My shot at Implementing Sales 2.0

I have been asked to attend a Six Sigma Event around the new Oracle On Demand CRM we are implementing at my company. We aren’t going live until the fall (if then) but my company seems to be doing the right thing by actually inviting sales to the table for the scoping process. As many who follow this blog know – I am advocate of the Sales 2.0 concept; perhaps even a zealot.

Oracle On-Demand as a few cool tools that I am excited to learn more about, such as the Social CRM applications around sharing and scoring content. Most of my experience, however, with CRM implementation comes from Salesforce.com. When I worked at the Complex Sale, Inc., we had an application for opportunity management located on the App Exchange. That made the implementation process quite literally seamless. White Springs, the company that makes The Complex Sale’s App, also has pre-built integration with Oracle as well.

Oracle lists their feature partners on their website.

Inside View: I am very excited about offering my opinions on integrating the Inside View applications to our CRM instance. As stated on previous blogs, we employ a third party to set appointments from the West Group. They do a great job and allow us to focus on selling rather than prospecting. However, when we do get the appointment set – we need to be as prepared as possible. I tell my team they need to research five aspects of their prospect to be best prepared for a first call.

1. Industry
2. Company
3. Individual
4. Title
5. Geography

Inside View gives this data, pre-packaged on a company by company basis, embedded inside of the account tab inside of the CRM. It sours the blogs for triggering events, LinkedIn for the prospects themselves, and provides in-depth data on the company. It is a one stop shop for first call preparation – inside of the CRM.

Kadient: One of the first things I did as a new sales manager was to institute a Best Practices Sales Cycle for my team. This is the process of collaborating and documenting the client-facing milestones and tasks needed to successfully move a prospect to signature. I put the deliverable of this process on an excel spreadsheet. All my reps are expected to have a specific BPSC spreadsheet for every opportunity they have to show progress. The byproduct of this process is a common sales process, expectation, and vernacular.
The cells that comprise the BPSC spreadsheet are linked to other tabs inside of the excel document. These additional tabs share greater detail, links to other information, and templates.

Kadient takes this idea and integrates it inside of the CRM where quite frankly it should be. Kadient will attach the BPSC or playbook to the opportunity record where the rep can go for direction specific to the type of opportunity. The functionality gives a rep sales messaging that’s battle tested, competitive information, or PPT templates that have won business. Better yet, from a sales manager’s perspective, I can get a better line of sight into the deals I am forecasting and trends for training purposes.
I will keep you posted on my success in getting these tools integrated in the Oracle On-Demand.

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The New Untouchables

Thomas FriedmanThomas Friedman of the New York Times writes a very insightful column about the new untouchables in American Business. As unemployment soars around 10% and damned good sales people are looking for jobs – I found this quote to be quite prophetic, “In a world in which more and more average work can be done by a computer, robot or talented foreigner faster, cheaper “and just as well,” vanilla doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s all about what chocolate sauce, whipped cream and cherry you can put on top.” For Friedman – the New Untouchables have the ability to imagine new services, new opportunities and new ways to recruit work.

I thought about how the same concept applies to the noble vocation of selling. The Sales 2.0 story is well chronicled. New research shows that new corporate projects start with a Google search instead of a call to a vendor. Buyers are educating themselves on our solutions, via the web and social networking, and are less receptive to the “cold call.” Corporate websites are optimized and stacked with unique differentiation, third-party research, podcasts, and recorded demos. You can even get a video message from the CEO. Marketing employs savvy e-mail campaigns, targeted messaging, compelling hooks, blogs, webinars, micro-sites, and e-books to pique the buyer’s interest. Tools like Eloqua empower Marketing with results about the effectiveness of their campaigns and highlight individuals who show the right buying propensities.

I heard a statistic recently stating that selling used to be 30% marketing and 70% sales. With the new 2.0 shift in the buyer/seller paradigm – that percentage is now reversed. Sales leaders seem to be adjusting their go-to market strategy with this paradigm shift accordingly. Marketing’s role is going deeper into the sales cycle to the point of handling the entire transaction over the web in some cases. Value-added re-sellers and strategic partnerships are seen as a more effective alternative than inside sales forces. Outside sales forces have been pushed inside with web-conferencing and online demonstrations as cheaper vehicles for selling. Outside sales forces have been moved to named account representatives to hyper-focus on the most productive clients. Key account retention is now the responsibility of senior leadership with advisory councils and strategic liaisons. As one CEO recently told me – the days of the $100,000 doughnut-toter vanished in the wake of the recent recession.

Over the past two years, successful sales leaders survived doing more with less. These pioneers will only build on the lessons they learned – not return to unproductive habits of the past. Furthermore, as Software as a Service evolves into every aspect of business, it becomes less complicated for the buyer to understand, purchase, and even trial. The barrier of entry is just that much lower.

With this insight – it is no wonder that sales people are experiencing a “jobless recovery.” The question then is how do modern sales people make themselves untouchable? I think the answer is to adjust and evolve. Today’s buyer wants to buy from a peer. We must embrace the new technologies and lack of control we once had in the buying process.
If our buyers are searching for information on our solution on the web – then be on the web – in the form of blogs, webinars, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If our buyers can learn more about us online, then we should learn more about them. The information highway is a two-way street. Become an industry expert by reading the same whitepapers and joining the same social networks they do. Twitter is an amazing tool to keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. Set up an account and listen to what thought leaders are saying – for free! Finally, remember that your biggest competition is no longer tangible, it is Google. If you can’t offer value over and above what a buyer can find online, then you are “touchable.” Be untouchable, be connected, be a resource.

A Brave New World: Responding to Shifts in the Selling/Buying Model

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Last week, The Complex Sale, Pedowitz Group, Eloqua, and Oracle hosted a luncheon designed to brief sales and marketing executives on how their worlds were changing.  It was a great turn out with even better insight into how buyers are changing their habits. At no time in history has Sales and Marketing seen as radical a shift in buying behaviors as in the last five years.  With tools like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, information is now quite literally at our buyer’s fingertips.

Organizations are having trouble adapting to this change.  The concept of the new “Sales 2.0” world has created more questions than answers as to how Sales and Marketing can leverage new technologies to drive messaging and sales effectiveness. 
 
Today, buyer “self education” renders Sales and Marketing blind to buyers’ interests, propensities, and levels of engagement in our typical Sales and Marketing plans.  Buyers are less likely to engage with sales teams or to read our messaging.  Instead, buyers leverage Webinars, Online Meetings, and interactive web sites and control the sales process themselves.

Steve Woods, author of Digital Body Language and CTO of Eloqua states, “a sales person’s biggest competition for an executive’s time is now Google.”  If we as sales people cannot bring more value to the conversation than what is available online, then we are not going to capture an executive’s time or imagination.

Rick Page, author of Hope is Not a Strategy and founder of The Complex Sale states, “lead generation used to be about a hammer, now it is about a hook.” The hammer was the telephone with endless cold calls beating executives into appointments by attrition.  The hook is an opportunity for the executive to learn something insightful about their own business, industry, or competition.

Debbie Qaquish, Chief Revenue Officer at the Pedowitz Group states, “Marketing is earning its way on sales incentives trips by first, collaborating with sales to create the definition of a lead and secondly, providing insight into buyer activity on the company website that will triage the sellers call efforts.

The session ended with the obvious question – what hasn’t changed in selling?

The evaluation process is still logical and rational where the decision making process is emotional and political.  By avoiding the three foot rule (being within three feet of the prospect) and handling the sale over the web and phone, sellers risk becoming a victim of the crucible concept. Sellers need to know the competitive and political landscape, source of urgency, and enterprise level issues to when complex deals.

Guest Blogger: Brent Holloway, Author of Sales 2.0

Measurements and Morale

Brent Holloway is a Sales Manager at Verint Systems and Co-Author of Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology

When it comes to sales management, opinions about what you should measure and how often should you measure them will vary, but generally I believe that companies should perform more sales related measurements with a goal of improving performance through the intelligence gathered through these measurements.  Sales related measurements can come from a wide range of CRM reports or other databases and business analytics systems.

Measurements are great, and I enjoy working with numbers, but I have yet to see anything written on the impact that measurements can have on the sales team’s morale. Morale is an important but difficult to quantify component of a sales team’s success. Admittedly I have not done any formal studies in this area, but I am a practicing sales manager with an opinion to share. 

Let’s start with a few points about measurements.  I believe that measuring salespeople or the team as a whole should include both the results (I.e. actual sales, number of products sold, average sales price, average discount, etc.) as well as the leading indicators that produce those results (I.e. weekly pipeline development, number of new opportunities added to the forecast, conversion rate from lead to demo, etc.)  The latter enables us to be better managers and to give targeted coaching in the areas that each salesperson needs the most.  For example, let’s assume that Karen and Joe have similar sales results over the last two quarters.  With good sales process measurements, a manager may see that Karen has a high close rate but poor pipeline growth.  Joe on the other hand may do an excellent job of adding new opportunities to his pipeline but he may be less effective in converting those opportunities.  At the end of the quarter their results may be the same, but armed with these more detailed sales process measurements a manager could focus more coaching time on closing with Joe and on pipeline development with Karen.

I also believe that the need to maintain good relationships with our salespeople can be at odds with a management approach with too many measurements that could make them feel like micromanaged call center agents.  To prevent this, it is important for us to measure only what really matters, and to link how these measurements can help each salesperson be more successful.  A friend of mine who works for a leading Software-as-a-Service company told me that he used to be measured on the number of phone calls and emails he made every week, and that each member’s results were posted publicly.  My friend had relatively poor numbers in terms of phone calls and emails, but he was a high performer and consistently exceeded his quota.  From his perspective the reports did little to motivate, especially since there did not appear to be a correlation between the individual’s phone and email activities and their quarterly bookings.  He is now a sales manager and these measurements are no longer performed, at least not regularly, and the results are not posted publicly.  This is not to say that measuring calls and emails would not make sense for other parts of a sales organization.  My opinion is that those types of measurements may make more sense for a sales development group whose primary responsibility is to prospect than it does for a quota carrying telesales or field sales team.  In addition to actual sales, I believe that measurements of pipeline development (measured by the number of new opportunities added, plus the value of those opportunities) and conversion rates are more interesting and more highly correlated to sales success for a quota carrying salesperson.  And when these measurements are shared at the rep level relative to their peers, it can create a positive form of peer pressure to improve results.  I believe salespeople want to know how they are doing relative to their peers not just in terms of the final results, but also in the key activities that lead to those results.

Another Sales Manager I know from a Software-as-a-Service company believes salespeople “step up their game” when results are posted publicly, and he agrees that results come from the right activities which should also be measured since stack rankings on revenue alone do not always represent effort and can be de-motivating. 

The data to perform certain types of pre-sales measurements such as pipeline development or sales process conversion rates may not be readily accessible.  Since many CRM systems show the forecast as a snapshot in time, it is difficult to measure weekly or monthly trends.  To manage this issue I developed a dashboard spreadsheet in which I copy and paste a weekly forecast report from our CRM system into the spreadsheet. It then automatically calculates and graphs, at the individual and team levels, the weekly changes in closed sales, overall pipeline changes, the number of new opportunities added, and the value of those new opportunities over the course of each quarter.  (If you would like a copy of this free spreadsheet template, please visit www.sales20book.com.)  I share this dashboard with my team once a week so they can see their trends and performance relative to the rest of the team.

Whether or not you agree with my point of view, I encourage you to share your perspective on this subject. 

Brent Holloway

Sales Manager – Verint Systems and Co-Author of Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology

www.sales20book.com

The Three Minute Rule

 

Complex Selling used to be about the three foot rule; meaning that you needed to be within three feet of your prospect to influence their buying decision. (Face to Face) Today, with Sales 2.0 technology empowering the buyer with information they need to make a buying decision, we might need the three minute rule. I define the three minute rule as the three minutes a seller needs to explain to the buyer why we need to trade the information they need for information we need.

As we know, complex sales stall for one of or all of these reasons:

  1. Vendors Look Alike
  2. They Consider the Cost of Doing Nothing
  3. Camps Divide

To avoid these pitfalls, we as sellers need to devise a plan early in the sales cycle.

When vendors start to look alike we need to devise a competitive plan where we link our competitive differentiation to solving the pains of the decision makers. Therefore, we must know who all is involved in the decision-making process and their pain.

When the committee starts to consider the cost of doing we must devise a closing plan equipped with the steps needed to get ink on paper. Companies make large purchases only as choice of last resort. Therefore we need to know at what date they can longer afford to do nothing and the help of the buyer to create a business case for our solution.

Camps divide because there is no consensus for next steps.  Therefore, we must devise a political plan based upon our understanding of the committee’s preference for us, the competition, and do nothing to influence the outcome.

I recommend creating a checklist of the things we need to know to best position ourselves to win.

  • The evaluation, decision making, and approval processes
  • Understanding of the decision-makers pains
  • Understanding of the competitive landscape
  • Acknowledged competitive advantage to solving those pains
  • A date they can no longer go without a solution
  • Acknowledged business case our solution provides
  • Decision-makers’ preference for us and the alternatives
  • Access to the decision-makers

Next I recommend creating a list of things we can negotiate in exchange for this knowledge

  • Discovery session
  • Demonstration of capabilities
  • Competitive differentiators
  • Technical resources
  • Statements of Work
  • Pricing
  • References
  • Access to our executives

This is where the true selling in a Complex Sale 2.0 world and the three minute rule comes into play.  We need to convince our point of contact that it is in their best interest to give us the things we need in return for what they need.  William Ury writes in his book The Power of a Positive No that we gain respect in negotiation when position ourselves from a point of experience and empathy. After all, we as sales people deal in these types of evaluations on a daily basis where this could be the only time the buyer has been in this position.  By following our process we will give them exactly what they want – a thorough evaluation with the best outcome.   Think of it as a series of small confrontations to avoid the big one at the end.

From my experience working with sales forces using Sales 2.0 technologies, it is far too easy to let the prospect dictate the sales process. First calls and demonstrations can be done virtually and pricing comes from a template.  We as sales people need to have the discipline to withhold these treasured bits of information in exchange for what we need. You will find that prospects that are willing to go down your process are much easier to win and those who won’t were inclined to go another direction to start with.  It is quite liberating when you focus your best efforts on companies that will buy from you.

Digital Body Language / Lead Generation for the Complex Sale

 

An amazing book has been written by fine folks at Eloqua and a follow up White Paper that you can download here called Digital Body Language. The premise is that by using Eloqua’s tracking capabilities, sellers can now know when their prospects hit their website, what pages they go to, and how often they do so. By creating an algorithm that weights all three – our prospects score themselves and sellers use that score to triage their selling efforts. As an example, pages on your website that indicate cursory interest like the home page result in a low score. Pages that reflect deep interest like an online demo and customer testimonials reflect a much higher score. The number of times that individual returns to these pages acts as a multiplier thus giving them their final tally.

Brian Carroll of InTouch writes a fantastic book and subsequent e-book entitled Lead Generation for the Complex Sale. You can download it here. Brain describes lead generation as multimodal in that successful companies are working in 9 different areas to create demand – and I will add a 10th for Social Media:

1. Branding – Advertising, Associations, and Sponsorships
2. Public Relations – Editorials, Public Speaking, Press Releases, and News Coverage
3. Web Site – Search Engine Optimization, Landing Pages, Blogs, Podcasts, E-books, and RSS Feeds
4. Events – Seminars, Workshops, Webinars, Tradeshows, and Conferences
5. Phone Calls – Cold Calls, Top-Down Dialing, and Voice Mails
6. E-mail – One to One, One to Many, and HTML updates
7. Online Marketing – Organic Search, Paid Search, Newsletter Sponsorships, Portals, and Banners
8. Direct Mail – White Papers, Post Cards, Invites, amd Personal Letters
9. Referrals – Vendors, Consultants, Customers, and Partners
10. Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkledIn, YouTube, and MySpace

 
By using the multimodal approach we can ensure that we are engaging our prospects in a manner that they prefer and before they are ready to make a purchasing decision. Then, we can track their digital body language as they begin to show interest in our solution. As a longtime sales person who has driven blindly for so long – all I can say is Hooray! As Mike Scher of Frontline Selling has so aptly framed, “Successful demand creation should be a farming exercise, not a hunting event. After all, we as a society began to progress when went from hunter / gatherers to farmers.”

Demand Creation for The Complex Sale (2.0)

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Demand Creation in a Complex Sale 2.0 world can be summed up in one word: touches. We don’t know how our prospects want to be communicated with so we cast as wide of a net as possible. We also don’t know what message will resonate so we offer many. We don’t know when our prospects are ready to hear from us so our outreach is constant. The techniques that are available to us will not replace the telephone as the primary means of communication – it will enhance it.  Sellers don’t want to make a cold call as much as buyers don’t want to take them. We want buyers to tell us when the right time to contact them will be.

The Complex Sale uses an e-mail aggregator called Manticore Technology to communicate en mass with our clients and prospects. There are other aggregators available with great integration into Salesforce.com such as Eloqua. When used correctly, these tools place a cookie on the recipients computer that will then track what the recipient did with the e-mail you sent them and where they go on your website. I can’t express how efficient I have seen sales forces become by allowing the prospects themselves to express their level of interest in your service. Inside of Salesforce.com, we have created a marketing activities tab that allows me to see who was on our website and what pages they were on. Their activity is tracked at the contact record.

Forward-thinking salespeople also use the litany of tools available on LinkedIn. My LinkedIn profile is a virtual billboard about my accomplishments, people who network with and recommend me. LinkedIn allows you to view up to three degrees of separation to see the mutual contacts you have with your connections. It also allows you to communicate with your network individually or one-off. There are a number of applications one can add to their profile that raises awareness about what you are reading, shared presentations, polls, and personal blogs. LinkedIn also allows its members to form and become members of other liked-minded groups. The Complex Sale, Inc. has created its own group called the R.A.D.A.R. alumni association.  Our members are updated via e-mail on group discussions, shared best practices, news links, job openings, and Complex Sale points of interest.

Today’s buyer needs to hear from you before they need your solution. WebEx and Gotomeeting.com are both great tools to share thought leadership via a webinar or recreate a podcast. We also have created a company blog entitled the Sales Page to stay top of mind and a Twitter account for those that prefer communication in that median. For social-media to be effective it must be relevant and consistent. One must be willing to connect and follow people that connect and follow you. If you want people to comment on your blog you must comment on theirs.  

Jill Konrath in her best selling book, Selling to Big Companies, coined the phrase, “use the news.” What she is referring to is allowing your prospects to tell you when they are ready to buy. Organizations offer press releases about new appointments, quarterly earnings, partnerships, new initiatives, and many other reasons in an effort to generate positive public relations and investor interest. Lead411 offers daily e-mail showcasing trigger events on selected companies by using spider technology. Savvy sales people take this information to be the first knock on the door to help facilitate these enterprise-level issues.

Google allows its users to create a personalized home page to consolidate social networking sites and RSS feeds of industry content, all placed on one page. The Google reader feature allows for centrally located content to be catalogued under various headings without having to go directly to a variety of news, industry, or trade websites. The Google finance feature shows up to the minute stock price of your publicly traded clients and prospects.  I recommend setting the personalized Google page (called iGoogle) as your home page to be notified of “trigger events” every time you log onto the web.

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