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Sales Tips: Wakeup Call for Sales – Today’s Realities and How to Adapt with Your Buyer

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

At the risk of sounding like my parents, selling seemed so simple 25 years ago. Sales was on its own island and were the keepers of information buyers had to contact if they wanted to learn about new offerings.

Sellers could enjoy “Column A” status for most of the buying cycles before Columns B, C, etc. were brought into the fray late as fodder to provide leverage in negotiating the best price from Column A. Many of my blog posts have discussed how buying has changed, but few organizations have fully understood the implications of Sales 2.0.

Best of breed technology was the trend in the 90’s until organizations started to realize the exorbitant cost of integrating disparate offerings. This was also the time the buzz about integrating Sales and Marketing died because there were so few Success Stories.

ducks in a row

Getting Your Ducks in a Row
In today’s environment sales organizations make their own decisions about sales training or process as marketing does. Product Marketing tries to identify specific market segments they want to reach out to. Product Development (furthest from buyers) attempts to create new offerings that address buyer/market needs. It seems there are several silos making what they feel or hope are good ‘best of breed’ decisions with little or no thought for the other silos’ requirements and how to integrate the different approaches.

Absent a coordinated approach that views revenue generation as an enterprise rather than a sales responsibility, it will be nearly impossible to react in a coordinated and meaningful fashion to the changes in buying behavior.

When choosing a process for revenue generation I’d suggest the following capabilities are needed:

  • For each offering, sales and marketing must agree on the titles that comprise the buying committee.
  • For each title, sales and marketing should agree on desired business outcomes that can be achieved through the use of the offering.
  • Sales and marketing should create messaging for each conversation (title/outcome) to help sellers more consistently position offerings.
  • Standard milestones in the buying process should be developed that can be verified based upon buyer actions rather than seller opinions.
  • A common vocabulary that all four silos use should be agreed on so that customer-facing staff can more effectively articulate buyer/market needs for future offerings.

Organizational changes are necessary and difficult to put into effect, but having all silos understanding one another’s’ responsibilities in revenue generation would go a long way toward making vendors more customer-centric.

New Industry Report Available: “Changing Your Sales Outcomes”

Courtesy of Primary Intelligence, a CustomerCentric Selling® Partner

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?

changing sales outcomes

Changing Your Sales Outcomes Industry Report

Most often, sellers didn’t provide the right mix of sales, product and pricing support for their buyer. Our study dove deep into the details and captured what you can change to win, and it’s all based on what buyers advised—and specifically, what the buying decision-makers advised. And their advice isn’t necessarily what you might assume.

Here’s one example: While sales teams often say price lost the deal, buyers had different ideas. Their advice of what to do differently didn’t place price first or even second in line. In fact, nearly two-thirds of lost deals didn’t have a price-related weakness.

Instead, buyers placed improvements to the sales process at the top of the list, saying it was the leading influencer a vendor could have modified to win.

While it can be discouraging for sellers to hear their sales efforts didn’t hit the mark, this is good news for you. Sales activities are easily correctable, and they’re certainly easier to modify on the fly compared to your product’s feature set or pricing structure.

When it comes to optimizing the sales process, the number one issue buyers raised was a disconnect between what they were seeking and what the losing vendor offered. Buyers said losing vendors did not understand (or respond to) their business needs adequately, especially compared to the winner.

The theme of understanding needs reoccurred throughout our findings as buyers also associated it with a vendor’s product and price. For example, buyers described how winning vendors understood their needs and then tailored their proposed solution around those specifics. Tactics like this helped winners close the deal while pushing out competitors.


Want to see the complete list of things you can do differently to win 33% more deals this year? Read our full report or download the graphic summary.

Download Graphic Summary   Download Detailed Report

Win Loss Best Practices: Competitive Intelligence Leads to Strategic Decisions

Guest post by Primary Intelligence, CustomerCentric Selling® Partner

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.

competitionCompetitive Intelligence for Strategy

Your competitive intelligence is most effective if it:

  1. Strengthens your company’s position when you compete
  2. Enhances your offerings to create desirable solutions that customers will buy

Answer These Competitive Analysis Questions

To maximize effectiveness, we recommend answering these questions:

1. Top-line Revenue

  • Does this intelligence create new revenue opportunities?
  • Can we take away sales from the competition?
  • Will our existing accounts stay longer and be more profitable?

2. Bottom-line

  • Can we be more efficient or learn best practices?
  • Are there better ways to manage our processes?

3. Application

  • How easily will we be able to act on this data?

What’s Your Best Source for Competitive Intelligence? Your Customers!

How often do you talk to your customers? If you add up the touches made by sales, account management, marketing, and other client-facing services in your company, you might find that each of your customers is talking to you on a regular basis.

You should have a central management group that has established some formal information gathering processes. Very common programs would include Customer Satisfaction, Account Loyalty, Win-back, Win Loss, Client Retention and Defection. Usually, these programs fall under the heading of “Voice of the Customer” (VOC). (Check out our Resources page to learn more about these programs.)

So, you have two types of contact:

  1. Informal, everyday conversations
  2. Formal programs to gather Voice of the Customer data

The fact of the matter is that your customers know nearly as much about the competition as they do about you. They evaluated the competition before selecting you as their vendor. They are regularly courted by the competition and many of your best clients also have purchased from your competitors, either in the past or currently.

Take a minute to see if your win loss program is generating competitive intelligence.

buyer-meeting-customer-experienceIn our experience, most customer satisfaction and loyalty interviews focus on the client’s experience with their present vendor. Go one step further and:

  1. Ask your clients who they perceive as your biggest threats.
  2. Find out what they are hearing about the competitors’ recent initiatives and offers.
  3. Understand how you stack up in various performance areas.

Put the Competitive Intelligence Collected to Work

The competitive information collected from your customers will not only be enlightening but will show your company what is happening in the market place in real time. (For more reading, download 7 Competitive Intelligence Strategies Used by Successful B2B Companies.)

Your company will benefit in the following ways:

  1. Sales will know what is being said about your company by the competitors. They will have more intelligence to sell more effectively and counter negative messages.
  2. Marketing will know what the prospects and clients value in the marketplace and will be able to establish messaging that drive home the most important value propositions.
  3. Product Development will know the advances being made by the competition and will understand how well these innovations may be received by the marketplace.
  4. Executives will have the right competitive intelligence to make strategic decisions.

Last thoughts:

Are you sharing competitive intelligence with the stakeholders in a timely manner to make sure that your company is capitalizing on the market as efficiently as possible?

Collecting data and sharing customer insights are valuable competitive strategies, but competitive intelligence must be converted to actionable decisions if you truly want change.

Sales Tips: Has Your Selling Approach Changed? Your Buyer Has.

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/bid/89364/sales-training-article-has-your-selling-approach-changed” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/buyer-center-whiteboard.png?t=1489093932032″ alt=”Sales Tips: Has Your Selling Approach Changed? Your Buyer Has.” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<h1>Sales Tips: Buyers Have Changed. Has Your Sales Approach Changed?</h1>
<em><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®</span></em>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>It would be hard to disagree that today’s buyers:</span>
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<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Leverage the Internet and social networking</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Bring sellers into buying cycles later than ever before</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Feel they know their requirements before talking to salespeople</span></li>
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<img src=”http://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=22968&amp;k=14&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.customercentric.com%2Fblog%2Fbid%2F89364%2Fsales-training-article-has-your-selling-approach-changed&amp;bu=http%253A%252F%252Fblog.customercentric.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss” alt=”” width=”1″ height=”1″ style=”min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; “>

Sales Tips: Critical Need for Solid Business Development Skills

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/bid/77191/sales-training-article-business-development” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/phone-call.png?t=1489093932032″ alt=”business development” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<img src=”http://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=22968&amp;k=14&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.customercentric.com%2Fblog%2Fbid%2F77191%2Fsales-training-article-business-development&amp;bu=http%253A%252F%252Fblog.customercentric.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss” alt=”” width=”1″ height=”1″ style=”min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; “>

Sales Tips: Leaders Are Readers

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/sales-tips-leaders-are-readers” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/books-3.png?t=1489093932032″ alt=”What was the last book you read to sharpen the saw?” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<h1>Sales Tips: Leaders Are Readers</h1>
<p style=”line-height: 1.75em;”><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><em style=”font-weight: normal;”>By Frank Visgatis, President &amp; Chief Operating&nbsp;Officer,&nbsp;CustomerCentric Selling®</em></span></p>
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<img src=”http://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=22968&amp;k=14&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.customercentric.com%2Fblog%2Fsales-tips-leaders-are-readers&amp;bu=http%253A%252F%252Fblog.customercentric.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss” alt=”” width=”1″ height=”1″ style=”min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; “>

Sales Tips: Garbage In, Garbage Out

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/sales-tips-grading-opportunities-gigo” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/typing-on-keyboard.png?t=1489093932032″ alt=”typing-on-keyboard.png” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<h1>Sales Tips: Grading Opportunities – Garbage In, Garbage Out</h1>
<p style=”line-height: 1.75em;”><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><em style=”font-weight: normal;”>By John Holland, Chief Content Officer,&nbsp;CustomerCentric Selling®</em></span></p>
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<img src=”http://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=22968&amp;k=14&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.customercentric.com%2Fblog%2Fsales-tips-grading-opportunities-gigo&amp;bu=http%253A%252F%252Fblog.customercentric.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss” alt=”” width=”1″ height=”1″ style=”min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; “>

Sales Tips: Quality Control and Seller Productivity

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/sales-tips-seller-productivity” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/sunglasses.jpg?t=1489093932032″ alt=”Viewing Opportunities through Sunglasses” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<h1>Sales Tips: Determining “Forecast” vs. “Sunshine Pump”</h1>
<p style=”line-height: 1.75em;”><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><em style=”font-weight: normal;”>By John Holland, Chief Content Officer,&nbsp;CustomerCentric Selling®</em></span></p>
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Sales Tips: No More Excuses

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/sales-tips-no-more-excuses” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/frustrated-seller-1.png?t=1489093932032″ alt=”Losing Seller” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<h1>Sales Tips: No More&nbsp;Excuses for Coming Up Short</h1>
<p style=”line-height: 1.75em;”><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><em style=”font-weight: normal;”>By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales &amp; Operations,&nbsp;CustomerCentric Selling®</em></span></p>
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Sales Tips: Who Owns the Pipeline?

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/sales-tips-manager-quality-control” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/Benefit-vs-Disruption.png?t=1489093932032″ alt=”Benefit-vs-Disruption” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<h1>Sales Tips: Who Owns the Pipeline?</h1>
<p style=”line-height: 1.75em;”><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><em style=”font-weight: normal;”>By John Holland, Chief Content Officer,&nbsp;CustomerCentric Selling®</em></span></p>
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