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Get Better Results with Big Data

In a video conversation with Lisa Fiondella, CEO of ReFocus Consulting I learned more about the importance of using Big Data to make better decisions that lead to more sales. 

Take a look at this four minute interview on this hot topic. 

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To get a different perspective on the same subject, I interviewed Kevin Purcell who has recently been tasked to head HP's Vertica Division that delivers Big Data solutions to mid market and enterprise customers. In this 3 1/2 minute interview Kevin shares the astonishing fact that companies analyze only about 10% of their data. Conclusion: your data holds the key to your growth. It's a big mistake not to make Big Data work for you.  

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Can you share a success experience with Big Data? 

You can meet both Big Data experts at the next Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia on March 10 (which I'll be hosting) and benefit from their professional insights.  

 

 


Sales, Make Marketing Your Number One Draft Pick

JSHRIBER_Headshot.C9_146x175Today's guest post is by Justin Shriber, vice president of products at C9, the Revenue Performance Company.

 

 

Recently, I connected with the head of marketing at a global technology firm. He has a great track record for rolling out strategies that drive top-line growth. So I found it ironic when he said, “The toughest part of my job is convincing the sales folks that I’ve got something to offer when it comes to pipeline-management strategy.” 

My friend’s experience is not uncommon. Unfortunately, when the chief sales officer (CSO) and chief marketing officer (CMO) aren’t wearing the same jersey, nobody wins. Here are a few ways I’ve seen sales and marketing come together around lead and pipeline management to overcome the traditional barriers that put these two groups on opposite sides of the field.

Keep One Score, Not Two

While both sales and marketing would agree that the game is about driving revenue, they tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about opposite ends of the pipeline. By figuratively chopping the pipeline in half, they create a lot of dysfunction as they pursue different objectives and take a siloed approach to getting things done. In contrast, when both sales and marketing adopt a common view of the pipeline end-to-end, alignment between the two groups naturally follows.

I recently met with a company that distributes to sales and marketing teams a common weekly dashboard that reflects end-to-end progression from unqualified lead to closed deal. Once folks got their hands on the report, the dynamic between sales and marketing changed. The report led to new insight into how business could be generated, nurtured, and closed, and once everyone was on the same page, the company was able to quickly make some high-impact changes to capitalize on these new ideas.

Team Up to Eliminate Bottlenecks

All too often, companies are quick to dismiss sound-but-underperforming marketing campaigns and sales programs before they fully understand what’s driving the poor results. Often, however, it makes a lot more sense to identify and eliminate a few bottlenecks than to start from square one. To do this, sales and marketing need to work together to identify and break through plugs in the pipe. That’s what happened recently at a small software start-up when the CMO and CSO sat down to figure out why the pipeline was shrinking despite strong growth in lead generation. They looked at the conversion rates and cycle times for each stage in the pipeline and were able to pinpoint the problem. The solution that resulted involved adjustments to both the lead-qualification process and the selling motion. Thanks to a relatively minor change in its approach, the company got things back on track.

Don’t Bench the Marketing Team

When sales gets a lead from marketing, there’s a natural inclination to say, “We’ll take it from here.” But statistics show that when marketing stays engaged, deal sizes increase and sales-cycle times decrease. Rather than sideline marketing, savvy sales organizations keep the marketing team involved in sales-strategy sessions and determine how marketing can engage additional stakeholders, reinforce key messages, and block competitors. By consistently engaging the prospect on multiple fronts, companies find it easier to land the message and get feedback on what’s going on in the account.

Today, most marketing teams are as laser focused on revenue as the sales organizations. Sales and marketing will find it much easier to achieve their common objective as they develop a shared view of the pipeline, work together to eliminate bottlenecks, and collaborate throughout the entire sales cycle.

Do your CSO and CMO know how to play well together? Share your thoughts in the comments section. 

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Jay Leno's Secrets of Sales Success

Jay Leno has ranked No. 1 among the broadcast networks in the 11:35 p.m. time slot since 1995. The success of the Tonight Show has helped NBC rake in over $1 billion in profits. As Jimmy Fallon takes over as the new host it is time to review what we can learn from Jay Leno's consistent success. 

First, success in comedy and in sales hinges on your ability to sell yourself. When Jay started out he had to deal with a ton of adversity and a lot of rejection. He once performed in a place in Atlanta where he had to step into a wire-cage that the owner installed to protect the performers from flying beer bottles. Selling yourself takes guts and courage. 

Second, to overcome the objection that he was an unknown performer he challenged club owners with this creative approach: "I'd like to perform on stage." At this point he slapped a $50 bill on the counter saying, "If you don't think I do a good job, you can keep the $50. But if you like my act, I'd like you to hire me." By showing the customer that he was not afraid to put some skin in the game, Jay got more chances to perform.

Third, after Jay got invited to perform on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, he looked like an overnight success. But the second and third time he didn't do as well and he wasn't invited back. Jay went back on the road, tested out new material with new audiences and honed his skills. Successful salespeople use the same strategy: after each setback they prepare themselves for a a comeback. 

To learn the fourth success secret, watch this three minute video. Please share your thoughts on Jay's apoproach. To subscribe to Selling Power magazine in the Cloud visit http://www.sellingpower.com/cloud

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Get ready for the Real Time Economy

In this five minute video, Seth Godin shares the latest busines trend. On one hand, the time gap between need and satisfaction is shrinking, on the other hand the market has become more tribal. The consequences of this trend are: 

1. To become the top choice in the real time market, we need years of preparation 

2. To capture the real time expectations of our customers we need real time technology tools (real time analytics) 

3. To insure relevancy in real time we need to subscribe to the right connections. 

 


How to Win in 2014

Seth Godin on how to win in 2014 

"You have everything you need to build something bigger than yourself," is one of my favorite Seth Godin quotes. A short conversation with him will leave you thinking for days afterwards. Seth thinks deeper and his ideas grow in an unusual soil. His mind operates on Olympic levels of curiosity.  It’s no wonder that over 1 million people read his blog. He has authored 17 books and many of them have made it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. If you don't know Seth, it's not to late to join him online, join his (Sethsblog.com) and enjoy his kaleidoscopic perspective. Here is just one fragment from a blog post Oct. 29, 2012 “Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with. And the collisions and the dreams lead to your changes.”  

Seth and I agreed to meet for lunch in New York City. As I approached the restaurant, I noticed him standing outside, wearing a stylish suit and tie, a blue bike helmet dangling from his left hand while he looked at his cell phone. Seth is always in pursuit of quality, efficiency while enjoying life. "I am searching for a better place to eat," he explained. He took the train from his office in Hastings on the Hudson to New York City and pedaled over on a city bike. We decided to walk in the direction of our studio and after a few steps we found an oyster bar. We ordered a plate of 8 delicious oysters to share, which inspired Seth to share this thought: "Four is just enough. It's interesting that in our culture we tend to think that more is better. It isn't. Four oysters are delicious and six are OK, but the more you eat the more the initial pleasure wears off. Research shows that more health care for seniors doesn’t make them healthier, and a greater reduction of teacher-to-student ratios in schools doesn’t lead to better grades. If the class size gets too small, grades go down again." Seth’s point, that more is not better, runs against the “supersize-it” neurotic, greed-is-good culture that characterizes the superficial mindset of America’s underbelly.

Seth’s antenna is always tuned into to the emerging Zeitgeist of our times. In this six-minute video interview he explains the major shifts in business and how we should approach 2014. His well articulated insight – if applied –is enough to optimize your success in 2014. 

This is republished from Selling Power Magazine in the Cloud, January 2014 edition. To see the entire issue visit www.sellingpower.com and click on "Get One Time Access" 

Mindset


Four Ways Your Digital Devices Can Help You Do More Business

Mike-Pugh-Headshot-120Today’s post is by Mike Pugh, vice president of marketing at j2 Global Inc.

 

 

 

You’re probably often on the lookout for new tools and technology to help you drive more business. As a marketing executive with a company that provides cloud-based communication tools to millions of customers, I regularly receive feedback from professionals about what actually adds value for them. I’m amazed at how often the tools and techniques that make the biggest difference are easy to implement, inexpensive, or even free.

This principle holds true for sales, as well: you can realize big gains in your business with very small technological changes. In fact, by adding just a few simple mobile apps and making a couple of minor adjustments in your digital routine, you can improve every stage of your sales process – and close more deals.

1.      Improve the Meet: Business Card Reader App

You’ve just met a potentially valuable prospect, who hands you a business card. This person’s name is hard to pronounce and remember, so you’ll hang on to the card. Do you have a foolproof process for getting the card’s details into your contact-management system?

Here’s where a digital card reader can make all the difference. For a few dollars, you can install a brilliant app on your smartphone, snap a picture of any business card, and the details will automatically populate in your phone’s contact list.

Rather than wait until you’re at your computer to manually enter your prospect’s details, you can do it with one click, from anywhere. In fact, as soon as your prospect walks away, you can click his or her contact information into your phone and send a thank-you message.

There are several card-reader apps available, but I recommend Business Card Reader Pro.

2.      Improve Your Online Profile: Use a Professional Head Shot

After you’ve begun conversing with your new prospect, you’ll probably use several digital methods to communicate – email, certainly, but also perhaps Skype, LinkedIn, text messaging, and any number of social-media tools. Do you know how you appear visually on all of these digital platforms?

You might not realize it, but if you’re sending a prospect an informal email using your Gmail account, Google Chat, or Google+, your photo might appear as part of your message. Is it a professional image or a photo of you in a t-shirt holding your cat? Invest in a professional head shot, one that is consistent with the image you want to convey to prospects, customers, and colleagues, and add this picture to every digital platform you use. You’ll be investing in your own personal brand.

3.     Improve Your Responsiveness When It Counts: Voicemail to Text

Now assume you’re well down the sales path with your prospect. You’re at a convention, engaged in another potentially important chat with a prospect, when your phone buzzes. You glance down. The caller is The Prospect Whose Name Is Hard to Pronounce. You don’t want to interrupt your face-to-face conversation to answer, but how long should you wait to listen to the voicemail? What if it’s important? What if this is the call?

A virtual phone solution from eVoice® transcribes your voicemail in real time and sends you the message as text. Glance down at your phone once more and see that the prospect wanted only a reminder about a small detail of your offering. This wasn’t the call. You can respond later.

4.      Improve the Close Itself: Sign Digitally from Anywhere

OK, NOW you get the call. Your prospect is sold and is faxing you a signed copy of the agreement to review and countersign. But it’s day two at the convention; you’re still there, and you’re busy. Still, you don’t want too much time to pass, or your prospect might wonder if there’s a problem. What to do?

With an online fax service such as eFax®, you can receive, review, edit, digitally sign, and return the fax right from your smartphone. Sign your name on the phone’s screen using just your finger, save the document, then fax it back via email. Deal done.

These are just a few ideas to get your creative gears turning, and I encourage you to seek out other easy-to-use tools to build into your sales process. Remember, small changes can have a big impact on your bottom line.


Success in Real Time

While science fiction writers lead us into a world we'll never see in our lifetime, historians remind us of a world that existed before we were born. Technology however leads us into a far more interesting space: real time. 

Here are just a few examples to illustrate that point. When we are hungry, we go to Yelp and find a restaurant in real time. When we see a breaking news event, we go to Twitter to learn what's happening in real time from citizen journalists. Banks are implementing technology that allows people to manage their money in real time. Big Data technology allows real time analysis and pattern recognition that leads to faster and better decisions. Online technology shows us what our customers are doing on our website in real time. For example, Hubspot's new sales tool Signals tells us when an email has been opened by the recipient in real time. A great opportunity to connect with a prospect instantly. 

Real time analysis is not only used for business, but in many other fields. For example, this month, the State of Nevada installed special sensors in snow plows that deliver information to a data center that combines real-time street information with data from radar and computer weather models to get a real time look of present and emerging winter road conditions. 

A company called 94Fifty created a basketball with special sensors that gives the player instant feedback for every pass or shot, tracking ball speed, shooting angle and ball rotation. Real time feedback does wonders for improving performance. 

To tell us how Marketing in Sales is moving into the real time space, check out this five-minute video interview with David Meerman Scott, the author of Real Time Marketing and PR. 

 

You can connect with David, our keynote speaker, at our next Sales 2.0 conference in San Francisco on May 5-6 and shake hands with him in real time.  

 

When salespeople should say "no"

In the January issue of Selling Power magazine in the Cloud we published a cover story with Seth Godin. To enhance the experience with our content we now add video interviews that I think you will find very helpful. 

In this short video (3:44 min) Seth explains why saying no to client builds trust and why accepting a no from a client can help you build a stronger relationship. 

 


The New Lead Qualification

Anthony-iannarinoToday's post is by Anthony Iannarino, author, speaker, and award-winning blogger.

 

Lead qualification used to center around BANT (budget, authority, need, and time). This was easy for salespeople and sales managers to understand. Did the client have the budget? Were you dealing with someone who had the authority to bind your organization to a deal? Did the prospect need what you were selling? Was there a deadline by which the prospect would need to make a purchase?

Selling has changed dramatically since BANT, and lead qualification needs to change in an equally dramatic fashion.

The following two statements are very different: Your clients do not have the budget for what you’re selling. They don’t have a budget, but they do have the money. Unless you can tie what you sell to one of your prospect’s major initiatives, you’re going to have a tough time getting your prospect to part with any money. Even if prospects may not have a budget, they may still be qualified.

Let’s deal with the authority issue: more decisions are now made by consensus. There is no longer a power sponsor; there are power sponsors. There is no longer an economic buyer; there are economic buyers. There is no longer an authority; the person with the ability to bind your client organization to a deal will likely look to his or her team to advise as to whether or not to proceed. The question now isn’t whether someone has authority, it’s whether or not a person can build consensus.

The most pernicious problem today for sales reps is that their prospective clients don’t believe there’s a need. These prospects have latent dissatisfaction. They have problems, challenges, and opportunities that they have not yet recognized, and they won’t likely recognize those needs without the help of a salesperson with the business acumen and situational knowledge to help them understand that better results are available to them. If you disqualify every lead for not being able to state a need, you’re going to have a very empty pipeline. The question isn’t whether or not your prospects have a need they can express, but whether or not you have the ability to help them recognize a new need that’s worth a war with the status quo.

As for the issue of time, if your prospective clients don’t have a stated need, they don’t have the time constraint. This is also a challenge for salespeople as they qualify leads. Can you build a case for something differentiated and compelling enough to help them commit to a time? For clients, the more compelling the opportunity, the more money that’s being left on the table by not acting, the more opportunities they miss, the greater your ability to lock in a date. You need the ability to be compelling.

So what does this mean for lead qualification? If not BANT, what then?

Does your prospective client have a challenge around which you can create massive value? If so, then he or she will find the budget.

Do you have a sponsor who will introduce you to all the other sponsors and help you build consensus within the organization? You’re not looking for authority; you’re looking for someone with deep influence in the organization. You’re looking for someone who will help you with access.

Finally, consider engagement. Don’t mistake engagement for receptivity – receptivity alone is not enough. Look for a group of stakeholders who feel so strongly about improving results that they will help you build the case for change – a group that will go to war with the status quo. 

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How Should You Qualify Each Sales Lead?

DonalDaly Today's post is by Donal Daly, CEO of The TAS Group

 

 

Effective qualification, as an integral part of the sales process, is a supremely valuable tool not just for the sales organization but for the company overall. Remember, there are really only two reasons why you lose a sale: 1) you shouldn’t be there in the first place, i.e., this is a deal you should not win, or 2) you were outsold. If marketing and sales are aligned when outlining the profile of the ideal target customer, then a lot of the pain associated with the first reason goes away. You’ve targeted the customer correctly; so, yes, if there is an opportunity, the salesperson should have a good chance of winning it, unless he or she is outsold by a competitor. But winning the sale is not about just identifying the right customer profile. We also need to understand whether there is really an opportunity to win. (This is one of the four key questions that are part of TAS from The TAS Group.)

Unless you have a crystal ball, you cannot forecast accurately if you don’t qualify properly. Poor qualification leads to missed numbers and surprise sales losses. If internal resources are allocated based on your pipeline, your credibility is seriously damaged, and your customers will slip down the priority list when internal resources are allocated. Then neither sales nor marketing knows where to spend time.

Link precise qualification with your sales-process stages and pipeline management, and then you know what’s going on. (If you need to create a new sales process, or optimize the one you currently use, you can create a customized sales process for free at Dealmaker Genius.)

Depending on the questions you ask and the information you glean, you can determine how likely the sale is to close. Consider the following list of questions. Depending on how you structure the interaction between sales and marketing, whether you use inside sales or telemarketing, and how you define a qualified lead or opportunity will all help you determine whether these questions should be asked by marketing or sales.

  • Does the customer have an identified project?
  • Is budget allocated?
  • Do you know the compelling event that will motivate the customer to buy?
  • Are all of the influencers identified?
  • What roles do those influencers play?
  • Have you won this type of business before?
  • Can you win this one?
  • What’s your source of information?
  • Are there any competing projects?
  • Is there a date by which this project has to be completed?
  • Is this a competitive opportunity, and what is your competitive advantage?
  • Do you fully understand the buyer’s needs?
  • Can you meet those needs competitively?
  • Does it matter if the project slips a few months? (If so, you might question whether it is worth the time now.)
  • What’s the downside for the company if it doesn’t proceed with the purchase of a product such as yours?

Qualification is not an event. It’s an ongoing process. As buyers evaluate you, you must continue to qualify them. If you are a value creator during the evaluation, you’ve earned the right to probe deeper into the opportunity. The qualification process involves establishing the rules of engagement and laying the groundwork for control of the sales process. You must make sure that you question for objective and accurate answers. Ask the same question of different influencers in the account, and you will be surprised at what you learn about the perspective of each role. You need to be sure that you’re working on a real opportunity.

One of the main benefits of disciplined qualification is a pipeline that’s credible and a forecast you can stand over and deliver, and this is where sales and marketing need to be totally aligned.

When does a target become a qualified prospect that warrants extensive sales effort? Marketing can put in place a rigorous lead- or opportunity-qualification process, agreed with sales, so that the salesperson is truly motivated to quickly pursue targets that marketing identifies.

How many qualified prospects do you need at each stage of the pipeline to meet your quota? When you know sales quota and the rate at which deals progress through the funnel, examining the current value of each stage in the funnel can provide indicators of when a shortfall exists.

What is the specific evidence you need to determine whether a deal is likely to close? Marketing and sales need to work together on the verifiable outcomes in each stage of the sales process, and marketing must consider what sales tools are required to help the sales team achieve those outcomes.

As you are getting to that final negotiation stage, what’s the impact of poor qualification on your ability to strike a good deal? What sales and marketing effort do you need to make to ensure that risk is minimized at this stage of the deal?Qualification is a shared function between sales and marketing, and that recognition tends to focus the activities that marketing undertakes beyond just throwing a lead over the fence.

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