Top Four Trends B2B Sales Leaders Must Address in 2019

By Scott Collins

Do you want to capture more market share than your competitors? Then you need to stay on top of the ongoing, evolving, and emerging trends in not only sales, but also in customer buying. Here are four critical trends that have the potential to bring you more opportunities in 2019.

Trend #1: The ongoing increase in customer buying complexity shifts the role of sellers

Customers have reached a tipping point – B2B buying has become nearly unnavigable for stakeholders today. Not only do customers report that the number of people involved in buying continues to increase, but so does the amount of information. In our research, buyers reported reviewing an average of four and a half information sources on their own. This leaves buyers to organize, align, and even resolve conflicting information as they learn and begin to work together to create consensus. In fact, Gartner research shows that customers spend, on average, 15 percent of their total buying time just de-conflicting all that information. They spend another 22 percent building and maintaining consensus.

Customers also reported that only 17 percent of buying time is spent engaging suppliers. This leads to a huge access problem our sellers have today (each supplier rep is only getting a sliver of that 17 percent!). In this world, customers value the right information that helps them advance in completing a purchase. Successful sellers provide customers the right information at the right time. This requires sellers to be much more curators or brokers of information versus knowing all the information themselves.

Trend #2: Enabling buyers becomes a critical commercial strategy

The information that buyers want – that will help ease the buying process – is what we call “buyer enablement.” At Gartner, we define this as the provision of information that helps customers complete their critical buying jobs.

Creating and delivering this type of information requires a shift in the commercial engine most organizations have built. It’s no longer enough to focus on a serial commercial engine – where marketing engages in the beginning and then, once there’s a defined MQL, sales takes it over and pursues the opportunity “through the pipeline.”

Customers don’t buy like this today. In fact, our data tells us that customers engage with both sellers and a supplier’s Website as they complete all their buying jobs. Instead, we need to shift to a parallel commercial strategy where sales and marketing align to help customers complete their critical buying jobs. Organizations that can better align sales and marketing to aid customers in completion of their jobs will be better positioned to win.

Trend #3: Leaders will struggle to close sales capability gaps and grow their business through talent solutions alone

The majority of sales leaders tell us that, on average, only 26 percent of their sales force is currently capable of dealing with customer buying challenges today. That leaves a significant skill gap across sales organizations.

Additionally, organizations will need to replace, on average, 27 percent of their current sales force within a year due to churn (e.g., performing them out, external departures, internal promotions, or lateral moves) and to keep up with capturing market growth opportunities. All the while, according to our data, sales positions sit open for about 70 days before being filled.

In today’s talent market, it’s increasingly difficult to find the talent required to grow. Sales leaders can’t just hire to increase capability. Investing in talent through training can lead to improvements (if you also ensure sales managers coach that talent), but the best path for leaders is an enablement strategy. How can we better equip the current talent to deliver customers the right information at the right time? How can we then support and train them to be curators and brokers of information? Sales organizations that optimize to this approach can potentially shift their existing talent to be more effective in their markets.

Trend #4: Gender diversity will be a competitive advantage

The sales function has the second-biggest gender equity gap of all corporate functions. Women are underrepresented, holding just 19 percent of leadership positions in sales. In such a challenging talent environment, organizations that accelerate gender diversity will not only expand the potential talent pool, but also bring other business benefits to the sales organization.

In this talent war, women are typically more engaged in their roles and with their organizations than men. Women-led teams are also more diverse – creating a more diverse workforce. Organizations composed of 45 percent or more women have above-average market share and profitability. These sales organizations also close significantly more revenue at the deal level. They deliver more than double the revenue of a sales organization made up of 20-44 percent women. Sales organizations that develop strategies to address gender bias, actively manage gender diversity, and leverage existing diversity will find competitive advantage in the market.

These four trends will be critical for sales leaders to address in 2019. As it continues to be increasingly difficult to differentiate in a competitive marketplace, while maintaining profitability, sales organizations that take action on these opportunities will position themselves to retain customers and take market share. They will be able to achieve the above-market growth rates so many sales leaders are tasked with by their CEOs and boards.

Scott Collins is vice president, advisory, at Gartner.

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The Best Areas to Focus Your Sales Coaching Efforts

By Gabrielle Hughes

The purpose of sales coaching is to get the absolute best performance from your salespeople – but coaching is a demanding job, and can overwhelm many sales managers. To help you stay focused, here are the key areas you should focus your coaching efforts.

Area #1: Onboarding

As we make clear in our Sales Onboarding and Ramp Guide, great sales coaches do seven key things during the onboarding process.

  1. Let reps view a full sales cycle
  2. Show them what good looks like
  3. Let reps learn on demand
  4. Crowdsource training content
  5. Continually measure
  6. Let reps demo sooner
  7. Use a consistent framework

The message is clear: Sales coaching starts with a strong core onboarding strategy. Create your system, then work toward the next step. Use this slide deck to maximize your sales onboarding process.

Area #2: Sales Calls

Sales-call coaching involves two steps: pre-call planning and post-call debriefs.

Pre-call Planning

Prepping for routine sales calls should include a review of basic selling skills, including cold calling, objection-handling techniques, and discovery calls.

Here is a short list of pre-call planning topics salespeople often find helpful during coaching sessions:

  • Deal Status/Pipeline Stage
  • Key Pain Points
  • Key Strengths
  • Core Vulnerabilities
  • Competitors Involved
  • Desired Call Outcomes

Post-call Debriefs

Great sales managers will perform call review and analysis to get a real sense of how salespeople are performing in front of prospects and customers.

To assist your call reviews, use this 12-step sales process to spotlight common mistakes and proactively coach reps on best practices.

In the interest of saving time, we recommend using call recording and analytics software to perform your post-call debrief and to critique rep performance. This approach works much faster than call shadowing or anecdotal Q&As with reps; it also gives sales managers more flexibility for how and when they conduct their reviews. Compare call debriefs to professional sports, where breaking down game film is much more effective than coaching from memory.

Area #3: Sales Pipeline Review

The goals of a full pipeline review are to get a macro picture of a sales rep’s deals, plus deliver to the rep actionable, tactical advice for moving deals through the sales pipeline. Here are four key components of a pipeline review:

  1. Review deal progress and stage changes
  2. Identify any new leads in the pipeline
  3. Assess the viability of existing opportunities
  4. Strategize about how to pursue the warmest opportunities

Sales coaching also requires coaches to analyze pipeline trends. Lean on your sales operations and analytics team to analyze opportunity movement, speed, and conversion rates among the various stages in your pipeline.

Whenever you find weak spots in the pipeline, formulate a hypothesis about the root cause behind poor performance, test it with data and anecdotal conversations with reps, and then implement specific coaching tactics to fix the issue.

Area #4: Weekly One-on-ones

Consistent, recurring, actionable one-one-ones are a vital part of the sales coaching process. To ensure your weekly one-on-ones are effective, focus on the most valuable blocking-and-tackling aspects of the sales process. For example, we recommend focusing sales training and one-on-one discussions on these seven areas:

  1. Discovery Calls
  2. Prospecting
  3. Presenting
  4. Objection Handling
  5. Selling Against Competitors
  6. Customer Storytelling
  7. Selling to C-Suite Executives (if applicable)

A great sales coach will drill into the areas of weakness for his or her reps and coach reps on how to improve. Moreover, he or she will build trust and rapport with reps, set and track KPIs, and map business objectives to the personal and professional objectives of the sales rep. You can draw from this list of top sales books to help highly motivated reps in areas of need.

Gabrielle Hughes is senior content marketing manager at Gong.io, a conversation intelligence platform for sales. Gong helps sales leaders close the performance gap between their top reps and everyone else by giving them visibility into their sales conversations.

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Who Are the Top 2019 CPQ Influencers?

By Gideon Thomas

As the sales tech industry continues to evolve, so does the CPQ marketplace. Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) software is no longer considered a “nice-to-have,” but is now a “need-to-have” for businesses seeking every opportunity to increase revenue through more effective and efficient sales processes.

As the sales tech industry continues to evolve, so does the CPQ marketplace. Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) software is no longer considered a “nice-to-have,” but is now a “need-to-have” for businesses seeking every opportunity to increase revenue through more effective and efficient sales processes.

The minds behind the CPQ software revolution have led the charge, resulting in the exponential growth of the CPQ market.

Market Adoption

Although CPQ has come a long way in the past decade, only 51.1 percent of enterprise companies have a CPQ in place according to a report from Miller Heiman.

CPQ Market Movements

Within the past 10 years we have seen a number of CPQ acquisitions by market-leading CRMs:

Big Machines > Oracle: $400 million

Steelbrick > Salesforce: $360 million

CallidusCloud > SAP: $2.4 billion

In the attempt to broaden and connect their product suite offering, these CRMs decided to bring the CPQ software in-house. In terms of market share, of course, this gave them greater revenue generation opportunity for cross-selling from their core competency.

From a user point of view, this news is mixed. In some cases, these legacy CRM systems have grandfathered in software architecture from the previous decade, which can sometimes be characterized in simple terms as being slower to implement, slower to make changes, and with a higher price point.

This is unavoidable for two reasons: These CRMs need to recover their cost of acquisition, so keeping the price high helps. In addition, the C-level leaders who built and grew the original product moved onto new pastures post-acquisition. Many companies experience significant changes in product roadmap and leadership post acquisition, and this changes the nature of the company.

A New Breed of CPQ Has Arrived

Given everything we have already addressed, it’s encouraging to know that a new breed of CPQ has arrived that addresses the pains of legacy systems:

  • Native integration to CRMs
  • Dynamic product architecture
  • Lower price
  • Ease of use

You can see the majority of these new-breed software platforms on the G2 Crowd Grid for CPQ.

Meet 10 CPQ Thought Leaders for 2019

  1. The “Godfather” of CPQ, Godard Abel, is now the CEO and co-founder of G2 Crowd, but previously held two significant CPQ roles: first, as co-founder and CEO of Big Machines (now Oracle CPQ), and then, later, as CEO of Steelbrick (now Salesforce CPQ). Two significant acquisitions for the CPQ marketplace.

  2. Apttus CEO and Chairman Kirk Krappe deserves respect for being one of the first significant ISV partners to move out of Salesforce to also work with Microsoft. There is a great quote in this Diginomica article that sums up this shift: “There’s a saying in the tech industry that, when a small vendor partners with one of the giants, it’s akin to dancing with an elephant – you should always be careful of getting trodden on. Dancing with two elephants at the same time is unprecedented.”

  3. DealHub’s CEO and co-founder Eyal Elbahary is regarded as a leader in the “New Breed of CPQ” solutions. He has successfully created a new mindset of how CPQ solutions are implemented and tailored for fast-growth sales teams.

  4. CallidusCloud’s thought leader is their VP of CPQ and CLM Service Delivery, Tarkan Dolen.

  5. PandaDoc CEO Mikita Mikado has more recently added “CPQ light” to their software offering.

  6. Joe Morgan is the director of CPQ at DXC Technology. DXC is now ranked as one of the leading professional service partners for Microsoft Dynamics 365 users.

  7. Frank Sohn is the president and CEO of Novus Consulting, a company that prides itself on sharing new CPQ content amongst its community as well as providing related services.

  8. Yossi Haimov is the CEO of Prodware, the largest Microsoft Dynamics implementer in Europe and a key thinker in evaluating which sales tools are essential in this stack.

  9. Gartner’s Mark Lewis and Melissa Hilbert are the creative minds behind Gartner’s CPQ Magic Quadrant.

  10. Louis Columbus is a contributing writer at Forbes on CPQ; and, although he is not from a dedicated CPQ background, his technical experience and somewhat unbiased thinking gives a fresh take on the CPQ industry at a time where evolution is as needed as honesty.

While there are, no doubt, other important voices within CPQ that may not have made it onto this list, you now have a good starting point to continue your research and discovery.

Moving CPQ Forward

You can’t help but feel that, for such an important market, the list of active thought leaders is highly focused. We need great content that helps move our thinking forward from what used to be a technically challenging area of sales software to something that is now much more accessible and ready to use.

How do you see the CPQ marketplace advancing and growing? Businesses are hungry for resources that empower them to use the right tools to improve sales operations and increase revenue. Share your knowledge with us. We want to help you be the next CPQ thought leader.

As vice president of growth at DealHub.io, Gideon Thomas is extremely passionate about helping companies gain a more informed and actionable understanding of the changing landscape within sales engagement. He is a regular content contributor in this area of expertise and draws inspiration from the latest trends and statistics influencing sales engagement.

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How to Really Get Full ROI from Sales Training

By Robert Kear

Other than the costs associated with hiring top sales talent, a sales leader’s most significant investment will be training his or her team.

According to data from the 2016 State of Sales Training report, published by ATD Research, (which reflects responses from 227 talent development professionals responsible for sales enablement), the average annual total expenditure on sales training is $954,070. Unfortunately, many sales training investments aren’t providing the top-line impact sales leaders and management are looking for.

But there is a solution to this. My organization, Sales Performance International (SPI), recently released a white paper, Beyond Sales Training: Six Essentials for a True Sales Performance System, that argues sales organizations must move beyond traditional sales development approaches and focus instead on what we identify as performance development. This will ensure real returns on sales-improvement investments.

“Performance development” will automatically address many of the challenges associated with traditional approaches to sales training. A focus on performance development includes the following characteristics.

#1: Clearly defined business outcomes. Despite the hefty cost of training initiatives, many companies commit to a plan without a clear view of how that training will connect to their strategic goals. Performance development includes a systematic view of how new knowledge and behaviors will impact and contribute to business outcomes and revenue attainment.

#2: A highly focused scope for training. Many companies engage in what might be called a blanket approach to training, which includes a scope that is both broad and programmatic. This is often too vague to be helpful. Performance development demands an agile mindset and a “timeboxed” approach to scope. Timeboxing helps the team identify areas for improvement; it also assigns specific parameters to individual tasks or deliverables, which keeps solutions focused and expedient.

#3: A customized “path to mastery.” Mass-produced learning and development content just won’t cut it given the way customers buy today. Trainees need a customized “path to mastery” that helps them develop the knowledge and behavior they need to succeed in a wide variety of sales situations.

#4: Field application of new skills. Most sales training initiatives focus primarily on learning objectives without necessarily addressing the skills salespeople will need in their particular field, with their particular market segment. Any performance-development-driven approach will take into account how salespeople will actually apply their new skills when they go out into the field to sell.

To learn more, download our white paper: Beyond Sales Training: Six Essentials for a True Sales Performance System.

Robert Kear is chief technology officer of Sales Performance International (SPI). Get started on a high-performance journey today; contact SPI to schedule your free consultative review.

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The Crucial Power of Visualization in CRM

By Nikolaus Kimla

Sales and marketing professionals are so bombarded with data and information today we need technology to help us sort it all out. One powerful aid to that mission is visualization – simply because the mind processes visual data many times faster than written or verbal data.

This makes sense. Going all the way back in humankind’s evolution, before written words, we communicated with pictures and symbols. All the recorded history we have of our earliest civilizations  – Egypt is a prime example – is in pictures and symbols. (When one thinks of ancient Egyptian symbols, one of the first that comes to mind is surely the eye symbol we see everywhere.)

We are now coming to the point when visual communication is once again of prime importance. In the technology space, there are now even graphical databases containing visual data. At Pipeliner CRM, everything we do falls under the tagline of “Instant Dynamic Visualization.” Why do we feel this is important? Because, in management – or even as a user – you don’t have a lot of time. When data is represented visually, you can absorb it much faster. The more information we can make easier to understand quickly, the better for sales and marketing teams to function effectively and efficiently.

Impact on Use of Data

Visualization brings a tremendous impact to technology. We are doing everything possible for technology users to obtain the right information at the right time and in the fight form, so it can be immediately understood.

The human being – the user – must make a decision from that visualized information. As an example from CRM, the information might mean there aren’t enough opportunities in the user’s pipeline for them to meet their sales quota. The user can then do something about it. The faster they have the data, the faster they can make a decision – and, perhaps, even be proactive about making positive changes.

Visualization runs deep in the user experience. Proper visualization brings, as we’ve already covered, rapid and thorough understanding. Beyond that, our unified visual navigation – used throughout the Pipeliner CRM system – means a user only has to learn something once, and it can be applied everywhere.

Importance of User Experience

User experience is crucial, and has a direct bearing on CRM adoption. Given the sometimes considerable expenditure from a company for a CRM application, the ROI for that expenditure cannot be recovered if users won’t utilize CRM.

According to a recent report from Forrester, “Riding the Next Wave of SaaS CRM,” 49 percent of buyers are satisfied with their SaaS solution – compared with only 34 percent of users.

We’ve known since the very beginning of our product’s life  –as a result of our initial research – that user satisfaction and adoption were key to the success of any CRM. Hence we’ve made user experience, through Instant Dynamic Visualization, the top priority for our development.

Setup and Administration

Another key finding from the Forrester report was that CRM users are most frustrated by their complicated CRM, and nearly half find training on the system insufficient. Pipeliner’s powerful visual simplicity also means Pipeliner can be deployed and trained in a fraction of the time of other CRM applications – user training is often completed in several hours (not days or weeks as in the case of traditional CRMs).

As for administration, the powerful simplicity of our system has rendered a full-time administrator unnecessary. Just as the cloud has meant companies no longer need to employ a full, expensive IT department to service the company’s computing needs, so it happens that Pipeliner has eliminated the need for a full-time CRM administrator. This greatly reduces a company’s risk, just as the cloud has eliminated the risk of relying on in-house IT personnel.

CRM administrator training has also been slashed, and can now be done in about five hours on anyone with a bit of computer literacy. Once completed, administration is a very part-time job.

But today, and into the future, the administrator – as well as the sales manager and salesperson – will rely on visualization to help them learn faster and better. This is one reason we produce the most visual CRM solution in the world. But the other (and far more important) reason is that the future is entirely visual.

Nikolaus Kimla is the CEO of Pipelinersales Inc., and the mastermind behind the development of Pipeliner, a revolutionary sales CRM software.

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How to Be the Very Best Kind of B2B Salesperson

Most B2B sales professionals cringe at the thought of the stereotypical image of the sleazy salesperson who will do or say anything to close the sale. But there are salespeople out there who attempt to badger, coerce, or lie their way to a sale.  

In his keynote presentation, “How to Succeed with Sales 3.0 – Lessons from History for Winning in 2019,” at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Las Vegas, Gerhard Gschwandtner, founder of Selling Power magazine, discussed integrity in selling. He said behaviors like cheating and lying in sales are actually manifestations of a negative mindset. Here are the two main mindset traps he outlined.

Mindset Trap #1: A ruthless desire to win at all costs

Many salespeople have a strong drive to win. The problem is, some people want to win at any cost. This kind of attitude can have complex roots, but a simple shortcut is to look for feelings of anger and insecurity. “When you have anger, you always lose in the long run,” said Gschwandtner. “Anger is a negative emotion. The burning rage is like a fire in the mindset of sellers who want to win at all costs.”

When anger and the drive to win combine, the result can be cheating, lying, and even criminal fraud. Gschwandtner reminded the audience of what happened at Enron, an energy trading company that collapsed after a massive accounting fraud scheme was revealed. He also cited research showing at least two conditions need to be in place for fraud to occur.

  1. Pressure – A large amount of pressure to deliver great results, without proper support, can give some people the motivation to do something outside the bounds of integrity.
  2. Rationalization – The idea that you can “get away” with fraud can sometimes make it easier to choose to engage in fraud.

In sales, a desire to win is absolutely necessary – but a ruthless desire to win can lead to a massive downfall. Enron’s 2001 bankruptcy filing was the largest in American history at the time (estimated losses totaled $74 billion). Many people participated in fraud at Enron because the business culture was steeped in a lack of integrity. People figured: If everyone is acting this way, it must be okay.

Gschwandtner also discussed the example of Lance Armstrong and his doping scandal. Psychologists have called Armstrong an example of “duping delight”: Armstrong actually got pleasure from misleading people and getting away with it (at least for a time). As Gschwandtner put it, “Armstrong knew people liked to see him win, but they wouldn’t have liked him if they knew he was cheating. And they wouldn’t have let him compete anymore. His attitude was, ‘I loved winning – and audiences loved it when I won, too.’”

Gschwandtner urged sales leaders to be a moral compass at their companies. “If you see this kind of behavior at your company, stand up and be counted. Say, ‘This is not right.’”

Salespeople who drive sales to a close and have a winning-at-all-cost attitude tend to get lots of sales…but they also tend to create a lot of cancellations and even chaos in an organization. The reason many people end up drifting toward tactics like coercion and lying is because they feel inferior. Such salespeople equate money with their own value. They see sales as a literal representation of how much they’re worth. In these cases, sales leaders need to teach salespeople their value is inherent and not negotiable.

Mindset Trap #2: Wanting to be liked at all costs

The second mindset trap Gschwandtner outlined was salespeople who have a deep need to be liked. When salespeople want to be liked too much, they tend to

  • Schmooze with prospects and customers without ever networking effectively.
  • Avoid customers they perceive as too challenging to talk to.
  • Avoid prospecting and closing.

Gschwandtner shared a video from Dave Kurlan, showing that a full 53 percent of salespeople simply make a lot of friends and never sell anything to them. Among elite salespeople (top performers), only 11 percent say they feel a deep need to be liked. By contrast, 86 percent of the weakest salespeople feel a deep need to be liked.

If you have salespeople who suffer from this challenge, ask them the following questions:

  1. In your mind, what are the advantages of being liked?
  2. What are the disadvantages of being liked?
  3. Is being liked by prospects and customers helping you reach your sales goal?
  4. How do you think you can balance your need to be liked with the need to close the sale?

As a leader you can help salespeople change their mindset. As Gschwandtner said, you want to help them increase their productivity and not be sabotaged by their need to be liked.

Download the PowerUp Sales App to Get a Mindset Lift

As a practical tip, Gschwandtner encouraged the Sales 3.0 audience to download the PowerUp Sales app in the Apple Store (developed by Precise Wellness LLC – the same makers of ThinkUp, which was named the best motivational app of 2017). The app allows you to record affirmations specific to your needs, in your own voice. Simply listen to these affirmations daily to improve your levels of happiness and success.

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How to Engage More Strategic Accounts as a Sales Development Team

By Ian Sullivan

When I hear people refer to account-based marketing as the latest B2B trend, I can’t help but laugh. Sales teams have been targeting and selling to strategic accounts since day one.

But what has changed in recent years is the technology that makes it easy to identify, prioritize, and engage your best-fit accounts. Finally, with the help of data and software, sales and marketing are working together to achieve the same goals.

Sales development – or business development, account qualification and prospecting, whatever you want to call it – serves as a bridge between marketing and sales. Use these three tips to empower smarter, more effective sales development with ABM.

1. Rely on data, not your gut.

How do you prioritize your target accounts? If you’re like a lot of reps, you might scan your list and cherry-pick the companies that sound most promising – but where’s the science in that?

When you’re doing ABM, data is critical. It’s your marketing team’s job to deliver a list of target accounts, but it’s your responsibility to prioritize them and build relationships with the right people. Fortunately, modern tech has all the data you need to surface your hottest accounts.

To do this, you’ll need to look at both intent and engagement insights. Intent data uses online signals to uncover which accounts are in an active buying cycle.

Engagement data alerts you to accounts that are engaging with your most valuable Web content. By using ABM tools that aggregate this data at an account level, you can see engagement from accounts and individuals that have never filled out a form on your Website. This all but eliminates the need to generate leads. When you know which accounts are engaging with your content anonymously, you can reach out earlier with more relevant messaging.

Prioritizing accounts actively searching for your solution, engaging with your Website and content, or even looking into your competition is exponentially more effective than volume outreach for building high-quality pipeline.

2. Scrap your templated emails and get personal.

Buyers are being inundated with sales outreach – sometimes receiving upwards of 20 emails a day from companies asking for their time (and, ultimately, their money). Most SDRs will take the time to personalize the subject and first line or so of an email; but, to really stand out, you need to go the extra mile.

Start by using data enrichment tools and good old-fashioned research to identify your ideal buyers at each target account. Make sure your team is aligned with marketing on the buyer personas you need to engage. Use this information to develop authentic messages that speak to your buyers’ needs. I won’t pretend this is quick and easy – real personalization never is – but it’s worth it.

While sales development can be perceived as a numbers game (e.g., how much outreach does it take to generate a quality meeting?), a lower-volume, highly-targeted approach is what it takes to be successful with ABM. I suggest a reasonable activity quota to incentivize the right behavior and manage expectations.

3. Never become complacent.

While an SDR’s job is paramount to the success of a company, the repetitive nature of the role can prove challenging for even the most enthusiastic reps. To be successful, you need to challenge yourself and grow your skill set every day.

A channel that may drive success one month may run dry the next. Phone conversations may take unscripted turns as the market evolves and new objections come into play. SDRs need to allocate time every day to stay up to date on the market and constantly try new tactics – for example, making personalized outreach videos, changing a call script around, and continuously familiarizing themselves with their product and their competitors.

In Conclusion: Win More with ABM

Account-based marketing is here to stay, and the companies that are able to successfully align sales and marketing will find the most success. As an SDR who went through the transition from a lead-based marketing model to an account-based model, I can speak first-hand of the success I’ve enjoyed from a data-driven, personalized approach to ABM.

Ian Sullivan is an enterprise sales development representative at Terminus. You can find him on Twitter at @Marketing_Sully.

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How Could You Celebrate the Outcomes You Seek?

By Jim Cathcart

Things that are acknowledged tend to repeat. People crave feedback. They want to know they are seen or heard. They want to feel their opinions count and that, if they do well, someone will acknowledge them for it. If you praise a behavior, people will seek to repeat it. However, if you criticize an act, you will tend to build resentment. Not fair, is it? Besides, some things need to be corrected or stopped. So, what’s a leader to do?

The Value of Celebrations

How about building some celebrations into your plan? I recently participated in a big awards ceremony in Hollywood where more than 60 people received trophies for their work and were interviewed on camera on the “red carpet.” It was elegant and fun, and it felt really important. Families and friends were there to add to the joy and preserve every moment on their smartphones. The recipients definitely left that event with a strong desire to “do it again” and earn yet another celebration.

In martial arts training, there are belts – white, red, black, etc. – to acknowledge each level of skill improvement. In Toastmasters International, there is a celebration of sorts at every level of advancement in public speaking. In Scouting there are merit badges. People are motivated to earn the next certificate, badge, patch, or pin. This is not trivial. It is symbolic and meaningful. And…it works!

Reward the Outcomes You Want

How can you use this concept to stimulate higher performance, deeper learning, better discipline, and personal initiative? I say, structure your awards and celebrations around the outcomes you want and the behaviors that lead to those outcomes. Don’t reward meaningless actions; wait till someone does something that has been proven to produce the results you’re seeking. Then celebrate that!  

You don’t wait to praise your infant only after they can walk and run. You celebrate every attempt to stand or walk – at least at first. But, once they can navigate on two feet, you shift your praise to the next level of skill development. The same should be true in sales training.

At first, you can celebrate learning the sales presentation, knowing the products well, or making enough new calls on good prospects. Then, as folks progress, you can celebrate improved call-to-interview ratios, presentations-to-purchases percentages, and innovative sales techniques that pay off.

The Smart Way to Celebrate

The key is to first list the outcomes you want; then, find appropriate ways to acknowledge, reward, or celebrate each new step.

Be wary of celebrating too early. Our office once had a big bell that could be rung with every new sale. One day an agent rang the bell and three of us nearby came out to praise the salesperson. But we learned the application didn’t have a check to go with it. The sale was probable, but it was not official. We then withdrew our praise and almost scolded the agent for premature bell-ringing. It became an embarrassment for the agent instead of a win. After that, nobody in the agency ever rang the bell without a check in hand.

Start today. List the outcomes you want and the many little and large ways you could make them moments of magic for the participants. Business can be much more fun when you look for ways to, as Ken Blanchard once said, “Catch people doing something right!”

Jim Cathcart is a long-time contributor to Selling Power and one of the world’s leading professional speakers. He is the original author of Relationship Selling plus 18 other books. Cathcart.com helps organizations increase sales engagement and self-motivation. Contact him at info@cathcart.com.

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The Amazing Benefits of Conversation Intelligence

By Parth Mukherjee

If you care about improving your sales cycle, you’ll want to look into conversation intelligence (CI) quickly. (On October 26th at the Sales 3.0 Conference, Roy Raanani, CEO of Chorus.ai, will present  “The Future of Sales Meetings.”)

Why exactly do sales teams need CI? If you think of all the steps involved in your sales cycle – demand generation, lead qualification, meetings, deal life cycle – you’re probably capturing key metrics at each stage in order to optimize the activities in that stage. For example, you probably closely follow things like MQL-to-SQL or opportunity conversion rates, sales cycle time, and forecast accuracy to drive improvements through all those stages.

But sales reps spend more than a third of their time in direct selling activities with customers and prospects. At a time when around 57 percent of reps missed their quota, can we really afford to not know what they are conveying to customers?

Without automatically collecting and analyzing conversation data, you are depending on your managers to be on every call a rep does. And that’s never going to happen.

Four Ways Your Sales Cycle Can Benefit from CI

Once you collect conversation data, you can start optimizing the content that reps deliver verbally during their meetings. Some of the top benefits include:

  • Faster sales rep ramp time because you are training them based on real conversations
  • More deals won through analyzing and improving talk tracks used by reps
  • More deals won against competitors since you know what works and what doesn’t
  • More reps hit quota because they learn what the top performing reps are doing right
  • Greatly improved team morale because they are now continuously coached and enabled  

The Chorus Science team has put together some sample insights from the millions of calls we’ve recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using the Chorus AI-based platform.

Insight #1: Increase the number of qualified conversations your sales reps have with prospects.

One of the major areas of improvement is the number of qualified conversations your reps actually have each week. Often reps complain, “I do not have enough meetings” or, “Most of my prospects do not show up.” CI data easily helps you capture no-shows and measure the amount of time your team wasted on waiting on these meetings. This can help tighten up your lead qualification process and improve rep productivity. Data from Chorus Science shows about 21 percent of all first meetings are no-shows and the rep spends an average of 11 minutes waiting on the call.

If we add 10 minutes for meeting preparation and time sunk before next available slot, we easily reach 30 minutes of wasted time per no-show. Assuming a rep has 40 weekly meetings, this would amount to between two and six hours a week entirely wasted on no-shows. If you can identify how much time your team is wasting, you can go about reducing it.

Insight #2: Get your sales reps to ask between two and five engaging questions on initial sales calls.

It is not just about how many questions a rep asks – in fact, Chorus Science data suggests no verifiable pattern in the number of questions a rep should ask in order to win more deals. As always, quality trumps quantity.

So how many engaging questions do your reps ask prospects? Engaging questions are open ended and framed so prospects are encouraged to talk for an extended period of time compared to questions that only have a yes/no answer. Our data shows calls with two to five engaging questions are 60 percent more likely to advance.

Our analysis also revealed that open questions like the following help break the ice and generate high prospect engagement:

  • What do your top performers do during sales calls that contribute to their high win rates?
  • How do you currently ramp up new hires?
  • How would you evaluate a solution like ours?
  • What else is on your priority list for 2018?

Insight #3: Help your sales reps understand how to handle competitive threats during sales calls.

Many, if not all of us, are always up against one or more competitors in the sales cycle. But in how many instances do we really think a deal is competitive? We looked at more than 10,000 calls that were longer than 10 minutes and had names of competitors pop up more than once during the call. However, only 8.5 percent of the CRM records for those deals had competitive information in them.

Which means your CRM could be under-reporting the competitive nature of your calls by about 10x. This is akin to flying blind if you use the CRM information to build the competitive risk in your forecasting model. Chorus Science also gave us some insights into when best to bring up the name of the competitor and how to bring it up. Roy will be covering some of this in his keynote.

Insight #4: Get sales reps on a single call with multiple stakeholders.

In 2017, HBR reported that “the number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today.” So, do you try to do one-to-ones with as many people as you can? Or should you get more people on the same call? Chorus Science insights from across 18,000 opportunities showed that won deals have an average of 50 percent more prospects on calls as compared to lost deals.

The inability to get every stakeholder onto the calls can be a limiting factor in your deals. Do you know how many people you have on calls and how many of your critical deals still rely on one person on the call with your rep?

Parth Mukherjee is the head of product marketing at Chorus.ai, the conversation intelligence platform used by the fastest growing B2B businesses. Chorus.ai is a conversation intelligence platform that records, transcribes, and analyzes business conversations in real time to coach reps on how to become top performers. Come meet Chorus at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Las Vegas on October 25-26.

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How to Eliminate Chronic Negative Thoughts

By Christine Harrington

You’re about to learn a different perspective when it comes to attitude.

Stay with me. This isn’t another blog post about positive attitude. This is information based on real neuroscience research.

The fact is, attitude is not developed by a single thought. It’s developed by a cluster of thoughts glued together through repetition. This persistent repetition forms an attitude habit.

Your Attitude is Nothing More than a Habit

Thoughts are the communication of the mind. Feelings are the communication of the body. How you think and how you feel generate your current state. Every thought you have signals the body to produce a chemical with a corresponding feeling. So, if you get up in the morning dreading the day, your body will respond with a chemical to make you feel anxious.

Every day you repeat this (wake up, feel dread; wake up, feel dread) you’re reliving the past; and you stay stuck in the past.

If you get up in the morning feeling happy and grateful for another day, your body will produce a corresponding chemical so you’ll feel joy and gratitude for the opportunities that await you in this new day you’ve been given.

Every day you repeat this (wake up, feel joyful and grateful; wake up, feel joyful and grateful) you’re creating a present and a future of possibilities and unlimited thinking. You’re free to be in the present moment and create a bright and successful future.

It’s this cycle that your body begins to memorize better than your mind…your conscious mind. The constant repetition of this cycle (positive or negative thoughts) forms an attitude habit and, before you know it, your body takes over your mind.

Have you ever driven to the grocery store or any familiar location and, as your pull into the parking space, you don’t recall driving there? This is an example of your body taking over your mind.

Here’s another example. You awaken from a bad dream and you can’t stop thinking about it. All day long, you’re in a sour mood because the bad dream keeps haunting you.

Why Positive Thinking Might Not Be the Fix

You can declare that you want to be healthy – or you want to have your best month in sales – but, up until this point, you have conditioned your body for the exact opposite.

When your mind and body work in opposition, there will never be change. You can’t just repeat a positive affirmation over and over again and expect it to work, while you feel depressed or unhappy. Try smiling while having a negative thought! (Hard to do!)

Therefore, you must think at a higher level than you feel in your body.

How to Shift Your Mindset

The process replaces the habit of your chronic thoughts with better and more positive thoughts. When this is repeated over and over again, your body begins to memorize the new feeling.

This is why a morning ritual is so vital – it sets up you and your day for success.

Neuroscience refers to this process as pruning synaptic connections and creating new ones. Think of a flower garden. The flowers represent your memories of success, love, joy, and relationships. The weeds represent shame, guilt, and failure. And the rocks represent barriers to new growth and opportunities.

When you prune your synaptic connections, you’re removing the past negative memories – the weeds and rocks in your mind – and replacing them with new growth of flowers: which creates new synaptic connections.

Most people are hostage to their past thoughts. But you can break free from the bondage of automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) and restore your free will by changing your attitude habit.

This is an example of many mindset shifts I teach in Developing a Peak Performance Mindset, and it’s why Peak Performance Mindset is the missing link for you as a salesperson and for your sales team or business.  

Christine Harrington is The Savvy Sales Lady. She is a facilitator for Peak Performance Mindset workshops and a personal sales coach who helps sales professionals develop and improve their sales performance.

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