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July 2012

Are You Giving Away Your Power and Selling Your Soul?

SharonParker_75x100Today's blog post is by Sharon Parker, a 30-year sales professional and trainer, and the author of Selling with Soul, Version 2.0: Achieving Career Success without Sacrificing Personal Integrity or Spiritual Growth, available in hard and soft cover and ebook formats.



When I ask people to describe a salesperson, I get the usual:  pushy, greedy, self-serving, dishonest – and these answers come from salespeople! The biggest challenge I face in teaching B2B salespeople isn’t the material; the salespeople are eager to learn it. The challenge is their own secret belief in the stereotype. Their business cards seldom read “sales.”  When asked what they do, they give their company name, rather than their position.  Their own families may think what they do is slightly disreputable. They are disrespected so often by customers and managers alike that they come to disrespect themselves.

It’s time to recognize that selling is the only job that creates more jobs. Good engineering can result in a warehouse full of stockpiled inventory. Good manufacturing can fill that warehouse faster. Nothing happens, no one benefits, until something is sold. Selling is the very lifeblood of business, and business is the heart of our economy, so why the disrespect? Does selling really mean selling out?

No dramatic moment comes when we sign a flaming contract with the Devil and carry away a big bonus check. There are daily choices, and when our choices contradict our core values, a small piece of us is chipped away.

  • Your manager wants you to offer your customer a 10 percent discount to close now. You know the issue isn’t price. Your customer is completing the buying process, and a price cut now will hurt your credibility later, but you go along to get along. Chip.
  • Your customer signs the order for a fast-track project. You suspect delivery will be late. You don’t say anything for now. Better not cause concern. Chip.
  • Your customer makes an unreasonable demand, and everything in you is saying, “No, that’s not a good business decision for us,” but your head starts nodding and your mouth says yes. After all, the customer is always right. Chip.

We may blame the manager, customer, or industry practices for our choices, but we are the ones who teach our customers how to treat us. If we believe our customers know more and have more power than we have, then we must do what they ask of us to win, right? But you are knowledgeable, professional, and powerful, and you have the right to make good decisions for yourself and your company. We all start with confidence, knowing we are committed to taking care of our customers and putting integrity first. We feel empowered by our experience and industry knowledge. We know our value.  Then, choice by choice, decision by decision, we give away that power and, along with it, our sense of confidence and value.

We are more than the products and services we represent. The ability to stand confidently in our expertise and recognize our value is crucial to building mutual respect and trust with our customers. We need to retrain them. The ability to say no when faced with unreasonable or questionable demands tells customers that we respect ourselves and will not allow them to disrespect us. Calling at the executive level because we know we have to understand the bigger goal to do our job – and we don't really need anyone’s permission to do our job – teaches the customer that we are business professionals committed to successful outcomes. Standing firm at negotiation because we know our value teaches the customer that we price it right the first time and don’t pad proposals just to give it away later.

By respecting ourselves and renewing our commitment to integrity every day, we stop the erosion at our core. And when we own that power, we can go home at night knowing we’ve done our best work for our customers and ourselves – and that we’ve done it with integrity as our guide. That’s selling with soul. 

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How to Get Your Reps to Update and Use CRM

Cabrera_newToday's blog post is by Christopher Cabrera, CEO of Xactly Corporation, the industry leader in sales compensation automation.


Your sales team’s most critical data lives in the brains and spiral notebooks of your reps. Which means that losing just one rep could mean losing an important customer relationship.

Salespeople want to do what they do best – sell. As a result, they won’t learn to use a new tool unless its benefits are absolutely clear. And despite the advantages they can get from CRM (like instant access to lead contact information and account histories, for example), many sales reps still see CRM as a glorified filing system.

The good news is that sales leaders can absolutely change the way reps think about CRM. Here are four strategies based on our work with hundreds of companies around the world.

ONE: Consider plugin applications that align objectives across your entire organization. CRM alone can’t give your sales reps real-time visibility into their progress towards quota – or, for example, how much money they could make if they closed a deal. This is a missed opportunity for reps, of course. It also represents a lost opportunity for sales managers to influence sales results, and for the company to accelerate revenue. But you can give your entire sales team up-to-the-minute access to this information with other applications, like sales compensation plug-ins.

TWO: Make your data work for you. To understand your blueprint for success, dive deep into your data across multiple periods—months, quarters, years—and by product, territory, role, function, or even internal contests. Use customizable reports to improve your onboarding, sales training and coaching. Show your reps how to test what-if scenarios to see which sales they should spend time on, and how they can maximize their commissions.

THREE: Regularly and publicly recognize your winners. Once you’ve drilled into the best practices of your top performers, share them with the rest of the team. Applaud winners over email, Chatter, and during staff meetings. Display contest results on TV screens near your sales cubicles or offices. Send out a simple-results dashboard to your team every day via email.

FOUR: Give both Sales and Finance what they want.Finance wants controllable costs. Sales wants to earn huge commissions. You can virtually test new incentive plans within your CRM to make sure you’ll meet forecasts – while also offering motivating rewards to your top reps.

At the core of these conversations is the user experience. It defines how fast you can drive CRM adoption, and even how much value you can enxtract from good, clean data to drive predictive sales results.

Want to learn more about how you can implement a robust CRM adoption strategy that delivers ROI? Learn more here

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Seven Things to Change TODAY If You Want to Make Your Number in 2013

DanPerryToday's guest post is by Dan Perry, a principal at Sales Benchmark Index




 Sales forces today face a huge challenge: The buyer has been permanently changed. Expectations have been elevated. Decisions have been forever altered. Your world has changed – forever.

Our firm, Sales Benchmark Index, conducted extensive research this last year during our 6th Annual Sales Benchmarking Study.  Analyzing more than 12,000 buyers, 10,000 sales reps, and 4,500 sales managers, and benchmarking 1,100 sales metrics, we have found seven major things your peers are doing differently this year. These are seven major ways your peers are allocating people, time, and money to make the 2013 number – seven things you should be doing now to keep the revolutionary pace and hit the number. Here's a preview of the new research:

More than 55 percent of a customer's buying process has already been determined by the time your sales rep engages (source: Sales Executive Council). Problems have been determined, needs identified, and options chosen before the sales rep walks in the door. To net it out, standard sales methods are in trouble. Sales reps bore buyers to death with "discovery" meetings, which are held because that is what they've been trained to do. Let's face reality: Buyers are educating themselves in a self-directed way. What should you do?

Here are 7 things you need to do today to make the number in 2013:

  1. Realize that buyer behavior has changed forever. You need a customized sales process mapped to the way your buyers purchase. Identifying where they are in the process is critical to hit the 2013 number.
  2. Lead generation will determine your future. Does anyone answer his or her office phone anymore? Buyers now investigate you long before you know it. The key is to get enriched content into demand generation so that when prospects look, they like what they see, which stimulates interest in you and your products.
  3. Talent management and the quest for the "A" player have never been greater. Talent is always at a premium. But how many of you have had your number raised without adding any sales reps? You need better talent to make the number in 2013.
  4. Time management needs improvement. Customer-facing time is at a premium, yet only 42 percent of a sales rep's time is spent with customers. Improve by 10 percent (on average, that's only four hours per week), and you could sell 8 to 10 more deals a year. Do the math: Increase your sales reps' selling time and win more deals; you need them to hit the number next year.
  5. Compensation mix has changed. It's all about the variable next year. As the variable component goes up, quota attainment should increase. We have noticed a significant change from 2012. Variable now makes up more than 50 percent of compensation plans.
  6. New product launches come with additional quota, but not much else. Is the new product going to save the day? Not if your sales force can't sell it. World-class sales forces are spending time ensuring that their reps can sell the new product. Sales enablement is a top priority for companies releasing new products in 2013.
  7. Inside sales is growing exponentially. What you had to sell face-to-face during the last decade now can be sold virtually. Why? One word: Internet. This lower-cost resource can increase revenue (and margin) and directly impact the 2013 number.

Research shows you are worried about 2013. CEOs indicate that they will increase investment in their sales teams in search of top-line revenue. Head-count budgets are expected to increase, demand generation spend is forecasted to double, sales training efforts are on the rise, and OTE for sales reps is expected to increase. Are you keeping pace with your peers?

Educate yourself in this year's Make the Number Tour. Start thinking in a new way; it will increase your chances of making the number in 2013. It will be here before you know it.

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10 Critical Sales Management Reports

SeemaToday's post is by Seema Haji, Director of Product Marketing at Birst. She is responsible for leading marketing direction and competitive positioning for Birst. Seema has 10 years of experience as a developer, evaluator, buyer and marketer in the Business Intelligence space from her tenure at Actuate Corporation, Yahoo! and Citibank. She has an MS in Computer Science from the University of Southern California. In addition to her passion for driving Birst's SaaS-based business analytics solution, she has a keen interest in sustainability management and eco-friendly living.



A lack of powerful analytics and good sales management reports are keeping many sales leaders from making the best decisions possible for their companies.  

SFA applications are the most widely deployed among all apps in CRM systems today. Birst commissioned a survey earlier this year on the state of Sales Force Automation business analytics. The results weren’t pretty – only 19% were satisfied with the analytics provided by their current Sales Force Automation (SFA) apps; and 86% of users experienced challenges with their apps.

The survey had other interesting results:

  • 74% of SFA users require technical staff for in-depth analysis of their sales data,
  • 68% use Excel as the primary tool to analyze their SFA data (more than any other tool), and
  • 82% must augment the built-in SFA analytics with additional tools.

While sales managers love real-time visibility and confident sales forecasts, there is still an untapped gold mine sitting in SFA databases. This is where business analytics can help push your organization to the next level of effectiveness. Birst’s Salesforce Reporting and Analytics helps sales managers analyze critical SFA data to get a comprehensive view of the pipeline and change analytics so they can make better leadership decisions.

For example: using Birst, sales leaders can create a single, holistic view integrating their sales data with financial bookings, ERP data, and any other third party data – this allows them to compare committed and forecasted sales, plus see the overall cost of leads that converted to closed/won deals. Sales leaders can also use Birst to analyze what has changed in the pipeline, and compare those changes to the status of that same data last month/quarter/year. They can also find out if they have enough pipeline to meet targets and what might happen if deal sizes or close times change. Birst integrates with, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Oracle CRM (Siebel CRM) and other popular CRM applications.

There are currently 10 sales management reports that is not able to produce that can dramatically impact how well sales managers understand what is happening with their pipeline and forecasts. You can learn more in this free white paper download.

Most sales leaders today base their sales strategies and decisions on dated information that can be months old. As a result, actions can often come too late to make a difference. Organizations that fail to deliver real-time, interactive diagnostic capabilities to their salespeople fail to maximize sales effectiveness.

Learn more -- download this free report today: 10 Critical Sales Management Reports that Can’t Generate (and 10 Reasons to Care).