SalesFitRx BLOG

Category posts

SALES PROCESS INEFFICIENCIES LIMIT SELLING TIME: FIX IT!

Battling_Cage_302_shadowI know a young man, 10 years my junior, who played baseball every year from t-ball through college. He was confident he had a great swing by the middle of his high school years.

That was when a former major league all-star put that boy in his place.

It was at the Jim Rice Baseball School in Tampa, FL and Ron LeFlore was that pro player. Jason was the high school player who took exactly three swings in front of LeFlore before the pro stepped in and stopped the session of batting practice.

LeFlore gave the kid three simple steps, creating a far more efficient swing, and the kid went on to completely miss more than 20 pitches in a row.

Jason was frustrated, and he expressed it. Ron asked him a single question: “Between you and me, which one of us is a major league all-star?”

The kid sighed and the pro assured him that by the end of the week he would be hitting the ball better than he ever had only ifhe chose to trust LeFlore. Jason chose to trust him.

Friday morning came and LeFlore stood behind the batting cage as the kid stepped up to the plate. The first pitch came out of the pitching machine and LeFlore called out, “Left field!” The kid hit it to left field. Then, “Right field!” And a line drive shot over the head of the second baseman.

This went on for two dozen pitches in all, and every one of them landed wherever the pro commanded them to go.

The kid went on to lead his league the next year with a .543 batting average, as well as in several other categories. This came about because someone knew how to fix the inefficiencies in Jason’s swing.

I TOLD YOU THAT TO TELL YOU THIS…
Inefficiencies in your sales process are costing you more signed sales contracts than you may believe. The Ron LeFlore you need to fix your situation will be the voice that’s helping you spend more time in direct selling activities. Period.

CEO and Co-founder of Seismic, Doug Winter (@SeismicSoftware) wrote an article for @Entrepreneur magazine two weeks ago titled: Eliminate Inefficiencies in Your Sales Process So Your People Can Focus on the Sell.”

THE BIG IDEA
The big idea of Winter’s article is this:

“Knowing that content is the fuel to the sales engine, it would make sense to give the sales force access to the sales materials that help them sell from the place where they spend the most time: within their email, CRM or both.”

WHAT I LIKED
Winter makes his case without wasted effort. An article about correcting inefficiencies would not be as credible if it was longer than it needed to be.

In the article, Winter draws from a variety of sources to paint a picture of the truth; there’s a lot of wasted time and effort where a good thing has become a bad thing because it’s taken the place of the best thing.

That best thing is Selling Time.

Winter discusses this issue through the lens of content marketing and how it’s the fuel to the sales engine.

It’s a quick read, and the article can be an important part of the ammunition you need to bring about change in your sales organization (whether you’re a sales rep, manager, director or executive).

And yes, SalesFitRx is all about helping sales professionals, and sales teams, locate more selling time. If you haven’t yet looked into how the web and mobile app does this, I recommend finding out today. There’s also a 30 day risk-free trial available (no credit card required).

As for Jason, he was asked by the owner of the baseball school to stay an extra week, at the owner’s cost, and he did. Much like a week of pure selling time, this bonus week for the kid was pure profit.

LeFlore was able to further develop him into the player who went on to consistently frustrate opposing teams’ managers until the end of his playing days.

It was all because the kid was willing to make a change in order to achieve greater success. Will you?

[Reading Time of Winter’s Article: 2:30 minutes]


QUESTION ::: What types of work activities take up too much of your time each week?

Let’s talk about it…

Read more »

0

SALES ENABLEMENT FIXES YOUR SALES FUNNEL LEAKS

Mansion_335_shadowI recently spent an afternoon and evening with a dear friend of mine.

What people might notice first about him, if you met him at his home, is that he’s retired and lives with his wife in a house five or six times larger than most homes you or I have ever visited.

He’s done well for himself and is perhaps the most generous and gracious man I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

We were talking about when he had his big break in business and what he remembers most about it. This is how he explained it to me:

Once we finally took the advice of the company who would go on to become our largest customer, we made the suggested changes and the money really started to come into our business.

But what drove me crazy was that more money coming in meant there was more money leaking out of the cracks and the crevices in our business. It was like putting our hands under a faucet and trying direct the stream in the correct direction.

As we did that, water continued to leak out over our hands until we could develop a process for more effectively capturing and directing the increasing, and long-term, flow of revenue.

It wasn’t until we quit trying to construct solutions on the fly for short-term fixes, and we stepped back and prepared for revenue increases five or ten years in the future, that we become an efficient machine with consistent month-over-month growth.

That is why you and I are sitting here on the patio of this house today instead of one across town with 10,000 less square footage. We found the tools and reconstructed our processes to stop the leaks.

For us in sales, the faucet we need to mind first is the sales funnel. Some of you possess funnels with slow leaks. Others of you are using funnels resembling something more like a colander.

Thankfully, I found someone who can help us with this sales funnel problem. He will show us how to use sales enablement as a tool to fix our pesky sales funnel leaks.

Robert Wahbe (@RobertWahbe) is the co-founder/CEO of @Highspot and a former VP at Microsoft. Wahbe wrote a blog post for @OpenviewLabs last week titled: Plug the Leaks in Your Sales Funnel: A How-To Guide to Sales Enablement.”

THE BIG IDEA
The big idea of Wahbe’s post is this:

…best-in-class companies are twice as likely to be using a sales enablement solution that addresses major obstacles to driving sales:
> The time needed by a new seller to become effective (on average, 7 months)
> Seller turnover (typically 30%)
>Time wasted searching for and creating selling materials (3-4 hours per week, per rep)

WHAT I LIKED
This post isn’t any longer than it needs to be. It makes a strong case that best-in-class sales organizations are very likely to be effectively using sales enablement tools and that it’s a clear contributor to their ongoing success.

This gives you, a sales professional in a sales organization which that is not currently leveraging sales enablement tools to their full potential, the ammunition to make a case for this important investment.

And if you are currently using sales enablement tools and are seeing a strong ROI, you have in Wahbe’s post the information needed to continue the investment if some in your organization may oppose this spending.

Budgets for 2016 are closing soon, so ensure you’ll be using the best sales enablement tools for your business.

[Reading Time of Wahbe’s Post: 2:00]

Note: SalesFitRx is a web and mobile sales enablement app that helps you, the sales professional, discover more selling time in your week. It doesn’t encourage more hours each week, instead it helps you get more sales from your existing hours. Learn more on our Home page: SalesFitRx.com


QUESTION ::: Which tools have given you the best ROI for your investment?

Let’s talk about it…

Read more »

0

ARE YOU DROWNING IN SALES ANALYTICS DATA?

Drowning_330_shadowThe same data that can increase your sales can also bottleneck your sales progress if not handled wisely.

Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed, at times, with the vast amounts of data available? Perhaps you’ve resisted using the tools at your disposal because you didn’t want to take time out to learn how to use them.

Perhaps you simply don’t believe sales analytics will help you land more sales.

If so, you’re not alone. You have an industry full of many others feeling the same way.

Author, speaker and referral sales authority Joanne Black (@ReferralSales) recently wrote a post for the Sales 2.0 Blog about sales analytics called, Are Analytics for Sales a Technology Overkill?

[It’s a perfect companion piece to my post from last week, “Do You Know About This Deadly Trend In Sales Management?” where I featured Jason Jordan‘s resource on the @Salesforce Blog.]

Black opens the post writing about the struggle we have in common with non-selling time:

Oh, how I hate paperwork. Most salespeople feel the same way. We just want to spend time with our clients and close deals. It has been tough enough for organizations to get salespeople to use CRM and provide data. Now sales teams are also being asked to review data and trust analytics.

To be sure, more data isn’t a bad thing, but without solid guidance on how to both effectively and efficiently make the most of that data (i.e. application to your daily sales work), you’ll quickly find yourself lost in non-selling time neck deep in a swamp of data overload.

In the post, Black sat down with Mike Moorman, Managing Principal at ZS Associates (@ZSAssociates), to learn from someone who knows a thing or two about sales analytics and how to use that data to your advantage.

In the past, the sales data available to us has been about past events. But today, we’re experiencing the genesis of an entirely new type of data, and its seemingly endless possibilities, in predictive and prescriptive analytics.

Black’s discussion with Moorman helps us see how this information can assist us in answering questions such as:

  • What’s the optimal size of my sales force?
  • What’s the best way to deploy my people?
  • What are the optimal territories for us to target?
  • What are the best accounts to target?
  • What is each prospect’s propensity to buy?

But even more, we can apply this new level of understanding further into our sales weeks:

This doesn’t just help sales leaders make optimal decisions. It also enables individual sales reps to optimize their performance by answering such questions as:

  • Which accounts should I call on first?
  • What are my priorities?
  • What is my message or value proposition with a specific account?
  • Should I engage face to face or on other channels?
  • What should I send to each unique buyer – an email, research report, video?

Moorman then recommends three steps to get your sales team started on the analytics journey. You’ll definitely want to read those and consider how and when you’ll begin to press these steps into action for your sales organization. Read it all in Black’s useful post.

You don’t need to fear change in the form of a potential tidal wave of data you’ll be expected to analyze, interpret and set into motion. Understand how to use the tools at your disposal, learn to filter what really matters for you and your sales team, and then show your colleagues how to do it too.

A handful of sales reps in your team are going to step-up and lead the rest of you in this way. Make sure you’re one of them.

[Reading Time of Black’s Post: 2:30]

QUESTION: What’s your biggest struggle or frustration with the sales data you can currently access? Is the learning curve too steep with the tools you could use to make sense of the data?

Let’s talk about it…

Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »

0

THESE OPEN-ENDED SALES QUESTIONS WORK!

Questions_2_300_shadowNever assume. Instead, inquire.

It’s hard to comprehend how many sales were lost today, around the globe, because of a false assumption.

I don’t want this outcome for you. Neither of us do. So, before you go into your next sales call, please do 2 things for me…well, for you really:

  1. Scan your understanding of the prospect or customer for any assumptions you may have, then…
  2. …determine the right questions to ask to confirm what you were assuming.

That’s a good start, but I want to point you a great resource that will help you by giving you some excellent questions which can really open up the conversation. They can turn a sales presentation into a true conversation. It’s what they would prefer, so do it their way.

Co-presidents of RAIN Group, Mike Schultz (@Mike_Schultz) and  John Doerr (@JohnEDoerr), recently wrote a great blog post for the RAIN Selling Blog titled, “21 Powerful, Open-Ended Sales Questions.”

I could not agree more with this premise the authors propose:

… sometimes all you need is to ask one open-ended question and your client will share with you all the information you need to help them.

You may think, “Sure, that’s true once in a while, but not as a typical conduit to getting the sales signed.” What if…what if the right open-ended question could help you gain more sales quite a bit more often than you do now?

I believe this can be the case…and it should be.

This post from Schultz and Doerr offers 21 great open-ended questions you can use, in the right moments, to obtain the most important information you’ll need to get from the opening line to the closing of the sale.

The questions are smartly organized into four categories:

  1. Rapport-focused
  2. Aspiration– & Afflictions-focused
  3. Impact-focused
  4. New-Reality-focused

Without giving away the bacon, here’s a little sizzle, a taste of the questions:

  • RAPPORT: What’s going on in your business these days? How have things changed?
  • RAPPORT: It was good to hear the short version of your background at the meeting, but since we’re out for lunch, I’d love to get the long version. What’s your story?
  • ASPIRATION: Many of our clients are reporting problems with areas A, B, and C. How are these areas affecting you? What do you think about them?
  • IMPACT: If you were to make this happen, what would it mean for you personally?
  • IMPACT: If you don’t solve (insert the particular challenge here), what kind of difficulties will you face going forward? What won’t happen that you want to happen?
  • NEW REALITY: If there were no restrictions on you – money, effort, political issues and so on do not exist – what would you change? Can you tell me why you say that?

The authors make a good point with this statement:

As you ask any open-ended sales questions, bear in mind that the most difficult task is not sounding too contrived. While we’ve suggested wording here in this article, feel free to use the concepts, but make the wording your own when you ask the questions.

If you’ve read this far, and you have, then this topic is at least of some interest to you. I would also recommend this post from @SellingPowerMag: “The Power of the Right Question at the Right Time.”

As for this featured post by Schultz & Doerr, read it all. You’ll not only be able to pick-up a few more great questions to use in your sales conversations, but you’ll also be able to pass on this help so others can learn from you.

By doing that, by sales coaching when that isn’t even your title yet (if that’s the case), then word will spread that you’re the right kind of person who can help grow a sales team. Be proactive.

Don’t look only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others around you. That approach will serve you well. It has for me. You’ll all benefit from it.

QUESTION ::: Do you have go-to open-ended questions you use to get deeper into the conversation/into the funnel? Do you actively search for other questions, better questions, to build your arsenal?

Let’s talk about it…

Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »

0

[RESEARCH] WHAT ARE WORLD-CLASS SALES PERFORMERS DOING DIFFERENTLY?

Teamwork_2_310_shadowThere’s a process in our industry in desperate need of a new, all-encompassing definition…whether you realize it or not.

It’s how the best performers in our sales industry consistently get the job done. You should want what they have. What they so often tend to have is effective sales force enablement behind them.

Please allow me a minute of your time to begin to make the case for this…

Sales enablement leader/analyst and research director Tamara Schenk(@tamaraschenk) recently penned a post for MHI Research Institute’s blog (@MHIResearch), “Evolving Enablement to Sales Force Enablement: The New Definition.” In it, Schenk helps us better understand the vastly underappreciated and undervalued element of sales force enablement. When that’s right, your sales team really is empowered to perform at their best.

Or, as Schenk puts it:

“…a strong definition of enablement helps you to build a solid foundation for your specific enablement practice in your context.”

I like how the post quickly goes into asking and answering the same question you may have in your head: “Why do we NEED a dynamic, strategic and holistic sales force enablement definition?”

Schenk uses far more than merely her opinion to make her point. Instead, she draws from the 2015 MHI Sales Best Practices Study. [You don’t need to give your personal information to access it; that link goes directly to the study.]

In this section of the post, the author asked the question: What are world-class sales performers doing differently?

Do you want to know what they do, with the stats to back it up? Then read the post.

I will share this:

World-class sales performers know exactly how to navigate the different dynamics along the entire customer’s journey, and they don’t walk away after a deal has been closed.

How the world-class sales performers pull it all off, time after time, is what sales force enablement is all about.

If I asked you to name 4 components that make-up true sales force enablement, how would you answer that?

Schenk offers these 4 components, based on data, within the new definition she proposes:

  • Integrated content
  • Training & coaching services (effective training/coaching…emphasis mine)
  • Understanding of the customer’s journey
  • Using the right technology for the team

The right technology these days really is key [and I’m not merely talking about SalesFitRx either]. There’s a handful of tools, a right mix, that will be most effective for your particular organization. Start with what you’re presently missing out on, then fill in your needs from there.

Some of the tools will be common to upwards of 90% of all sales teams simply because they specifically address common sales team issues no one else is addressing [or if they are, they’re being inadequately addressed]. Keep that in mind.

If your competitors have discovered the mix that works for them and you haven’t then they have a significant advantage over you. <insert knot in your stomach here>

Read the definition Schenk proposes and see if it aligns with where you presently are, or if it’s where you want to take your sales organization.

For me, Schenk now offers the best definition of this vital process I’ve read yet. And, I really love that strong data was used as the actual building blocks of the definition.

Next Step: Print out Schenk’s blog post, schedule time with your sales manager and begin the conversation about how you can work together to use this information, based on research data, to strengthen the sales performance of your sales team this quarter.

I’ve featured the writing of Tamara Shenk in the past. You can keep an eye on her work at her blog and also at the MHI Research Institute Blog.

QUESTION ::: Does the topic of “sales force enablement” come up in conversations with your colleagues or management?Does this new definition give you more to work with?

Let’s talk about it…

Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »

0

WHAT DOES SUCCESSFUL SALES ENABLEMENT LOOK LIKE?

sales_team_313_shadowFirst off, what is Sales Enablement?

I like the definition, and the goal, listed at SiriusDecisions.com:

“Sales enablement’s goal is to ensure that every seller has the required knowledge, skills, processes and behaviors to optimize every interaction with buyers.”

Pat Ruffio (from @lurniture) recently wrote a post titled, “Are Your Sales Enablement Efforts Working?” It addresses the question: “How can you recognize sales enablement practices that contribute to success?

Ruffio does so by looking for clues in the areas of:

  • Teamwork
  • Customer-Centric Sales
  • Communications
  • Content

The rest of the article is essentially written in bullet points, and in this case I like that. The information is work organized and the success indicators are well-thought statements.

I don’t want to give you everything here, but I’ll give you a taste so you’ll definitely want to read the article for yourself:

COMMUNICATIONS
Your sales team members bring new insights to your customers proactively.
  • This is information that customers might not have considered previously.
  • Some of these insights might challenge customer assumptions.

I recommend reading Ruffio’s post to take a temperature of your sales team.

Those bullets generated some of my own thoughts. It’s vital that sales management at your organization creates well-thought perspective changing questions and answers in order to ensure the entire sales team is completely prepared to get more sales:

  1. In a scenario where a prospect can likely solve their problem by purchasing from multiple options, the seller needs to create  a line of thinking the buyer has not yet considered.By empowering the buyer to ask themself a great, new question (or create a new perspective), and have them agree your offering is an answer to that question, you’ve helped them refine their research, giving you an advantage over your competitors (either momentary or through the finalizing of the sale).The new question itself may also be able to knock out or knock down one or more other solutions.

    The right question, the new question, can make a lot of progress for you, in a short time, toward eventually gaining the sale.

  2. When you’re selling a product or service, it’s easy to be drawn into the search for more and more things upon which you agree with the buyer.Unfortunately, it can be very effective to insert an idea into the conversation that challenges their current thinking, and may even appear to take your own offering out of contention, but not enough sales professionals take advantage of this opportunity because of the perceived risk.There’s actually nothing but upside.

    If that challenge eventually drives the buyer toward agreement that your product or service is a viable option in the challenge scenario, again, you’ve helped the buyer refine their research and have gained yourself an advantage.

Your actions today in sales management, are either leading toward sales enablement for your reps or, through a lack of preparation, toward sales barriers. Even actions understood to be neutral are not active selling time, which creates barriers to everyone creating more sales:

A good thing becomes a bad thing when
it takes the place of the best thing.

Clear barriers from the path toward sales for your team by ensuring consistent moments of sales enablement are in place at each step.

Thank you for this thoughtful post, Pat. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on your new blog at Lurniture.com. I really like your strong focus on the topic of sales enablement.

[Reading Time for Ruffio’s Post: 2 minutes]

QUESTION ::: Is the topic of sales enablement a topic of discussion within your organization?

Let’s talk about it…

Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

Read more »

0