman employed whip-smart analysts who were fully aware that the company was headed toward a brick wall. In essence, the company held the keys to survival and success – the knowledge to take corrective action and ensure survival. When Lehman Brothers declared the $660 billion bankruptcy, it became the biggest corporate failure in American history. More than 25,000 people lost their jobs.

Who is to blame?

When it comes to failure we tend to assign blame to the few at the top. We blame human emotions- greed, blind ambition, or hubris. The only problem is that Lehman was not the only domino that fell hard. As we zoom from the failure of one investment house back to the global economy, we know that the entire global financial system failed. What caused this immense failure that, in turn, caused a worldwide recession and how do we move beyond this experience?

We allowed banks to start gambling.

Some people say that it began when President Clinton signed into law the bill that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act. The 1933 law was written expressly for keeping a wall between commercial banks and investment houses. As a result of this change, investment banks got more creative with riskier financial instruments that created a string of successes – without visible penalties. Eager to extend their success, investment banks cranked out financial instruments that offered odds that made gambling houses look more conservative than the Vatican.

Success can be intoxicating.

A similar phenomenon can be observed in the field of engineering. Once innovation shows early successes, the designers begin to stretch the technology further and further. It is only a matter of time until a new crop of engineers, emboldened by the success, begins to gamble by neglecting fundamental principles.

The early space shuttles were over-engineered. Over time, the technology was pushed to its limit until a few tested quality principles were ignored, as in the case of the shedding tiles in the Shuttle Columbia’s tank insulation. Failure tends to bring a twinge of shame that can follow us into our dreams and inhibit our recovery.

Don’t place blame. Don’t dwell on shame. Get back in the game.

Barack Obama once addressed the subject of failure and recovery with this insight: “Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it's not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won't. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.”

How come we tend to forget the basics when we try to extend success? Share your comments below.

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Are You Fit Enough to Win?

Selling has never been more stressful than during these challenging economic correction. It's time to hit the "reset" button and start paying attention to physical fitness. In this five minute video, Peter K shares a number of ideas that you can apply today. Remember Dr. Ken Cooper's saying, "People don't die of their last disease, they die of their entire lives." If you commit to lifelong exercise, you may not live longer, but you'll lead a happier, healthier and more productive life.

Share your favorite routine for exercising on the road.

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Ten Success Factors for Sales Lead Management

What makes some sales organizations close more deals in the same market, with a similar product and a similar value proposition?

During the last Sales 2.0 Conference, we noticed a significant surge in interest in sales lead management. In November, 2008, Aberdeen surveyed 213 organizations and found that only 16% of the total, sales-ready opportunities, actually close. A recent report by Aberdeen (August 2009) shows that sales organizations that have significantly improved their lead-management process have achieved dramatic improvements in sales productivity (and closed more sales) compared to the average performers.

Below are ten success factors for sales lead management:

1. Effective online lead sources. Successful sales organizations offer their salespeople instant access to online solutions that provide deep insight into their prospect companies, current data on the key decision makers, industry background, as well as social media.

2. Effective collaborations between sales and marketing around the key question: What constitutes a sales-ready lead?

3. Clear definition of what constitutes a prospect. For example, Mike Bosworth, founder of Customer Centric Selling, defines a prospect as someone who has admitted a problem or stated a need.

4. Initial lead scoring. A tested and proven process that defines the customer’s ability and willingness to purchase. Good Leads, an outsourcing lead-management company, determines lead success by considering four criteria: budget, decision makers needs? (Does the prospect recognize the pain that your solution can solve?), and time frame (Is there a deadline for solving the problem in 30/60/90 days?).

5. Progressive lead scoring. After each completed activity in the buying cycle, successful sales organizations re-score the lead based on the prospect’s specific behavior, not on the salesperson’s hunches. Example: A salesperson has demonstrated product features to the prospect online. This action should not automatically lead to a higher score; however, if the prospect has completed a post-demonstration survey and rated the need/solution fit high, then the chances for closing the sale could move up.

6. Segment your customer base. Focused attention yields better results.

7. Lead nurturing campaigns. Best practices include educating prospects through Webinars, white papers, invitations to regional events where prospects can meet company experts and existing customers, invitations to social media groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, invitations to follow your company on Twitter, sharing of industry research and customer success reports.

8. Lead management technology. Successful companies track prospects' footprints on their Website, offer live chat, follow up on an online request within less than 5 minutes, and deliver marketing content that’s most appropriate at every stage of the buying cycle.

9. Sales enablement technology. Successful sales organizations systematically share best sales practices across the organization. Salespeople should not have to reinvent presentations that have been created and successfully delivered by their peers. Salespeople need real-time access to existing sales collateral, rich data to provide customers with the right amount information required to advance the decision. They also need real-time access to each other to share tribal knowledge across the sales organization.

10. Productive analytics. Successful sales leaders leverage information to boost sales performance. They know the important ratios between qualified leads and closed sales. They hear that sales stages are clearly visible in the pipeline. They can quickly spot underperforming reps and respond to new sales trends.

Stay tuned: A buying guide to the best sales lead sources will be published in the September, 2009 issue of Selling Power. This guide offers an objective comparison of the solutions offered by sales lead suppliers, including number of customers, number of seats, content-gathering methods, how content is updated, and more.

Learn more about lead management: Sales 2.0 Conference, Boston

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Are You Going to a Gunfight with a Kitchen Knife?

I am sitting at Denver airport because of weather delays and want to use this scrap time to share my thoughts. I spent the last week hiking in the Canadian Rockies and it seems that the perspective of higher altitudes leads to clarity about what's important.

Are you arming your team with Sales 2.0 tools?

If not, you may find yourself in a gunfight with a kitchen knife in your hand. Look in the rear view mirror. Three years ago, there were only 60 Sales 2.0 solutions on the market. This year there are more than 1,200 to choose from, and two years from now there could be 3,000 or more. It is no secret that we're hungry for better ways of managing our lives. Take a look at the astounding growth of iPhone applications. Apple announced only in February, 2008 that a third-party development kit would be available to application designers. A year and a half later, we can choose from more than 69,585 applications that have been created by more than 17,938 publishers. (Source: http://148apps.biz/app-store-metrics)

A similar trend is happening with Salesforce.com. The company offers 810 applications (http://sites.force.com/appexchange/home) designed to improve business productivity. Don’t let the growing number of applications confuse you. The average, world-class sales organization uses only about 6 to 10 different Sales 2.0 solutions. But if your company relies only on CRM, chances are that your salespeople are working too hard, that your response to the market is too slow and that your sales productivity is too low to compete effectively. What’s hurting many sales organizations is the fact that they don’t know what they don’t know. The bottom line: Selling could be a lot easier if ignorance wouldn’t stand in the way.

It’s not the technology that you use that’s important, it’s the technology that your prospects use.

Three years ago, customers still called when they needed information. Today they browse your Website. Question: Do you know when prospects visit your site? Do you know what pages they view? Do you know when they open a white paper, view a demo, or click on your customer success stories? Sales 2.0 tools like Genius.com can help you trace your customers' digital footprints on your site.

Salespeople are hunters; don’t force them to be hounds.



Three years ago, salespeople still searched directories for prospects, built their own lists, and sweet-talked the prospect company’s receptionist to find out who was in charge of buying a certain solution. This time-consuming process has long been replaced by Sales 2.0 enabled sales organizations. Today their salespeople benefit from services like those offered at InsideView.com, where they have instant access to corporate information, as well as social-networking information (Linkedin, Twitter, etc.) about their target. DowJones.com allows
salespeople to set news triggers that alert salespeople instantly when certain key events hit the airwaves, such as personnel changes, financial changes, or corporate changes. To help sales managers objectively compare the key suppliers in the lead-management field, Selling Power will publish a comprehensive sales lead management buyer’s guide in the September, 2009 issue.

If you nurture your leads, they will nurture your needs.

According to research conducted by RainToday, 50 percent of all leads in a sales pipeline are not ready to buy. Only 25 percent are sales ready, and another 25 percent are not qualified. Companies without Sales 2.0 tools employ salespeople who are chasing more garbage trucks when they should be chasing Brinks trucks. Lead nurturing is a process that can easily be automated. Here is a recent white paper that outlines the best practices for lead nurturing www.marketo.com/dg2-lead-nurturing. Some of this information is elementary. Readers are encouraged to make the data bite-size, match content to buying profiles and buying stages, and get the timing right. The key takeaway: Without lead scoring and lead nurturing, your business is unlikely to grow to its full potential.

Excel is like pedaling a bicycle. Xactly is like riding in a Ferrari.



When it comes to calculating sales commissions, most companies still use Excel spreadsheets. Excel is an ancient tool that was designed for the delay economy, in which people expected an administrative pause after every step in a company’s compensation process. The ugly secret about Excel sales commission management is that for every $100 companies pay, about $4 to $7 are lost to human error. Today, many companies have stepped up to a Sales 2.0 tool called Xactly.com. This SaaS solution works seamlessly with Oracle, Salesforce.com and SAP. Xactly.com also offers an incentive solution where salespeople can instantly track their quota attainment and check their current compensation and current incentive credits. Xactly is a Sales 2.0 solution that advances sales-performance management into the real time economy. That’s just one company that made recent headlines.

Salespeople who are looking for information are not creating customer value.

What do your salespeople need to know to close a sale? Company information, process information, customer information, product information, pricing information, industry information, competitive information, other customer application information, marketing collateral information, company presentation material information. The must-have information list grows longer every day. What do winning sales organizations do to keep the information mountain growing over their heads? Sales 2.0 solutions like Outstart.com connect company expertise to the sales organization in real time, online. The key idea: how to harvest and distribute the sales team’s “tribal knowledge” so that every salesperson can focus on closing deals instead of digging into the company’s forever expanding information silos. Other solution providers like Savo.com or Kadient.com are rapidly winning the hearts and minds of progressive sales leaders.

Get ready for real time information management.

One of the best examples of real time management is a free iPhone application called Midomi. It recognizes a song within seconds, lists the title and the name of the performer, and links to the Web page where you can read the lyrics. Like Amazon became the gold standard for fast and easy ordering of any merchandise, Midomi has created a new paradigm for getting information when you want it in real time. The wheels are turning in the minds of smart software engineers who have recognized that we’ve moved into “NOW” mode. The ultimate goal is to satisfy our curiosity instantly. Here is a
company that’s been in business for a little over a year called Aadvark (www.vark.com) This free online service allows anyone to ask a question about topics such as business, marketing, management, software etc. and within seconds you will receive a confirmation email, promising a response within a few minutes. The company’s mission is to find the perfect person to answer any question. I tested this by asking: “Does anyone know the best sales incentives for salespeople aged between 20 and 30?” Within two minutes I received an email from a sales manager in England who wrote, “Electronics, like iPods, cameras etc.” Vark.com claims that the service is available in more than 100 countries, and last month’s message volume hit 1.6 million. Fast forward three years, and you may recognize that this technology could connect any of your sales questions with the best answers collected in real time.

The Sales 2.0 bottom line.

The Sales 2.0 movement is accelerating at breakneck speed. As you read this, hundreds of companies are enhancing their sales organizations with Sales 2.0 solutions. Sales 2.0 technology alone is not the answer. The key to success is to match the right tool with the right process with the number one goal in mind: to increase customer value. Sales 2.0 is all about better alignment. It is about acceleration and closer collaboration, and it’s about establishing a culture of measurement – all in real time.

Turn your sales organization into a success organization.



Your greatest Sales 2.0 insights aren’t likely to come from Sales 2.0 vendors. One of the great characteristics of the Sales 2.0 movement is peer-to-peer learning. The best place to learn is the Sales 2.0 conference, where we don’t allow vendor pitches. We invite Sales 2.0 customers – VPs of sales, hands-on directors of sales operations, etc., to openly share how their needs became more urgent, how they searched for solutions and identified the most effective processes and technology tools. These sales leaders talk candidly about the implementation challenges and how they’ve measured the ROI. Here are two key resources: www.sales20.org and www.sales20conf.com/chicago.

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How Do YOU Define What Selling Really Means?

Take a moment to think about what the word ”selling” means to you. Every time I ask sales executives to define ”selling,” I get answers like these:

Selling is a process of persuasion to get a prospect to take action.

Selling is finding a need and filling that need.

Selling is an exchange of goods or services for money.

Selling is walking the road of agreement with the customer.

Selling is an art.

Selling is a science.

Selling is a transaction.

Selling is relationship building.

Selling is a consultative process.

Selling is hustling.

Selling is all about trust.

There are as many definitions of selling as there are stars in the sky. Everyone has a different definition of the word “selling.”

Once You Define Anything, Your Definition Will Define You

What’s important in this conversation? Once you define what selling is, the definition will influence how you sell. If you believe that selling is an art, then you will try to grow your art, and chances are that you will try to find creative ways to overcome all obstacles that stand in the way of the sale. If you define selling as a science, then you will try to deploy more scientific tools to achieve greater sales. If you believe that selling is all about relationships, chances are that you will focus more on establishing a meaningful emotional and cognitive connection with your prospect.

When Sales Managers Have Finished Defining, They’ve Ended Refining

Sales managers often impose their beliefs about selling to their salespeople. They try to turn every salesperson into a ”mini me.” “Dress like me, act like me, speak like me, and close like me.” They often elevate their definition of selling into a higher level of philosophy that prevents awareness of reality and inhibits growth and professional development. The moment you believe that you can shape what selling means – like a sculptor chips away at a stone until a beautiful statue emerges – you’ve frozen yourself into an untenable position. Someone once said that in order to maintain an untenable position, we must choose to be actively ignorant.

Is There a Better Way of Looking at What Selling Means?

So what’s wrong with sales managers imposing their definition of selling on their salespeople? After all, they are the leaders and salespeople are their subordinates. Isn’t the typical choice, “my way or the highway"? Is there another way of looking at this?

Here is a better way of looking at selling. What we think selling means isn’t relevant. What the sales manager thinks selling means isn’t helping anybody sell more. What we think doesn’t matter as much as what our customers think and what our customers expect from a salesperson. We can’t freeze salespeople into a definition and expect them to warm up to a prospect. Take a look at salespeople in a typical car dealership. Most of them are as rigid as a camshaft. They operate on the good cop/bad cop formula: “Let me ask my sales manager if he will approve that deal.”

The Internet has shifted the power from the seller to the buyer. We’ve shifted from a delay economy to a real-time economy. We have shifted from a predictive approach to an adaptive approach. We’ve shifted from pitching deals to co-creating solutions with our customers. In the Peter Drucker era, companies created customers; in the real-time economy, we have to cocreate with our customers. At the heart of selling is value, the value as defined by the customer’s unique situation. The dynamic of selling will continue to shift. In the future it will be the customer who creates our company.

What Do Customers Want?

Part of good selling is learning up front how our prospects want to buy. If customers want to buy online, we need to offer that choice. If prospects want a simple transaction, don’t go through your relationship mating dance. If a prospect has mapped out a more scientific approach to the buying process, match your selling style to the prospect’s buying style. If prospects want more creative ideas that lead to an artful solution to their problems, tap into your artistic side. Sell the way your customer wants to buy. If you are in doubt about what selling means, just ask your customers. If you want to learn how to sell better, ask your customers. Once you reach the top of your profession, your customers will tell you that you are the best, and you will say, "I still have a lot to learn."

 


Are you Practicing Self-Leadership?

When Jim Cathcart and I sat down for a quick video interview on self-leadership he said "People who practice self-leadership don't wait for others to motivate them, they go out and make things happen."

How many people on your sales team practice self-leadership? If you believe in the 80/20 rule, you may say only 20%. If that's the case, it may be time to assess your own leadership style? If you are spending 80% of your time helping salespeople close business, then you are not providing an environment of self leadership. If you spend 80% of your time coaching salespeople, helping them build self-leadership, helping them build the necessary skills set for closing more business, then you'll create more self-leaders on your team.

Watch this four-minute video, it may be the spark you need to lead your sales team to greater success.

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Stuck in the Delay Economy? What Sales Processes are Dead Today?

I’d love to get your views on the impact of Sales 2.0 technology on your sales organization. Read this post and share your experience.

What is Sales 2.0?

Sales 2.0 combines customer-focused processes with real-time Web 2.0 technologies to enhance the art and science of selling while creating customer value.  Cloud Computing has brought huge computing power, massive storage capacity that’s delivered on demand to any browser 24/7. The important part: the job of collecting and distributing data is done in real time. The even more important part: we’ve entered a new era, called Real Time Business. The revolutionary side of Sales 2.0 technology is that it empowers your salespeople to conduct business in real time.  

How many delays are built into your sales process?

Companies that have not taken advantage of real time Sales 2.0 solutions are hobbled by delays. Here are just a few examples of the obsolete sales processes that have been designed for the delay economy:

Cold calling – delays salespeople and prevents them from pursuing fresh opportunities in real time. Traditional telephone selling – salespeople are delayed by pressing dial buttons for hours spending little time with real live prospects. Traditional call preparation – salespeople are delayed by hunting for information in multiple data repositories, or delay other salespeople by soliciting their help finding information.

Real time technology kills processes that worked well in the delay economy. Here is a partial list.

The Cold Call is dead

Many sales organizations realize that a salesperson’s time should be spent creating value for their customers, not wasted by forcing salespeople to dial for dollars. Companies like InsideView, Hoovers, Salesgenie, Zoominfo, Jigsaw, Dow Jones and others offer salespeople the ability to find leads in real time, online. Some solution providers like InsideView are fully integrated with Social Media so that salespeople can leverage relevant, real time personal information about the prospect. Here is an interesting podcast by Sales 2.0 guru Nigel Edelshein: Don’t cold call – social call.

The traditional Sales Funnel is dead

Most companies create a step by step sales process for everyone to follow. While this process worked well in the delay economy, it no longer works in the real time economy. Mark Sellers, the author of the book The Funnel Principle says, “Create a buy-cycle funnel, a process that mirrors the steps buyers take in today’s business.” Another problem with the traditional sales funnel is that salespeople chronically misinterpret their chances of closing the sale. Example: Completed online demonstration: 75% probability. What if the prospect has used the time allocated for the demo to check emails? A better way to assess the buying potential is assess the sales potential based on real time feedback from the buyer. A quick survey emailed within minutes of the online demo can capture true buyer sentiments.

Sequential calling is dead

How many prospects do your inside salespeople reach during an eight-hour day? In the delay economy, salespeople create a call list for the day, and then dial one number at a time. Many times they call ten numbers in a row before they can reach one prospect. At the end of the day, they are worn out. They may have dialed 120 numbers and spoken to eight or ten prospects. A new Sales 2.0 technology called ConnectAndSell allows salespeople to upload their prospect file online. The service dials all numbers consecutively and the instant a prospect picks up the phone, the call is routed to the salesperson without delay – and all dialing stops instantly. Without time delay the prospects name appears on the screen, ready for a real time conversation. I wasn’t sure about the company’s claim of no time delay until I tried the service. I enjoyed speaking to 8 VP’s of Sales in one hour.

Delay in online lead follow up is dead

When customers visit your website and raise their hand. How quickly do you follow up on these leads? While most companies proudly say that they are following up the same day, they are oblivious to how many leads they fail to convert because by the time they reach the prospect, their minds are already a million miles away. Kellogg and MIT collaborated on a Lead Response Management Study that shows how the odds of calling to contact a lead decrease by over 10 times in the first hour. The study offers excellent insights as to the best times to call.

The sales pitch is dead

In the Real Time Economy customers want to hear about solutions that can create value within their unique business environment. We live in an age where co-creation rules. Customers don’t want to be talked at, they want to engage in an intelligent conversation with your company, and they will continue the conversation online on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. The traditional sales pitch has long lost its power. Smart companies offer their customers the opportunity to participate in micro-communities online. Instead of investing time pitching, they monitor the online conversations and instantly respond to emerging needs.

Duplicating information gathering is dead

In the delay economy salespeople called each other. “Hey, I need help with writing a proposal for the Energy Industry, do you have a template?” In the Real Time Economy salespeople go online and instantly find the information they need to satisfy customer requests. Sales Enablement technologies are designed to solve the common problem of having each salesperson go on a wild goose chase searching for information that other salespeople have already used previously with great success. Here is a list of companies that can help your sales organization capture and distribute the tribal knowledge of your sales team in real time: SAVO, Kadient, Streetsmarts, n-tara, iCentera, Avitage, SVA BizSphere and GroupSwim.

Typing call reports is dead

In the delay economy salespeople visited four or five clients per day; took notes on each call and at the end of the day they sat in their hotel room, eating pizza, watching TV, while transcribing their notes into Salesforce.com. In the real time economy, salespeople use http://www.ribbit.com. After each call they call Ribbit and their voice is converted to text which flows instantly into the appropriate record in Salesforce.com. Ribbit also converts voice mail messages into text so that salespeople can respond quickly without wasting time to listen to a long message. No time wasted transcribing by hand. Another real time call report service is available from Voice2Insight.

Management by hunches is dead

Protected by the forgiving environment of a delay economy, sales managers make decisions based on hunches. “Ok, let’s hire this rep; I have a good feeling about him/her.” Or, “The leads we get from marketing are useless. We need to generate our own leads.” Today, Sales 2.0 empowered sales leaders rely on real time analytics such as Business Objects, Birst, or Right90. Real time analytics give sales managers instant insight into their sales pipeline including lead conversion ratios, time to close and closing ratios by lead source. When it comes to hiring new sales talents, world class sales organizations use online assessment tools to sort out the best candidates from the existing pool of candidates. Companies like www.hrchally.com and www.caliperonline.com. Sales managers can save time by focusing their attention on pre-screened candidates and avoid costly hiring mistakes.

Calculating sales commissions by spreadsheets is dead

Managing sales commissions by XL spreadsheets leads to frequent disputes between salespeople and sales managers. Since the commission information is not available in real time, salespeople engage in shadow accounting, which wastes a lot of their time. Solutions like www.xactly.com take the guesswork out of calculating sales commissions. The moment a sale is made, the salesperson gets credited for the sale and the information is available online – in real time. What’s great about Xactly is when salespeople hit a performance goal; they can instantly browse for the corresponding incentive awards, select their prize and instantly get their award shipped. No delay between high performance and high rewards.

Sales and Marketing Silos are dead

In the time delay economy, sales and marketing were divided into silos. Marketing generated sales leads and tossed them over the dividing wall. Salespeople responded in unison: “These leads are worthless!” The results: real opportunities vanished. Genius.com blurs the dividing line between sales and marketing and allows seamless integration. Sales 2.0 solutions like Genius.com offer marketing automation, lead tracking, lead nurturing, lead scoring, email marketing, landing page tracking, real time website promotions and more. Other solutions are offered by Eloqua, Marketo and Manticore.

Live Sales Meetings will slowly vanish

Earlier this year, Mary Kay Cosmetics broadcast its first live satellite education event. In past years over 30,000 Mary Kay representatives flew to Dallas for a live event. This year, Splash Media LP, an Emmy Award winning video training and Communications Company located in Dallas broadcast the live training event to over 30,000 Mary Kay representatives who followed the live broadcast sitting in over 150 Cinemark, AMC and Regal movie theaters across the country. Leading companies with large sales forces like Cisco and Oracle (each employ over 10,000 salespeople) have decided to replace their live sales meetings with virtual training meetings this year. SAP followed suit. If these events prove effective, chances are that virtual meetings will become the wave of the future.

The above list is by no means complete. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Three years ago, there were only about 60 Sales 2.0 solutions, today there are over 1,200. I would like to get your feedback so we can help other companies move from the delay economy to conducting business in real time.

Questions: How has your sales organization adapted Sales 2.0 technologies? Compare the old process with the new process. What are the lessons you learned? What were the results you enjoyed?

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What Does a Winning Sales Force Look Like to You?

Andris Zoltners and his partner Prabha Sinha have created the largest and most successful sales consulting company in the world. ZS Associates is the go-to address that’s passed on from one Fortune 500 sales leader to another. Andris and Prabha have recently published the most comprehensive sales management guide of the decade entitled: Building a Winning Sales Force (Available on Amazon).

Although the book is heavy and intimidating at first, it’s actually very accessible. It gives sales leaders a framework for thinking about what a winning sales organization looks like. The book also serves as a decision guide for mission critical issues such as hiring, training, coaching, motivating, compensating and terminating salespeople.

In this seven minute video interview, Andris and Prabha share a healthy slice of their vast experience designed to stretch your thinking about your own sales organization. As I was conducting this interview; a very vivid image came to my mind from an old black and white Humphrey Bogart Movie, The African Queen.

In my mind, the boat in the movie represents the sales force. The African Queen encounters many obstacles, and Bogart struggles to keep the steam powered boat running. In one scene the boat runs a set of rapids with soldiers shooting at them, blowing two bullet holes in the top of the boiler and causing one of the steam hoses to disconnect, which causes the boat’s engine to stop running. Bogart manages the reattach the hose just in time as he approaches another set of rapids. The boat rolls and pitches, and begins to flood. Isn’t this what you see happening in your own sales force every day?

Building a Winning Sales Force is like rebuilding the boat and stopping the leaks while it plows through the roughest economic waves. Building a Winning Salesforce isn’t easy, but this new book makes you want to do it a lot sooner.

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Time to Flip Your Sales Funnel

Seth Godin, one of the country’s leading marketing minds talks about how salespeople are using the traditional sales funnel: they get prospects in at the top and closed sales come out the narrow end. According to Seth, salespeople are working much too hard. He suggests a far better idea: flip the funnel and turn it into a megaphone – then hand the megaphone to your customer.

What Seth has realized long before anyone else is that our customers enjoy talking about the great things they buy, the great salespeople that have helped them solve a problem and the great benefits they’ve enjoyed since owning our product. The best part is that the customer’s voice is filled with authenticity, passion and trust. Good customers are our best sources for creating better customers. That’s why it is important to invite our customers to step up, speak up and share their success story. Seth explains that while customers tell stories that sell, salespeople use worn out pitches that fail.

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