Three Ways Predictive Analytics Can Help You Achieve Higher Win Rates

predictive analytics

By Niveditha Viswanathan

Increasingly, sales organizations are adapting to the new, digital, mobile workforce. Almost every enterprise is jumping on the boat that is sailing toward a well-defined mobile and digital strategy.

In this new world, data and predictive analytics are the undisputed heroes. Here are three ways predictive analytics can truly help sales teams work better and witness higher success rates.

  1. Predictive calendaring

    Daily life for a sales rep and her manager revolves around a set of defined activities that all need to be carried out in order to ensure every lead is pursued well. So, why not have a way to slot the rep’s calendar while she is sleeping? When the rep wakes up, her calendar provides her the agenda, route, and plan for the day.

    And this is not just a simplistic function. Today’s business realities mean meetings get rescheduled all the time. So, when your rep finds herself with a two-hour slot suddenly opened up, why not suggest two other leads she can meet with in the same zip code? This ensures your reps always make the best use of their time and look to move each task or lead to closure.

  2. Smart lead allocation

    A well-allocated lead helps ensure a successful outcome. Some sales reps are innately good at closing some lead profiles versus others. Thus, matching the right rep to the right lead profile will a) ensure the rep is motivated to follow up with the lead and b) maximize the success rate from overall allocation.

    Secondly, having well-defined rules to select the best possible lead will ensure your organizational preferences are mirrored and you are encouraging expected behavior. Want the time to call minimized? Allocate the lead to the nearest rep. Want the high-potential client to convert fast? Allocate to the rep with the highest win rate consistency.

  3. Cognitive coaching

    As you allocate your leads well and your reps are busy checking off their calendars, there are times when it is good to pause, reflect, and engage – in real time. Notice that a rep has dropped three leads in row? Ensure that manager and rep get real-time alerts, giving the manager a chance to schedule a coaching session. See that the reps in a certain region are about to fall short of their goals at the end of the month? Catch that signal ahead of time and schedule corrective measures.

    By ensuring that your managers are proactively getting key result area (KRA) signals and coaching alerts for their reps early, the entire team becomes more skilled, better trained, and more proactive.

Incorporating predictive and cognitive analytics will help you overcome the most common challenges that plague sales teams. Consider making the following improvements.

  1. Don’t ask sales reps to divide their time between meeting leads and reporting – mostly, resist reporting.
  2. Make sure managers at headquarters have good visibility into field activities and outcomes.
  3. Give management and executive leaders ways to personalize measures to drive outcomes and behaviors.

Imagine a sales team that is not facing any of these challenges. Doesn’t that present the recipe for a high-performing sales team? So, do you have a robust predictive engine configured for your sales team yet?

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 5.59.49 PMNiveditha heads product and marketing at Vymo, a smart personal assistant for sales teams. Starting her career with McKinsey, Niveditha has worked across locations and sectors, focusing on technology solutions to make people’s lives better. Meet Niveditha at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on July 18 and 19, representing Vymo and sharing experiences on scaling high-performing sales teams.

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Making the Shift to a New Era of Sales Engagement

By Meera Mehta

When I first started working in CRM, the technology landscape for sales was relatively simple (if inefficient). IT would provide sales with standard software – email, Web conferencing, and a productivity suite. Content lived on sales reps’ laptops and desktops and we ended up sharing and storing content in email. Sales operations teams would implement and institute CRM methodologies and systems – and mandate/encourage/cajole sales teams to adhere to processes.

Suddenly, the “sales tech” landscape has exploded with new vendors and solutions emerging every day. We have become inundated with vendor pitches and complicated frameworks on trends and tools. The proliferation of tools is exciting as we finally have the opportunity to move beyond “generic” software to technology specifically designed for sales teams – their roles, needs, and processes.

At the same time, navigating your organization’s needs and sorting through the vendor chaos is daunting. And the last thing we want to risk is complicated evaluations – or worse – investing in a new tool that only complicates the sales process further, slows down rep productivity, or doesn’t fit with how sales, marketing, and sales operations work together to support customers.

A new report from leading analyst firm Aragon Research, Digitize the Sales Force: Leverage Sales Engagement Platforms to Gain a Competitive Advantage, provides insights on how sales leaders can shift toward modern tools optimized for selling effectively in a digital, always-on world.

Aragon Research predicts that Sales Engagement Platforms will grow into a five-billion dollar industry over the next five years. This growth will be fueled by demands from sales and marketing teams to better communicate and engage with customers through an integrated, easy-to-use, highly mobile platform – one that enables the sharing of high-impact content, delivers insights for what to do next, and integrates and auto-logs to CRM.

There are hundreds of sales enablement tools available, but most only accomplish a small part of the selling process. Stitching together disjointed tools can be confusing for sales rep adoption, hard for enablement and operations teams to manage, and may actually limit productivity. In fact, Aragon Research reports that the average sales rep must use anywhere from five to eight different tools to reach prospects.

The Sales Engagement Platform supports the customer lifecycle from prospect, to close, to support and expansion, and consists of sales communications, sales content management, and analytics, including:

  • Content management and customization for unique customer needs
  • Communicating with prospects and customers (phone, email, and face to face); and
  • Advanced engagement analytics data.

A critical component is ensuring the data is seamlessly integrated to CRM systems and other partner applications to fit within existing workflow and processes (especially between different departments servicing customers). The Sales Engagement Platform becomes the ideal platform to support guided selling and predictive analytics – as the platform centralizes the customer engagement data needed to inform the sales cycle based on the customer’s unique needs, response, and engagement.

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Source: Aragon Research, 2016

Sales Engagement Platforms can also help shorten sales cycles, as reps are equipped with customer engagement data to more effectively respond to prospect signals (regardless of the channel) throughout sales cycles.

Business applications, such as the Sales Engagement Platform ClearSlide offers, are the answer to the challenge of connecting with and engaging with sophisticated buyers. Aragon Research also finds that shifting to more modern and advanced sales engagement solutions can be more cost effective than general-purpose tools (e.g., Web conferencing, email tracking) and improve productivity by seamlessly integrating within sales reps’ existing processes.

We have seen this transition before. Today, we can’t even imagine starting our day without Microsoft Office or Google Apps. Yet we used to rely on separate, individual tools for word processing, email, spreadsheets, and presentations. It’s finally time for a digital sales suite specifically tailored for driving rep productivity, delivering sales analytics, connecting marketing and sales operations, and empowering sales teams to more effectively engage and deliver value to our customers. Don’t we all deserve something as easy and useful as “Office for Sales”?

To learn more about the requirements and best practices for digitizing sales and recommendations for navigating the latest trends, download the Aragon Research report here.

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 2.24.40 PMToday’s post is by Meera Mehta, senior director, product marketing at ClearSlide, the leading provider of Sales Engagement Platforms. Meera has more than 15 years of experience leading sales and marketing teams, and her passion and focus are to help ClearSlide transform the business of selling by producing quantifiable results in sales rep productivity, leader insights, and marketing impact. 

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Master the Art of “Thank You” to Improve the Customer Experience

By Andrew Field

In our previous blog post on overcoming repeat sales problems, we showed how gifting your prospects lets you stand out and prompts them to act. Today we’re breaking down another important way to use gifting: perfecting the art of appreciation to improve the customer experience.

While appreciating your prospects doesn’t pose the same hurdles as getting their attention in the first place, it still requires a well-thought-out approach. As you know, the sales cycle never truly ends – even once you’ve closed the deal.

Great Customer Experience Drives Customer Advocacy

Customers have the power, and that isn’t a bad thing. But this means nothing is more important than word-of-mouth advocacy. A colossal 92 percent of customers trust recommendations over all other types of advertising.

And, with word-of-mouth marketing being the primary factor for up to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions, it makes sense that companies that foster relationships are companies that win. So, while your competition practices their sales pitch, you could be building real relationships with customers through meaningful gestures like gifting.

Whether you’re thanking someone for moving your deal forward or recognizing a milestone with an existing customer, Intelligent GiftingTM makes the experience one to talk about.

Let’s look at a few different instances where you can use Intelligent Gifting to demonstrate your appreciation and improve the overall customer experience.

Gifting Thanks Prospects for Setting an Appointment

Everyone’s been there  – you had an initial meeting with a decision maker and he’s genuinely interested. But, when it comes time to schedule a follow-up meeting, he directs you to his assistant. This is where warm deals can go cold. If you’re having a hard time getting him to commit to a date, don’t just sit back and hope. Take action.

At this point it’s the assistant who holds the booking power. Send her a small gift along with a personal note. For gifting instances like this, office items like travel mugs, modern stationary, or gadget accessories are great options.

When it comes to writing the note, you’ll want to thank her for her time and say you look forward to working out a date for your second meeting. This may be your best shot at nailing a follow-up and closing the deal, so make it thoughtful.

Use Gifts to Reward a High-Value Customer

When it comes to sending a gift, it’s always good to ask yourself what the current value of each customer relationship is. The more valuable the customer, the greater your gifting investment can be.

This is where it’s important to remember the difference between promotional products and gifts. While promotional products can be wonderful in the right context, this isn’t it. We’re talking about appreciation. That means it’s all about them, not you. It may be easy to walk over to the supply closet and grab an extra company coffee mug, but you’re better than that. Consider the fact that a true customer advocate spends twice as much as regular customers – and skip the mug.

Instead, send something that reflects the investment the customer has made in your company.

Use Social Selling to Improve Your Gifting Strategy

This is when social selling becomes crucial. What’s really going to blow your customer away is a well-thought-out gift that matches their lifestyle. The answer to what you should send won’t always be obvious. You have to get creative.

Perhaps you have one customer who is always sharing their playlist on social media. Consider sending the music lover a sleek Bluetooth speaker. Or, perhaps, most of their Twitter feed is full of updates on their triathlon training. Send some high-end gear or set them up for massage therapy when the race is done. Make sure your personalized note underscores why you chose these gifts. This is the type of personalization that carries a powerful human touch.

As the sales industry moves away from the sales pitch approach of yesterday, giving becomes a huge part of winning customer loyalty. Intelligent Gifting is a simple way to establish yourself as a leader, build a better customer experience, and capitalize on customer advocacy.

Want more ideas to get you started? Check out our Idea Book for tips on how to use gifting to say thank you and increase customer loyalty.

AndrewFieldAndrew Field is founder and President of Printing for Less (PFL), a Marketing Technology company providing software solutions that improve marketing effectiveness, as well as printing, mailing, and fulfillment services.

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Six Leaders Who Will Speak at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco this July

On July 18 and 19 the Sales 2.0 Conference is coming to San Francisco! Join us to hear these awesome speakers and more — discounted rates apply until June 13.

Dan Waldenschmidt Speaker: Dan Waldschmidt, Managing Director, Waldschmidt Partners International
Session: Why Every Sales Leader Needs to Run 300 Miles

Dan Waldschmidt is on a quest to break the world record for running the fastest 500K – just days before the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco.

In his mindset–shattering, rapid–fire presentation, Dan will give an exclusive first look at what went right (and wrong) as well as the mindset and methods he used – and how you can use Dan’s lessons to conquer your own business challenges and boost your sales process over 400 percent without having to run 100 5Ks in a row (maybe).

Judy BuchholzSpeaker: Judy Buchholz, General Manager Digital Sales, IBM
Session: Building a Digital Sales Culture

Client buying behavior is shifting from face-to-face to “virtual engagement,” where digital and social interaction is key. Nearly 80 percent of IT buyers use text chat to interact with their sellers; half use video chat and social media. More and more B2B buyers execute their purchases on the Web – often assisted by a “digital seller.” They expect personalized response, industry and solution expertise, accessibility, and speed from sellers.

In this fireside chat with Selling Power founder Gerhard Gschwandtner, Judy Buchholz will discuss the transformation of the IBM inside sales team to a digital sales force that is enabled to engage clients in new – and more successful – ways.

Anthony Iannarino Sales 2.0Speaker:
Anthony Iannarino, International speaker, Author, and Sales Leader
Session: How to Create and Sustain Relationships of Value

The ability to create value is a key element to winning new business and keeping customers happy. Join Anthony Iannarino, an international speaker, author, and sales leader, for this free webinar. You will learn how to teach your sales team to:

  • Create more value throughout the entire sales process
  • Create and win more opportunities – at a higher margin
  • Increase revenues from within your existing client base


Brian Frank LInkedIn Sales 2.0Speaker:
Brian Frank, Vice President of Sales Operations, LinkedIn
Session: How LinkedIn Uses Data, Social, and Culture to Sell Smarter

As Vice President of Sales Operations, Brian Frank has helped make LinkedIn one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in history. In this session, Brian will discuss the strategies and tactics LinkedIn uses to build and scale sales organizations using data, social selling, and LinkedIn’s internal sales methodology. Give your company a competitive advantage by getting this rare peek inside LinkedIn!

Josiane Feigon Sales 2.0Speaker: Josiane Feigon, President, TeleSmart Communications
Session: Creating Change: What’s It Going to Take for My Sales Teams to Start Selling?

Something is broken when 58 percent of sales reps are struggling to meet quota and spending 25 percent of their sales time on unproductive prospects. What does it take to create real, positive change and get your sales teams selling?

The number one frustration voiced by sales leaders and managers is their inability to influence change – despite big investments in expensive training, new sales tools, and the best work environments for their sales reps. They desperately want to find the secret to managing and motivating their multigenerational, multicultural sales teams to work smarter, be cohesive, and stay with the organization longer. And they need that secret now: because today’s sales leaders need to invigorate and innovate or die.

Join us in an interactive discussion that will point you in the direction of positive change:

  • Learn the seven transformational secrets to becoming a change master.
  • Understand what it takes to grow and sustain an agile and futuristic sales organization.

Amanda KahlowSpeaker: Amanda Kahlow, CEO, 6sense
Session: How Culture, Leadership and Passion Fuel High-Performing Sales Teams

While there are no cookie-cutter approaches that work for every organization when building out the perfect sales team, one key principle is often true across the board – a sales force can only be as successful and effective as its management. Join 6sense CEO Amanda Kahlow as she outlines the tactics, hires, and steps she took to ensure not only a high-performing sales team, but one that was executing on her vision and mission for the company. At the end of the day, the focus on a dynamic company culture, savvy leadership decisions, and a product any sales team could get passionate about have been the differentiating factors crucial to success and growth.

There’s still time to register for the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco at discounted rates! See the full agenda or register now.

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An Effective Tactic to Grab the Attention of Busy Prospects

By Andrew Field

As a sales professional, you wear more hats than meet the eye. You’re an expert in your space, a curator of information, and a ruthless researcher. You bounce back from rejection. You’re tougher than Rudy and Rocky Balboa combined.

But even the most resourceful sales teams scratch their heads when they face the same obstacles again and again. Let’s take a look at some common problems and an effective tactic you’ve probably never considered.

Gaining Initial Access to the Decision Maker

You’ve done your research and have contact information for the decision maker at a large account. But your calls and emails go unanswered despite your strong message. You know that if you could just get your foot in the door and make your pitch, you’d land the new business.

Problem solved: When people get a personal package in the mail, they don’t throw it away without opening it. While email and voicemail are important parts of your sales strategy, they often go straight to the trash. So send the decision maker something she doesn’t expect: your collateral in printed form, along with a nice gift and a handwritten note.

A tangible gift sails past the spam filter and lands right on the desk of the decision maker. Your note adds a personal touch that stands out. Include a PURL so you can drive digital traffic with your dimensional mail piece.

Pro tip: Send your package through FedEx to receive notice when your gift has arrived. Then time your follow-up call for right after she receives it. She’ll be excited to take your call so she can thank you for the thoughtful gift. Door officially opened.

Reigniting Interest When a Busy Prospect Goes Dark

Just like you, your leads are busy. Perhaps a hot prospect has cooled down as her internal workload grows. She expressed interest during your last meeting but needed more time to sell your solution within the company. It’s been two weeks and all you hear are crickets.

Problem solved: Instead of placing another follow-up call, remind her of your pending contract with a gift that will surprise and delight. The more targeted the gift, the better. On your last call, did the fact that she’s a tech junkie come up? Send her a stylish gadget holder that organizes all of her tech in one place. It will be just the push she needs to feel valued, re-engage, and get your proposal moving again. Not to mention your thoughtfulness will blow her away!

Thoughtful items like this also create a natural advocacy for your company. She’ll show her coworkers (especially when they see her open the package) and relay the story every time she’s asked about her slick new gadget case. That keeps you top of mind.

Pro tip: For even more impact, fill the gift with useful branded goodies, such as office supplies, a phone charger, memory stick, or external hard drive. Not only is it a nice gesture, it ensures she’ll encounter your brand several times a day – prompting her to think of you.

No matter where you are in the sales cycle, sending real stuff gets results. According to Robert B. Cialdini, author of The Psychology of Persuasion, people who receive gifts are 10 times more likely to respond when asked for something in the future.

Want to see other scenarios like these? Check out our Idea Book for more tips on how to get better results in any sales scenario.

AndrewFieldAndrew Field is founder and President of Printing for Less (PFL), a Marketing Technology company providing software solutions that improve marketing effectiveness, as well as printing, mailing, and fulfillment services.

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Ditch Negativity to Achieve Peak Sales Performance: 4 Insights from the Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston

Sales 2.0 Conference

Did you know that each day we create 60,000 thoughts, and that a full 80% of those thoughts are negative?

This is just one of the data points (that particular stat comes from the National Science Foundation) from our morning speakers here at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston, where hundreds of B2B sales leaders have gathered to learn the DNA of high-performance sales teams.

4 Tips to Create a Successful Sales Organization

The dominant focus of presentations this morning has been the psychology and culture of successful sales organizations. Here are four insights from the keynote speech delivered by conference host Gerhard Gschwandtner (Selling Power magazine).

1) Check your mental and management positivity/negativity ratios. Research shows that, in order to be happy, you need at least three positive experience to counterbalance a single negative experience. According to author and TED speaker Shawn Achor, people with a happy mindset are 23% more energetic, 31% more productive, and 300% more creative. If you’re a sales manager, take note: Harvard Business School found that high-performing organizations have a positive/negative feedback ratio of 5.6 to one.

Takeaway: Help your salespeople cultivate positive internal self-talk and manage with a positive — not a punishing — style for better results from your sales team. 

2) Take control of your mind/body connection. According to scientific research, the body actually listens to the mind. As Gschwandtner said: “If you have a mind that says, ‘I’m the boss of my body, the body will respect that. If you worry that you’ll get sick, you will. The body listens unconditionally to the mind.'”

Takeaway: Pay attention to what you say about yourself about your state of health. A negative mindset actually depresses your immune system and makes you less productive. 

3) Hire salespeople with a “growth mindset.” Motivational research expert Carol S. Dweck has said that there are two kinds of mindset: fixed, and growth. A person with a growth mindset expands his neural connections and is open to growth. A person with a fixed mindset believes that it’s not possible for him to grow or change; as a result, his neural connections remain static.

Takeaway: When you hire new sales professionals, look at the person, not just his or her experience. Does this person have a growth mindset? 

4) Acknowledge the importance of dreams. Brain science shows that if we can actually visualize goals, we can actually achieve them.

Takeaway: Everyone in your sales organization should have a “wall of dream” containing pictures that represent their goals or visions of success. This could be anything from climbing Mount Everest, to attending a retreat in India, to owning a Bugatti. “This will transform your sales culture in five minutes,” said Gschwandtner. 

Interested in joining us for a Sales 2.0 Conference in 2016? We will be in San Francisco July 18-19 and in Philadelphia November 14 (note, the agenda for the November event is not yet final; you can sign up to receive an email alert when the agenda is live).

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The Three Sales Accountability Traps and How to Avoid Them

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By Alyson Brandt

Is your sales organization one of the top performers in your industry? If not, here’s your blueprint for success.  

Our sales research identified a culture of accountability and results as a critical differentiator between top and average performers.   

In our client work, we see several common barriers, or traps, that prevent sales leaders from creating an optimal sales culture. Below are three traps with tips on how to overcome them:  

Accountability Trap #1: Focusing Exclusively on Results

Arnold Palmer once said, “It’s a funny thing – the more I practice, the luckier I get.” Palmer meant that, when he pulled off amazing shots – what others might call lucky shots – it wasn’t due to luck at all.  Great shots are the result of putting in the work. Like in the game of golf, the more work salespeople put into prospecting, the “luckier” they get. Salespeople who put in the work will “happen to meet” people who know someone with whom they should speak. Or, they’ll get in touch with someone who is “coincidentally” ready to make a purchase. Sales results are no coincidence. They are the result of activity, focus, and pipeline management.  

Activity is a leading indicator of pipeline. The sheer volume of prospecting activities – prospecting calls, proposals, networking, social selling, and client meetings – is important. But quality is equally important.  Through enhanced observational coaching, one-on-one meetings, and pipeline reviews, sales leaders can ensure that both quantity and quality increase.  

Focus is concentrated attention on the right accounts and priorities. This can be tricky to measure.  Consider the activity-to-revenue ratio. For example, a rep could schedule 13 meetings with a tiny account within six months. In that same time span, the same rep might have three meetings with one of their key accounts. Leaders must help salespeople understand activity isn’t the only metric. You need smart activity with the right strategic focus to yield better results. Smart activity results in time better leveraged and focused.

Pipeline Management should be viewed as an opportunity to gain insights and increase activity. It needs to move from a compliance “check the box” activity to one that helps create focus and momentum while developing team members.

Accountability Trap #2: Failing to Accentuate the Positive

I remember the good old days. When I closed a deal, I’d hang up my phone and strut through the office.  Heads turned. I proudly wrote my deal on the big board. Loud high fives rang out across the office. Everyone – including me  – felt a huge boost.  

Today, there seem to be fewer chances to celebrate. Teams are remote. Opportunities and wins are captured and tracked (trapped?) in a CRM. With a lack of practice, managers may be losing the “muscle memory” to recognize and reward their people. In fact, according to Fast Company, nearly 20 percent of managers struggle with praise. This is a foreboding sign for sales cultures everywhere. Healthy doses of recognition are the antidote to hard accountability conversations and rejections.  

As it turns out, there is something managers dislike even more than giving positive feedback: giving negative feedback. This leads us to our final trap.

Accountability Trap #3: Allowing Exceptions  

Exceptions are lethal to any sales culture – including those involving the “star performer.”

You know the one. There’s that high performer who deviates from process and guidelines. This behavior erodes sales culture and performance. But, because this one salesperson delivers results, he or she’s treated with kid gloves.  When it’s time to take off those gloves, you’ll need the VITAL conversation framework to ensure a productive conversation:

V – Verify the need. Have you jumped to conclusions? Is this conversation warranted? Or do you just need to cool down?

I – Identify the issue. Do your research. Talk with others. Get to the root of the issue. Gather examples, details, and facts. The person will see that it’s not just your opinion. It is reality.  

T – Talk track. Outline your conversation in advance. Follow these eight steps for an optimal talk track.   

A Advice. Pause. Get some advice. Sleep on it. Let your thoughts incubate.  

L  Logistics. Set up the conversation well, taking into consideration the environment and tone.

The VITAL conversation framework can be used to let your sales team know you are serious about both results and behavior change. Accountability is more than just a focus on results. It’s also about mindset and actions for leaders and team members. Ideally, team members are taking proactive ownership for their decisions and activities while leaders are clarifying expectations as well as managing and measuring leading and lagging indicators – activities and results.

So, to strengthen your sales culture, remember: You need to look through the windshield while also looking in your rearview mirror.  

  • Measure more than just results. Top organizations hold salespeople accountable for results by defining and measuring Activity, Focus, and Pipeline Management.  
  • Take advantage of every opportunity to reward and recognize your team.  
  • Hold everyone accountable for results and standards – even rogue star performers.

The best companies in our sales research combine these practices with a clear strategy to crush their quotas. Join them, won’t you?  

Picture2As president of Fusion Learning USA, Alyson Brandt is responsible for growing the U.S. business. For more than 25 years, Alyson has advised Global 1000 executives and senior leaders on best practices in global sales force development, sales leadership and management, and leadership initiatives. Alyson has worked with Fortune 500 companies across numerous industries – from financial services to hospitality – including BlackRock, Chubb, American Express, Chobani, Air New Zealand, and Nucor to name a few.

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Predictive Sales Analytics

predictive sales analytics

By Kevin Brooks

Predictive analytics is a major topic at industry conferences, but it is poorly understood by most sales leaders. In truth, it is poorly understood by most people, but – as the market for predictive sales analytics continues to grow at a rapid rate – today’s sales teams are in the midst of a steep learning curve about the potential benefits of this powerful technology.

Sales has always been an information game. The more you know about your prospect, the market, your product, etc., the more likely you are to close the deal. This is as true today as it was back in the days of Willie Loman. But the advent of Salesforce.com, the rise of digitally-connected buyers, and a steady increase in computing power have brought about an age of data unlike anything poor old Willie could have imagined.

With great data comes great responsibility. Having access to the full archive of a customer’s history, competitors, org chart, stock performance, demographics, and compelling business events is tremendous. Knowing how to put all that information to use – and to do so quickly and strategically – is a different kind of challenge requiring different skills and tools. An explosion of marketing automation tools and solutions has evolved to fill this gap, most of them focused toward the early stages of the demand generation pipeline. By some estimates, the market has grown from 150 to more than 3,500 solutions in the past five years.

There is a difference between marketing analytics and sales analytics, and confusing the two can create problems. For example:

  • Highly scored leads may be unrelated to those likely to close.
  • Creating demand requires different activities than creating revenue.
  • MQLs are the end of one process; SQLs are the beginning of the next.

When you talk about predictive analytics, many people picture the classic “laboratory” approach with white-coated data scientists and complex equations on a whiteboard. Because sales is often consumed with immediate quarter-closing priorities, any discussion about data and analytics is often relegated to the finance or marketing teams that have time and resources to engage in laboratory analytics. Sales needs something different: a new kind of “operational” analytics, fully integrated with their daily workflow and constantly adapting to new conditions and situations.

Consider today’s sales rep, logging into his or her CRM system and viewing a list of leads to pursue or qualify. Even if the leads have been targeted and drip-marketed and screened and filtered by marketing, a sales rep still must assess data and organize his or her time effectively. Time spent pursuing business that is unlikely to close loses both the opportunity and the time itself, and setting an incorrect close date or amount can demoralize a rep and screw up a pipeline forecast for the entire company.

This is why predictive sales analytics is making such a strong impression. Knowing which leads are most likely to turn into revenue – and prioritizing actions that can make a borderline opportunity tilt toward a closed deal – is an intoxicating power. Being able to do this consistently, quarter after quarter, for all levels of a sales organization is nothing short of miraculous when compared with previous approaches. The impact can be eye-opening:

  • 200 percent increase in opportunity close rates
  • More than 25 percent lift in overall booked revenue
  • 50 percent faster ramp time to productivity with new sales reps
  • More accurate and consistent pipeline forecasting

The good news is that sales-focused solutions are out there, and we’re finally starting to bring analytics out of the laboratory and into the operations of the business to help everyone win, win faster, and win far more frequently. The challenge is to stop looking to marketing solutions to tackle sales challenges.

To learn more about this subject, join DxContinuum for a session at the upcoming Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston where speaker Sam Capra, RVP of Sales, will present “Sales Technology Overload: How to Select the Right Tools for Your Sales Organization.” He will lead a candid conversation about steps you can take to eliminate some of the noise around identifying and selecting the right technologies for your sales team. You will walk away with a clear strategy on how to identify and select the right sales technology partner(s) for your company based on your goals, industry, and budget.

KevinBrooksAs Vice President of Marketing, Kevin Brooks (kevin@dxcontinuum.com) is responsible for all marketing at DxContinuum, Inc., a leading solution provider in the field of predictive analytics for sales teams. He is a marketing innovator with more than 20 years of leadership experience in both startup and Fortune 100 software companies. His most recent role was Chief Marketing Officer at Ivalua, Inc. Prior roles include Senior Vice President of Marketing at iTradeNetwork, Inc., and Chief Marketing Officer positions at FoodLink Holdings, Inc., IQNavigator, and TrueDemand Software. He is also known for cofounding the procurement industry media site Spend Matters as well as for his marketing leadership at Ariba and ADP. Kevin is also chair of the board of directors at the Santa Clara Vanguard, a national nonprofit youth music and arts organization, and he holds a bachelor of arts degree from Macalester College.

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How to Build a Successful Sales Development Model

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By Trish Bertuzzi

I’m excited to be speaking at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston on May 2 on the topic of “The Six Elements of Sales Development: What It Takes to Lead a World-Class Team.” In this blog post, I’ll share more details on one of the six elements: crafting a winning sales development model.

Much like Goldilocks and her porridge, your sales development model needs to be “just right” for your organization. Figuring this out early will save you from account executives’ complaints such as, “Those leads weren’t qualified enough. They aren’t worth my time” or “My SDR isn’t passing enough meetings. What are they doing all day?”

  • Setting Introductory Meetings: Let’s be clear on the realities here. The meetings being set here are introductory – from the Latin introda, meaning not ready to buy yet. (Kidding!) This can include face-to-face meetings or a discovery phone call. With introductory meetings, prospects have a sense of your overall value proposition but haven’t been qualified as to their readiness or ability to move forward.

  • Generating Qualified Opportunities: Qualified opportunities differ in that they are, well, qualified. The rep is still closing on a meeting or call but has: a) moved the prospect from curiosity into interest and b) vetted that the prospect meets or exceeds a minimum threshold of “sales-worthiness.”

Introductory Meetings: How to Select Metrics that Work for You

One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make is setting internal expectations using introductory meeting metrics (quantity) and then requiring opportunity-level qualification (quality). This seemingly innocuous misstep often ends in total disaster.

“Qualified introductory meetings” is an oxymoron. If your sales development process and expectations are at cross purposes, account executives will lose faith in the team, your SDRs will burn out, your culture will sour, and your group will fail to deliver.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t consider one model universally better – or more effective – than the other. I do believe that, in certain situations, one is likely more appropriate than the other. Here’s my rule of thumb.

Deploy an introductory meeting model when the market for your product is immature and/or when your account executives need more at-bats.

Let me give you an example. Today, customer relationship management (CRM) software is a mature market. Most (if not all) technology-enabled companies already have a solution in place. Those companies have existing contracts with future renewal dates, and the thought of changing providers sounds like a major hassle. In this instance, if your SDRs are setting introductory meetings for the AEs, you’re just wasting everyone’s time. This instance would require the qualified opportunity model.

Compare that to the market for a predictive lead scoring solution. That market is still immature, as the concept itself is new. Vendors are faced with doing the work of educating the market on the problem they solve. Rather than qualify themselves out of a meeting, sales development reps should be closing on meetings at full speed in this category.

In terms of qualification for introductory meetings, you can’t get much beyond right profile, right person, and right high-level pain.

If your SDRs are booking meetings with the right types of companies, the right people within them, and the prospects are at least curious about addressing a potential pain point, then the reps have done their jobs well.

In an immature market, the number one challenge your SDRs face is to arouse curiosity around a business issue that potentially hasn’t even been recognized yet. Sales development should be teeing up introductory meetings so the account executive can do the work of educating the prospect and developing that curiosity into interest.

Overcoming “Empty-Calendar Syndrome”

The second case for the introductory meeting model is when account executives are suffering from empty calendar syndrome. This one is easy. If your sales team is screaming for more “at-bats,” then break glass and set meetings. Conversion rates, qualification criteria, and cost per meeting all go out the window when your account executives’ calendars are anemic. Setting introductory meetings in this scenario is your go-to.

There are pros and cons to each sales development model, but you really need to think through the dynamics of your buyer and market to determine which is right for you. I’ve never met a sales organization that quibbled over degree of qualification when AEs were starving to have more conversations with prospects.

I look forward to continuing the conversation at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston!

TrishBertuzziTrish Bertuzzi is the Best Selling Author of The Sales Development Playbook: Build Repeatable Pipeline and Accelerate Growth with Inside Sales and founder of The Bridge Group, Inc. Her team at The Bridge Group works with B2B technology companies, helping them unleash the power of inside sales. They are on a mission to help technology companies build highly successful inside sales teams. To date they have worked with 240+ companies ranging from global to high-growth SaaS.

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Four Basic Tips to Optimize Sales Performance

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By Solomon Thimothy

Sales, especially B2B sales, is a difficult job. Whether you’re cold calling, emailing, or trying to convert inbound leads, every salesperson hears dozens of “nos” before every “yes.” As a sales manager, your job is to coach and guide your sales team toward overcoming the dreaded “nos” in an efficient and strategic manner.

An efficient and optimized sales department is key to increasing sales and scaling the company, regardless of industry or size. That’s why optimizing your sales process and operations is vital to increasing revenue and the success of the company.  

As a sales manager, there are four basic steps to keeping you grounded and focused on increasing sales efficiency and revenue goals.  

Create the Big Picture

Everyone needs something to aim for. Making more money or closing more deals isn’t enough, though. A sales manager needs to create the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) for the entire sales team. Everyone on the sales team has to be aware of your BHAG. Whether that’s closing $5 million in new revenue in a given year or reaching a quarterly revenue goal, it has to be specific. Your BHAG also has to be audacious enough that it motivates everyone to work just a bit harder while understanding the big payoff for doing so.

Optimize for One Metric

After you set the big picture, it’s time to get down to business. Before you can start making any real changes, it’s important to select one metric on which to focus. What is the one thing that will help you get closer to the big picture? Is it more calls? More appointments? Whatever that metric is, optimize for it and don’t stop until you’ve gotten there. Once you’re happy with that one metric, you can move on to optimize another metric. This focused approach will allow you to continuously make your sales operation more efficient without keeping track or trying to take on too many things at once.

Track and Analyze

Once you’ve chosen that one metric for optimization, it’s time to start tracking and analyzing. Gather sales numbers, call data, appointment numbers, or whatever other metrics you typically review, and start charting your progress for that one metric. Analyze how that metric differs from day to day, month to month, or even from salesperson to salesperson. Review these numbers with your sales team so everyone is on the same page.

Incentivize the Right Behaviors

As a sales manager, it’s easy to fall into the “performance trap.” In highly stressful and competitive companies, the sales manager usually defaults to a mindset of “perform or you’re out.” While it’s true that salespeople are paid to sell, they also benefit from the traditional incentives and mentorship other employees get. Incentivizing your sales team beyond meeting their quota numbers can go a long way. After all, you need a committed army of salespeople if you’re going to make your big picture happen. Incentivizing and energizing your sales team creates a sense of “we’re all in this together.”

Always Be Learning

Today’s sales tactics are vastly different from those of 10 years ago. Technology and the availability of information on the Internet have changed the way most people make buying decisions. While fundamental sales tactics may not have changed, there are many new things that can be learned. As a sales manager, you are expected to be the best at what you do, so make sure you’re on top of the latest tactics by attending sales-focused workshops or conferences – like Sales 2.0. You never know what new trick you’ll learn. Even better, you will find yourself surrounded by other salespeople who might have just the solution to your current problem.

Being in charge of improving sales is no easy task. Viewing sales as a broader goal – not just an individual’s performance – and optimizing will make it easier to achieve that one huge goal you’ve set. Making iterations to processes or tactics, measuring and tracking, incentivizing your team, and continuing to learn will make that once Big Hairy Audacious Goal a lot more attainable than you first thought!  

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 1.32.13 PMAs the founder and CEO of OneIMS and Clickx, Solomon Thimothy has built his career around his passion for helping other businesses grow an online presence and thrive in the digital world. Solomon works with clients big and small to develop uniquely customized and highly effective marketing strategies that meet every company’s individual goals. Follow him on twitter @sthimothy.

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