Here are more notes from the recent Sales Leadership Conference that was held in Miami on November 9th.
Common challenges faced by sales leaders:
1. Sales processes that are not aligned with the way customers want to buy. In many cases the process steps follow generic templates that were created by software engineers who have little experience about how to optimize a salesperson’s time.
Action step: Ask 10 of your best customers to describe their best/worst experiences in dealing with your company.
2. Many sales technologies are designed so that salespeople spend more time in front of a computer than in front of a potential customer. We see salespeople spending less than 30% of their time seeing customers.
Action step: In addition to next month’s sales quota, set a time quota and mandate that salespeople spend X amount of their time with customers or prospects. Customers should come first, everything else second.
3. Fewer salespeople are reaching their quota this year. CSO Insights research confirms that only 47.8% of all forecasted deals are closed.
Action step: Improve your pipeline analytics. There are great solutions on the market that are waiting to be explored.
4. Sales managers are not sufficiently trained in coaching their salespeople, yet most sales leaders agree that of all their development initiatives, sales coaching will deliver the biggest payback.
Action step: There are a number of highly effective sales-coaching programs on the market. Select one that fits.
5. Customers have radically changed their buying behaviors. Traditional sales-training programs rely on obsolete tools that are ineffective to meet tomorrow’s sales challenges.
Action step: Bring customers to your sales-training sessions. Your salespeople will be eager to learn from them.
6. Collaboration between sales and marketing needs to be improved. Sales leaders agree that the majority of leads generated by marketing are weak. Successful companies found that if sales VPs and marketing VPs report to a chief revenue officer, effective collaboration becomes easier. One company has created an ideal- customer profile to facilitate lead scoring. They filter out “garbage leads” and feed those that will mature later into a lead-nurturing system.
Action step: Create a notification system in which marketing alerts salespeople in real time when their customers are visiting the company’s Website.
7. Sales forecasting and pipeline management are two areas that deserve a closer look in every company. Sales forecasts are often done on spreadsheets, and they tend to reflect the gut instinct of the sales manager, not the true potential of the sales pipeline.
Action step: Create a “sales pipeline council” that meets twice a month to review a) the effectiveness of your marketing and lead-generation efforts, b) lead behavior in the pipeline, and c) forecasting accuracy. Also, create a side-by-side comparison to highlight the results of sales-generated opportunities vs. marketing- generated opportunities.
8. Salespeople keep forgetting what they are hired to do. Companies make too many demands on their sales forces that have nothing to do with creating customer value.
Action step: Create a not-to-do list for your salespeople. Cut waste. Refocus on clear expectations.
9. Product diversity leads to process inconsistency.
Action step: Create a sales-enablement strategy. Kelli Stephenson, VP of sales effectiveness at Experian (a $4 billion company that employs more than 2,000 salespeople) presented the evolution of Experian’s sales tool kit at the conference. This tool kit, supplied by www.kadient.com, is now a fully integrated part of her company’s CRM system.
10. Mistakes happen to everybody. What’s important is transforming the mistake into a powerful learning lesson. General Keith Thurgood showed a great, one-minute video clip that speaks volumes.
Action step: Teach your team that it is OK to make mistakes – providing that the team will translate them into powerful learning lessons.
Below are a few pix from the Selling Power Sales Leadership Conference. If you attended the show, please feel free to download the presentation slides and the research papers in the resource library. They are free for those who attended. (click on resources)
To receive an invitation to the next conference (April 19, 2010, in Las Vegas), email KimMontgomery@sellingpower.com.
Brianna Scalici, a sales student at Central Florida University won a $300 certificate by entering a drawing sponsored by Paul D'Souza, the author of the new book The Market Has Changed - Have You?
Sanford Brown, Chief Sales Officer of Heartland Payment Systems with Doug Press, CEO of the Incentive Group.
Kevin Hooper, VP Hewlett Packard,
Sales Students from the University of Central Florida. Selling Power invited these students to meet and interact with top sales leaders. Several students got an opportunity to present their workshop ideas on stage. Their enthusiasm for the sales profession reassured the sales leaders in the audience that the future of selling looks bright.
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