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Shortening a sales cycle could be the best way to increase productivity. Accelerate the Sales Process by Turning it Upside Down!
In working with a client in helping define their sales process for an enterprise solution, we went through the usual steps of what has to happen when and who has to do what.
We created a master list and then we chose the items they could apply to existing deals in order to shorten the sales cycle. This was extremely helpful in having them see what they could do.
Finally we turned the whole sales process upside down and started with the end in mind. So here is what we suggested:
In first meeting the client, tell them what your objective is which is to demonstrate a significant cost savings. In fact, the account they are speaking to was chosen from the few that met their criteria. If they didn't meet the criteria, they, the vendor wouldn't have reached out.
The vendor is so confident of their offer they will do real testing and modeling showing the prospect what their actual savings is (you may have to offer something else based on your company's capabilities).
Of course, the vendor needs to show them how it will be done and answer questions, but
After that is done they are asking the person they are meeting with to sponsor this project in the organization.
If the prospect doesn't know how to make this happen, the vendor will show them how it has been done in other organizations.
Of course in the real world there will be many prospects who will not respond to this and the vendor may have to go back to a more traditional model.
In addition, the vendor and salesperson has to avoid being too verbose or arrogant but present the offer in a way where the prospect can see the opportunity in front of them.
I hope you like this idea. Try it in some accounts to see how people react.
The most important thing you can do is to understand the SOE (sequence of events) that increases your close ratio.
Sales Time Line
Bring to mind a deal you are working on or have won in the past that you would like to repeat as often as possible. Do you recall what steps you took with the prospect during their buying process?
It is important to know that the more you can get a customer to do with you the more likely it is you will get the sale since they have committed a lot to you. They will want to recoup their investment of time, energy and sometimes even money.
Here are some ideas of things you can do during the sales process:
Have a reference call the prospect
Send some information or a white paper if you have one
Use Google Alerts or other source to keep track of what is happening with the client or their industry and use that to stay in touch
Have them visit your office or set up a time for entertainment
Use LinkedIn or others to see where you have common connections and let the person know
If you know their personal interests or hobbies, send info about these.
If you can identify the tactics that work best, you can put them into your process and just remind yourself with Outlook or some other tool to remind you what to send and when to send it. It will have the same impact as the more sophisticated solutions available in the market.
Hot off the "press" - a very comprehensive e-Book on the significant trends in business collaboration. Click on the image to download your free e-Book. There is no sign-up required; we don't track the response and no salesperson will call or email you as a result of the download.
Gerhard - WOW this is an INCREDIBLE document with very valuable insights! I shared it with my CEO (the good old way, printed-it and put it on his desk)
There is a lot of insight in this document and the stats are very telling at what speed/ and in which particular direction the mobile workforce is going.
THE SALES PERFORMANCE PUZZLE - How to Solve it. In this 9 minute video, Gerhard Gschwandtner and bestselling author John Doerr discuss why most sales training doesn't work and offer proven concepts that will help sales leaders create a highly effective sales organization. Collaborate online using #salearsopchat or hit "reply" below to share your insights. Download your PPT slides or a PDF to present this content in your company. This is a commercial free service for SalesOpShop members. Click on any image below to play the video.
In this 6-minute SalesOpShop Video - Gerhard Gschwandtner and Anthony Iannarino talk about the key trends in selling that impact all sales organizations. This video contains five insights designed to help you win. Collaborate with us online using this hashtag #Salesopchat, or hit "reply" to share your comments below. Want to share the key insights with your sales team? Download your PPT slides or a PDF now. This is strictly educational, no commercial messages included.
How do you create and sustain motivation in sales? Join the conversation with S. Anthony Iannarino, the top award winning sales blogger and keynote speaker. Click on any image below to start this 6 min video.
I lost over 90 pounds in 2012. I worked out between 4-7 days a week and checked-in to Life Time Fitness on Facebook almost every time. Facebook friends kept saying to me, "Mike, I wish I had your motivation."
Finally, I replied with something like, "No, you don't. My motivation sucks. I'm often tired after a long day, and I don't want to get up off the couch and go to the gym. You don't want my motivation. You want my commitment, and there's a difference."
Even when motivation lags, and it does from time to time, your commitment makes the difference. I wish we'd stop talking about motivating (especially other people), and start focusing on fostering commitment.
This is also more in line with Daniel Pink's(watch his incredible TED video) research in Drive... he cites the great "motivators" as purpose, autonomy, and mastery. If you hire the right people, guide them to a greater purpose, give them the trust and autonomy (not abdicating your role in their management, coaching and development, just giving them some breathing room and recognizing their brain and abilities), and create a culture of development and mastery, people will feel committed and seem "motivated." But I still think the better term is committed. Just like culture eats strategy for lunch (ala the Drucker quote), commitment eats motivation for breakfast. ;-)
I think you're right on the rejection thing, as well. You stop calling when you let yourself feel "rejected."
At the same time, I do believe sales reps, and everyone else, need to take a hard look at how they spend their time and where they are most likely to get a return for their investment. I would probably only employ the "they die, or I die" mantra, if I felt absolutely certain that both of us could benefit from the mutual relationship and doing business together... or, I would at least put that prospect on the slow-drip plan, with a less rigorous follow-up plan. And I would try to find ways to add value over time with ideas, articles, networking contacts, to keep the relationship fresh, without every contact being a prospecting attempt. That approach certainly has helped me gain a few "hard to obtain" clients in my day. But not at the expense of making other sales that had a higher likelihood to close or more compelling value prop. Just my opinion.
Keep the great stuff coming.
Replied 20 months ago
Thank you Mike for sharing. There is an amazing insight in Dan Pink's TED talk where he makes business people painfully aware of how business keeps ignoring the discoveries made by science. This video is a must see for sales leaders and comp management experts.
Join the conversation with S. Anthony Iannarino, the Gold Medal Winner of the Top Sales and Marketing Blog. In this five-minute video he talks about Sales Training and what B2B needs to learn from B2C sales
Thanks for including my question, guys! Here's some response/commentary from me.
I couldn't agree more with creating a culture of ongoing training and coaching. The quote Gerhard cites about doing what others won't today, to do what others can't tomorrow, is so insightful and true. When I started in sales, I was thrown to the wolves with little training and no coaching. So, I read and listened to everything I could get my hands on. Because of my background in music, I audio and video-recorded myself several times a week, practicing like crazy, rehearsing the things I read and heard. It made a world of difference. That year, I personally outsold an office of 5 other people. When I finally became a manager, I trained and coached constantly. Our office grew by over 600%, year over year. It works.
I do, however, understand why sales leaders hesitate to take reps away from sales activity to train and coach. Most sales training does NOT produce the desired results (see below for why), so just committing to do it more often, may not matter. In fact, it could make things worse, contributing to the false belief that "sales training doesn't work." Argh! That drives me nuts. Poor sales training doesn't work (or even good sales training poorly executed). Good sales training, done well, produces great results.
It needs to be the RIGHT training, preferably culled from top producers in that industry, company, using that product set, with their target customer-base. It has to produce results, if used in the real-world. If you pick even a great program off the shelf (without customizing) and implement it poorly, don't be disappointed when results don't improve.
The training needs to be well designed for learning to occur. It should separate knowledge and skill, and treat each appropriately. For skill, there must be PRACTICE (just like the quote) and FEEDBACK, with a chance to re-do, after feedback. (Role play, baby. It's what's for dinner. Stop whining and eat your spinach. ;-) Your comment about squeezing training in on another agenda or creating a massive content dump… so true. Neither of those is "good, well-designed training." Let's all get real with each other in 2013, and stop this insanity.
Management must understand what is being trained, and know how to diagnose how well it is being used and how to coach to close skill and performance gaps. Management must understand what is being trained, and know how to diagnose how well it is being used and how to coach to close skill and performance gaps. (Yes, I am aware that I wrote that twice ;-).
The behaviors must then be further reinforced and coached *over time*, so the rep adds the skills to their long-term tool belt, and use them appropriately.
So, having said all that, let's go back to my original question. I think sales training does need to change. If buyers are doing so much research on their own, engaging sales reps later and later in their decision-making process, and buying through growing leverls of consensus, reps had better be prepared with new mindsets, dialogue and diagnosis skills, engagement capability, value-creation behaviors, and be able present solutions in new ways rather (if I hear the word "pitch" one more time, I might scream). They need to understand how to create partnerships, at the appropriate levels (meaning with the appropriate roles/levels in the prospect organization and at the right depth, based on the match between the prospect organization and their own). If we think the same ol' set of sales behaviors of the past are going to differentiate us for the future, well, let's just say we're in for a rough ride in 2013 and beyond.
Lastly for today, I couldn't agree more with your take on Product vs. Sales Training. They must be combined. Product training is facts and figures. It's head stuff, and a little skill in talking about it. The real value lies in creating realistic scenarios, where the rep must USE what they learned in sales training and match and discuss products appropriately, solving problems in real-world, complex cases. Simulations. That's how you prepare people for the real-world, and hone the skills that matter to buyers.
Well, thanks again for the great content and for addressing part of my question. I have to run for now and hope this has added some value to the discussion. I look forward to future videos and any thoughts in return.
For me the points that stood out were: can B2B learn from B2C . At Hubspot's conference last year, their CEO Brian Halligan talked a lot about learning from Amazon.com, and having our websites recognize the viewer and provide them with the appropriate content. I think that's a part of the approach as well.
The trust triangle is interesting, as well. A big debate/discussion right now is how senior sales people need to lead with provocative ideas about how to improve a prospects business, but can you do that without a relationship and with trust. The emotional aspect of trust, and needing to obtain that emotional aspect first, is an interesting angle I hadn't thought of yet.
Replied 20 months ago
Great conversation gentlemen. We need more leaders looking at this partnership between sales and marketing like the two of you. Very refreshing and spot on.