Repeatable Sales Process

Sales Insights: 4 Components of a Repeatable Sales Process

Henry Ford is credited with creating production lines allowing cars to be built consistently regardless of the staff that assembled them. I’ve worked with consulting companies that wanted to “cookie cutter” engagements because repetition makes people more competent and efficient. It provides the added benefit of being able to identify and share best practices.

That said, many people feel sales calls are like snowflakes in that no two are identical. While calls are never identical, there are ways organizations can make them more consistent by defining parameters to provide context.

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Selling to the B2B Market

3 Things You Must Know Before Selling to the B2B Market

In recent years, selling to the B2B market has presented new challenges for companies such as buyers’ growing tendency to vet vendors using online research and the interplay between the B2B and B2C buyer experience.

B2B buyers identifying and selecting their top tier of vendors for purchase evaluations—including the short list of contenders—often do so with very little or NO input from sales or company reps. Buyers also expect excellence from their vendors, based largely on their expectations from their experiences as consumers in B2C transactions.

So, what should companies selling to the B2B market know before they engage with their buyers?

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The Value of Sales Process

Sales Insights: The Value of Sales Process

Soon after starting my sales career I became aware there was a staggering list of things I needed to learn. The biggest challenge I faced was securing appointments with owners of small businesses. In retrospect I’m not proud to admit that my objective when making initial calls was to see if I could get a second call with prospects. My logic was that a follow-up probably meant the first call went reasonably well. I lacked the wisdom and experience to understand the difference between sales activities and progress. I had no concept or a sales process.

CRM is everywhere and yet there are some salespeople as inept as I was that are required to provide input into the system.

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Types of Customer Data to Collect to Improve Marketing Strategy

The Types of Customer Data to Collect to Improve Marketing Strategy

When some marketing professionals think about surveys, they generally think about close-ended feedback. Close-ended feedback, which is typically collected in online surveys, involves rating scales, “check boxes” of applicable categories, “yes/no” questions, and other data that is typically quantitative.

Close-ended feedback is usually efficient and straightforward for customers to answer, as well as straightforward for organizations to analyze. This type of customer feedback also provides the ability to easily compare different parts of the organization, different team member’s effectiveness, and overall customer experience from a quantitative, “temperature-taking” perspective.

In contrast, Read more

Win Loss Analysis Definition

What is Win Loss Analysis?

At the most basic level, win loss analysis helps sales, marketing, and product leaders understand the reasons for their organizational wins and losses so that they can increase their win rates and capture more business in the future.

Win loss programs are important at all levels of the organization because it helps explain why buyers choose specific solutions and why they do not choose others.

At a higher level, win loss programs help transform organizations as they make fundamental changes to what are often systemic problems. When managers see patterns in buyer feedback that consistently show outstanding—or sub-par—performance, they can replicate best practices throughout their organizations and avoid root cause behaviors that hinder long-term success. In this way, win loss analysis is sometimes compared to Kaizen, the Japanese practice of continuous improvement.

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Sales Intelligence for Strategy

Win Loss Best Practice Series: Competitive Intelligence Leads to Strategic Decisions

Any electrical socket around you provides a tap to a near endless supply of energy. Inside the wires, there is enough power to run a houseful of gadgets, recharge your electric car or deliver an awful shock (don’t try that at home).

But, until you use the power to do something (turn on the lights, recharge your phone, etc.), it really doesn’t offer much value. For the electricity to be effective, it must power something that is important to you. Otherwise, it is just a bunch of electrons with potential energy sitting in copper wiring.

Your competitive intelligence is very similar to the electricity in your wires. You can collect as much competitive intelligence as you like, but until someone uses it to power change in your company, it really isn’t effective at all.

Competitive Intelligence for Strategy

Your competitive intelligence is most effective if it:

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sales tip avoid no decisions

Avoid No Decisions by Answering “What’s in it for me?”

No decision is a terrible outcome for both buyers and sellers. It ultimately means both parties spent time, effort and money and at the end, the buyer decided not to buy from any of the vendors that bid. Sellers either get firm no’s or the vague commitment to revisit the offering at a later time.

I believe the primary reason for these outcomes is that buyers don’t see adequate value to justify the expenditure.

Let’s assume you are selling to a manufacturing company and calling on the person responsible for stocking spare parts to maintain their equipment.

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strong qualifier for proposals

A Strong Qualifier for Proposals

When asked in a word to describe the difference between A Players and B/C Players I would say:

Patience.

By that I mean they avoid prematurely talking about offerings that helps them avoid early pricing decisions. Top performers also understand how much control sellers give up after issuing proposals.

I believe proposals should document and confirm discussions with buyers and provide a buyer or buying committee everything that is needed to make decisions. Premature proposals often hang in seller’s pipelines and often wind up being removed months later after no decision has been reached.

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Honest Customer Feedback

Honest Customer Feedback is the Cure for Insanity

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~ Unknown

This is obviously a cultural rather than a medical definition, but if you sell for a living, and you cannot figure out what you’re doing that’s causing you to lose deals you were sure you were going to win, you might start to feel like you’re losing your mind.

When you get some honest feedback, and start doing different things, the outcomes change, and the insanity goes away. Suddenly the world makes a lot more sense, and you’re closing a lot more deals.

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Different Types of Questions to Ask in Sales

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:

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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?

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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?

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Understand Buyer Perceptions in sales deals

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.

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Handling RFPs You Did not 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.

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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:

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What is sales intelligence

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.
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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?

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