Sales and Marketing Feed

The Crystal Ball for Sales: Find Your Best Prospects Faster with Predictive Scoring

JamieGrenneyToday's post is by Jamie Grenney, VP of marketing at Infer.

 

 

Salespeople do not want to spend valuable time weeding through questionable leads or following up with prospects who will never convert. How can you reduce the grunt work needed to qualify leads without risking pipeline opportunities? And wouldn’t it be nice if your best leads magically bubbled to the top?

JamieGrenney_blog_picThere’s a new crystal ball that forward-thinking sales teams are using to accelerate the process of finding qualified leads. It’s called predictive lead scoring, and it helps sales managers figure out where to focus the team’s energy so that the best reps are pursuing only the best opportunities. If good reps can typically work 100 leads in a month, predictive lead scoring can help ensure that every prospect they call is a good fit for your product.

What Is Predictive Scoring?

Imagine having a search box where you could enter an email address, and it returns an accurate prediction of whether or not that person’s company is likely to buy your product. That's what predictive lead scoring is all about. It works like this:

  1. First, it looks at historical information from your sales and marketing applications (data on, for example, converted leads, wins and losses, account profiles, and purchase history) to understand what a good customer really looks like.

  2. Next, it adds to any information you already have about your new leads (inside Salesforce or any other system), by grabbing from the Web valuable data points about the individual and the organization for which he or she works, e.g., relevant job postings, employee count, patent filings, social presence, Website traffic, and even the company’s preferred technology vendors.

  3. Then it uses sophisticated techniques such as data mining, statistical modeling, and machine learning to make sense of all this information about prospective buyers and assigns each lead a score that indicates likelihood of converting.

Rather than just rely on human intuition to weigh hundreds of variables, predictive scoring automatically creates the optimal model for your product and continuously returns accurate predictions to your CRM system in a format that’s easy for anyone to interpret, not just data scientists or IT people. 

Keep Up with Your Data-Driven Competitors

The value that predictive scoring brings to your top line is mind-blowing. You can gain major lifts in win rates and lead conversions by predicting outcomes, prioritizing your flow of leads, and focusing on your best prospects. It lets you put your resources where you’ve got the best shot at winning and eliminate wasted energy at each stage in the sales funnel.

What percentage of your time is currently spent on prospects who don’t convert? Fifty percent, maybe more? And on the flip side, how often do you give up on a prospect one touch too soon? Whether you’re selling to existing customers, prospects, or a totally new market, predictive scoring will uncover opportunities you may never have seen otherwise.

One of the coolest things about this method is that folks like us at Infer can use it bring the power of predictive data science (think Google PageRank or Amazon recommendations) to all companies, so anyone can operate with the same data-driven intelligence as Google, Facebook, or Amazon. Instead of looking in the rearview mirror and waiting to see which leads convert, with predictive scoring, you can place the right bets and get to qualified prospects faster than your competition.

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Five Sales Personality Types and How to Incent Them

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

 

If your company hasn’t been making its numbers and your employees seem disengaged, it’s time to examine how to incent them uniquely and appropriately.

A big part of building a successful sales team is building a comp plan to suit your team members’ individual needs. Let’s look at the specialized roles that round out your team and how to optimally incent your team members.

1) Hunters

A hunter is your “traditional” salesperson; he or she probably cold-called you to get the job and followed up persistently. Hunters are bold and thrive in the field, where they can hunt new business. Their main task is to nurture leads and close deals. To incent hunters properly, make sure that a large portion of their target salary comes from variable pay. Among Xactly users (more than 500 emerging to enterprise companies) the average hunter pay mix is 50 percent fixed and 50 percent variable.

A recent PR Newswire article, “Motivating Your Sales Force: Do Bonuses or Commissions Work Better?” cited an AMA study that compared bonus-at-target plans to commission-beyond-target plans and found that “sales improved by 24% when the sales reps were switched to the commissions scheme.” Why? The key to optimally incenting hunters is to break down any barriers to performance. A common barrier that companies set up for hunters is a capped commission plan. The organization may believe it’s protecting the budget, but the reward isn’t worth taking away the motivation for hunters to knock it out of the park.

2) Farmers

While hunters stay hot on the trail of new business, farmers harvest deals by nurturing existing clients, keeping customers happy, and cross-selling. You’re guaranteed a lower churn rate when you have talented farmers focused on consulting and renewals. To reward farmers properly, you want to motivate them to up-sell – without taking advantage of the customer with unnecessary up-selling. This can be tricky. With the optimal pay mix, you can avoid both overeager farmers trying to sell nonessential products and complacent farmers so satisfied with the annuity stream from their patch that they forget about growth. Farmers’ incentive compensation plan should have a 60/40 mix of growth and annuity reward.

3) Prospectors

Without consistent leads streaming through your pipeline, deals (and therefore cash flow) are sapped. This leaves reps vulnerable to falling short of quota. The prospector’s job is to ensure a plethora of qualified leads so that hunters can focus on doing what they do best – closing deals. To inspire the best performance from your prospectors, you need a plan that incents them to always find new leads. You don’t want to pay for just leads; that’s a prospector trap. You want to pay for closed business. Construct your plan to reflect this need with a healthy 60/40 mix between leads and revenue. Worried certain prospectors will score a few high-revenue deals and put their feet up for the rest of the quarter? Add a control, or threshold, on credit for big deals.

4) Specialists

This sales-support role is absolutely critical. You don’t want a rep getting tongue-tied because the demo and sale are too complex. Back your reps with specialists to help answer industry-specific questions and address technical challenges. When it comes to incenting the role that some have referred to as the “brains” of the team, pay should be primarily base. Specialists need to provide the best advice possible to the rep and the customer. To fulfill their purpose as the trusted advisors, they can’t have too much variable pay, or you won’t be motivating desired behavior, you’ll be turning your specialists into hunters. To incent the specialist, measure the quality of closed business, and compliment with a measure of the intrinsic value of a deal to the customer.

5) Captains

Depending on the size of your organization, you’ll need multiple captains to keep the team aligned and working toward company objectives. Just as all football teams need a coach, every sales force needs a captain. This person’s tasked with looking at the team holistically, discovering outlier reps, and keeping them focused on the deals and goals that matter most. When it comes to compensating captains, their quota should be less than the sum of all their reps’ quotas combined. Adjust your captains’ quotas for new hires and open slots; you don’t want a captain to be so fearful about not making quota that he or she will keep poorly performing reps on the payroll or hire inept candidates just to fill a seat. With an opportunity-based quota for managers, you incent them to build their “A” team, not to just build a team. 

Incent according to these personality types, and you’ll be ready to hit the ground running going into the next quarter.

Check out our featured guide, “Bring Your A-Game,” for a more detailed study of building your best sales team. 

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Lean Out: 3 Steps to Increasing Revenue in Your Company

20063a0Today's blog post is by Dan McDade, author of The Truth About Leads.

 

 

ThetruthaboutleadsRecently, over a cup of coffee, Dan Waldschmidt (Waldschmidt Partners) and I talked about the herd mentality that causes many well-intentioned businesspeople to follow the crowd blindly – often in the wrong direction – based on one so-called expert or another proclaiming that “cold calling is dead” or “content is king,” as though it were all that simple. Dan subsequently published a blog post called “Sometimes the experts are idiots. So just go be awesome.” Read the post, but here are some thoughts he shared.

He wrote about some dubious statements:

“In 1899, Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the US Office of Patents, astutely noted, ‘Everything that can be invented has been invented.’ Since then, 7,673,820 inventors have received patents from the USPTO.

“In 1943, Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, observed, ‘I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.’ As of June 2010, there were approximately 1,966,514,816 computers connected to the Internet – accounting for roughly 28% of the global population.

“In 2007, Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, proclaimed, ‘There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.’ Since 2007, Apple has sold almost 430 million iPhones. Microsoft has only sold about 2% of that number.”

Also in his blog post, Dan advised the following:

“You should keep dreaming big dreams. You should refuse to believe that things won’t change.

“What you feel doesn’t need facts yet. It just needs you to believe. To believe so passionately that you move past logic, criticism, and everything that you think is possible in the pursuit of making it reality.”

Dan also shared these ideas with me:

“My problem with the crowd mentality is that it lacks an authentic environment for replication. From weight loss to financing to working from home and business growth, experts will try to convince the crowd that the expert's plan is easily replicable. Even if the experts are sincere, they are sadly misguided.

“Regardless of the specifics, the crowd mentality focuses on what everyone else is doing, rather than what each specific member of the crowd should be doing. Adherence, rather than creativity, is rewarded, and that by itself is a pretty big problem.”

There was a time when “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” Today, it seems that nobody ever gets fired for abandoning outbound marketing in favor of inbound marketing. It’s now possible for marketing to pass a higher quantity of poorly qualified leads to sales faster than ever before. The result: sales mostly ignores the avalanche of poorly qualified leads that scored high enough (according to the marketing department) to be sent to sales as marketing-qualified leads. One marketing organization we work with passes thousands of leads to sales knowing that only 1.28 percent of what is sent is qualified. Honestly, people – this has got to stop!

There are three things that organizations can do to stop the insanity:

  1. Sales must proactively accept or reject marketing leads within 48 hours of receipt. If rejected, a judicial branch made up of senior marketing and sales executives, along with a C-level executive (in larger companies), should determine if the lead did not meet the agreed-upon lead criteria or if sales follow-up was insufficient and/or ineffective. This will reduce lead leakage by not allowing a lead to go into a black hole. Neither marketing nor sales can maintain the status quo. Statistically backed accountability will drive continuous improvement.

  2. Once a lead is accepted by sales, a realistic close rate should be agreed upon and worked toward (including eventually working toward improving that rate). Ask reps today what percentage of qualified leads they can close, and they will tell you 60–80 percent. What they are really saying is that they will close 60–80 percent of the leads they thought they were going to close. According to some industry analysts, average companies close about 20 percent of sales-qualified leads, while best-in-class sales organizations close closer to 30 percent. No sales rep wants to take credit for losing four out of five times, so organizations do not have visibility into lead status unless the lead is close to being won or it is too late to do anything about it. Sales reps will sell more when they are focused on fewer opportunities but held accountable for the process their company has put in place for lead pipeline and forecast movement. Without step 1, step 2 is impossible.

  3. Kill the insane preoccupation with the lead-definition “god” called BANT (budget, authority, need, time frame). In The New Solution Selling by Keith Eades, there are two important “truths”:

            “The not-looking buyer has great potential.

            “When the salesperson sells into latent pain, that salesperson has an excellent opportunity to set or define the buyer’s buying requirements.”

    Yet most companies’ sales reps are uninterested in leads unless they are BANT qualified. Unless you are selling an inexpensive solution or a commodity, you are too late to the game when you wait for a lead to be BANT qualified. But here is what “general-interest lead” means to different audiences:

    AVERAGE SALES REP: “No budget, no timeframe, no interest in working it. I would rather take someone who is nice to me to lunch, rather than work strategically on a sale.”

    ELIGHTENED SALES REP: “Authority [decision maker or coach influencer] and need or pain [backed by some form of compelling event] – I’m on it! I know that I have a better chance of closing a strategic deal when I’m in early. Let my lazy brethren fight for the crumbs.”

Break away from the crowd! The next time you hear someone say, “Seventy percent of the buying process is complete before sales needs to get involved,” respectfully but forcefully disagree. Do something different, because following the crowd is not going to work. As Dan says at the end of his blog post, “No one can stop you if you won’t be stopped. Choose to be awesome.”

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Let's Stay Positive On Social Media

Since my wife, Laura, and I founded Selling Power in 1981, it was our objective to create a positive platform for the professional sales community. So imagine my surprise when this tweet from a sales consultant appeared on my timeline: 

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The 18 characters “Totally disgusting!” sounded like an alarm. But what’s alarming is the complete inaccuracy of the tweet and the harm it caused to us. After working diligently for over thirty years to serve the professional sales market, I was – and am – alarmed that anyone would send such a thoughtless and malevolent message. But that’s the downside of social media.

That tweet was fired off prematurely. At the time, the conference speaker line-up and the agenda was still a work in progress. Of the final 26 speakers, our sponsors selected 14 and of the 10 remaining speakers that we selected, 5 are women.

In the years we’ve been publishing Selling Power, we’ve reached out to the sales community to cover every innovation and tried to keep ahead of the market. One of the areas we began covering back in the mid ’80s was women in sales. We profiled or interviewed many who’d made a significant contribution either to sales or to motivating others to succeed, including (and here I list only a few because to list them all would take up the rest of this post) Mary Kay Ash, Venita Van Caspel, Meg Whitman, Anne Mulcahy, Danica Patrick, Maria Sharapova, Mary Lou Retton, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Oprah Winfrey, and many others. We also profiled many women sales managers and reps who were doing well in the field. In fact, we wrote our first cover story on women in selling in 1983. Who else was doing that?

Our company, Selling Power Inc. employs more women than men. Over 2/3 of our staff are women. My wife is the editor of Selling Power magazine, one daughter is the editorial director and another daughter is VP of Sales and Marketing and she also runs our Sales 2.0 events serving over 2,000 sales leaders in four different locations in the US and the UK. I don’t have the slightest bias against women, and I would not want my daughters or wife to be discriminated against. The ratio of women to men running our Sales 2.0 events is 90% to 10%. 

Staying Positive

It’s easy to fly off the handle, tap out 140 characters, besmirch someone’s good name and efforts, all in order to get some attention or a reaction. After all the hard work we have done to support the entire sales expert community, it’s dissappointing. And does no good for the sales community. We’re about building, not tearing down. We’re about staying positive in the face of adversity, not dragging people into a  muddy bog.

Within days of Jill’s first tweet, a number of women sales trainers, consultants and authors joined her crusade, not knowing that the conference agenda was incomplete, and not knowing that our hands are tied when our sponsors decide who in their company, or of their customers, would be best suited to represent them and provide useful insights to the audience. 

Jill Konrath founded the group of 30 women sales experts some time ago with the goal to “share news.”

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In the past we have offered a number of Sales Shebang members free passes to our events and shared their expertise with our Selling Power audience in print and online. Two Sales Shebang members have previously spoken at our events, and a third is joining us at the upcoming event.

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I have had the privilege of contributing and working with some of the most amazing women in America like Oprah, Hillary Clinton or Mary Kay Ash and I deeply appreciate their contributions to our world.

Do we withhold our support of women for any reason? 

Jill Konrath admitted in her email that she’d held a grudge against Selling Power magazine because seven years ago, we researched and featured the top earning sales keynote speakers and all of them were men. Jill wanted to see us feature more women sales speakers. Any magazine subscriber can go online and within minutes find that Selling Power has written about Jill Konrath and her work at least ten times in the past ten years. (Search “Jill Konrath” on www.sellingpower.com.)

What’s really behind all this brouhaha?

Jill Konrath is a respected thought leader in the field of selling. She has written books that have helped thousands of salespeople improve their professional skills. We also share her view that not enough women get promoted in corporate America and we agree that we are going through a period of equalization. As more women move up to sales management, American business will grow, sales will improve, and the power of women will rise. I applaud her vigilance and I’m glad we were able to correct the initial misperceptions that started this whole tweet-o-rama.

So here is the happy ending. A 140-character peace offering from Jill Konrath that was tweeted yesterday:

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I think the US Government should take as an example how regular people can figure out how to reach across the aisle to resolve differences. We need more thoughtful, positive resolutions in this world where it’s easy to tear things down, but difficult to build something of value. That’s what we’ve always tried to do at Selling Power and that’s what we’ll continue doing in the future.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

P.S. I hope to see you at the Sales 2.0 Sales Performance Management Conference in San Francisco, Oct 16-17. It’s not too late to register today. As a way of thanking you for reading all the way to the end I am offering you this special discount code SPMCircle to get 50% off.

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Seven Strategies for Maximizing Account Success

Today's blog post is by Ron Snyder and Marty Levy. Ron Snyder is the President of Plan2Win Software. Marty Levy has held various VP of Sales positions in Silicon Valley companies.   
 

One of the most important sales battlefields is the account. Winning an account is more than winning a deal.  In account management, you are seeking to earn a position of trust that enables you to grow and build your business over an extended period of time. Maximizing your share of the dollars each of your most important accounts spends in your product/service area is a key driver of overall sales success.

The strategy decisions you make that position you to participate in and win an ever-increasing share of your customer’s business are critical.  Account managers should carefully choose the strategies that will, over time, yield the maximum results.

There are seven fundamental account strategies. To select the best approach in each case, you must analyze your position in the account, the account’s needs, and the competitive situation. This gives you the highest probability of success and optimizes your use of time and resources.

One of these strategies will be primary in your approach with an account.  You may also consider applying more than one of these in combination with your primary strategy in more complex or changing account situations.

  1. Defend and Grow
  2. Land and Expand
  3. Direct Attack
  4. Niche
  5. Change the Game
  6. Maintain and Support
  7. Develop Over Time

1. Defend and Grow

When you are established in an account, it is critical to defend your base so that you do not lose account share, future revenue potential, or influence in the account. From a strong account position, you build on your successes and promote the impact they have had on your customer’s business.  In defending your base, you are establishing a foundation from which you expand your presence and increase your share of wallet (the percentage of dollars spent in your area of expertise) at the account. Use this strategy to grow your business by mounting sales campaigns designed to expand your position in the account into other business units, functional areas, and departments.

2. Land and Expand

This strategy is used in accounts where you do not have an established position. Here, the objective is to win the first piece of business, creating a foothold in the account, and use that foothold to expand. It is critical to make this installation/use of your product or service successful. Then use this success to expand to other users, business units, functions, departments, etc. in the account. Ensure that early users achieve maximum benefit from your product or service, and communicate those successes. Use the benefits gained and referrals by that set of users to establish a strategic position that supports your expansion effort with others in the account.

3. Direct Attack

This approach is used for capitalizing on a strong market or technical position or for displacing a competitor. You must determine your significant advantage and build an account plan that delivers the benefit of your advantage to your account. Knowing your account’s needs, business goals, and priorities is fundamental to the effective use of this strategy. These account scenarios typically pit you directly against your competition. Effective and intensive use of your company’s resources and external resources is necessary to win the deal and ensure a strategic position.  Focus, engage, and attack the account’s needs for which you have a significant competitive advantage.

4. Niche

The objective is to demonstrate that you are the expert or leading provider of solutions for a specific problem, industry, or vertical market. Here, your company and solution address a clearly defined, often narrowly focused need or problem. You target a specific area within the account, such as one business unit, function, department, or even individual. To manage your resources effectively, it is especially important here that you focus on only those accounts that match your target account profile.

5. Change the Game

Bringing to your account unique insight on a business issue or industry dynamic will provide the opportunity to change the game to your advantage. Changing the way your account views its needs and how to solve them is your objective. This strategy dramatically builds your credibility as a trusted source of valuable perspective in your domain and weakens your competition’s position. Thus, it makes it much easier to become the preferred provider of the solution, regardless of your previous position at the account. As long as key decision makers can be influenced to agree with your perspective, you become the only choice.

6. Maintain and Support

If you have no significant new growth opportunities, then applying substantial resources to win marginal new business opportunities is not justifiable. Identify objectives for the account that maintain current business levels without overcommitting your resources in pursuing marginal incremental revenue. Your objective is to maintain a reasonable level of business with the most cost-effective deployment of resources.

7. Develop Over Time

In this scenario, the account has the potential to be very important to your business; however, there is either no compelling event driving the customer to buy now, or the customer is satisfied with its current solution. Good information about your account will provide insight into your opportunity potential. You anticipate having a better chance to win in the not-too-distant future. For example, you may be waiting for a new product/technology to be released. You position your offering to be the future solution of choice by investing now in building relationships and champions at the account.

In Conclusion

It is very important that you select the appropriate strategy for each account. Develop and implement a plan based upon a strategy that enables you to optimize the use of your time and resources and maximize your results. With a focus on the long term, your strategy will determine the action you take to win business now and develop a trusted relationship with the customer.

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Are You Getting ROI from Content Marketing?

Today, content creates customers. This is no secret, especially to marketers, who have spent years learning how to create content that is appealing, engaging, and compelling to their target audiences. We are rapidly reaching a level of content saturation, however, and the definition of what qualifies as engaging is a shifting target. Consumers are constantly inundated with messages. If we’re going to create relationships with customers, we have to cut through the clutter and offer them something of value for their time and attention. Only then can we gain their trust and business.

In May of this year, we surveyed 104 members of the Sales20Circle (formerly the SalesOpShop). These B2B sales leaders included heads of both sales and sales operations. The survey’s purpose was to provide insight into their level of satisfaction with their marketing content. Specifically, we focused on the key areas of content generation and quality, content alignment and distribution, and content as it relates to use by the sales force in social media.

Our goal was to uncover information that could help sales and marketing teams maximize ROI on content marketing. Sample questions included the following:

  • How satisfied are you with your content creation strategy and process?
  • How satisfied are you with the accuracy of your buying personas for each vertical market?
  • How satisfied are you with mapping your content with each step of the buying journey?
  • How satisfied are you with the quality of your content?

The results yielded some very interesting insight. In general, responses showed a moderate degree of satisfaction with the way content was developed and the quality of the content itself. In fact, more than 65 percent of those surveyed stated that their salespeople were moderately to extremely satisfied with the content they received to share with their customers.

In the area of sales and marketing content however, the satisfaction ended. To a large extent, there was dissatisfaction with content alignment, content mapping, collaboration in content creation, and the distribution planning for each organization’s content.

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It is no wonder that satisfaction with the ROI on content investment, social-media areas, and number of sales leads generated was also very low. The results of this survey indicate that the first areas to begin improving are technology tools and processes for creating and distributing content. If you are interested in learning more, you can download a PDF of the survey highlights at www.sales20circle.com.

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What Happens When Sales Reps Game the Comp Plan

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

 

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar.

You’re presenting your company’s new incentive compensation plan to the sales team. Before you’ve clicked through the final slide and turned up the lights, your sales reps are already manipulating the numbers up, down, and sideways.

I say this with love, but they are scheming to game the plan.

That light bulb that just went off? That’s the reps whose commissions are based on top-line sales revenue realizing they can close a lot of deals if they cut prices and undercut competitors. Result? They rake in the cash, while the company loses money.

The gal in the back who’s eligible for a monthly objective and achievement bonus? She’s got a big deal in October that will put her in her accelerators, so she’ll earn a nice fat check, then spend November binge-watching Netflix and shopping for the holidays. That’s a month’s worth of productivity and profit that your company will never see.

Situations like those are all too common, so it’s easy to see why company leaders try to stay a step ahead of reps to stop them from gaming the plan. You want your salespeople to be successful, sure, but not to the degree that it damages your bottom line.

I’ve thought about this problem a lot, and came up with my own solution:

Don’t fight it. Encourage them to game the plan!

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. See, the reason those examples are such lopsided win/loses isn’t because your sales reps are such a devious lot. It’s because without meaning to, you’ve created an incentive compensation plan that drives all the wrong behaviors.

What you want to do instead is build a plan that aligns the sales team’s goals with your broader company goals. Salespeople will still be motivated to earn as much as they can. But with the right incentive plan, the company benefits too. The more ways reps find to make money, the more your organization will earn. You’ll have nothing to fear.

OK, but how do you build the “right” incentive plan?  Here are some ideas:

Those are just a few of the techniques I’ve learned about incentive strategies and employee motivation in my years in the compensation space. The rest, as they say, could fill a book. So at the urging of friends and colleagues, I spent this year writing Game the Plan: Every Sales Rep’s Dream, Every CFO’s Nightmare, to be published later this year.

In it, I take a comprehensive look at compensation and incentives, from the present back to the days when Captain Morgan had to incent his band of pirates to keep their mitts (hooks?) off the loot.

Visit the Game the Plan website for more information and excerpts.

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Oracle OpenWorld Focuses on CX

Why is it that although 91 percent of executives want to be considered customer experience (CX) leaders, only 38 percent of them have started on any CX initiative within their company. As such, it is not surprising that the most-common challenges to starting CX initiatives include a lack of funding (32 percent), an inflexible technology infrastructure (28 percent), and a siloed organizational structure (25 percent, according to the 2013 “Oracle Global Customer Experience Survey.”)

This year, Oracle OpenWorld San Francisco has a specialized focused area around customer experience, CX @ OpenWorld.  This new focus area will provide sessions, mini presentations, interactive journey mapping workshops, and demos to help customers deliver a quality, targeted customer experience. Attendees will be able to learn, share, and network with Oracle executives, customers, and partners. Hear about CX trends as well as strategy, solutions, and technology.

Attendees will be able to explore the content by six different tracks:

  • Sales
  • Commerce
  • Service
  • Marketing
  • Social
  • Customer Experience Strategy and Design

Presentations will be given by top industry companies such as AGInteractive, Accenture, Avaya, Capgemini, Deloitte, Infosys, McAfee, SapientNitro, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, and many more. Only CX @ OpenWorld offers such great content all in one location.

Program highlights include:

  • Dedicated CX zone for CX/CRM, Moscone West, Level 3
  • 140+ CX sessions across CX Strategy and Design, Marketing, Sales, Commerce, Service, Social and Industry tracks
  • Cloud and on-premise application content, including Oracle ATG, Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Eloqua, Oracle Endeca, Oracle Fusion, Oracle Knowledge, Oracle RightNow Cloud Service, and Siebel
  • 15 Customer Journey Mapping workshops
  • CX Exhibition Experience
  • CX Industry Showcase Pavilion
  • Meet the Experts sessions

Don’t miss out on the largest business and technology event of the year, Oracle OpenWorld.  With this specialized focused area, CX @ OpenWorld, it will provide all of the industry experts and knowledge under one roof.  To register, visit the event website.

Sponsors Include:

Accenture
SapientNitro
Capgemini
Deloitte
Infosys
Tata Consultancy Services
Wipro Technologies

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The Power of Storytelling

Pat Rogers croppedToday's blog post is by Pat Rogers, VP of Sales & Business Development at NimblePitch.

 

 

 

“So What's Your Story?”

Your salespeople get asked this question countless times, in meetings, at tradeshows and social gatherings, and yes, even in elevators. Do you know how they answer, how they represent your value to buyers?

Since sales began, a seller’s ability to present a relevant, compelling, and memorable story has pretty much dictated how successful he or she is versus his or her competitors. Even from the beginning, these expert storytellers had to know their product inside and out, but more importantly, they needed to know their customers’ world and how using their offering will make the buyer’s world better. Admittedly, this is Sales 101, a premise so fundamental that most of us in the sales trade cannot remember the first time we heard it; nevertheless, this knowledge has not stopped many so-called pros from leading with product, engaging with nonbuyer contacts, launching into mind-numbing slide presentations, and generally maintaining high activity levels only to be frustrated by disappointing results. 

If the Story Is about Your Product, Prepare to Be Commoditized

In today’s brave new world of complex offerings, increased competition, me-too products, and an ever more informed (and many times, confused) buyer, sellers must rely less on the strength of their product as a differentiator and focus on the process itself. That is to say, in a complex, technical sales environment, how your offering is presented and how effectively your sales process involves and connects with an engaged buyer will determine how well the buyer can envision using your product to be more successful.

At the recent Sales 2.0 conference in Boston, one overriding theme was sounded again and again: the buyers have spoken, and if you're not listening, you're in trouble. For us at NimblePitch, the program's agenda helped to underscore our belief that insight-based selling (IBS) demands a fresh perspective on the needs and expectations of buyers. IBS requires a new generation of tools that do more than report on activity; they should actually help salespeople execute their “sales moment” tasks: preparing for a call, engaging and relating to a qualified buyer, crafting follow up that puts the buyer into the story, and then informing and encouraging further exploration.  

Cutting the Cost of Sales

Next-generation sales force effectiveness (SFE) tools are closing the knowledge gap between new and experienced salespeople, enabling even the comparatively inexperienced rep to discuss intricate buyer issues at a business-case level, answer seemingly random questions, skip around, and point out details when called for.  This enabling technology that guides the conversation, rather than dominates it, can shorten the ramp-up time for new reps and minimize the need for multiple company resources to participate in informational, on-site sales calls.

Leverage Insight, not Opinion

Sales teams are also using SFE technology to gauge prospect interest and level of participation in the sales process. Follow-up emails and voicemails can often become a black hole in the sales process. Having insight into how and at what level your buyer is actually connected to and interacting with the follow-up material you provided offers sellers a critical piece of intelligence that can help steer the direction and scope of the next sales interaction. In addition, this level of insight will help salespeople and managers more precisely grade pipeline opportunities, resulting in a more accurate assessment of overall forecast value and timing.

I’d be interested in hearing about how innovative sales-execution tools will impact measurable SFE. Share your thoughts below or connect with me at Pat.Rogers@NimblePitch.com.

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Enable Sales Teams to Spend More Time Selling

Untitled-2Today's blog post is by Javier Aldrete, Senior Director of Product Management at Zilliant.

 

 


Given years of investment in sales effectiveness technologies, today’s B2B sales teams should be more efficient and productive than ever before; however, recent studies have revealed that sales teams spend just 41 percent of their time selling by phone or face-to-face, versus 46 percent in 2006. The remainder of their time is increasingly being spent on administrative tasks, research, service calls, and training. In order for companies to make their numbers each quarter, many sales leaders agree that companies should enable their sales teams to maximize the time spent talking to customers.

Selling Time by the Numbers

There is strong evidence that correlates selling time with quota achievement. In fact, an increase of just a few percentage points in selling time across an entire sales force leads to higher overall profitability for the sales organization and can equate to additional sales headcount, at no additional expense. According to the Sales Benchmark Index, within a sales force of 100 reps at 50 percent selling time, a 5 percent increase in selling time equates to five additional sales heads without the incremental cost. So where are reps spending their time? It varies by company, industry, and sales process, but here are a few key areas: 

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It’s evident that sales leaders must look for opportunities to minimize activities that do not directly contribute to revenue generation.

Technology’s Impact on Sales Effectiveness

When sales force automation (SFA) systems were introduced, they promised shorter sales cycles, higher win rates, and increased sales rep productivity. In fact, an entire ecosystem of vendors, consultants, and system integrators has been created over the past two decades in pursuit of this value proposition.

While SFA tools provide companies with a multitude of benefits, it’s hard to link them to increased sales effectiveness or revenue growth. More often than not, sales reps spend more time entering information into their SFA system than deriving useful information from it to close more sales at a faster rate.

Instead, sales effectiveness solutions should help sales teams focus on revenue-generating activities. They should provide clear and actionable guidance, help sales reps focus on the best opportunities, and integrate easily with existing systems and processes – and they shouldn’t require reps to spend time on data entry. Ultimately, these tools should add a few percentage points to average time spent selling and give companies the equivalent of additional sales headcount without the incremental cost in order to help companies make their numbers.

Getting Results with Sales Guidance Applications

Fortunately, a new class of sales effectiveness technologies has emerged. Predictive guidance applications apply math and science models to a company’s existing transaction data to deliver valuable sales opportunities. They require little to no work on the part of sales reps and deliver specific, actionable opportunities directly to the field, enabling salespeople to spend more time selling.

Many B2B sales reps have very large books of business, spanning hundreds of accounts and hundreds of thousands of products. This results in data sets that are too large to analyze and mine for opportunities through traditional means. Rather than create more work for sales reps, predictive guidance applications based on companies’ existing data act as virtual sales analysts, working around the clock to pinpoint the best opportunities for sales to pursue.

Ultimately, sales tools that provide actionable, predictive guidance enable sales teams to spend more time talking to the right customers with the largest opportunities for wallet-share growth. Companies can get the benefit of additional sales headcount without the extra cost.

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