NOTE: Today's post was written by Eric Berridge, Cofounder of Bluewolf, a technology company that helps organizations accelerate marketing, sales, and customer-care processes by leveraging Cloud-based technologies. Eric will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Sales 2.0 Conference, in San Francisco, March 7-8.
That is how it always ended. After an hour in the “bat cave” in the Oracle office in New York City, circa 1994. Our weekly forecast call. Run by our Long Island-bred sales manager, Joey Dibartolomeo, with remnants of pasta sauce in the corner of his lips.
We were CRM-less, Blackberry and iPhone-less, barely on email, and more concerned with the shine on our shoes than our Facebook status, because we spent our days pounding the pavement and wedging Oracle products into corporations without the benefit of today’s technology. But when we came out of that forecast call, we were always re-focused and damn well determined to have some positive news for the next one.
Today, sales organizations around the globe are in a transformative state. There is a common belief that the evolution of sales and marketing technology has changed the game, and that the old rules of selling no longer apply. Customers inform themselves when buying products; the “pitch” has dissolved, and instead of sitting in conference rooms tolerating sales presentations and endless Powerpoint presentations, buyers now comb the web and look for clues about a product's raw efficacy. And, internally, the evolution of CRM systems like salesforce.com have given executives and sales teams access to real-time data about deals, the pipeline, and “next steps.”
However, nearly 20 years later, the “Forecast Call” remains a ritual that plays a critical role in building a Winning Sales Culture. It is the forum where the weak cower, and the strong endure. Most importantly, it is the true opportunity to qualify deals, to look into the abyss of reality and either step up in front of peers and managers and commit to a number, or shy away and wonder about job security.
Good salespeople ask tough questions. When? Why? Who? Good salespeople put themselves out of their comfort zone and push deals up the pipeline by differentiating in the sales cycle. And, in a Winning Sales Culture, the weekly sales call serves as the forum to rehearse and prepare for the battle that demands those questions.
If you are a sales manager, here are five tips for your weekly forecast call:
- Keep it to an hour. No longer, no shorter. The call loses its effect if it drags on.
- Only speak about deals that are forecasted at 50% or greater. The Forecast Call is for closers, not dreamers. Closers only.
- As a manager, stay calm and reserved in your questioning. This is not the time to call people out. The numbers will speak for themselves.
- Invite marketing to the call. No better way for them to see, first hand, if their efforts are paying off.
- Run the call using web-conferencing, and share the pipeline “Real-Time” with your reps. This will help to facilitate better user adoption in your CRM system.
As a sales manager, the Forecast Call creates the cadence that will help you to manage your team. Don’t leave it behind in today’s technology driven culture.
And, most importantly, go sell something.
Eric Berridge will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Sales 2.0 Conference, in San Francisco, March 7-8.