From the CCS® Sales Blog

November 2016

Viewing posts from November , 2016

Sales Tips: Time for a Name Change

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<p><span style=”font-size: 24px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;”><strong><span style=”color: #152d53;”>Sales Tips:&nbsp;Time for a Name Change</span></strong></span></p>
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Sales Tips: Time for a Name Change

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company

Sales Enablement vs. Buyer EmpowermentThroughout my career I’ve sold technology and helped tech companies sell their offerings. During that time I’ve witnessed a number of technology offerings that at some point in their life cycles either hadn’t caught on or had begun to fade. A tried and true approach for vendors has been to add functionality and re-launch offerings using different names. Two (2) examples leap to mind:

  • Material Requirements Planning began as MRP but had 2 re-starts. It morphed into MRP II and then became Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Could Galactic Resource Planning be next?

  • Sales Force Automation (SFA) morphed into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and was made more relevant when Marc Benioff offered salesforce.com in a SaaS model and changed the software business forever. 

The candidate I’d like to nominate for a name change is Sales Enablement (SE). Ask ten people to define SE and let me know if you get fewer than 47 different answers. 

Vendors have largely sat on the sidelines for the last decade and a half as spectators watching buying behavior change. To their credit, some recognized the ever-widening gap between the way people want to buy and how they were being sold to. Most made tepid responses by announcing SE initiatives to appease their investors or boards. This was analogous to rearranging the deck chairs after hitting the iceberg. Without significant organizational and philosophical changes it’s difficult to see results.

My first issue with the term “Sales Enablement” is that it fails to recognize that people would much rather buy than be sold. Choosing “Sales” as the first half of the term continues vendors’ inward look and focus on products and selling them. My suggestion is to change the first word to “Buyer.” At least vendors would be looking in the right direction: Outward.

Enablement vs. EmpowermentYou quickly see the problem with the second half of the term when you answer the question: Who are companies trying to enable? The answer is salespeople, once again putting the spotlight on selling and continuing the inward rather than outward focus. Beyond that, companies are trying to enable them to sell in the traditional sense.

The word “empowerment” seems to be a superior choice as the second word. When you think about it, today’s buyers have become empowered by using the Internet and social networking to level the playing field as relates to product knowledge and actual user experiences with offerings. The concept of empowerment allows people to have control. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs after air, water, food and shelter – people seek control. One perspective of sellers is that they exert influence without authority. Buyers have the ultimate power as they decide whether or not to spend money. 

“Buyer Empowerment” in my mind means that for websites or salespeople, the first hurdle is to uncover latent needs. These are desired business outcomes executives would like to achieve. This can be done by interacting directly with Key Players or by having lower levels share desired organizational goals. Once business goals are shared, good things start to happen:

  1. Buying cycles begin
  2. Buyers realize there is potential value
  3. Buyers are willing to give sellers time to have conversations
  4. Sellers can be perceived as consultants if they know the right questions to ask

Part of empowerment is realizing that most vendors and their offerings don’t solve problems nor improve business results. Most sellers and organizations are guilty of making claims such as: 

  • “I’ll reduce your costs.”
  • “My software will reduce your costs.”
  • “The system will reduce your costs.”
  • “My company will reduce your costs.”

Avoid Ownership StatementsIn making such statements, some bad things happen. How many times have buyers been told sellers will deliver business outcomes or make problems go away and been disappointed? A vendor’s offering could work perfectly but if not implemented properly or used, it’s likely to deliver poor results. Finally, sellers don’t and can’t manage internal buyer resources so they have no credibility or control when committing to deliver business results. In the clear light of day, sellers’ offerings provide capabilities that can empower buyers to achieve desired business results. Buyer must take ownership for achieving their business goals or solving their problems. Empowered buyers are not at the mercy of sellers to get the results they want.

As relates to SE let me be clear: BUYERS ARE SICK AND TIRED OF BEING SOLD!!! Selling is becoming old school.

Enlightened vendors can enjoy something that has become a rarity: A sustainable competitive advantage, if they can provide messaging and teach sellers to empower buyers. Continuing with SE is like a losing football team failing to make the necessary roster changes but expecting different outcomes – Do your buyers want more of the same? Buyer Empowerment could provide a welcomed change in buying experiences.  

2016 CCS Sales Index

Sales Tips: Qualitative or Quantitative Data – Which is Better?

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<p><span style=”font-size: 24px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;”><strong><span style=”color: #152d53;”>Sales Tips:&nbsp;<span>Qualitative or Quantitative Data – Which is Better?</span></span></strong></span></p>
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Sales Tips: Qualitative or Quantitative Data – Which is Better?

By Carolyn Galvin, Primary Intelligence – CCS® Strategic Partner

DataThere’s an ongoing debate over which type of data is better: quantitative (“quant”) or qualitative (“qual”). For researchers who have used and benefited from both, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages from each. There are also instances in which each method is best suited to a specific application.

Quantitative Data
Quantitative data is all about numbers. When people talk about “big data,” they’re talking about quantitative data—exact, scientific, precise. Black or white, quantitative data is straightforward, although the interpretation of quantitative data can be manipulated—think statistics.

In his popular 1954 book, “How to Lie with Statistics,” Darrell Huff highlights the many creative ways statistics have been used to distort reality, such as truncating the bottom of a line or bar chart in a graph so that differences seem larger than they really are, or representing one-dimensional quantities as two- or three-dimensional objects to compare their sizes. In the latter example, readers often forget that images don’t scale in the same manner as quantities do.

Quantitative data is often used in science and medicine. It’s also common in market research studies when trying to collect ratings feedback, including the relative degree to which someone agrees or disagrees with specific statements, as well as ratings for product or vendor performance. Quantitative data is unambiguous in telling the user about a point in time, the results of a study or an opinion.

But while quantitative data explains the “what,” it doesn’t always explain the “why” or the “how.” Why are the numbers high, low or average? How can specific patterns in the results be explained? How can we interpret the overall trends? For this, we often look to interpretation. And for interpretation, we frequently call upon qualitative data.

DataQualitative Data
Qualitative data helps explain the “why” and “how” behind the numbers. It gives meaning and context to the raw data. It provides color. Examples of qualitative data are free form responses to questions asked in telephone and in-person interviews.

It’s believed that between 80 and 85 percent of all business data is unstructured, or qualitative, data. This includes emails, reports and conversations workers and managers may have with colleagues, suppliers and partners throughout any given business day.

While qualitative data can be rich in insights and can uncover new trends and ideas, it’s free-flowing form is also a key disadvantage—qualitative data is often voluminous in nature, making extraction and usage of key insights time consuming and difficult. In market research studies, for example, collecting open-ended feedback can help identify some very interesting trends—trends that quantitative data alone may not reveal. However, wading through tens or hundreds of thousands of words is not trivial. It’s a major time and resource commitment.

Thankfully, text analytics is helping to make the analysis, interpretation and reporting of qualitative data much less labor and time intensive. Text analytics that includes sentiment analysis is even better.

Text analytics is a set of statistical, linguistic, and machine learning techniques that allow textual data—such as documents, emails and speech—to be used for business intelligence, market research investigation, and outcomes analysis. As text analytics applications have become more widespread since the 1990s, this technique has found growing usage in competitive intelligence, business intelligence, sentiment analysis, listening platforms and social media monitoring, among others.

Recommendations for Quantitative and Qualitative Usage
How do you know when and whether you should collect and use quantitative data versus qualitative data? Below are general guidelines for both types of data.

Collect quantitative data when you have:

  • Straightforward binary questions (yes or no, male or female)

  • Ratings questions (scales of 0-5, 0-7, or 0-10)

  • Check boxes (lists of possible choices)Data

  • Sensitive questions (such as pricing questions)

Collect qualitative data when you:

  • Want to understand the “why” and “how” behind the numbers

  • Want to probe on certain areas of the research

  • Have a new product to test

Recommendations
While some may see quantitative and qualitative information as black and white—an either/or proposition—many successful researchers use both types of data in combination as complementary tools in their toolbox. Quantitative data will provide hard numbers against which to benchmark your product, company and/or competitors over time, while qualitative data will provide invaluable insights behind those numbers.

A study by Gallup highlights the beneficial outcomes of collecting a combination of qualitative and quantitative feedback, especially for B2B buyers, where 60 percent of customers are indifferent, 11 percent are actively disengaged and only 29 percent are actively engaged. As Gallup points out, and as Primary Intelligence consistently confirms in our Win Loss and Customer Experience interviews, capturing only quantitative information misses significant flags in customers’ experiences with their vendors. When vendors commit to capturing verbal feedback, they typically identify consistent “themes” in customer and buyer feedback, themes that may be problematic for the long-term relationship if not addressed before they grow into larger issues and the customer is in danger of defecting to a competitor.

While it’s cheaper, more convenient and more expedient to send out or post to social media a short, online survey, the use of both qualitative and quantitative information gathering techniques, especially in complex B2B markets, is essential in understanding important customers, markets,and competitors holistically. Collecting this rich data also allows trending over time to see how customer and market needs are changing, as well as how competitor strategies are evolving.

2016 CCS Sales Index

Sales Tips: A Brilliant Sales Management Strategy

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<p><span style=”font-size: 24px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;”><strong><span style=”color: #152d53;”>Sales Tips: A Brilliant Sales Management Strategy</span></strong></span></p>
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