CustomerCentric Selling® Sales Training Blog

Sales Tips: 4 Misconceptions of "A" Players

Posted by Jill Perez on May 27, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: 4 Misconceptions of "A Players"

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

a-player-003691-editedOne of the foundations of CustomerCentric Selling® is codifying selling behaviors of the best salespeople (“A Players”) to enable others to emulate calls that they make. Based upon a Sales Benchmark Index (SBI) survey, we say about 13% of salespeople are “A Players.” A recent Miller Heiman survey concluded 8.5% of sellers are “world class.” In my mind there are some misconceptions about “A Players” that I’d like to share with you.

#1 – “A Players” can sell to any industry.

I believe “A Player” behavior is situational. For companies having a wide variety of verticals, they will often find their top performers get the majority of their revenue from specific industries that they are familiar with. An “A Player” that is very familiar with Manufacturing might struggle to be as effective with a Financial Services company.

#2 – “A Players” are effective selling to all titles.

In many cases, “A Players” have worked in verticals (sat on the other side of the desk) and therefore relate very effectively when calling on those titles. If they came from Operations they would likely have a harder time calling on people in Finance, Marketing, IT, etc.

#3 -Why not just hire all “A Players?” 

“A Players” are selective about organizations they want to join. Painting with a broad brush, they are less likely to migrate to large organizations that are guerillas in their spaces. In my mind such organizations typically “grow their own” top performers. Their comp plans, high degree of structure and longer windows for promotions won’t be as attractive as earlier stage companies or start-ups. “A Players” also have egos and like to be recruited by senior executives enticing them with equity for performance. 

#4 – “A Players” don’t need process.

As talented as they are, I refer to “A Players” as “unconscious competents.” By that I mean they are extraordinary at what they do, but every sales cycle is different because they rely largely upon intuition. They are “winging it” and sometimes may skip steps that should be covered. The top performer of the first CCS® client shared with me that he was able to close 50% more business by more stringently qualifying (more accurately disqualifying opportunities that weren’t worthy of his time).

Having a process to codify “A Player” behavior should benefit the entire sales organization. More importantly, putting a sales process in place can make revenue generation more predictable by applying consistent qualification criteria to a company’s entire pipeline.

REGISTER NOW Next public workshop is coming to Boston, August 3-6. Don't wait until it sells out - save your seats now!

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: Why You Should NOT Sell at Low Levels

Posted by Jill Perez on May 21, 2015 3:31:31 PM

Sales Tips: Why You Should NOT Sell at Low Levels

By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was recently reading some blog posts (I can’t recall if it was Sales Best Practices, Linking Sales Leaders, etc.) where people were commenting on and debating the direction being given by a well-known sales bottom-stairtraining provider. As best I could tell, the provider was directing salespeople not to waste their time attempting to contact senior executives when prospecting and developing new sales opportunities. Instead they were advocating that salespeople should engage with low-level people. Why were they advocating this? I don’t know. The blog had more than 40 entries and I didn’t have the time to go back and plow through them. 

However, I can attempt to guess why. Maybe the person giving the advice:

  • Had lack of practical sales experience.
  • Was ill-equipped to speak with senior executives about business issues.
  • Had a lack of professional courage.
  • Had no business development plan.
  • Possessed poor prospecting and business development skills.
  • Had concluded that prospecting is too difficult.
  • Couldn’t handle the rejection, etc.

I could go on and on with why some someone might take the low road. However, stop for a moment and:

  • Think of all of the time you would be spending with people that can’t buy, that don’t have a business goal, problem or need that has to be addressed?
  • Think of all the ‘opportunities’ that end up in a pipeline or on a forecast that will never turn into business.
  • Think of all of the uncomfortable conversations explaining to your management why you are wasting your time.
  • Think of the opportunities you’ve lost because your competitor was engaged with executive decision makers and you were stuck attempting to sell to people who were unable to buy anything. 

Let me see if I can make it a little clearer.

Imagine for a moment you are a door-to-door, in-ground swimming pool salesperson in Phoenix. It’s summer. The first week in August. The temperature is brutally hot, in excess of 110 degrees. The streets in the neighborhood you are targeting today are desolate, as people remain indoors to escape the excessive heat. Your ‘market’ should be very receptive to what you are selling! You approach the first home and ring the doorbell. Within moments the door opens and two young boys, approximately 10 and 12 years of age greet you. Let’s call them low-level people within the organization. After saying hello and introducing yourself, you ask them, “Would you guys like an in-ground swimming pool?” They come unglued! They go out of their minds responding, “YES!!!” Finally, Mom or Dad, the senior executive team, comes to the door. You ask them the same question. Dad tells you he has no interest in purchasing and installing an in-ground swimming pool. He recently accepted a new job in another state, and the family will be relocating within the next 120 days. Get the picture? The needs and requirements of low-level people are very often different than the people who have the ability to make a purchase decision and authorize the expenditure of the organization’s money.

Simply stated, you can’t sell to someone who can’t buy. When prospecting, target the individuals who have business goals, problems, or issues; are responsible for addressing them; and can cause the money to be spent to purchase your product or service.

REGISTER NOW Next public workshop is coming to Boston, August 3-6. Don't wait until it sells out - save your seats now!

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: How to Respond to "What Do You Do for a Living?"

Posted by Jill Perez on May 20, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: How to Respond (and Not Respond) to "What Do You Do for a Living?"

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

Image courtesy of Stock Images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

During initial social meetings, a common icebreaker is asking people what they do for a living. Telling people you’re in Sales usually leads to the follow up question:  What do you sell? In most cases sellers happy-hourmake mention of products they sell. This may not be a great direction to take the conversation.

How NOT to Respond
For example, my response could be: I sell sales training. I suspect someone unfamiliar with selling wouldn’t ask any follow up questions related to my profession and my response might cause an awkward silence. Anybody having some knowledge of selling would be likely to ask what type of training, who attends, do we offer distance learning, etc. To me, sharing facts about what you sell is pedestrian fodder.

What You SHOULD Say Instead
An alternative would be to offer a positioning statement that attempts to elevate conversations. My response could have been: I help organizations identify and share best selling practices so they can meet revenue targets. I hope you’d agree that positioning statements more readily lead to conversations about outcomes that organizations or executives are hoping to achieve.

A significant step in becoming proficient at B2B sales is the realization that you may sell offerings at user levels, but more accurately your job is enabling executive buyers to achieve desired business outcomes through the use of your offerings. These are the people that can fund initiatives.

REGISTER NOW Don't miss the next public workshop coming to Boston, Aug 3-6! Save your seat now.

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: How to Document Value and Avoid "No Decision"

Posted by Jill Perez on May 15, 2015 12:34:00 PM

Sales Tips: How to Document Value and Avoid "No Decision"

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

New sellers are taught how to beat competitors. A Sales Benchmark Index survey found sellers win 24% of proposals issued and lose 24% to other vendors. Surprisingly, they also found 30% of opportunities are lost when buyers decide not to spend the money, and 22% of companies choose to develop in-house solutions.

no_decisionFour common reasons for “no decision” outcomes are that sellers fail to: 

  1. Uncover business goals
  2. Create visions
  3. Gain access to power
  4. Negotiate evaluation plans

I wanted to focus on a fifth reason: Failure to agree and document value for buying committees.

Most sellers are unaware of the internal competition for funding initiatives within prospect organizations. If a CFO has 5 requests each for $100K but can only approve 3 of them, most likely the offerings providing the highest paybacks will be funded. A student selling accounting software to heating oil distributors realized during a workshop he lost a recent sale because the business owner decided to buy a delivery truck instead. Without documented value it can be difficult for a seller’s internal champion to secure funding.

While better than nothing, many vendor value propositions are forced upon prospects. Given prior experience with seller/vendor hype, assume a buyer discounts potential savings they’re told they’ll realize by half. If the offering requires implementation effort, assume the buyer doubles the cost. If this happens the buyer (assuming twice the cost and half the savings) and seller are off by 400% in their perspectives of value.

How to Document Value
I have no intention of making salespeople accountants that present ROI’s to senior financial executives. That said, competent sellers can help buyers create simple cost vs. benefit analyses for proposed expenditures. This can be done by calling on committee members and uncovering the business outcomes (goals) they want to achieve. Wherever possible, sellers should have each buyer provide baselines reflecting where they are today without the offering and have the buyer quantify how much improvement he or she believes can be realized. Sellers can and should share industry statistics and results other clients have achieved, but it’s critical that each buyer decides what improvements are possible.

After getting the perspectives of committee members, sellers can summarize total costs and projected benefits in a few pages. If there are significant upfront costs, I would focus on the cost vs. benefit in year 2 after those costs are defrayed. Divide the total potential benefit by 12 to allow buyers to see the monthly cost of delaying decisions.

Taking these steps allows sellers to address the two reasons for “no decision” outcomes:

  1. It’s harder for committees to decide not to buy if the potential value has been agreed upon and documented.
  2. The savings per month highlight the cost of delay. Buyers may realize lost savings while creating in-house solutions that should be considered as being part of the development costs.
Making committees aware of value won’t ensure wins. That said it should enable salespeople to reduce the painful 52% frequency of going the distance only to lose to no decision.

REGISTER NOW Mark your calendar for Aug 3-6 in Boston and grab your seat now! Space is limited in this open workshop and will fill fast.

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: Empower Rather Than Sell

Posted by Jill Perez on May 13, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Empower Your Prospects, Don't Sell Them

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

Image courtesy of Janoon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

helping-buyers-buySince launching CustomerCentric Selling® in 2002, we’ve tried to have vendors take buyer perspectives. In doing so, it is important to be aware of the widespread, unflattering stereotype of salespeople that is largely based upon negative B2C experiences early in our lives.

The perception of both sellers and buyers is that selling is convincing, persuading and overcoming objections. Having commission in play helps drive the logic that sellers willingly commit sins of omission, hype or outright lying to have buyers spend money with them. In broadly applying the stereotype, buyers fail to realize most B2B sellers strive for long-term relationships with buyers and want them to be satisfied with every purchase they make.

Recognizing the buyer-seller relationship is badly broken, from the start CCS® has offered a new definition of selling: Asking questions to help buyers understand how to use seller offerings to achieve desired business outcomes. Inherent within this definition is that a seller’s first objective in calls is to have buyers share business goals they want to achieve (or business problems they want to be able to address). Our clients have shared instances where buyers have complimented sellers in providing superior buying experiences. They prefer being empowered rather than being sold.

The rush of inbound Internet activity caused vendors to assign Marketing the task of nurturing visitors into leads that will be passed onto sellers. In many cases without fully understanding the implications, the integration of Sales and Marketing that had been anticipated for decades started to become a reality. As with most changes, challenges have arisen.

The Internet has allowed buyers to become less dependent upon sellers for information about offerings. My view is that these visitors (more accurately labeled researchers if they can’t fund new B2B initiatives) are dictating how they want to be treated. In the process, they’ve become more sophisticated. Put another way, they are more aware and leery of vendor attempts to manipulate them into buying.

The issue of avoiding stereotypical selling behavior now extends to Marketing’s role in promoting offerings. Historical “push” strategies employed by Marketing organizations attempted to sell rather than empower people. In the same way buyer experiences have become important during buying cycles, the same standard is being applied to Marketing approaches. People want the ability to buy rather than being sold.

Sales and Marketing are often after-thoughts when new offerings are ready to be announced. Product Development (furthest away from customers) creates what it thinks customers want. Marketing and Sales are then told to devise strategies and approaches to achieve market share/revenue targets. Bringing offerings to market this way conflicts with Stephen Covey’s simple and timeless wisdom: “Start with the end in mind.” Having to generate revenue may cause the first concern about: Who will buy and why?

“Pull” Marketing strategies are only possible if offerings reflect buyer/market needs. Now that both Marketing and Sales are shaping buying experiences, it’s time to consider that having enterprises view customers through a common lens is more important than ever.

Centering Product Development on customers and buyers requires a common vocabulary and overarching framework so that Sales, Marketing and Product Development have offerings buyers want to buy. Early in the process all three groups should: 

  • Create a Targeted Conversation List™ identifying the Key Player titles that will be involved in buying decisions.
  • Agree on a menu of business outcomes for each title that can be addressed with offerings.
  • Have Product Development focus their efforts on creating capabilities that allow the defined business outcomes to be achieved.
  • Gear Marketing efforts toward the business issues of Key Players
  • Agree on Sales Ready Messaging® to empower sellers to have conversations with Key Players about only the relevant features to achieving desired outcomes. 

This approach can allow reduced friction and finger pointing between the silos of Product Development, Marketing and Sales. It also allows companies to do more than just pay lip service to the critical objective of being “customer-centric.”

The market would welcome this approach. Vendors that deliver it have tremendous upside. With things being relatively equal I always lean toward the better seller as having the best chance to win. The concept of Marketing also being directly involved points toward the overall buying experience being the potential differentiator.

REGISTER NOW Seats are already filling FAST in the Boston open workshop coming Aug 3-6. Save yours now!

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: How to Manage Buying Committees

Posted by Jill Perez on May 6, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: How to Manage Buying Committees

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

Image courtesy of Stock Images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

buying-committeeWhen managing buying cycles with committees, sellers are often guilty of starting and staying with one person too long. In our workshops, we show there are 3 phases of buying cycles:

  1. Solution development where buyers understand their desired outcomes, why they can’t be achieved in the current environment and what specific capabilities they need to achieve the outcomes. Ideally Phase 1 is done with Key Player executives.
  2. Evaluation is often done with mid-to-lower levels that must determine if the “solution” will work in the organization’s environment. During this part of the buying cycle, product evaluations, implementation issues, cost vs. benefit, vendor evaluations, etc. must all be done.
  3. Commitment is Phase 3 in which the vendor of choice is determined and the executive committee must overcome risk, and if everything moves forward then final pricing must be negotiated.

B and C Players have a tendency to sell serially. By that I mean they try to take the first buyer they encounter through the process without getting others involved. In extreme cases, they’ll go so far as to generate proposals when other committee members are likely not ready. If they attempt to read them, they most likely will not understand why they should move forward.

A Players take their Champions (usually initial contacts), get them through Phase 1 and then ask for access to the other Key Players that will be involved in making buying decisions. By doing so, each Key Player has their unique “solution” and the enterprise view of value is the sum of all value established. Once Phase 1 is complete with a buying committee, the seller has a much better chance of working with mid-to-lower levels that will want to get into detail about offerings that is far more granular than initial discussions with Key Players.

Key: Taking all Key Players through Phase 1, negotiating a written Sequence of Events with them to define the steps and timeframes in making a formal recommendation, and then presenting the content of the proposal to Key Players in Phase 3, minimizes the chances of sellers trying to take one member of the buying committee through the entire sales cycle.

REGISTER NOW Don't miss this popular workshop coming to Boston Aug 3-6, led by CCS® President/COO, Frank Visgatis!

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: An Untapped Vendor Asset

Posted by Jill Perez on May 4, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: An Untapped Vendor Asset

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

success_in_writingRevenue is the lifeblood of organizations. Sellers and vendors fight hard to expand their customer bases. During “honeymoon stages” while working with prospects, sellers and other client-facing staff have frequent and intense interactions with buyers.

After sales and implementations, things quiet down. Sellers pursue other opportunities. Customers can start to feel they’re being taken for granted. Any small problems that aren’t addressed chip away at customer satisfaction. SaaS vendors are especially vulnerable because customers can switch providers without the need to take book losses and experience major disruption.

There are compelling reasons to contact customers on a regular basis in more meaningful ways than merely “touching base.” CustomerCentric Selling® strongly recommends that buyers and sellers agree to Success Metrics that will be monitored on a quarterly basis. 

One caution : Sellers should be careful to focus on areas their offerings can directly impact. For example, if working with a manufacturer, reduced downtime is a safer choice than increased revenue. Additional goods can be made if downtime is reduced, but this won’t result in higher revenue unless there is demand for the additional units. Baselines for metrics (where clients are without the seller’s offering) should be agreed to prior to implementation.

Significant advantages accrue to vendors that take this approach:

  • Prior to making decisions, buyers will be more confident they won’t be “hit and run” victims.
  • If results aren’t being achieved, problems are no more than 90 days old so that corrective action by both parties can be taken to get things back on track.
  • By measuring results, sellers can use Success Stories to take prospects from latent to active need.
  • When trying to facilitate cost vs. benefits for prospects, client results can help prospects estimate potential savings/improvement they can realize.
  • When results are met or exceeded, there’s no better time to see if there are upsell or cross-sell opportunities.

Having raving fans saying wonderful things about companies, support and offerings are an asset. Beyond that, having Key Player titles articulate quantified improvements and value they’ve realized takes reference selling to another level. Identifying and monitoring Success Metrics should make a seller’s job easier.

REGISTER NOW Don't miss the next open workshop coming to Boston, Aug 3-6! Reserve your seat now.

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: No Goal? No Prospect.

Posted by Jill Perez on Apr 29, 2015 12:12:00 PM

Sales Tips: No Goal? No Prospect.

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

goalsWhen launching CustomerCentric Selling® in 2002 the first core concept of our process was: No goal means no prospect. In other words, if sellers can’t get potential buyers to share desired business outcomes (or problems) they’re willing to spend money to achieve (or address), there’s no selling to be done.

This core concept was written well before B2B buyers were leveraging the Internet and social networking to better understand what offerings are available prior to contacting salespeople. We espouse that goals can be shared in two (2) ways:

  1. The better way is directly from Key Players (titles involved in making buying decisions).
  2. By proxy from lower level titles speaking on behalf of senior management or their organizations.

Those of you familiar with the CCS® process appreciate that a Targeted Conversation List™ for offerings identifies both the Key Player titles and for each title, a menu of relevant business goals that can be achieved.

It seems this very simple concept could be used to better define what constitutes a lead in these times when many vendors are awash with inbound activity from levels that are unable to spend unless budget has been approved by higher levels. If a lead were defined as a Key Player (or by proxy by a lower level) that has expressed interest in achieving one of more goals, a number of positive things could take place:

  1. When the lead is passed, sellers can begin by discussing the buyer’s current situation to uncover why the goal can’t be achieved.
  2. In discussing the current situation, sellers can get an idea of the potential value in addressing barriers so that goals can be achieved.
  3. In asking business questions of lower level staff, they often will either be unable or unwilling to speak on behalf of higher levels, so a request for access to Key Players would be reasonable.

Without desired business outcomes, sellers are likely to get dragged into premature and unproductive discussions of offerings and pricing. If Marketing and Sales could agree on Targeted Conversation Lists™, part of nurturing inbound inquiries could be trying to make visitors aware of potential value and payback.

Lower level staff (even with a seller’s help) meeting senior management without established value, often result in dashing any hope that funds will be allocated to new initiatives. While not intended for Internet visitors when written several years ago, the core concept “No goal means no prospect” seems more relevant than ever.

REGISTER NOW Coming Aug 3-6 in Boston! Don't miss our next open workshop led by CCS® President/COO, Frank Visgatis.

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: New Take on "Always Be Closing"

Posted by Jill Perez on Apr 22, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: New Take on "Always Be Closing"

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

Image courtesy of Glengarry Glen Ross, New Line Cinema

glengarry_rectMaking a decision when buying sales training or process is difficult. Often prospects aren’t focused on the business outcomes they seek. Through the years in this business I’ve often had executives tell me that their salespeople aren’t strong closers. My first inclination (that I keep to myself) is that it’s likely they aren’t very good salespeople.

Part of the problem has been the misguided emphasis people place on closing. Any seller that has seen Glengarry Glen Ross remembers Alec Baldwin’s advice on the ABC’s of selling:  Always Be Closing. If only it was that easy. Wonderful endings to otherwise mediocre plays aren’t going to result in any Tony awards. Frequent closes in B2B sales can be offensive to buyers.

There are several aspects of closing that sellers are either unaware of or disregard because they have their own agendas: 

  1. Before closing buyers should understand their desired outcomes, why they can’t be achieved today, what capabilities are needed, the potential value and the price. In many instances they will want to compare at least 2 other vendors.
  2. It’s demeaning when sellers try to close non-decision makers. It’s awkward to ask for orders if they aren’t authorized to commit.
  3. Sellers make mistakes by not getting in front of decision makers to close. Some reply upon proposals they hope decision makers will not only read but also understand.
  4. Sellers pressure buyers when they close prematurely. Some buyers will be “put off” and may decide not to buy. Those that are willing to buy will almost certainly expect incentives (concessions and/or discounts) for buying sooner than they expected. 
  5. There are few instances in B2B transactions when closing and discounting will work if sellers aren’t the vendor of choice. Some sellers rationalize that is makes sense to discount even if they can’t win because the winning vendors will accept lower prices. I believe putting low-ball numbers on the street can come back to haunt sellers. 
  6. Unfortunately the old concept of selling is alive, if not well. The thought is a seller can convince, persuade and pressure buyers into giving them the business. This flies in the face of the reality that people prefer to buy without high-pressure tactics.

There is an entirely different way to consider the ABC approach. In long buying cycles it is important to gain commitment along the way. Rather than closing for the business earlier in buying cycles, there are other commitments to ask for: access to Key Players, agreement on potential value, an estimated decisions date, agreement of buyers to spend resources in evaluating offerings, having some staff see demos, etc.

Sellers in B2B buying cycles have to get many yesses with the ultimate one being an agreement to move forward. My hope is that sellers are patient enough to wait until they’ve earned the right to ask for the business.

REGISTER NOW Don't wait until it sells out - save your seat in Boston Aug 3-6 to take control of your 2015 and make your number!

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: How to Optimize Your CRM for the Full Benefits

Posted by Jill Perez on Apr 15, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: How to Optimize Your CRM for the Full Benefits

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

Image courtesy of Sujin J. at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

crm-sales-processVirtually any company using CRM has either implemented generic pipeline milestones or ideally customized them to mesh with their sales processes. Some have taken a step further and have customized milestones for the different types of sales their sellers make. Once in place these milestones become road maps for monitoring the progress of opportunities that hopefully end with buyers making purchases. 

Management’s expectation is that sellers will report progress on these steps on a daily basis so pipeline information is current. Without CRM sellers usually provide updates either when asked to on an ad hoc basis or near month end so managers could finalize forecasts about what was going to close. 

Unquestionably CRM has provided more structure and allows managers at any time to assess the progress and status of opportunities in each seller’s pipeline. There are a few potential issues that companies may not have been considered and I’d like to bring them to your attention:

1. How many of your milestones are subjective? For these milestones you ultimately must rely upon the opinions of sellers under pressure to have pipelines that appear adequate to make their numbers. If a manager tells a seller that by next month he or she needs to get their pipeline up to $X, miraculously most sellers will find a way to get there. As you can imagine, there are no miracles in selling and most likely quality likely took a back seat to quantity in getting to the desired number.

2. Do some of your sellers lack the skills to achieve all milestones? As companies grow and staff up, members of their sales teams bring varied experience, backgrounds and skills. Few companies have given thought to ensuring that sellers have the requisite skills to achieve every milestone within their sales process. Selling problems can be due to skill deficiencies (can’t) or motivational/attitude issues (won’t). Managers can ask sellers to do things they can’t, but shouldn’t be surprised when results are poor.

3. How well do your sellers position offerings? I believe the biggest challenge B2B sellers face is how to make effective 30-minute calls on decision maker levels. There isn’t time for product pitches. If there were product pitches, executive levels won’t tolerate them. It will be important to uncover desired business outcomes and for sellers to discuss only the parts of their offerings that are relevant to achieving them.

CRM offers many advantages to companies. Those that do a better job of implementing them stand to realize the most benefit. Some ways to do that include:

  1. Finding ways to have achievement of milestones be based upon buyer actions
  2. Mapping the required selling skills to the achievement of each milestone
  3. Creating milestones for different types of transactions
  4. Helping sellers with sales ready messaging® for defined titles and business goals
Key: The full promise of technology can only be realized when companies support it with well-defined processes.

REGISTER NOW The last one sold out! Don't miss the next one coming Aug 3-6 in Boston.

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

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