Sales 2.0 Feed

Fix These Two Behaviors that Sabotage Sales

Somrat Niyogi

 Today’s guest post is by Somrat Niyogi, CEO and cofounder of Stitch. 

 

 


Do your salespeople fail to follow your sales process? Are they bogged down by administrative tasks? Are their sales pipelines sluggish and inconsistent?

If your organization is suffering from any of these problems, it’s time to take a look at your relationship to your CRM system.

CRM systems are flawed. They act as a repository for information but aren’t designed to help salespeople actually sell, be more productive, or simplify sales activities. In fact, the number one question sales leaders ask me is how can they effectively use technology in a way that helps their salespeople follow the sales process.

I believe that the solution is to use CRM data in a “smart” way and introduce automation to the sales process. We call this “intelligent sales automation.” Here are two problematic behaviors we see in salespeople and how intelligent sales automation addresses each one.

Problem #1: Salespeople typically choose to work on the deals that they know are closest to closing.

Naturally, salespeople want to invest time in closing deals that are easiest or most likely to close so they can get their commission check and/or meet quota; however, this means that deals and relationships that appear earlier in the funnel are generally ignored. This has two consequences: 1) early-stage opportunities and relationships can run cold (sometimes permanently), and 2) salespeople must start from square one each month or quarter (or whenever quotas are reset) to rebuild their pipeline.

Your salespeople are not necessarily losing touch with early-stage deals on purpose. What they need is a tool that prompts them to follow up with a particular contact at the optimal time, meaning when that contact is likely to be in buying mode.

Your CRM system is a great place to store information and create to-do lists, but it is simply not capable of assisting salespeople at this level. By contrast, salespeople who use Stitch find that the prompts help them reengage with prospects at ideal times. This contributes to a more robust and consistent sales pipeline.

Problem #2: Salespeople frequently fail to enter data and information into CRM systems.

Salespeople want to spend as much time as possible on activities that will help them close deals, reach quota, and collect their commission. Similarly, sales leaders also want salespeople to prioritize selling activities; the more time spent on selling activities, the better the chances of bringing in more revenue.

Sales leaders, however, have an added need to capture data related to sales activities, because this data helps them track the sales pipeline and roll out sales forecasts. When data is inaccurately entered into or missing from the CRM system, sales managers don’t know what’s happening with pending deals, and it’s impossible to predict revenue streams. 

With traditional CRM systems, the burden is on the rep to take time away from selling activities and devote time (up to 19 percent, according to a CEB study) to administrative tasks such as data entry. With an intelligent automation platform, however, salespeople are prompted to enter information at precisely when new information becomes available. Auto-fill capabilities make it faster and easier to get data into the system. The data in the system improves, and forecasting becomes more accurate. 

For salespeople, a well-defined and optimized sales process can be the difference between success and failure. Although traditional CRM systems fall short, sales intelligence automation actually helps salespeople and sales managers do their jobs more effectively and efficiently so that everyone wins.

Want to learn more about how you can take steps to increase sales productivity and get more out of your CRM system? You can contact us at ceo@stitchapp.com.


How to Create an Optimal Learning Experience for Sales Reps

Darik Volpa Today's guest post is by Darik Volpa, founder and CEO of Rehearsal VRP.

 

 


What’s the best way to learn how to sell? Practice, practice, and more practice.

Yet many sales organizations are not creating an optimal environment for salespeople to practice and perfect their selling skills. This creates at least five problems:

  1. Lost revenue. When salespeople aren’t ready to have conversations with customers, they’re more likely to lose deals. You also risk creating a poor impression of your company when you send unprepared sales reps into the field.

  2. High levels of stress. Yes, salespeople need a tough skin to succeed in sales, but what manager wants to contribute extra stress and anxiety by exposing salespeople to trial-by-fire experiences or failing to help them properly prepare for selling situations? The sink-or-swim approach forces salespeople to learn, but it’s not very enjoyable or efficient.

  3. On-boarding drag. The faster you can get new hires up and running, the faster you can see revenue gains. A lack of proper coaching and training only adds to the amount of time it takes for your new reps to ramp up.

  4. Hiring difficulties. A great learning culture is a point of differentiation that can make or break your hiring effort. If your company becomes known for its poor learning environment, new hires might decide to take jobs at companies that invest in better training, coaching, and support. 

  5. Slow response times. The traditional weekly or monthly coaching model is slow compared to the pace of business. When a competitor undercuts your price, you want a well-trained team that can respond swiftly.

This last point is especially important: a poor learning environment is not just a front-end issue that affects new hires; it is a pervasive problem that affects the sales organization at all levels. Why? Because selling is a continual learning process. Think of all the instances that create new learning curves, even for veteran and top-performing salespeople: 

  • You launch a new product.
  • You change your pricing structure.
  • You open a new sales channel.
  • You reengineer your selling territories.
  • You move into a new market segment.
  • You adopt a new sales methodology/process.
  • You shift your marketing approach.
  • You adopt a new tool (for example, a new CRM system).
  • Your competitor does any of the above.

So what’s going to change the game for sales teams? I believe the answer is video role-play. Our clients use our video-based software, Rehearsal VRP, to help sales teams practice and perfect their selling and communication skills. The process is simple and requires only a Webcam and an Internet connection:

  1. Salespeople watch a short video and then record a response to the question or role-play prompt from their sales manager. (For example, sales managers could ask reps to respond to a prospect’s price objection or a question about how their offering differs from the competition’s.)

  2. Salespeople then submit the recording to their manager or mentor for review. The person who reviews the recording then provides video feedback, as well as a numerical score. 

  3. The numerical scores are tallied, and the top-ranked responses are added to a leaderboard. This allows an organization to build a library of best selling practices from which everyone can learn.

Rehearsal VRP software poses a number of advantages. First, sales managers are able to quickly scale the learning environment. So when a competitor comes out with a new product, managers can quickly disseminate a role-play to all salespeople so they can start crafting a successful response to use during conversations with customers. 

Second, salespeople have a safe space to practice their skills. They can record themselves as much as they need to before sending their video for review. I’ve found that salespeople gain more confidence when they’re able to practice a skill on their own, as opposed to being put on the spot in front of a group. Finally, the leaderboard allows salespeople to learn from the best possible responses to your organization’s particular selling challenges.

Our clients are reporting that Rehearsal VRP is helping them get a better return on their existing sales-training investment. One sales leader at Clorox has reported saving $1,500 a week in travel and expenses. Among a survey of 27 salespeople at AbbVie who are using Rehearsal VRP, 78 percent agree or strongly agree that it is helping them effectively understand and practice the Challenger Selling model.

Today, there’s no reason to let your reps sink or swim. Click here to chat with us live, or sign up to take Rehearsal for a test drive and see how you can start creating an optimal learning experience.

How did you develop your selling skills? What tools and techniques are you using to create a supportive learning environment? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


Sales Reps, Stop Being a "Demo Monkey"

"I hate being a demo monkey!"

Have you ever heard your sales reps say something like this?

It can be frustrating for reps to deliver hundreds of demos and end up with nothing to show for their time and energy. That's why DemoChimp is taking a new approach to helping salespeople turn their presentations into closed deals by making demos more engaging and personalized for each prospect.

"We intelligently personalize the experience," says DemoChimp CEO Garin Hess. "When the prospect goes through your demo, we dynamically stitch together different video elements to deliver an experience that fits their needs rather than going through a straight demo the prospects might not be interested in."

Watch the video above to see how you can start automating your demos and cut down on your demo frustration.


How to Ditch the Generic Sales Pitch in 60 Minutes

Will Spendlove 1Today's guest post is by Will Spendlove, vice president of product marketing at InsideView Inc.

 

 

Which kind of sales pitch would a prospect prefer to hear, a personalized message or a generic sales pitch? These days, prospects can get generic information about companies and offerings online. If you can’t talk with customers about their personal business needs, you’re going to have a tough time engaging them.

The good news is that salespeople can tap social networks to discover all kinds of relevant information, leading to great conversations with prospects, which in turn can lead to closed deals. So how do you use social networks to ditch the generic pitch in 60 minutes? Let’s start the timer…

00:00

Pick leads on which you can find a good level of base data to qualify them, such as company name, industry, size, etc. Social selling won’t work on a random lead on which you have only a name and email address. This is a targeted technique, so you’ll need enough background to start your online search and know that you’re researching the correct person and company.

05:00

Online, look up the name of your lead plus information about his or her company. A search engine is fine; a business-data service like Hoover’s can also be useful.

15:00

Find the blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn streams for the target company. Add the target company’s name as part of the search string, such as “manufacturing equipment Maytag.”

Find news that starts a conversation or backs up your pitch – or both. A company missing its earnings might not be directly relevant to what you’re selling, but helping the company drive more sales or speed production can be a point that’s reinforced with such news.

25:00

Find Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn profiles for your lead. Look for any information that might be useful. Maybe his or her last few tweets mentioned working long hours (which might indicate a stalled project or new product), or the LinkedIn profile shows a recent promotion (which might indicate company growth).

Also search for any social connections, professional or personal, that you might have in common with the lead. This can help you get a warm introduction. Even if you don’t know anyone in common, you might find an unexpected link (for example, that you attended the same college).

40:00

Triangulate the information -- background, company, and personal/professional -- to brainstorm your entry points. You’re looking for a personalized hook that’ll get the lead interested immediately, such as,

“Hi, Sally, I’m with Vandelay Industries, and I think we can help with your upcoming product launch in Europe. We’ve worked with Bob Smith, who you managed in your last role, and he loves our product…”

If you’re not seeing obvious hooks, work with your manager to brainstorm ideas.

55:00

Practice your pitch, then call your lead and demonstrate that you know his or her business and pain points. The fact that you’ve done your homework will automatically convey your respect for this person’s time.

There you have it -- the 60-minute approach to social selling. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want to go back to the old ways of generating leads, because this method really works. If you sell a complex product with a long sales cycle, you might be able to get by doing this work manually. For high-volume sellers, however, it’s wise to invest in a solution such as InsideView that pulls together social information and online data and makes it available in a central location.


Why Knowing Your Customer's Business Isn't Enough

LaVonKoener_smToday's post is by LaVon Koerner, chief revenue officer of Revenue Storm, a global sales consulting and revenue acceleration firm.

 

 

How many times have you been told to understand your customer’s business? Well-meaning sales trainers and coaches often imply that, if you have a thorough understanding of the current points of pain within your customer’s business, then you will be able to sell more to that customer. While this may have some impact with capturing just preexisting demand, it is less helpful if you are inclined or have a need to create new demand for your products and services. 

Here is where the cold business reality meets sales reality: you will never be able to understand your customer’s business better than your customer does. If you pretend that you do, you make yourself unnecessarily vulnerable. You are always just one step or one question away from being exposed. If your limited business understanding gets uncovered, any respect or sales advantage can quickly dissipate. Additionally, there may not be any flexibility in the customer’s current business structure and cemented plans to enable you to force yourself and your products and services into their preconstructed strategies. 

There is, however, a better approach that positions you on a level playing field with the executives in your customer’s company. This approach instantly puts you into an intense executive conversation in which you have a real opportunity to create demand. Once you expand your thinking and conversation beyond the customer’s business and step into the customer’s world and industry, you have instantly broken through a knowledge barrier and stepped onto a new stage.

Focusing on your customer’s industry will enable you to discuss what could beand not be encumbered or limited by what is. It is precisely in this discussion that new and often unthought-of opportunities can be put on the table. Here, the sales professional’s thought leadership carries real weight, and his or her innovative ideas will be heard and considered. This is where demand creation can most easily be accomplished.

The reason for this improved potential is simple: your customer’s expectations are lowered when it comes to matters of the future. Often, the customer has yet to sort out his or her own views about what new opportunities are unfolding and how to capitalize on them to gain competitive advantage in the industry. In short, in the absence of preconceived ideas of potential courses of action, the sales professional has a legitimate chance of making a case for some new course of action. Here, sales professionals can differentiate themselves not only from their own competitors but also from other executives within the customer’s organization.

To be clear, a spirited conversation about exciting possibilities, unfolding because of new and emerging industry trends, can disrupt the customer’s current status quo. These new colliding and often conflicting trends will upset the way your customer is currently doing business and open up new possibilities. Once spotted, the race is on. The first ones to identify these trends and act will often be able to capitalize on them at the expense of their competitors. Here lies the spark of invention, the catalyst for doing something new and really different. This is when a customer looking for an edge will pause to listen to you. This is the home of demand creation!

To learn more about demand creation, listen to Revenue Storm’s recent Webinar,The End of Sales As We Know It.


The Sales Model of the Future: Interview with @Gitomer

I'm really enjoying my series of videos with top selling author Jeffrey Gitomer. He is a great thought leader who is always thinking about the future and energizing audiences with his enthusiasm and new ideas. In the video above, we discuss how mobile devices have changed the game of sales. As he points out, more than 70% of social is mobile. If you don't develop a mobile strategy now, you are dead in the water. Watch the video above to see his tips on how to develop a winning mobile strategy that will keep you selling successfully now and in the future.

If you want to learn more about how you can succeed in sales, I highly recommend you check out Jeffrey's virtual training center at http://www.gitomervt.com/

 


New Research Shows IT Decision Makers Rely on Inside Sellers

AnnekeSeleyToday's post is by Anneke Seley, coauthor of Sales 2.0 and founder and CEO of Reality Works Group, a digital/social and inside sales strategy and implementation consultancy. Contact her at aseley@realityworksgroup.com

 

Recently, IBM released findings from a survey of nearly 1,000 information technology (IT) decision makers in 12 countries. The research illustrates some interesting trends that support IBM’s decision to ramp up its inside sales team. Here are some highlights: 

1. Inside sales is an increasingly standard way for clients to engage their vendors. More than 60 percent of clients cited an inside seller as their first point of contact. 

2. Clients routinely rely on inside sales reps to purchase higher-value products and services. While transactional, preconfigured offerings and renewals are still considered the sweet spot for inside sellers, they’re also handling sales for mobility services, network integration, backup and recovery, storage and server services, and public cloud products. 

3. Clients use social and digital communication tools to engage inside sellers. Younger IT decision makers (under the age of 35) are two times more likely than those over the age of 50 to use social platforms as a way to engage sellers. Also, overall usage of digital and social tools is double the worldwide average in faster-growing emerging markets, such as Brazil, India, and China.

4. The Web is being used with significant frequency to purchase IT products and services — at every step in the buying journey. In 2013, 56 percent of IT decision makers purchased products and services via the Web, up from 34 percent in 2011.

IBM inside sales, led by general manager Paula Summa, has been conducting this research since 2011 to understand how to serve customers most effectively in the digital and social age. Summa says that these findings clearly indicate the need to adjust to the rapidly changing ways clients are buying, as well as to the melding of the inside sales and digital channels.

As an industry consultant, I’ve seen that companies large and small are making investments in inside sales to align to the way customers buy today. Some are shifting personnel from field selling positions to sellers who use the phone, email, social media, and online technology to communicate with buyers. Others are launching divisions or entire businesses with inside sales teams, especially as customers purchase more over the Web. So it’s no surprise to me that IBM has made a big bet on inside sales. (Currently IBM has 43 global inside sales locations, including major centers in Toronto, Atlanta, and Dallas in North America, and Bogota, Beijing, Tokyo, and Dublin, opening this August.)

As more selling is conducted online and purchased as a service, inside sales will play a critical role.  

What trends are you seeing in inside sales? What do you think of IBM’s research? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


Seize Today's Selling Opportunities: My Interview with @DMScott

At the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco in May I had the opportunity to interview David Meerman Scott, author of Real-Time Marketing & PR. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

  • Many salespeople are so busy selling that they don't have time to actually be helpful.

  • Newsjacking is the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story. As a story breaks (the story could be about anything, like a regulation change in your industry) people are scrambling to figure out what it means. If you are an expert, you can create a blog post, a video, a tweet to provide value instantly. This is like a wave that builds that you can surf to address a wide audience. As David said, maybe you'll get quoted in the press and maybe a customer will reach out to you.

  • The tools are the easy part -- we have all we need on our mobile phones to participate in the real time economy. But so many salespeople are in campaign mode, just pitching and planning ahead of time to do a particular campaign in future months. The problem with this is that you need to be able to react instantaneously to news that's happening right now.

  • When you're doing real time, you're focused on buyers and their needs rather than focusing on how you happen to sell. That is a major and important shift in perspective for many sellers and marketers.  

  • Today, sales teams need to be able to respond to opportunities from all directions. Conversations drive commerce today.

I really enjoyed my discussion with David, and I thank him for giving a terrific presentation at the Sales 2.0 Conference. We got a very enthusiastic response from the hundreds of B2B sales leaders in attendance. Check out the books he's written here on his website.


What Attracts Sales Leaders to the Sales 2.0 Conference?


The thing I'm most excited about right now is the upcoming Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston. I've been producing these events with Sales Dot Two, Inc. (Selling Power is a media co-sponsor) since 2007 and they are only getting bigger and better.

At the most recent Sales 2.0 event in San Francisco I interviewed numerous attendees, speakers, and sponsors and put together the video above to provide a sense of what sales leaders find most valuable about the conference. Here's a summary.

  • You'll hear real thought leaders tell you what's changed, what you need to do now, and what changes you can make to impact your number.

  • You will learn what you can do to add creativity to sales process.

  • You will pick up valuable information in the hallways and during breaks in addition to the insights shared onstage.

  • You'll learn immediate takeaways you can bring back to the sales team to help them improve.

Watch the full video to grab a discount registration code for the Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston on July 14. Bonus: you will also see some great examples of how we have fun at these conferences, including juggling and a backflip!


Winning Best Practices for Salespeople

Richard BeedonToday’s post is by Dick Beedon, founder and CEO of Amplifinity.

 

 

 

The consensus is that referrals are the best form of leads. They close faster, buy more, and stay longer. Great salespeople have been good at generating referrals for what seems like forever. Until recently, large corporations have struggled to figure out how to scale the success of individual sales reps to systematically and proactively drive large volumes of referrals.

But that is all changing. Technology is coming to market that can help large brands automate the best practices of sales reps and institutionalize the process of generating referrals from customers, employees, and other people who influence the buying decision.

Good technology systems typically are designed to automate manual best practices. Let's take a look at key practices that great salespeople tend to have in common.

1. They build referral channel.

Most salespeople are excellent networkers. Whether meeting people through the local rotary club, the area chamber of commerce, or local pub, great salespeople can be very good at telling everyone – their friends, family, customers, other employees, and even strangers – about what they do. Great salespeople also know that the more people who know what they do, the better the chance of that specific network spreading the word.

2. They ask their channel for referrals.

Most great sales reps never leave a meeting, either business or personal, without asking for a referral, and they are skilled at handling it with a gentle approach. One of the most staggering statistics that I have recently heard is that between 70 and 80 percent of all people are willing to refer leads if asked, yet fewer than 15 percent of individuals and companies ask for them. Great sales reps ask for referrals, and they ask often.

3. They motivate the channel.

Compensation is a great motivator (just ask the 17 million commissioned sales reps in the United States), and many successful reps build professional referral networks so they can compensate people and companies for leads that become closed deals. There are both monetary and nonmonetary ways to motivate people to do things that actually work.

4. They nurture the channel.

They always thank their network for referrals, they compensate their network in a timely fashion, and they keep network members in the loop.

Good technology solutions should help replicate and facilitate those processes to “institutionalize” and scale the process of driving referrals. These solutions must

  • make it easy to enroll customers, employees, and influencers into the referral program (the idea is to build a referral community);

  • provide tools that make it easy to refer;

  • track and manage all the workflows so results can be measured;

  • automate the process of thanking and nurturing these channels for their contributions so they continue to perform.

Though the marketplace is changing at a pace liable to cause even the top salespeople to question their sales strategy, one thing will not change: networking will always be number one for driving quality leads that must be nurtured, thanked, and motivated.

The only difference today is that these steps can be completed at a faster, more efficient pace, generating exponentially more leads and closed deals – and enabling the best salespeople to be even better.