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Sales Tips: Improve Selling Experiences and Avoid Wasting Time

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

There has rightfully been great emphasis on buyer experiences over the last two decades. That said:

Many “buying activities” waste time for both buyers and sellers.

Avoid Wasting Selling Time and ResourcesIt seems there are many product evaluations in which low to mid level staff research offerings via the Internet and social networking, establish their requirements and before inviting salespeople to get involved.

Upon being contacted, there are several things sellers should learn from the start:

  • Have desired business outcomes of executives within the organization been identified?
  • Have detailed conversations with Key Players to understand their needs taken place?
  • Has an estimated cost vs. benefit shown payback that can justify the cost of the offering?
  • Has budget been earmarked?
  • Will access be granted for calls on Key Player stakeholders?

When you take a hard look, product evaluations are ongoing in many instances. It makes little sense to spend significant amounts of time evaluating offerings unless or until the questions above have been addressed.

I believe these “buyers” are concerned that sellers will manipulate or influence their requirements and therefore get sellers involved fairly late in their evaluations.

Rather than go along for the ride, competent sellers can do everyone involved (and some that have not yet been involved) a favor by shifting product evaluations to business decisions.

Blindly going along with buyer-driven product evaluations will often end with “no decision” outcomes that mean buyers and vendors wasted resources without realizing any benefits, a losing proposition for everyone involved.

Don't just win more.Win BIGGER.

Sales Tips: 5 Habits for Being a Better Sales Professional

By Connie Schlosberg, Primary Intelligence

5 Habits for Better Sales

The key to winning more deals always comes down to understanding your prospects’ business needs. Putting these five habits into play in your daily work as a sales professional will not only help you align with your prospects’ needs, but be in position to solve those needs.

1. Research your buyers’ business processes

When you have an understanding of your buyer’s processes, you can present your solution as an enhancement to their process. This is time to show your expertise and shine the light on your solution.

Research how they win business over their competitors. What yardstick do they use to measure success in their industry? Your ultimate goal is providing them with the solution that improves their way of doing business.

2. Be an industry specialist

If you know your buyer’s industry and their buying process, you can engage in more meaningful conversations and show that you understand their business needs.
Having specific knowledge of their industry gives you a competitive advantage. You will be able to speak to the pain points of your buyer’s industry and gain their trust.

3. Be a problem solver

Buyers aren’t looking for sales reps; they’re looking for advisers. How can you step into the role of most valuable player? How can you demonstrate that your solution should be an integral part of their connection to their customers? Your buyers need to see that you add value to their equation. Give them a fresh perspective. Demonstrate value. Show that your product or service will help them solve their problems.

4. Think like a fisherman

The most significant component to fishing is the fish. Studying where, when, and what they eat all add up to the success of catching the fish.

You need to get past the mechanics of selling and focus on the buyer. It is really all about them. What do they want? Why not ask them directly?

Go beyond the RFP and actually talk to your buyers. Ask for an onsite visit. You can learn a lot by watching your buyer in action. What lure appetizes your buyer?

5. Walk a mile in their shoes

One common denominator between the military and their contractors is the contractors are often former military themselves.

It makes sense that buyers will gravitate to people who know their business inside and out because they’ve “been there, done that.” If you have not walked in their shoes, it makes sense for you to talk to someone who has. Who do you know who may have a close relationship with this buyer? What insight can they share?

Sales Tips: 3 Keys to Diagnosing a Buyer’s Current Situation

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

Sales Tips for Diagnosing Buyer's Current SituationIt seems everyone is in a hurry these days unless they’re retired. When people ask for one word that describes how superior vs. mediocre people sell I give a one-word answer: Patience.By that I mean they know you must first understand a buyer’s needs before having any product discussions.

Key #1: One of the ways to slow sellers down is to have them realize there is no selling to be done until a buyer shares a business goal (or a problem) they’re willing to spend money to achieve. If sellers entered every call with a menu of potential goals for each title, I believe there would be a significant improvement in the outcomes.

Key #2: A very unfortunate thing can occur after executives share goals. Some salespeople believe it gives them permission to launch into product pitches because buyers have expressed interest. Once again,patience is required.

A Players realize buyers they call on don’t fully understand why they can’t achieve their desired outcomes.

Discussing Current Situation with BuyersIf buyers knew, they’d fix things rather than take time to talk with salespeople!

A top-performing seller will ask a series of diagnostic questions to help buyers realize what may be “broken” in their current approach (without a seller’s offering). I refer to selling as a “hurt and rescue” exercise. When a buyer and seller are in agreement as to what areas are preventing desired outcomes to be achieved, wonderful things happen. It means the seller has established credibility and competence and that the buyer is more ready for the “rescue.”

Key #3: At this point, based upon how buyers answered diagnostic questions sellers should only discuss capabilities relevant to achieving the desired goal. This ultimately allows sellers to empower buyers rather than sell them. The question becomes: If you had the capabilities we discussed, could you (achieve your goal?)

The seller that does the best diagnosis is most likely to win the business.

Remember: People buy from sellers that are sincere, competent and empower them.

INFOGRAPHIC: 3 keys to diagnose buyer's current situation

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Sales Tips: A Resolution for 2018 and Beyond

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

2018 is here, a time for making resolutions that you may or may not keep. I’d like to suggest trying what may be a different approach to finding new opportunities.

The best leading indicator of future performance is the quality and quantity of opportunities in a seller’s pipeline.

charts-calculator.pngStarting 2018, the condition of each seller’s pipeline reflects how they finished the year. If it was a sprint to end 2017 there’s work to do. Regardless of where you stand I’d like to offer an approach that can allow you to shorten sales cycles and increase win rates moving forward.

Most sales organizations have an increasing reliance on inbound leads. If you’re selling complex or expensive offerings, these leads are likely to:

  • Provide entry points below Key Player levels
  • Put you in contact with people interested in products that don’t have budget
  • Have you contact people concurrently evaluating several vendors in a given space
  • Have you contact people unaware of business results that can be impacted
  • Yield a high percentage of “no decisions” and low close rates
  • Represent quantity more than quality

It takes courage and initiative but there is a way to start opportunities with Key Players that enables sellers to establish themselves as “Column A” from the start with buyers who can find budgets for new initiatives. Key Players don’t have time to visit websites and evaluate vendors. For that reason many are unaware of value and payback offerings can provide.

key-player-senior-executives-meeting.pngThese buyers have latent needs, not for offerings (an erroneous assumption many sellers make), but rather for achieving desired business outcomes. I recently used an approach Michael Higgins (Selling at the C-Level) provided. He suggested this:

👉 Review a prospect’s annual report to learn the company’s objectives and challenges and select a specific title and outcome that an offering could help them achieve.

Here’s my experience using this approach:

  • I researched a Fortune 500 company and sent a one-page letter via snail mail to their Chairman.
  • Four days later I called.
  • After being heavily screened I was told the admin was busy and I should call that afternoon.
  • 45 minutes later I got a phone call from a senior vice president that had been asked (or told?) to contact me.
  • A buying cycle began with a Key Player.

Superior salespeople sell outcomes rather than offerings.

These sellers pique senior executive interest by leading with relevant business goals or issues.

Leading with offerings puts sellers out of alignment with Key Player buyers who don’t have the time nor interest to learn about products.

I hope 2018 will be prosperous for you and that you may try this new approach to generate new opportunities.

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Sales Tips: 4 Foolproof Ways to Increase Sales Productivity

By Sam Holzman, Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo

Stressed SalespersonWith quotas and long term goals constantly at the forefront of our minds, sales professionals are under constant pressure to perform. With this in mind, it’s no wonder 65% of B2B companies say sales productivity is the biggest challenge they face on a daily basis.

Many organizations increase sales hiring as the only means to reach the goals they have set for themselves. Yet, many hesitate to make changes to their actual sales strategies. To truly boost sales productivity for the long haul, managers must examine every part of their sales process.

If you struggle to increase sales productivity, keep reading. We’ve compiled the top four ways you can increase your sales productivity today.

1. Provide ongoing sales training.

Sales training is an expensive process, both financially and in terms of the time it takes. However, an extensive sales training program is integral to your sales productivity in the long run.

Studies show that 84% of all sales training content is forgotten after 90 days. To remedy this problem, place an added focus on sales coaching and ongoing training:

Sales Training WorkshopsBy investing a small amount of each month on ongoing sales coaching, managers can ensure that their sales reps are always learning and absorbing best practices – and that will have a lasting impact on productivity.

To learn more about the many merits of sales training, check out these articles:

2. Invest in technology to automate non-selling tasks.

Did you know the average sales rep spends only one-third of their day talking to prospects? It’s true: the majority of a salesperson’s day is spent on administrative tasks like reading and writing emails, attending meetings, scheduling calls and conducting research. With so many tasks to juggle, it’s no wonder so many companies struggle with sales productivity.

Not only do administrative tasks cut down on selling time, but they actually damage your overall performance. Multitasking is often considered a desirable trait in sales reps, but research shows that juggling tasks can actually hurt the quality of your work.

The solution – automate these tedious tasks. By crafting the perfect sales technology stack, businesses can cut down on the busywork and ensure that more time is spent selling.

3. Prioritize sales and marketing alignment.

One of the biggest inhibitors of sales productivity is a lack of alignment between sales and marketing departments. And unfortunately, studies show that only 8% of companies have tight sales and marketing alignment.

Sales and Marketing Working TogetherSales reps waste valuable time when they aren’t on the same page as their marketing counterparts. To start, both departments should establish an agreed upon definition of a qualified lead.  This is because,61% of marketers send their leads directly to the sales department, but only 27% of those leads are qualified. Not only does this waste time, but it strains the relationship between the two departments and leads to further roadblocks.

Your sales and marketing departments must operate using the same goals and data. By doing so, you will see massive improvements to both your sales productivity and overall business performance:

For a deeper look at sales and marketing alignment, check out the following articles:

4. Don’t be afraid to take a break.

That’s right – one of the most overlooked ways to increase productivity is to step away from your desk once in a while.

76% of all people report the top two causes of stress in the US are job pressure and money. Because sales is often commission-based and money-driven, stress and pressure run rampant in this profession.

While taking a break may seem counterintuitive, psychological studies say that taking breaks throughout the day dramatically improves your mental performance. Rather than thinking of a break as a waste of time, think of it as a necessary step to keep yourself at peak performance.

Final Thoughts

Given the high-pressure nature of the industry, productivity will always be a top concern for sales professionals. Looking for a single, quick solution will rarely make a long-term impact on your team’s productivity. Instead, take a step back and look at every aspect of your sales process, from big picture strategies to day-to-day practices.

Sales productivity must be top of mind at all times and, therefore, integrated into your daily sales processes. Consider talking with your team members to determine their biggest inhibitors and motivators. Then, test new strategies and tactics.

Contact CustomerCentric Selling® today, to learn more about sales productivity.

Contributed by Sam Holzman, Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo. ZoomInfo offers the most accurate and actionable B2B sales intelligence to help organizations accelerate growth and profitability. The continuously updated database enables sales and marketing teams to execute more effective marketing campaigns and improve lead generation efforts. Visit zoominfo.com for more information.

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