Sales 2.0 Feed

How to Improve Your Buyer's Journey

UntitledToday’s post is by Kate Feather, EVP of Marketing and Business Development at PeopleMetrics, a feedback and consulting firm that helps organizations build client-centric cultures.  

 

When you look at your sales metrics, do you ever feel like you’re looking in a rearview mirror rather than gazing into a crystal ball?

Many sales leaders we know can’t accurately predict the probability of their winning each opportunity, even when they use sophisticated sales-analytics tools. Because they can’t be in every meeting and conversation, they aren’t able to gauge buyer engagement. Instead they rely on past win rates, sales cycles, and activities to predict the future. But histories can’t reveal how engaged the buyer is right now, at each step of their journey with each seller’s company.

Lacking real-time buyer feedback, how can leaders know when to intervene, or when to tell their reps to move on? How can they know which team members need coaching, and in which specific areas?

Value: The One Metric You Are Missing

In our recent B2B buyer trend research at PeopleMetrics, we discovered that the quantity and quality of the prospect’s communication with you influences the purchase decision more than anything else. Ultimately, the perceived value of the time a buyer spends with your company drives the decision to purchase. Consider the following facts from our report.

  • Half of B2B buyers told us that the vendor they ultimately rejected did not provide sufficient value.
  • Three-and-a-half times more B2B buyers gave a perfect score (five on a five-point scale) on value to the team they ultimately chose.
  • As buyers’ perceptions of value moved from good to excellent, the average size of the contract increased by nearly $100,000.

Measuring Value: Ask for Perceptions

In our industry, we help companies listen to their customers at key moments of truth and use this real-time feedback to close the loop. By listening to the voice of the customer, companies can strengthen relationships, find opportunities to coach employees, fix issues, and seek referrals.

However, few companies actively solicit buyer opinions or listen to buyer feedback during the sales process. Some companies say they don’t want to burden their buyers, or they don’t believe they’ll receive honest (or any) feedback. Others have simply never thought about it.

Our research and work with B2B organizations has revealed the following.

  • Buyers welcome the invitation for feedback. If you think about it, your buyers invest a significant amount of time and resources getting to know you. By asking if talking with you was a valuable use of their time, you can show you recognize and appreciate that investment.
  • One-in-three buyers give feedback, and the two-in-three who don’t are communicating as well. A non-response is as valuable as a response in helping you to revise forecasting.
  • Buyers give varied feedback from top marks to mixed ratings and suggested improvements. Data analysis shows a strong correlation between buyer ratings and win rates. This validates that buyer feedback is honest and linked to the ultimate decision they make.

Using Buyer Feedback to Improve Performance

A closed-loop buyer feedback solution is more than measurement. What you do with that feedback can change buyer engagement, value perceptions, and win rates.If you measure value perceptions during the sales process, you can react to make that experience more memorable – and gain a competitive advantage.

Sales leaders can learn and act on what buyers say (or don’t say) in four important ways that are missing today.

  1. Course Correction: A buyer who didn’t perceive sufficient value (indicated by a rating of four or lower on a five-point scale) is not likely to buy from you. Sales leaders who receive this feedback within minutes can reach out quickly to address the situation. One client who is using our feedback solution closed $1.2 million in new revenue by leveraging 11 course-correct alerts. In rearview-mirror measurement world, that deal likely would have been lost.  
  2. Targeted Coaching: Buyers will tell you why the rep didn’t get a perfect score. This feedback, along with ratings on five core competencies known to correlate with value, provides outside-in (buyer-centric) insights to focus your coaching and training efforts. Feedback specific to each rep and buyer can transform performance management from one-size-fits-all programs to custom-cut training.
  3. Perfect Scores (and Probability Improvement): By adding buyer value perceptions to your measurement, you can improve the accuracy of your forecasting. Buyers who give perfect value scores, and who recognize special and unexpected efforts, are more likely to buy from your company (barring any internal changes in strategy, direction, or budget). Over time, you can look at the correlation between your perfect scores and win rates to adapt your forecasting accordingly.
  4. Non-Response (Touch Base and Move on): Our research has shown that the two-in-three customers who do not respond to the survey are significantly less likely to buy from you than those who share their opinions. A non-response still offers insight into the buyer’s perception. It communicates that the opportunity may be dying on the vine. In the situation of a non-response, you may wish to touch base with the buyer.Failing a second response, you can know it is time to move on. You’ve gotten to “no” quicker and can turn your attention to the opportunities that deserve your energy.

What Are You Doing to Improve Value?

At PeopleMetrics, we believe buyer feedback is a key element of improving the buyer’s journey. It presents the crystal-ball opportunity that many sales teams need to take real strides in adding value for their buyers. Our LeadMetrics solution helps sales leaders use feedback from buyers to predict sales and train their teams. To learn more, you can watch the video below, or visit our website.

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Four Key Takeaways About Your Data from #INmarket15 Speakers

AlisonMurdockToday’s post is by Alison Murdock, vice president of marketing at 6sense. Join 6sense at the INmarket conference in San Francisco on July 8 to learn more about innovations for B2B sales and marketing teams. Register here and use code BLOG for a special 25 percent discount.

 

Data is at the center of everything we do as B2B sellers and marketers. From buyer profiles, to lead scoring, to sales pipelines and forecasts, we rely on data to drive our decisions and strategies.

Even so, many sales and marketing leaders still don’t understand how to fully optimize their own data. This is one of the reasons 6sense is assembling data experts and industry leaders for the INmarket conference in San Francisco on July 8. Attendees will learn how companies are using data and predictive tools to streamline their sales and marketing efforts and bring in more revenue.

Recently, 6sense spoke with several experts who will be speaking at INmarket. Here are four of their top takeaways about how data is shaping the future of sales and marketing. 

Takeaway #1 from Paul Teshima: Teeing up opportunities for sales will soon become paramount over generating qualified leads. Marketing is becoming more accountable for the growth of the business, and, because of that, it can hold sales more accountable to do their part as well. However, as the customer (buyer) becomes accustomed to the hyper-personalized marketing experience, I feel they will gravitate toward engaging with trusted salespeople earlier. Early research from Sirius Decisions suggests this, and marketing may need to focus more on “teeing up” opportunities for sales discussions versus only generating qualified leads. 

See more at: https://6sense.com/2015/06/inside-inmarket-data-is-the-new-black/#sthash.PD3j4FMP.dpuf

Takeaway #2 from Matt Heinz: Invest in only the technology tools that suit your particular needs. Start with your process, your strategy, your gaps – THEN identify the technology and tools that can help you the most. Too many companies let the tail wag the dog – they choose technology that’s cool and current and hip but that doesn’t solve their most pressing problem(s). Get the fundamentals in place first. In my opinion, that’s CRM, marketing automation, predictive intelligence, and multi-campaign weighted attribution. From there, fill the gaps. Prioritize your biggest problems, your biggest roadblocks.

See more at: https://6sense.com/2015/06/moving-at-the-speed-of-data-matt-heinz-on-why-you-need-a-data-strategy-now/

Takeaway #3 from Nick Panayi: Data requires human intelligence.Technology can only do so much. Technology by itself – without smart, intuitive people – is just a science experiment. Smart human operators guiding how the data flows and how it gets optimized is where you unlock the real value. 

You need very smart data scientists to help guide your approach. It’s not a plug-and-play situation. You need to hire or engage some pretty smart people. You need “smart creatives” (a term Eric Schmidt of Google came up with, which I think is brilliant) who are people with both sides of the brain working. They are data scientists who also have strong business acumen and full appreciation of the softer side of the marketing profession. To squeeze the value out of the technology, you need people who get both the art and science of marketing.

See more at: https://6sense.com/2015/05/inside-inmarket-interview-with-nick-panayi-csc/#sthash.o8VyQqIX.dpuf

Takeaway #4 from Michael Ballard: Understand the ROI of predictive tools.Communicate the concept of predictive intelligence with your stakeholders and sales. Make sure they understand the full value and potential because it’s not a cheap or easy proposition. Then start small. Start with a pilot and prove its value to your stakeholders. That can make the budgeting process much easier with real-world ROI. Plus, this approach allows you to focus and optimize the foundation before you start to expand to additional channels, programs, and models.

See more at: https://6sense.com/2015/06/inside-inmarket-lenovo-on-why-to-embrace-data/#sthash.F9DGcK1n.dpuf 

Join 6sense and Selling Power at the INmarket conference in San Francisco on July 8 to learn more about innovations for B2B sales and marketing teams. Register here and use code BLOG for a special 25 percent discount.

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The State of the Sales Profession: My Insights from the Sales 2.0 Conference

RichBlakeman

Today’s post is by Rich Blakeman of AchieveGlobal, An MHI Global Company

 

 

In April I spoke at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. Here are two of the key thoughts that stuck in my mind after the event.

#1: Put Customers at the Center of Your Sales Efforts

We’ve emphasized this at MHI Global for many years. But, listening to conversations and presentations take place at the event, it struck me that this is the first year that nearly everyone spoke about the importance of helping customers achieve their goals. We've been talking about putting customers at the core of your sales efforts for a long time. In other words, I heard a ringing endorsement for the need to have a sales culture that’s oriented around the customer.

This is a major shift – and I’m in a position to know, because I've attended six or seven Sales 2.0 Conferences since their inception nine years ago. And I’ve been a speaker at three of these events.

As I recall, many of the conversations at those events were focused on us. We talked about:

  • Sales techniques and selling skills,
  • how we could close more sales, and
  • which latest and greatest tech tools we should be using. 

We were very “me” focused in those years. And it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to attend a sales conference and discover these topics still dominating the discussion. Yet, at this event, the customer was getting all the attention. I couldn’t be happier about this shift, and I think we should consider calling this movement Sales 2.5 (at least!).

#2: Your Intention Matters

What’s the other interesting thing I learned? I heard from some of the attendees that they felt there was a clear separation between speakers who were there simply to speak, and speakers who were there as fellow members of the sales profession.

In other words, a speaker who shows up to an event to get some stage time and jet off to the next engagement is not truly a member of the community – and people can sense that. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless their intention is to make an authentic connection with attendees at a peer level.

Personally, I feel that I am a member of the sales profession, and, as such, I truly wanted to be at the event to listen, learn, and connect. That meant taking time to sit and listen to presentations and chat with fellow attendees in addition to my stage time.

It was a great feeling to hear that validation from attendees. And I should not be so surprised, because I always try to live by the edict of one of our founders, Bob Miller. He used to say that it’s incumbent on us to “be the best examples of what we represent.” I am committed to promoting, enhancing, and developing the profession of sales so we can all live up to our fullest potential.

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Three New Facts You Need to Know about Your Buyer’s Journey

Alison Murdock headshotToday’s post is by Alison Murdock, VP of Marketing at 6sense. Join 6sense at the INMarket conference in San Francisco on July 8 to learn more about innovations for B2B sales and marketing teams. Register here and use code BLOG for a special 25 percent discount.

 

If you’ve been paying attention to trends in the B2B sales profession for the past few years, you’ve probably noticed the term “buyer’s journey” slowly overtaking what used to be called “the sales cycle.”

That’s not to say the sales cycle no longer exists. But, since B2B buyers have moved online en masse to research offerings and make purchases, the language of the sales profession has shifted to reflect the fact that buyers have taken control of the sales cycle. Salespeople do not control access to information the way they used to. The buyer is now in the driver’s seat. Thus, we now talk about the buyer’s journey – not the sales cycle.

Has this rendered salespeople irrelevant? Much ink has been spilled debating this idea, and many thought leaders, analysts, and experts have cited a single statistic that originated with SiriusDecisions research: 67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. Although SiriusDecisions never explicitly announced that salespeople were becoming obsolete (nor was that their underlying intent), many people misinterpreted their research.

How do I know this? I attended the recent SiriusDecisions Summit, where analysts Jennifer Ross and Marisa Kopec discussed results from the firm’s new survey, which was intended to expand on their original findings and clarify their position. Their research reflected responses from 1,000 B2B executives who had been involved in a significant B2B purchase decision within the previous six months. The data represents an estimated half-billion dollars in B2B purchases across North America and Europe.

I outlined six key takeaways from the survey in a separate post (“Yes, Sales Reps Still Matter to B2B Buyers: 6 Takeaways from #SDSummit 2015”). But one of the most interesting points that I want to highlight for sales leaders is that a single buyer’s journey does not exist. According to Ross and Kopec, there are actually three distinct buying scenarios. Here are the characteristics of each one.

Buying Scenario #1: Committee

  • phased, hierarchical, and tiered

  • typically involves a six-month sales cycle

  • purchase price is greater than $500K

Buying Scenario #2: Consensus

  • team based or cross functional

  • purchase cycle takes less than six months

  • purchase price is anywhere from $50K to $500K

Buying Scenario #3: Independent

  • does not rely on a committee

  • deals close in days or weeks

  • transactional in nature

  • purchase price is around $50K or less

It’s probably easy to see which category your offering falls into, but the further revelations from Ross and Kopec are what is truly interesting: each buying scenario has implications for whether – and when – you should pursue non-human (digital) interactions, or human-to-human (salespeople) interactions. According to their research, as price increases, human interactions become more important.

The implication is clear. Companies need a mix of digital and human interactions with their buyers, and they need to carefully consider which method they deploy based on their typical buying scenario.

Buyers today leave a rich digital footprint of what they want and need. Sales tools have evolved accordingly. Specifically, predictive intelligence tools can help you predict which customers are highly likely to buy; who is in the buying committee; what products they want and need; and when they are likely to buy. In other words, predictive intelligence tells you which of your prospects are “in market” – whatever their buying stage may be. Are they just beginning their research or leaning in to make a purchase in the next 90 days?

These are some fascinating trends and times for B2B. And we’ll be diving right into those at the upcoming INMarket conference, hosted by 6sense, in San Francisco on July 8. Executives from such companies as Box, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Cisco, Xactly, and Forrester will be speaking. We invite you to join us. Register here and use code BLOG for a special 25 percent discount.

Which buyer’s scenario best fits your offering? Share your thoughts in the comments section or tweet using the hashtag #InMarket15.


Where the Decision Makers Are

Today's post is by Dave Kurlan, founder and CEO of Objective Management Group Inc. and Kurlan & Associates, and author of Baseline Selling: How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know About the Game of Baseball.

 

Recently, I spoke to an audience made up of CEOs and their respective boards. When I speak to such groups, I tell them what they should expect from their sales leaders relative to all of the changes, trends, and best practices that have had an impact on sales organizations.

Interestingly, many are completely unaware of the following:

  1. The buyer’s journey and what it looks like.
  2. Sales managers and their role as coach.
  3. The migration of outside sales to inside.
  4. That longer sales cycles and lower win rates aren’t only issues for them.
  5. The myriad tools that help make salespeople and sales organizations more efficient.
  6. The social-selling and inbound movements.
  7. What a formal sales process should look like.
  8. How selling has changed.

It occurred to me that, while all of these CEOs and board members are on LinkedIn, they don’t actually use LinkedIn; they simply accept invitations to connect and mistakenly believe that’s all there is.

It’s clear to me that there are two groups of businesses, executives, sales leaders, and salespeople:

  • Those who are online, making connections, sharing, reading, commenting, and posting.
  • Those who aren’t. 

I don’t know which is the larger group, but clearly, based on my newly discovered surprise, those who aren’t engaged online belong to a much, much bigger group than I thought. With so much information being shared online—and only online—how do salespeople connect to the huge population of decision makers who aren’t online to read and absorb all that is being shared?

We have a tool for that! Do you remember the telephone? It still works—even better than ever—and it works from anywhere and at anytime. This group, the one that isn’t engaged online, continues to engage on the phone. All you have to do is call.

 

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Is “Virtual Distance” Getting in the Way of Our Customer Connections?

Jeff Seeley Today’s post is by Jeff Seeley, CEO of Carew International Inc.

 

 

 

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that sales professionals and customers are more “connected” than ever before.

To prepare for the future of selling, we must contend with the fact that we have access to exponentially more information than we had just a decade ago. Companies are investing billions of dollars in sales technologies, such as customer relationship and sales force management systems (CRM and SFA, respectively), to increase the sales team’s insight on customer and prospect demographics and behavior; however, organizations are not realizing a return in sales performance improvement. In fact, just the opposite is true.

According to Accenture’s latest report, “Powering Profitable Sales Growth – Five Imperatives,” the number of representatives achieving their sales goals has declined from 67 percent in 2013 to 50 percent in 2014 (even with sales quotas generally lower in 2014 than in 2013), and revenue target achievement is down by more than 5 percent.

How is it possible that, in the face of this new insight and our extraordinary investment in performance technology, global sales performance is dropping? Because information does not ensure understanding, insight does not equal connection, and CRM is not a customer relationship.

It is time to consider that we have become overly dependent on technology and perhaps unrealistic in our expectations of its role in our sales performance. The result is an overly complicated, multitasking sales environment with a higher focus on technology and less on customer diagnostics, engagement, and experience. Neglecting the customer relationship undermines the influence and collaboration essential to a productive sales process.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “The Subtle Ways Our Screens Are Pushing Us Apart,” Dr. Karen Sobel-Lojeski introduces the phrase “virtual distance” to explain the dynamic of substituting screen intelligence for human connection. She writes, “Virtual distance is a sense of psychological and emotional detachment that begins to grow little by little and unconsciously when most encounters and experiences are mediated by screens on smart devices.”

Keyboard-tapping sales professionals who dive deep into data without proportional customer engagement and exploratory conversations will lack context that reveals who their customers are, their attitudes, and their motivations. Sobel-Lojeski observes:

…today’s workforce has more than enough tools to send information back and forth to people all over the world. But those tools – and the use of them – do not necessarily constitute collaboration… Genuine collaboration is achieved through ongoing meaningful exchanges between people who share a passion and respect for one another… Ultimately, new innovations and critical problem solving are realized through relationships.

The impact of technological improvements is dramatic and profound; at this juncture, not having the insight provided by CRM/SFA tools would put any sales organization at a perilous disadvantage. The key understanding, however, is that sales technology is not a substitute for the foundational role of the sales professional.

Technology cannot develop customer relationships nor interpret data to identify the strongest business-development opportunities and most valuable insight and solutions for customers. Savvy sales leaders will view sales technologies as tools to facilitate customer engagement, not as a substitute for customer engagement.

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The Best Advice I Learned from Top Sales 2.0 Conference Speakers

Joanne BlackToday's guest post is by Joanne Black, America’s leading authority on referral selling and author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™ and Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal. Connect with her at www.NoMoreColdCalling.com or call her at 415.461.8763

 

This month I talked to a number of speakers who will deliver presentations at the Sales 2.0 Conference on April 27 and 28 in San Francisco. What did I learn? Here are the five takeaways you need to know if want to create a successful sales future for yourself.

Takeaway #1 from Tiffani Bova“Current sales metrics don’t match the buyer’s journey.” 

Ever watch a bouncing ball? It goes from one side to another, up and down, and all around. It's tough to follow. That's the digital buyer. These prospects come into the sales process at different stages and go bouncing around, collecting new information and shifting their focus back and forth.

Yet, salespeople are still measured on legacy metrics, as if customers start with zero knowledge of us. Reps are measured on calls made, social touches generated, and emails sent. “But legacy metrics don't work anymore,” says Tiffani Bova, “because the digital buyer is no longer linear.”

Tiffani will discuss other dangers sales organizations face in her presentation, “Who's in Control of the Sales Process? The Customer!”

Takeaway #2 from Matt Heinz: “Sales operations should be a marketing function, not sales.” 

When Matt Heinz offered this advice, I thought it was another case of marketing trying to take over sales –- until he pointed out that sales teams boost productivity by better utilizing marketing resources. He explained, “Sales operations has evolved into sales enablement –- which should be handled by a group that can systematize and scale the repeatable tasks that are essential to sales.”

Then salespeople can focus on what they do best: Building one-to-one relationships.

Matt will suggest other time-savers in “How Sales Operations Can Double Your Sales Team's Productivity.”

Takeaway #3 from Patricia Fripp: “No matter how experienced you are, you can’t ‘wing’ a sales presentation.” 

Prospects don't care about you. They don’t want to hear how great your product is or how long you’ve been in business. They're only interested in what you can do for them. Those answers require research and practice.

Patricia Fripp says salespeople should spend at least 30 minutes rehearsing and personalizing every client presentation. “People get cocky,” she told me. “They’ve been selling for years, so they think they can wing it. No way. When all things are equal, your presentation determines whether you win or lose.”

Don’t miss her breakout session, “Superstar Sales Presentations: The Inside Secrets.”

Takeaway #4 from Michael Nick and Drew Wright"When prospects won’t decide, walk away.” 

You've already "spent" your commission. Now the customer says he's not moving forward, with you or anyone else. Losing to “no decision” is even more embarrassing than losing to a competitor. You’ve committed to a forecast, and now you have to backpedal with your sales manager.

Michael Nick and Drew Wright will demonstrate the cost of waiting in their breakout session, “Overcoming No Decision.”

Their caution: If you’re hemorrhaging dollars, get out early. If you expect a delay, make a go/no-go decision.

Takeaway #5 from Jamie Shanks, Kurt Shaver, and Anneke Seley: “The most important component of social selling is marketing.” ­ 

I had serious doubts about this advice from Jamie Shanks. Then he explained how a marketing-driven social media outreach helped him create a referral network of advocates and influencers.

As Jamie said, “LinkedIn is a tool that enables social selling. It’s not social selling. It’s the medium.” Jamie will share his secrets on the “Generating Revenue Using Social Selling” panel, alongside Kurt Shaver and Anneke Seley.

Kurt agrees that marketing should drive social selling. Everyone has to publish content now, including sales. But instead of creating new content, he says salespeople should focus on sharing content from marketing. “Marketing is staffed, trained, and authorized to create content on the company’s behalf.”

Anneke points out that because social selling is new territory, many sales leaders don’t see its value. Without the right motivation and compensation package, reps won’t follow the plan. “Managers will just be adding one more thing to their day,” she explains. “All the training in the world won’t make a difference until their peers start getting results.”

Anneke says to stay for their panel. Cocktails follow.

Thought leaders aren’t supposed to rehash the same old ideas. They’re supposed to add something new to the conversation. I learned tons from these thought leaders, and I look forward to learning more at the Sales 2.0 Conference on April 27-28 in San Francisco. As a guest blogger, I’ll share more words of wisdom throughout the event. Hope to see you there!

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The Power of Sales Analytics

Mike Moorman_contact imageToday’s guest post is by Mike Moorman, managing principal of sales solutions at global management-consulting firm ZS. ZS is the publisher of The Power of Sales Analytics, written by more than 20 of the firm’s thought leaders who share insights on how companies can use analytics to improve key sales-force effectiveness drivers, such as customer targeting, sales process design, and sales force size and structure. 

 

Companies in the United States alone spend more than $900 billion every year on their sales forces, and executives want to get the most out of this expensive investment; however, leading a sales force to deliver profitable revenue growth in today’s complex business environment is a big challenge.

Not so long ago, sales leaders relied primarily on their own experience and intuition, as well as input from field sales managers and salespeople, when making critical sales force decisions. Today, sales leaders need to do more.

The current perfect storm of big data, new technologies (e.g., Cloud and mobility), and innovation provides opportunities for companies to gain insights about customers and use advanced analytics to improve both strategic and tactical sales force decisions. In turn, this knowledge helps to dramatically increase the effectiveness of the sales force. 

When it comes to sales analytics, it’s important to recognize that data and technology alone are not enough. What matters is how analytics can help sales forces improve fundamental business decisions and processes.

For example, companies have leveraged analytics

  • to help salespeople understand customer/prospect needs and potential, so they can target the right accounts and more effectively use time;
  • to enable sales managers to have more impact as coaches and make more informed decisions about issues such as sales territory design, goal setting, and performance management;
  • to allow sales leaders to make better decisions about issues such as sales strategy, sales force size and structure, and the recruiting of sales talent.

To benefit from sales analytics, companies need a diverse set of people, processes, and tools for addressing a wide range of needs. Some are quite strategic, such as formulating sales strategy or designing sales force structure. They require people with evaluation/issue expertise and flexible and creative tools to enable insightful analysis.

Other sales analytics needs are more operational, such as overseeing sales force goal-setting or administering the sales-incentive compensation plan. These require people with a work style that is process  and detail oriented and tools for efficiently and reliably delivering information.

It’s a big challenge for companies to cost-effectively develop and continuously improve this diverse range of sales analytics capabilities, especially because the business and technology environment is constantly changing. Many companies build strategic networks that include both internal (company) and external (outsourced) resources to deliver the needed breadth of capabilities.

What’s your game plan to achieve world-class sales analytics capabilities? If you’d like to learn more about how your company can leverage sales analytics to build competitive advantage and increase profitable revenue growthregister now to join me at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, April 27–28, 2015.

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How to Supercharge Your Sales Pipeline with Predictive Intelligence

AmandaKahlow_300Amanda Kahlow is CEO and founder of 6sense. Prior to 6sense, Amanda spent 14 years as the CEO and founder of CI Insights, a big-data services company that used multichannel analytics to help enterprise companies generate as much as $300 million in net-new business. 

 

What would it take for your sales team to stay on top of the pipeline and effectively manage sales opportunities? Better incentives? Micromanagement? Magic?

We say the answer is predictive intelligence.

Every day, your buyers and prospects are leaving digital footprints, buying signals that indicate whether they are in the market to buy, what products they prefer, and perhaps the vendors they are considering.

By tying together billions of rows of time-sensitive data, predictive intelligence distills all these digital signals into insight that sales professionals can use immediately, leading to faster close rates and increased sales.

For example, our customers’ sales teams receive regular alerts about new prospects that 6sense has found and regular notifications about prospects’ progression through the funnel. All this valuable information is captured with no extra work required from the sales teams.

The results are tangible. Here are two ways predictive intelligence helps sales teams better manage the pipeline. 

1) Fill your pipeline with new prospects who are ready to buy.

Think about how fast you’re going through leads. If you’re running through them, you’re not alone; ample lead supply is a common pain point for sales. The predictive intelligence platform by 6sense alleviates this issue by identifying entirely net-new prospects who are either in the market to buy your specific product or actively looking at other options in your industry. Say a company is showing intent to buy your type of product but hasn’t discovered your brand. The 6sense predictive engine will detect that this prospect is in the market to buy and will inform your sales team, who can jump on the opportunity.

One of our customers used 6sense to identify business that resulted in the third largest deal in the company’s history – and this prospect was about to buy from a competitor! Another 6sense customer was able to double its opportunity sizes, and 70 percent of those opportunities were net-new prospects who had never “raised their hands” and were not in marketing-automation or customer relationship management systems.

2) Get a full-funnel picture of all your prospects.

So now that you have plenty of new leads, what about everyone else? Your reps must understand where potential buyers are in their journey. With predictive intelligence, that’s possible. 

Say you want to sell to 10 specific people; however, if their activity doesn’t indicate that they’re in the market to buy, then you know you don’t need to focus on those 10 prospects for the time being. Instead, jump on the ones who are showing active interest in your products. Stop guessing and start selling. One of our customers told us that, before using 6sense, 33 touches were required to convert a lead to an opportunity. After using 6sense, it took only 10.

Interested in learning more? Hear Amanda Kahlow, CEO and founder of 6sense, speak at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on April 28. Or contact us now.

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Two Reasons Predictive Analytics Drive Outstanding Sales Performance

LisaFiondella

Today's guest post is by Lisa Fiondella, CEO of reFocus Analytics. Hear her speak at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia on March 16, where she will present “Innovating for Sales through Big Data and Analytics.”

 

Throughout high school, I really enjoyed math (with the exception of 10th grade geometry), and college statistics was actually fun. I can still hear our teachers telling us that we’d use math every day of our lives, while my classmates and I snickered at the thought. Other than counting the money in my measly savings account and comparing the total to the price of a really cute pair of shoes, I just didn’t get the connection. 

When I decided to make sales my profession, I never dreamed that math could have such a profound impact on my own sales performance or that one day I’d develop and leverage an analytical approach to creating sales growth. After all, selling is a “people profession” and traditionally associated with such skills as

  • allowing customers to express their needs,
  • creating trust,
  • negotiating effectively, and
  • proving you and your company offer the best solution for the customer’s business.

All of these are human interactions and far removed from mathematical calculations, but as I moved from an individual contributor role to sales management and eventually to running a business, I learned that combining the “people” element of sales with the math of predictive analytics can be a powerful combination

How so? We’ve heard the statistics about how today’s buyers buy. Based on my own experience leading large, complex sales organizations and testing many approaches, I believe that predictive insight is the way to achieve outstanding performance. Here are two reasons why:

1) Predictive analytics tell you what’s likely to happen with your customers, markets, and business performance.

You can use this insight to build strategies around resource and organization planning, territory assignments, account assignments, and quota development. This provides a much clearer picture of revenue potential – much more so than historical sales reports (or the traditional gut instinct of the salesperson and sales manager).  

2) Predictive analytics allow sales leaders to more effectively execute business activities. 

That’s because predictive insight can be applied at an account or individual sales-representative level. For example, if a manager understands the revenue potential of a particular rep’s account book, then individual level quota and performance measures can be established. This approach helps sales leaders focus on the right actions and measures that will propel the company to greater levels of sales success. 

Sales today is a brave new world. While some of the old ways of selling still work, a predictive approach is ideally suited for sales leaders who want to achieve outstanding performance. This means you must be willing to learn how to win using methods that are different from what you used in the past.

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