From the CCS® Sales Blog

July 2017

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Sales Tips: When You Know More, You Win More

Sales Tips: When You Know More, You Win More

By Primary Intelligence, a CustomerCentric Selling® Partner

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Why Win Loss Analysis for Competitive Sales?
Win loss analysis is a branch of market research focused on understanding why companies win or lose new business opportunities. By implementing a win loss program, you can obtain reliable, actionable, and unbiased feedback about how well your sales team performed in recent competitive opportunities. You can identify the best practices of your top performers, your competitive positioning within each opportunity, how well your solutions were received, and much more.

What are the Benefits of a Win Loss Analysis?
A win loss program will reveal the risks and opportunities associated with your sales strategies, your competitor’s strategies, and your target markets. You can learn about your marketplace in a way that exceeds simply knowing about your buyers. Win loss analysis will also reveal the varied buying habits, challenges of your buyers, and your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses.

If you want a clear picture of each sales opportunity and the developing trends across multiple opportunities to help sales professionals win more business, an effective win loss program will:

  • Improve competitive win ratios
  • Establish clear benchmarks
  • Increase sales performance
  • Uncover win-back opportunities
  • Discover the reasons for lost opportunities
  • Increase your competitive advantage
  • Enhance your understanding of competitors

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Who Benefits from a Win Loss Program?
Although you may believe the insights from win loss analysis is only for the salesforce, a win loss program will impact every department in your company. Additionally, key individuals can use the actionable intelligence that is captured in a win loss program to make better decisions.

  • Sales Representatives will understand the prospect’s perception about the representative’s abilities and effectiveness. Also, sales reps will understand their strengths and weaknesses, the company’s positioning, their competition, and the overall marketplace.
  • Sales Managers will get data on the key issues that are obstructing their overall sales efforts. They’ll find out why your competitors were selected, the factors most important to buyers, and data on how the market perceives you. This information will help sales managers to focus and train sales reps on the most impactful areas.
  • Product Development will understand how your solutions stack up against the competitors and what features and functionality are most important to buyers.
  • Marketing will receive direct feedback from your buyers as to which messaging is or isn’t resonating. They’ll learn which marketing tools and collateral have the most influence.
  • Executive Management will get actionable intelligence on every aspect of the entire sales process. They’ll learn about new players in their markets and gain insight into current market trends.

Why You Should Partner with an External Third Party
By partnering with an external third party, you’ll obtain reliable and unbiased feedback from your recent sales opportunities. This feedback will help your sales representatives refine their techniques, learn how to effectively target a client’s needs, and tailor presentations that put your products and services in the best possible light. With win loss analysis, you’ll get empirical and pragmatic data to drive your business to make strategic decisions, increase revenue growth, and gain greater market share. (Check out this case study on how win loss analysis changed the conversation for one company.)

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Sales Tips: “Solutions” – Your Buyer’s Opinion or Yours?

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

Vendors are so focused on “solutions” they overlook an important fact:

Solutions are opinions and the only opinions that matter are the buyers’.

Consider how much credibility sellers have if at the start of a call they state:

“We’ve got the solution for you.”

I hope you agree buyers would find this to be a presumptuous and self-serving statement.

Superior sellers are patient and realize there’s work to be done to help buyers visualize solutions.

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A mentor once told me Sales is a “hurt and rescue” exercise.

First, sellers must help buyers realize they have latent needs to achieve desired business outcomes that have inherent value. Some examples: Increase revenue, increase margins, reduce downtime, etc. Within CCS®, buying cycles begin when buyers share goals (or problems). This is a watershed event as it means sellers has been deemed to be sincere and competent.
Unfortunately B and C Players lack patience. Once goals are shared they prematurely jump to “solutions” by saying something analogous to: “Here’s what you need.” The irony is they’re often right but have limited credibility because buyers don’t understand why they can’t achieve goals or they would have already done so. It’s analogous to a swimmer 50 yards offshore refusing a lifejacket. Put that same swimmer a mile offshore and struggling and he/she would hold onto a lifejacket like it was their firstborn.

Once goals are shared, A Players have the wisdom and patience to realize they must do a diagnosis to uncover barriers to achieving goals that exist in the buyer’s current process that can be addressed with specific capabilities within their offerings. Doing diagnoses at this point accomplishes several things:

  • Sellers further display their competence.
  • Buyers realize the downside of not having the seller’s offering.
  • Based upon buyer responses the seller can offer only those features/capabilities that are relevant to achieving the desired business outcomes.

As with the swimmer a mile offshore the buyer has been better prepared to want/accept the suggested capabilities. Rather than being sold the buyer can be empowered to achieve the stated goal and understand the potential value of doing so. Asking diagnostic questions and listening to the answers allows sellers to help buyers define what their “solutions“ are.

A “solution” must be the buyer’s opinion.

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The only way sellers can be confident of solutions is by asking questions. The ultimate question asked is:

“If you had (capabilities) could you achieve (the goal)?”

A “yes” from the buyer validates the solution.

Buyers are confident in a seller’s recommendation if:

  • They understand how their current ways of doing business are flawed
  • Know the capabilities needed to address them
  • Have a sense of the potential value of achieving the goal.

Buyers appreciate being empowered to achieve a business outcome rather than being sold products.

Sales Tips: There’s No Shortcut to Sales Improvement

Sales Tips: There’s No Shortcut to Sales Improvement

By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling®

If you’re a sales leader, let me start by asking a question:

Do you really want to change your sales team’s performance or just check the ‘training box’ to demonstrate to someone you’re doing something?

Band Aid on Sales

For those of you who follow me, I’ve always tried to provide you with actionable information, not theory. My feeling is if you are taking the time to read what I write, that I want to provide you with information that will not only educate and inform, but also help. Maybe you will even decide to put it into practice immediately. In keeping with that theme, this particular piece is targeted at sales managers and executive sales leaders. It’s direct and hard-hitting. It’s real talk.

Serious about Change or Just Going through the Motions?

I’ve had some very frustrating/disappointing conversations with senior sales managers and executives since around mid-June. I have quickly concluded that they saw their second quarter revenue performance not being as strong as they promised/forecast it would be, and in an attempt to get out in front of the sh*t storm that they knew was coming following quarter-end, they contacted me in an attempt to “circle the wagons,” obtain some help, and demonstrate to their management that they were “on it.”

Unfortunately, the requirement for any help they were seeking always came down to how long it would take and how much it would cost. Very few wanted to talk about WHY the salespeople were failing and WHAT type of help they needed to improve their performance and achieve their revenue targets.

Everyone I spoke with was looking for a Band-Aid, some quick, inexpensive fix that was going to solve all his/her sales performance issues. Well, guess what?

There is no quick fix!

Band Aid on Sales

I repeat: There is no quick fix!

What does REAL sales improvement look like?
Companies that are successful in improving the performance of their salespeople and raising the entire sales organization’s performance to a superior level do four (4) things:

They recognize that trying to place a Band-Aid on a gaping wound simply won’t work. Sure, it would allow them to check the “training box,” but the sales training vendor selection would be driven by price and time, not by what needed to be accomplished with the sales team. Yugo and Mercedes Benz are both automobiles. There are documented reasons and results as to why a Mercedes Benz costs more. Just look in a junkyard. Now recall all the money you have spent on sales training programs in the past with minimal and unsustainable results. How full is that junkyard?
They select and implement a defined, dynamic sales process. A sales process that the entire sales staff can be trained to execute; that sales managers can implement, monitor, inspect, and provide both skill and opportunity coaching; and that represent best sales practices. They do not select the low

Band Aid on Sales

cost ‘parlor tricks’ that are not applicable to today’s knowledgeable and sophisticated buyers. Nor do they accept some ‘light’ version of the necessary sales training that has been cannibalized/water-downed by the provider to fit into their timeframe and budget.
They invest in developing sales ready messaging® that is aligned with their sales process. They don’t leave it up to their individual salespeople to determine who they are going to target or how to position the product, and they don’t allow them to lead with product feature/function, followed by premature, possibly inapplicable, product demonstrations. They can’t afford the mixed messages and inaccurate positioning that could be delivered by the salespeople. With the assistance of marketing they identify the job titles, business issues, and give their salespeople the messaging tools they need to converse knowingly with buyers about what they are trying to accomplish, what is preventing them from doing that today, and what capabilities they are going to need moving forward to achieve their goals, solve their problems, or satisfy their needs. Even more, every 60 to 90 days they review that sales ready messaging® to make sure that is on target and that sales and marketing are collaborating. What a concept!
On a daily basis, they proactively manage each salesperson to the sales process that they have selected and implemented. The key phrase here is “proactively manage.” They don’t just wave the training wand and poof, everything is all better! They don’t leave it up to the salesperson to decide if he/she is going to adopt and use it. They drive adoption and use. They have an implementation plan complete with tasks and completion dates; managers have implementation responsibilities; they perform individual territory reviews on a weekly basis to ensure the sales process is being applied and followed; they provide skill and opportunity coaching as needed; and more importantly, they don’t acquiesce to a salesperson’s excuses.
Is this a lot of work? It can be. But so is finding another position when you have been relieved of your responsibilities and have to begin looking for another position.

I’m not trying to be offensive. I’ve simply taken the time to write down what you know to be true and think about.

Sales leadership can be difficult and challenging. It can also be very satisfying and financially rewarding.

Oseco - Sales Success

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compelling Proof
Who are these successful companies I’m referencing in this article? Take the time to visit the Customer Showcase on our website. In addition to video testimonials by our clients about what they have been able to accomplish, there are 70+ Success Stories, again by our clients, documenting what they have been able to accomplish following the implementation and use of CustomerCentric Selling®. Recently I had a competitor ask me why we publish so many Success Stories. I told him, “Because we can.”

If you conclude that this is worthy of further investigation after reviewing the information I suggested you look at, please contact me. There is no harm in talking. Maybe I can help. If you’re beyond that point and would like to evaluate CustomerCentric Selling® for yourself, why don’t you, just you, plan on attending the public CustomerCentric Selling® workshop I’m conducting in Denver, September 12-15th. Our public workshops have proven to be an excellent venue for senior sales leaders to preview the sales methodology and process prior to making a formal adoption decision and at very little expense. For more information about this workshop, or to register to attend, simply click this link.

Band Aid on Sales

Sales Tips: Give Skilled Craftsmen Better Tools

Sales Tips: Give Skilled Craftsmen Better Tools

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

Many sales executives that are considering training their salespeople question whether their top performers should attend. My suggestion is:

If a sales process is chosen it’s important that all sellers use the same approach and have a common skill set to be able to execute the process.

That foundation gives first level sales managers a much better chance of successfully assessing and developing sellers that report to them.

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With all due respect to “A Players” I hope you agree they sell intuitively. They are so talented they ad lib (wing) sales calls and are successful. That said, few A Players sell “on purpose.” By that I mean they have a plan, execute it and can articulate exactly where they are in a given sales cycle. If you doubt it, think about how frequently estimated close dates slip on opportunities in an A Player’s pipeline. The good news is their close rates are much higher than B/C Players but forecasting is a challenge.

My thought is many projected dates reflect the seller’s or vendor’s need to close by month, quarter or year-end without much thought to when the buyer may be ready to buy.

I’d like to cite two (2) examples of A Players that quantified significant improvement in top-line revenue after attending CCS® Workshops:

I happened to run into a senior salesperson for a distributor of Canon printers, copiers and faxes when I was onsite to teach another workshop. Jeff had been and continued to be a top performer year after year. I intimated that he probably didn’t need to attend the workshop and his response surprised me.

He said he had been “maxed out” prior to attending CCS® and said that being able to disqualify low probability opportunities sooner allowed him to increase top-line by 50%. Qualifying using CCS® milestones (selling on purpose) had a significant impact.

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A seller (Rusty) from a client (InContact) that sells call center software did part of a video testimonial that is posted on our Customer Showcase on our website. After being promoted to a sales manager he looked back and realized after the CCS® workshop he was able to drive revenues higher by 40%.

Rusty says in the testimonial that such an increase would be likely for a relatively inexperienced salesperson, but it was “unexpected” of a top performer.
It stands to reason if you give a craftsman a better tool their final product will be better. As it turns out superior sellers have significant upside if they follow a proven process.

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Sales Tips: Telling vs. Asking

Sales Tips: Telling vs. Asking

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

Sales Proposals

My father was intelligent and well intentioned but he had an annoying habit of dispensing unsolicited advice long after I reached adulthood. His efforts to be helpful often devolved into efforts to impose his opinions upon me. Such efforts were doomed to fail if we weren’t on the same page.

At one point in time my dad reached the conclusion nobody in their right mind should buy a car unless it had bumpers that could withstand a 5-mile per hour impact without being damaged. I had shared with him that I was about to buy a sports car (that didn’t meet this spec) and he couldn’t resist trying to have me reconsider my decision. In doing so he failed to realize that a 5 mph bumper was not on my radar screen. I wanted a car that met my primary needs of acceleration, handling and braking. Once I was aware of the 5 mph spec, it was at the bottom of my list.

I resented well-intentioned (albeit misguided) paternal advice so you can imagine how unsolicited advice from salespeople sits with me. Every day in countries around the globe sellers dispense unsolicited advice about how great their offerings are.

In having potential financial gain riding on making sales, sellers should recuse themselves from offering any opinions.

How often have you heard a sales clerk say an outfit didn’t look good on you?

The underlying problem:
Sellers fail to realize buyers have little or no interest in their “solutions.”

I’ve come to despise using the term in sales situations because vendors and their sellers fail to realize that “solutions” are opinions. How much value do buyers place on self-serving seller opinions about their offerings?

Sales Proposals

After making introductions sellers come to a fork in the road:

In one direction is the land of telling (selling). By taking this road sellers completely disregard Ben Franklin’s pearl of wisdom: People are best convinced by reasons they discover. Instead sellers opt for making product pitches of their solutions.

The other road is one of asking (empowering people to buy) when sellers recognize they must ask questions to:

  • Uncover buyers’ latent needs
  • Help buyers understand what’s broken in their current approach
  • Have buyers agree to the capabilities needed to address what’s broken
  • Empower them to achieve the desired business outcome

Talking about offerings without asking questions is like walking into a dark room without turning on your flashlight.

Better buying experiences will result if:

  • Sellers first ask questions
  • Listen to the answers
  • Present features that seem relevant to meeting buyer needs.

Remember: Some people won’t want a “5 mph bumper.”

Sales Tips: How to Analyze Your Win Rate

Sales Tips: How to Analyze Your Win Rate

By Primary Intelligence, a CustomerCentric Selling® Partner

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How to Analyze Sales Win Rate

If you pare down to the simplest method, calculating your sales win rate is the number of pursuits you win to the number you lose. So if you are involved in 100 sales engagements and you win 40 of them, you have a 40 percent win rate.

However, where do you draw the line as to what constitutes an engaged sales deal? You could look at every lead provided to the sales team or you could choose to include only the deals that get past a certain stage in the sales process.

Some organizations only count leads that are “sales ready” as true opportunities.

“Sales Ready” is when the prospective buyer asks for an explanation of your products and services and requests a full demo or presentation from the sales team.

The leads that have some interest in your solutions but haven’t scheduled an appointment wouldn’t count for the win rate calculation. They would instead be part of a calculation that the marketing team would use to determine the success of their nurture campaigns.

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When the Buyer is “Sales Ready”

Once the sales team has a sincere conversation with the buyer, they would then be counted as a deal and be considered “sales ready.” Some losses would be sent to a nurture campaign if they choose not to purchase at that time—also known as “no decision” deals. Sales deals lost to a competitor should be placed in a win-back campaign.

Each of these losses or future wins would be nurtured with specific content to help them see the value of your solutions and what they are missing by not purchasing your product or service.

Nevertheless, a simplified calculation of your win rate doesn’t paint an accurate picture nor does it give a quantifiable measurement to understand revenue outcome metrics. Do you know how each sales representative performs by deal type and outcome? How much visibility into the sales cycle do you actually have? What is the ROI on expansions and add-ons?

TruSales for Salesforce.com Users

Primary Intelligence now offers a solution, TruSales for Salesforce.com users that provides a clear analysis of your sales win rate. You’ll immediately know where you stand with win rates, lost deals, no decisions, and revenue by deal types.

It’s completely free if you sign up now for the preview release. Our research shows 85 percent of companies do not know their actual win rate. Why not give TruSales a try? Get access here.

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Sales Tips: The Buyer’s Bill of Rights

Sales Tips: The Buyer’s Bill of Rights

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

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The 4th of July holiday is the time of year when Americans pause to give thought to the freedoms our forefathers treasured and were willing to fight to secure. Oppression was and is a powerful motivator.

Since 1993 I’ve railed against traditional selling approaches. In the last decade buyers have leveled the playing field in starting to dictate how they want to be treated. I regret to say most vendors have failed to align with this changing landscape.

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The Buyer’s Bill of Rights

I’d like to share ten (10) things today’s buyers would appreciate and encourage you to check off those you feel you or your sellers provide on a consistent basis:

  • Sellers should be able in 20 words or less to tell us what their offerings help buyers do.
  • We want to discuss our needs with sellers before being subjected to product pitches.
  • Sellers should offer only those parts of their offerings that match capabilities we need to improve business results.
  • We want a high level view of potential benefits before committing the resources needed to evaluate offerings.
  • We want to be empowered, not pressured to buy.
  • We want sellers to be knowledgeable about our industries and job responsibilities.
  • We want cost versus benefit analyses based upon our projections, not the seller’s.
  • We want sellers to help us monitor results.
  • We want sellers that understand and align with our buying process.
  • Sellers should withdraw if their offerings aren’t a good fit. 

Most organizations leave buyer experiences to individual salespeople. Unfortunately, only about 10% of sellers are up to the task. An organizational approach/process is necessary to consistently win by providing superior buying experiences.