Different Types of Questions to Ask in Sales

Sales Tip: The Different Types of Questions to Ask at High and Low Levels

I believe superior salespeople are curious and ask questions more often than they make statements. They avoid control questions that elicit short responses and therefore don’t facilitate conversations.

Instead they prefer to ask framing questions such as, “How do you create revenue forecasts today?” These questions usually begin with the word “how” and elicit lengthy answers about areas the seller wants to explore.

When calling at executive levels I suggest you try to avoid asking questions they can’t answer.

Many senior executives will seize opportunities to delegate salespeople to lower staff. Their response is usually something like:

Read more

Changing Your Sales Outcomes Report

New Industry Report Available, “Changing Your Sales Outcomes”

Can you salvage a deal that’s on track for a loss? And if you can, what does it take to recover it? For this industry report, Changing Your Sales Outcomes, we analyzed buyer responses from nearly 1,000 highly competitive B2B sales opportunities collected over an 11-month period. Our study uncovered that over one-third of lost deals could have been won. If you’re working on a sale that seems like it might miss, stick to it: your buyers are probably willing to give you a chance to recover the sale—and a chunk of revenue with it.

The impact of recovering one in three lost deals is significant. The missed opportunities in our study represent over $1.5 billion in lost revenue that sellers could have won had they navigated the sale differently. For the average software vendor in our study, a 33% increase in revenue would have added an estimated $15 million annually to their bottom line. Even recovering a fraction of this would have been significant.

With so much revenue left on the table, what did sellers miss?

Read more

7 Things All Sales Proposals Should Have Before Submitting to Buyers

7 Things All Sales Proposals Should Have Before Submitting to Buyers

From a buyer’s perspective, sellers often seem to be in a rush to move buying cycles along. If there is a single trait that separates A players from B/C players I would say it is patience.

That means not discussing products or offerings until a buyer’s needs have been established, but I also believe it applies to when sales proposals are issued. Many B/C players view proposals as a step that moves opportunities forward.

A proposal should document and confirm the discussions sellers have had and provide buyers with everything needed to make buying decisions.

When there are multiple buyers in committee sales, sellers gain access to as many stakeholders as possible to help each of them understand the value that can be realized through the use of the offering being discussed.

A significant mistake sellers make is issuing proposals after discussions with just one person.

The other committee members may be given a copy of the quote or proposal, but how much of it will they read and understand? How many will go right to the end of the document and see the pricing and without any understanding of value and decide the price is too high?

Read more

Understand Buyer Perceptions

How to Sway Your Buyers’ Decision in B2B Sales Deals

Although B2B buyers are most interested in product features and functionality when evaluating companies, buyer’s perception of your company can sway their decision in your favor (or not). Primary Intelligence discovered that 20% of buyers, approximately 1 in 5, rate vendors as “poor” in most company-related criteria.

While solution capabilities are typically the most important aspect in B2B sales evaluations, consideration of how vendors are perceived overall – including vendor reputation, service and support, and future direction – are also influential in the final decision.

How can you improve buyers’ perceptions of your company? Here are three best practices you can implement at your organization.

Read more

Handling RFPs You Didnot Wire

Handling RFPs You Did NOT Wire

In the first months of my career I received an RFP from the US Coast Guard Academy. My initial excitement faded as realized it was for equipment totaling about $6,000. Despite the fact that they had several of these devices installed and there was no competition I had to make a detailed response that included posting a security bond. I spent a few hours in my response, won the business and probably netted less than minimum wage for my time and effort. I came to despise the RFP process whether it was for commercial or government entities.

When receiving an unsolicited RFP many sellers get excited. Some even delude themselves into believing their offering is a perfect fit and they have a great chance at winning the business.

Read more

Increase Competitive Win Rates

Seven Marketing Best Practices to Increase Competitive Win Rates

No matter which industry you’re in, sales evaluations play a major part in your company’s success. While product features and functionality are usually the most important aspects in an evaluation, buyers still consider company reputation, service and support, and future direction in the final decision.

Here are seven best practices you can apply to increase competitive win rates for your company.

Read more

Sales Reps Quotas Fourth Quarter

5 Ways to Survive the Frenetic Fourth Quarter

A constant reality for salespeople is quota pressure. There are years when everything goes well and hardly a thought is given to whether numbers will be achieved. If 2017 has been a year like that I hope you’re enjoying it.

Remember that coming off a strong year often means starting January 1st at zero with more aggressive numbers to make. For B and C Players most years are a grind to achieve quotas.

On average about half of salespeople meet or exceed quota.

I wanted to provide my thoughts about how to manage to your number:

Read more

What is Sales Intelligence?

Sometimes, it is interesting to try to classify different areas of research and intelligence to see how certain specialties have originated, evolved and grown into their own species, so to speak. This study of sales intelligence can provide intelligence practitioners with the ability to see how their efforts might support or interrelate with other disciplines.
Read more

CRM Data Competitive Advantage

Why the Quality of CRM Data is the Keystone to Competitive Advantage

Recently, The Economist published an article titled “The World’s Most Valuable Resource Is No Longer Oil, But Data.” That article focuses on the market domination of internet giants like Facebook, Amazon, and Google (among others). These profitable titans use their vast stores of data to capitalize on their size and maintain their market advantage. “Google can see what people search for, Facebook what they share, Amazon what they buy.” Their market intelligence comes from the quantity they collect, with quality being a lot less important.

For the hundreds of thousands of businesses that aren’t one of the internet behemoths, organizations that face a treacherous competitive landscape and possess far fewer data points to rely on, the quality of data is the key to using it to your advantage.

We think of Customer Relations Management (“CRM”) system’s primary purpose as being the facilitation of the sales process. Your sales reps need something to keep track of their deals in a manner that is superior to a spreadsheet. But, the truth is, if we just want to keep track of things, a spreadsheet would work just fine.

Another, better way to define a CRM is: “CRM aligns business processes with customer strategies to build customer loyalty and increase profits over time.” That’s a pretty inclusive definition that is clearly more than just tracking a transaction. And yet, how many sales professionals treat the CRM as a tracking tool?

Read more

Apple laptop. Business discussion.

Win Loss Analysis Best Practice Series: Six Strategic Recommendations to Apply to Your Program

Win loss programs are important at all levels of the organization because they help explain why buyers choose specific solutions and why they do not choose others. Win loss takes us beyond market research and competitive intelligence.

Win loss analysis is more than just gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information about a market. It’s more than just sizing a market and understanding the growth rate, competitors, and buying segments. Win loss research is a sales, product, and marketing enablement tool focused on improving sales, improving the product/service, and improving a company’s market presence as a result of listening to customers.

Here are six strategic recommendations you can apply to your win loss analysis.

Read more

Stop Measuring Customer Satisfaction

We recently worked with a company trying to fix their high customer attrition rate with annual customer satisfaction surveys. Their survey project was successful. Fixing the attrition rate was not.

But why?

The company measured satisfaction, and the numbers said customers were not satisfied. To raise the numbers, the company formulated and implemented action plans. Sounds like a solid plan, right?

The problem: the company was measuring how their customers felt, but not why they felt that way. They knew perception of their services was low, but couldn’t figure out why. Measuring satisfaction provides no predictive analytics that score the likelihood of renewal.

Read more

Share B2B Customer Experience Insights with Employees

Six Tips for Sharing B2B Customer Experience Insights with Employees

At Primary Intelligence, broad access to customer experience (CX) information is viewed as a best practice since this gives employees, managers, and executives deeper insights into customer perceptions of the organization. Widespread access also allows individuals at every level to construct possible remedies to address customer concerns and gives impetus and support for new initiatives.

Research from the State of Customer Experience revealed the groups with greatest access to customer experience information are executive management (81 percent), sales management and leadership (79 percent), and marketing (74 percent). Interestingly, less than half (49 percent) of organizations provide access to customer experience information to their sales support and enablement teams. “Other” groups with access to customer experience data include support, human resources, legal, quality, engineering, and operations.

Share B2B Customer Experience Insights with Employees Chart

 

Even if the desire exists to share CX data, however, putting a mechanism in place to ensure customer feedback is available throughout the organization can be challenging. In fact, it’s a stumbling block that many companies encounter, especially when they’re large and geographically dispersed.

Read more

Outcomes 2017 for Win Loss and Customer Experience Pros

Focus Forward: Revisiting Primary Intelligence 2nd Annual Outcomes 2017 Conference

Primary Intelligence celebrated its 2nd Outcomes 2017 conference and the following is a summary of the of the three-day event, which was held September 13-15 at the Grand Summit in Park City, Utah. Outcomes 2017 is the only conference dedicated to win loss and customer experience professionals.

The Magic in a 0-to-10 Rating Scale

Sometimes you need a definitive measurement. While we ask buyers and customers a range of qualitative and probing questions, we also love to ask them to quantify their perceptions. With that information, we can provide a host of metrics which precisely pinpoint the areas in need of focus to win more business and retain more customers.

A basic output in our TruVoice software would look something like this:

 

When asking these types of questions, we favor a 0-to-10 scale. Why? In 13 years of experience, we’ve found Read more

Successful Tactical Recommendations for Win Loss Programs

Win Loss Analysis Best Practice Series: 4 Successful Tactical Recommendations for Win Loss Programs

As competition increases for most companies, understanding why companies win and lose sales is increasingly critical.

Since the State of Win Loss study reported more competitive activity this year than previously, gathering data about buyers and the buying process presents a clear advantage.

Successfully starting and running a win loss analysis program takes skill, patience, and tenacity. Here are four tactical recommendations to help ensure your company’s win/loss efforts are effective.

 

Read more

Salesperson making a Discovery session call

Three Tips for Communicating with B2B Customers

Communication is a key theme in customer experience, also known as CX.

Yet some organizations still believe it’s scary to communicate with their customers.

Confirming problems and issues means you actually have to do something about them, you have to fix them, to let customers know you heard them and are addressing their problems.

But communicating with customers drives trust and helps to ensure they realize your organization is serious about accepting and acting upon customer feedback.

For example, one financial services company sends out surveys to all new customers and existing customers with new service offerings requesting their immediate feedback. This helps to ensure that customers who are dissatisfied or who had a poor experience are identified in real time, with “red flags” mitigated quickly. An action plan is formulated by the account team for immediate follow up.

Here are three tips for communicating with B2B customers.

Read more

How B2B Companies are Increasing Revenue

State of Win Loss Analysis: How B2B Companies are Increasing Revenue

#winloss

Primary Intelligence conducted research on ways in which B2B sales, marketing, and product leaders are understanding their customers better and closing more deals.

We asked business professionals who analyze sales opportunities strategically to tell us their beliefs and attitudes about win loss analysis, the study of understanding why sales are won and lost. We also asked them about the types of market data they’re collecting and disseminating, and what best practices work for them.

And the results are in!

Read more

Costly Mistakes Sellers Make

Sales Tip: 2 Costly Mistakes Sellers Make When Squeezed

“I need your best and final price.”

This question marks the beginning of the pricing squeeze and is often asked after multiple vendors have issued quotes or proposals. Very often it’s asked by a non-Key Player that senior management designates to make this request. Sellers can waste valuable time and leave money on the table if they make the wrong responses.

Two (2) examples of BAD and COSTLY responses:

  • “Where do I need to be?” This is the worst possible response a salesperson can give. It amounts to acknowledging a discount is in order. Beyond that sellers give the impression they have unlimited authority to discount. This response allows buyers to wrest control of negotiations because smart buyers will specify the price they want to pay, not the price they’re willing to pay. Final pricing is strongly influenced by how low the bar is set. I refer to “Where do I need to be?” as the 6 most expensive words salespeople can utter.
  • Offer a lower price. This can backfire and the buyer’s end game is usually to leverage lower pricing to pressure the vendor of choice to discount. There may also be instances where the price given becomes the starting point for negotiations if and when decision makers get involved. Once a seller makes a concession it becomes a slippery slope as buyers press for even better deals.

Try This Approach Instead:

Read more