Three Ways to Build a Successful Sales Team through Content Intelligence

By David Keane

Sales reps today face a harsh reality: they spend 13 hours each week either looking for the right content for a prospect or creating marketing collateral for an upcoming meeting (EMI Industry Intelligence Report) – and as little as 36 percent of their time on actually selling (CSO Insights).

No salesperson wants to be stuck in the minutiae of marketing; they want to be interacting with customers, talking to prospects, and doing what they do best – selling your company’s product.   

Sales-driven organizations understand that, much like you need to cut through the information overload to reach your clients, you also need to help your sales team cut through your content to reach the materials that will help them when and where they need it.

Content intelligence is a growing market that can help organizations ensure their sales teams are focused on selling – not content creation. By tracking and analyzing how your team is using sales content, marketing can create better collateral in the most helpful formats and deliver it directly to reps so they can close more deals and replicate success across the entire organization.

Here’s a closer look at three ways to use content intelligence to build a successful sales team.

Bridge the Marketing-Sales Gap

One of the biggest challenges reps face is that they are not equipped with the right information at the right time to be successful with their customers. If marketing knew which content was used by the top sales performers, how frequently they used it, and at what stage in the sales cycle it was most effective, content producers could revise or remove unused materials and prioritize specific development topics and formats.

For example, content intelligence could identify the three top pieces of content used by the sales teams in the last stage of the sales cycle (the content that closes deals) allowing similar content to be created to further support sales’ efforts.

Similarly, content intelligence may reveal content gaps. Perhaps your team does not have sufficient marketing-produced content for initial customer engagements and creates their own. By empowering marketing properly, you reduce the countless hours your reps spend on ineffective or useless content production.

Push Content Directly to Your Sales Reps

Forcing reps to navigate through multiple silos and content repositories, searching for relevant information from their device, is counterproductive.

Instead, content intelligence can tell you exactly how and through which channels reps are accessing sales content so you can then deliver the most up-to-date tools to them via the channel that works best – increasing their productivity and active selling time.

This also enables organizations to push content based on a particular sales situation. For example, if the marketing team knows a rep is having a second meeting with a prospect on Tuesday, it can push content that directly correlates with that company for that stage in the sales cycle to the rep’s preferred device on Friday so they can use it to prepare.  

Replicate Success

We all know that, in any organization, there are reps who are habitually successful – they always achieve their sales quota, close the biggest deals, and beat the competition. There are also many others we would like to be able to replicate that success, but getting there has been difficult. By tracking and sharing how top performers use, engage with, share, and annotate content – and at what frequency – other members of the team can learn how to incorporate the most helpful content and usage strategies to make them more successful.

Using content intelligence as a training and development mechanism helps organizations move the needle on improving overall team performance, which has a meaningful impact on the bottom line.

At the end of the day, sales reps are the lifeblood of almost every business. Empowering them to be successful is a complex task; however, by zeroing in on the content metrics that matter, you’re not only optimizing productivity – you’re optimizing your team’s ability to close more deals thanks to the right information at the right time via the right channel.

David Keane is the cofounder and CEO of Bigtincan, a leading mobile, AI-powered sales enablement platform. David combines his experience in enterprise and deep mobility knowledge to drive a company that is powering the mobile productivity revolution. Prior to Bigtincan, David started and sold his own businesses – Quadtel Asia in Singapore and Veritel Wireless in Australia – and had previously run international operations for Web startup Kgrind.com, growing and managing their business over three continents.

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Seven Conditions to Create a High-Performance Sales Environment

By Bob Junke

A vice president of sales recently said to me, “Creating a high-performance sales environment is what sales leaders dream about, but most have no idea how to do it.” But the dream is not as elusive as it might seem.

A high-performance sales environment is one where the conditions conducive to a successful sales culture have been put in place – resulting in predictable, continuous, metric-based performance improvement. There are seven conditions, or building blocks, and they primarily impact salespeople, frontline sales managers, and perhaps most importantly the sales executive.

  1. Effective Sales Process. Only about 15 percent of sellers are natural, intuitive “sales eagles.” Most, therefore, need the systematic approach afforded to them by a sales process. That systematic approach should provide them with the ability to execute the 10 skills necessary for success (ranging from prospecting and need development to negotiating and closing), enabling them to effectively qualify, manage, and control sales cycles and it must be repeatable.

    The next conditions are specific to frontline sales managers. They are the linchpins of the sales organization, because they must provide salespeople with the consistent support and coaching necessary to ensure their long-term metric-based performance improvement. Here the sales process functions as a bridge between sellers and their managers. It sets the stage for the next four conditions, collectively called the Sales Operations Review, which must be consistently performed by frontline sales managers.

  2. Opportunity Assessment. There are six key opportunity qualifiers against which managers should assess opportunities (for more information, see Opportunity Qualifiers). This will allow them to identify gaps and problems early in the life of an opportunity and work with sellers to overcome them. And, if they cannot be overcome, the manager should likely make the “tough love” decision to disqualify the opportunity.

  3. Pipeline Balance and Management. A key to achieving predictable objectives is to have a continuously balanced pipeline. By managing sellers to a pipeline balance algorithm, managers not only maximize the potential for sellers to make quota, but do so by making sure that, when a period ends (be it a month, quarter, or year), the seller goes into the next period with a balanced, fully loaded pipeline.

  4. Management to Predictive Metrics. Predictive metrics enable sales managers to pinpoint specific seller performance challenges today that will impact their ability to achieve objectives tomorrow. Managers are then able to put in place the necessary proactive actions that address the challenges that might have prevented the seller from achieving their objectives.

  5. Seller Skill Development. The combination of opportunity assessment, pipeline balance, and predictive metrics gives a manager a crystal-clear view of a seller’s skill deficiencies. Then, using the sales process, the manager is able to provide the seller with a surgical development plan resulting in long-term metric-based performance improvement. In so doing, the sales manager will unlock a seller’s potential and create a sales eagle! In fact, here’s a great success story.

  6. The Sales Executive Must Drive a Successful Sales Culture. Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, said, “Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with passion.” Simply put, the sales executive defines that shared way of doing something, thereby setting the sales culture. If he or she is “hands-off” or inconsistent, then individual managers will set that culture for everyone who reports to them be it good or bad. This means overall suboptimal performance, and frequently leads to a “wild west” sales culture. So, to define and drive a successful sales culture from the top down, sales executives must conduct their own higher-level sales operations review with their sales managers. This will set the tone and level of expectation for sales managers, who will in turn set that tone and level of expectation for their sales team, thus defining the sales culture throughout the organization. Therefore, of all the conditions, this is the most important because it makes the others “stick.”

  7. Technology Enablement. The CRM should be the “icing on the cake” that automates the first six conditions. It should benefit sellers by helping them win more business. This can be accomplished through easy and rapid generation of custom buyer-facing deliverables (which, for example, summarize buyer needs and agreed-upon steps leading to a buy decision). This, in turn, should help them better define, manage, and control their opportunities. It should also facilitate those key sales management and sales executive conditions by enabling opportunity assessment, pipeline balance, skill development, and the provision of predictive metrics.

So the dream of achieving a high-performance sales environment is very doable. We’ve seen companies achieve a whopping 647 percent increase in product sales, 975 percent improvement in key performance metrics, and 575 percent increase in their pipelines. It is well worth the effort!

Bob Junke is founder and CEO of Adventace®. He is also the author of the bestselling book, Create the High Performance Sales Environment® and creator of the Adventace Sales Management System™, a Salesforce-based application that enables a high-performance sales environment.

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Your Complete Digital Marketing Audit Guide

By Alexander Kesler

No digital strategy is perfect; and, all too often, there are issues that can go unnoticed for long stretches of time. Decreased traffic, drops in rankings or conversions, and low sales and ROI are all problems signaling that you need to audit your digital strategies.

An audit can encompass your whole digital strategy or only fragments of it, depending on your focus and budget. However, any audit you perform must begin with examining your business strategy and its objectives:

  • Are your business objectives clearly defined?
  • Are long-term and short-term goals clear?
  • Are they mirrored in your digital strategy and digital marketing initiatives?

Answering these questions will help you determine which parts of your digital strategy need to be revised.

A successful audit will result in insights concerning the status of your digital strategy as well as actionable steps for improvement. Here are the major areas you should look at – along with resources on how to perform an audit of any of them.

Technical and SEO Audit

The technical and SEO audit is mostly about analyzing how the technical aspects of your Website are performing and determining which elements can be optimized to improve search engine rankings. Even Websites with high-quality content can experience poor search engine rankings due to technical issues such as slow site speed and lack of mobile or on-page optimization.

Elements of your Website you should audit include

  • Site crawlability and indexability
  • Site architecture
  • Site speed
  • Internal linking
  • HTTPS
  • Mobile optimization and AMP configuration
  • Redirects, 404s, and other response codes
  • On-page optimization
  • Duplicate content

Getting started with a technical audit can be intimidating – use a checklist to cover all important aspects and make sure you have all the tools you need. To take this a step further, consider these five must-do technical SEO audit items in 2017.

Keyword Analysis and AdWords Audit

Keyword optimization and management of AdWords campaigns is a difficult craft to master. Without a proper keyword strategy you’re not likely to reach your target audience. When performing a keyword analysis and an AdWords audit, inspect the following components and all their sub-elements:

  • Account structure
  • Campaign settings and themes
  • Networks (search network and display network settings)
  • Location settings (proper targeting, excluding irrelevant locations, bid adjustments for locations)
  • Device and language targeting
  • Ad schedules and delivery method
  • PPC ads (copy, URLs, ad rank, disapproved ads, etc.)
  • Keywords (bids, quality score, average position, etc.)
  • Ad extensions (sitelinks, location extensions, review and call extensions, and others)

An AdWords audit can be overwhelming due to the sheer number of elements you need to pay attention to. Start with these four critical areas to consider when performing AdWords audits.

Landing Page Analysis

Your landing pages are where conversions occur. If your conversion rates are low or falling, you should stop and examine what’s causing this suboptimal performance. Maybe your landing pages are not properly designed and optimized. Questions you should ask yourself when looking at your landing pages and their performance are:

  • Are all key elements of the landing page present? This includes compelling copy, a valuable offer, a strong CTA, smooth design, brand-aligned imagery, and a simple and effective lead capture form.
  • If so, do your landing pages convert? How much, and under what circumstances? Answering this will require you to perform tests to find which elements might be getting in the way of higher conversion rates.

Begin by scoring your landing page using this 15-point landing page audit checklist. Even well-performing landing pages can benefit from an audit. Have a look at Hubspot’s recent landing page tests that increased their contacts by 69 percent.

Link Analysis

Strong backlinks are one of the top Google ranking factors. However, unnatural or problematic backlinks and outbound links can be the cause of significant drops in search engine rankings – or even penalties. Performing a link audit will allow you to analyze all backlinks on your site and take the necessary actions to disavow any bad links associated with your domain.

In addition to auditing site links, you should audit your link strategy to see how you can get even more high-quality Websites to link to your site. Growing your Website’s link profile is fundamental for SEO success. There are many ways to create an effective link strategy. In fact, The SEO Project has more than 180 tried-and-tested link building strategies you can use to improve both the amount and type of links to your site.

Content Analysis

Excellent content converts long after it has been created. To make sure it continues to serve its purpose, you need to periodically review your content assets and strategy. Ideally, your content audit will help you determine whether you should remove, keep, improve, or consolidate your content.

Before you begin this audit, you need to have a clear understanding as to why you are conducting it. Is it to spot optimization possibilities (e.g., with an SEO focus) or to assess the quality and depth of the content? When you are ready, perform your audit using this handy step-by-step guide or this free content audit template.

Social Media Analysis

Analyzing the performance of your social media strategy should help you provide answers to the following questions:

  • Are you using social media channels in an optimal way?
  • Are you getting new followers? Are followers engaging with you? How?
  • Are your social media efforts aligned with your objectives and goals?
  • Are your channels effective in promoting your content and bringing in traffic and leads?

To answer these and other questions, use this guide for conducting a social media audit in conjunction with this social media audit template.  

UX Analysis

Investing in UX yields significant returns, so you should always be looking to improve the experience users are having with your digital properties. A UX audit can show you how your users are interacting with your Website or app, and what elements are needed to enhance their experiences.

This UX Audit Guide will provide you with all the basics and tools you need to get started with your audit. Once you’re done with that, have a look at the The State of UX in 2017 for additional inspiration and good insights into how UX is evolving.

Auditing Should Be an Essential Piece of Your Digital Workflow

Auditing is a fundamental digital marketing practice that seeks to yield as much data as possible about the current state of your strategies.

Whether you perform one or all of the above audits, the goal is to get a better sense of your opportunity areas. Beyond that, if you turn auditing into a habit, you will drastically reduce the issues you have to fix and raise the bar of your digital strategies.

Alexander Kesler is founder and president of inSegment, Inc.

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What You Need to Know about Your Prospect’s Mindset

By Christine Harrington

Many times the ill-prepared salesperson will dump all the features and benefits during the sales pitch. Why? Because he has no idea which benefit will interest the buyer.

Successful salespeople understand the fundamental principles about why a buyer buys. That’s why they will tailor their presentation around what the buyer is interested in.

If you’re not sure about whether you understand why your buyer buys, consider the following questions:

  • Do you treat every prospect the same?
  • Do you launch into the same canned pitch for every prospect?
  • Do you know the prospect’s needs, mood, personality, and prejudices?
  • Do you know what will motivate the buyer to buy?

If you want to close more deals, you need to reach the buyer on three levels: intellectually, emotionally, and personally. To do this, you need to go beyond the obvious to understand what really motivates your buyer. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are they, really?
  • What do they want?
  • How do they feel?
  • What are their biggest concerns and problems – and how can your product help solve them?

Though it is important to reach a buyer’s intellect – his or her logical side – reaching the buyer on an emotional level is more powerful, letting you tap into the emotions of pride, fear, greed, love, and even anger.

Buying out of anger may surprise you. Yet I’ve witnessed it. When I was selling preplanned funeral services, a distraught woman met with me. Her brother had just died at age 50. He had been suffering from an illness for years and she was so angry that he hadn’t “put his house in order” before he’d passed. She carried the weight of figuring out his finances, coupled with her guilt for feeling angry.   

When we met to arrange her brother’s funeral, I asked her one simple question…did she have children? She said yes, and she never wanted her children to be burdened by her own arrangements. We planned her funeral arrangements, too.

Because of her brother, she bought out of anger (an emotional reason)) and out of compassion for her children (a personal reason)

Granted, this example encompasses all strong emotions, which may not be the case for what you sell. Here’s another example.

For a little more than 15 years during my 40 years in selling, I sold group benefits. It’s a brutal world because it’s very competitive.

After six months of relentless pursuit, the benefits manager of a large hospital finally met with me. What got me in the door was some of my undercover work. I discovered the current carrier had denied a simple claim by a key employee – a claim my product covered – and the key employee was one of the VPs at the hospital.

All I did was tailor my sales presentation around the claim:

  1. Intellectual (made sense to listen to a carrier that covered a simple claim that had been denied by the current carrier)  
  2. Emotional (if they stayed with the current carrier, other employees would be denied the same simple claim)
  3. Personal (I used the VP as an example)

The word I used in describing the claim was “simple.” (Frankly, it shocked me the current carrier hadn’t covered the simple procedure.) Just adding the word “simple” to describe the denied claim was powerful. The benefit manager was still fuming about the denied claim, because the VP blamed him for not uncovering the “flaw” in the coverage.

Right or wrong, it was an emotional and personal pain point for the benefit manager. He bought, fueled by anger.

Keep in mind: The most powerful way you can reach the buyer is on a personal level.

To reach the buyer on all three levels – intellectual, emotional, and personal – you must understand the buyer’s core mindset. Their mindset will be made up of their beliefs, feelings, and desires.

Beliefs

  • What does your buyer believe?
  • What is their attitude toward your product?
  • What problems and issues does your product address?

Feelings

  • How does the buyer feel? Are they confident or low key? Nervous or fearful?
  • What do they feel about major issues in their lives, business, industries, or the world?

Desires

  • What do they want?
  • What are their goals?
  • What changes do they want in their lives that your product can help them achieve?

Once you understand your prospect’s mindset, you know how to sell. It makes closing the sale much easier when you tailor your sales pitch around the buyer’s mindset.

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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How to Be a Better Sales Leader and Crush Your Revenue Goals

By Alice Heiman

In my experience, the sales part of any strategic business plan tends to be the weakest for most companies.

That’s why my biggest tip is to clearly set your sales goals and then really dig deep into the action items necessary to meet those goals and the budget. (Be sure to pay adequate attention to lead generation. This work may be done separately from your strategic plan but must be done.)

Once you have a strategic plan in place, you can create a plan specifically for your sales team. The obvious goal of any sales plan is to grow sales. But, often, the harder question to answer is: by how much and – harder still – how?

Some companies apply percentages to the expected growth based on what returns investors and stakeholders want. Unfortunately, this method is like picking numbers out of thin air. Typically, there is little research behind this about what is possible in the marketplace, with the people, resources, and dollars available.

Some companies are looking for a percentage of the market. I’ve heard things like, “It’s a $6 billion market; we just want 1 percent of that.” Sounds reasonable, right?

You need a plan – and the plan needs to start with realistic goals. Instead of deciding you need 15 percent growth because that’s what the company leaders or investors expect, go to the sales team and figure out their capacity. Then decide what people and resources are needed to go beyond that and what that will cost.

Three questions to ask:

  • With the current sales team, how much of an increase is realistic?
  • With the tools and processes, do you provide what is possible?
  • What will be needed to get the increase desired?

Develop Yourself

Once you have a plan to grow sales, you need to turn your attention to yourself.

The fact is, success for your organization starts with you, your mindset, and your plan to develop yourself. You need a plan to advance your skills and capabilities so you can fully support your team, be a role model, and develop a winning team.

Start by making a list of what you’d like to improve on in the upcoming year and what resources you can use to get there. This list can act as a map for success.

For example, if you’d like to have better sales meetings, check out Alice Kemper’s site at salestrainingwerks.com. Her program can help you develop a year’s worth of impactful meetings.

Let’s say you want to get better at holding 1:1 meetings with your reps. Ask other sales managers what they do to hold their 1:1s, collect best practices, and then build your own process. Or, call me and I’ll help you build one.

Start reading! I am sure you do, but are you reading books that will help you change your behavior to become a superior sales manager and coach? Here’s a list of a few of my favorites.

Get Help!

Of course, the fastest way to develop yourself is to find a mentor or hire a coach who has the experience and expertise to accelerate your learning process. Behavior change is hard, but you can do it. If you want increased sales, watch this video interview with my Sales 3.0 Conference cohost, Gerhard Gschwandtner, and Sales 3.0 Conference speaker, Jeb Blount, to learn how powerful a mindset shift can be.

Plan now for sales success! Join me at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Las Vegas, September 18-19.

Alice Heiman is founder and CSO at Alice Heiman, LLC. Alice works with business owners to get consistent and sustainable sales growth; she has been helping companies increase sales for more than 20 years. She regularly co-hosts the Sales 3.0 Conference and is a certified Peak Performance Mindset trainer.

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Eight Steps to Skyrocket Your Sales Revenue Potential

By Robert O. Carr

Do you want to develop an extraordinarily successful sales organization? Based on my experience founding Heartland Payment Systems (acquired last year by Global Payments for more than $4.3 billion) and my newest company, Beyond, I can share eight innovative steps for catapulting sales revenue potential to new heights.

Step #1: Pay Residuals for Recurring Sales Revenue

When a company acquires another company, it will pay a certain multiple of “revenues” and it will pay more for “recurring revenues” than for “non-recurring revenue”. My company was acquired for five times revenue – 95 percent of which was recurring. Why is it a bad idea to pay the person who originated that revenue a percentage of that sales revenue in the form of recurring residuals?

Companies should think of the long-term value of the revenue generated by a salesperson instead of looking only at the current-year revenue. We all want recurring revenue. Why not share in that revenue with the person who created it?

Step #2: Allow Sales Pros to Monetize Residuals

Allow sales representatives to monetize their hard-earned residual income. We valued residuals at 30 times the monthly average for active clients. For example, if a sales professional earned $1,000 of monthly residuals,  we would “buy them back” for $30,000 in cash. Sales representatives should be able to create true wealth for themselves and their families while they are creating wealth for their company.

Step #3: Don’t Change the Compensation Plan

Experienced sales professionals have seen it all – they build up the revenues for the company and get punished next year with higher quotas and smaller territories. Changes in compensation models breed distrust and resentment. If a sales compensation model works for the company, why change it when the sales professionals succeed with it? Our model is called the “94 plan” because it was created in 1994 and has never been changed – because it has worked so well for all the constituents.

Step #4: Reward the All-Stars and Do It with Consistency

Consistent all-stars should be paid at a higher rate of compensation than the average salesperson. It costs less administratively to support a consistent all-star than it costs to support an average or below-average salesperson. We define an all-star as one who is performing at twice the company average of veterans – and we pay them 33 percent more if they maintain an all-star average for a rolling 90-day average.

Step #5: Never Cut Side Deals that Are Not Available to All

The best currency is trust in sales management – and the best way to destroy it is by giving different compensation for the same results to different sales professionals. Salespeople quit primarily because of their sales managers. A major reason is unequal treatment – or the perception of it.

Step #6: Eliminate Territories

Don’t listen to the sales experts. Do not establish fixed geographic territories unless you are a very major player and own the marketplace. One of the worst things you can do is limit the benefits of networking for your sales force. With today’s technology and communication capabilities, anyone should be given the chance to close a sale anywhere.

Step #7: Give Sales Reps a Chance to Manage – but Don’t Fire Those Who Fail

Groom the future sales leaders of your company by giving them a chance with a sales management role – early, on a small scale. By dividing sales reps into small 4- to 5-person teams, you provide a team-enhancing player-coach model while giving a sales rep a no-jeopardy opportunity to try out a management role. We all have heard the bromide that “a good salesperson doesn’t make a good sales manager.” Yawn. Oftentimes, a good salesperson does make a great sales manager – but how do you know if you don’t give them a chance? The key is to let the failed sales manager have his or her sales job back. They will be even better at sales when given the chance.

Step #8: Provide a Signing Bonus

Starting a purely commissioned role is no easy task. Residuals are great but they take time to build up. Give your teammates a leg up by paying up to six months of estimated margin with an upfront signing bonus for each merchant. You can true-up the initial check after 12 months of account history. This gives your reps a way to survive financially while they build up their residual income.

Note: We have proven that the above model works for commission-only salespeople. However, sales professionals on salary plus bonus should be paid substantially less of the benefit of recurring revenue than described. However, with the more risk taken by the sales professional by being full commission, the closer to the model they should be.

Robert O. Carr is the CEO of Beyond, a newly launched business services and financial technology company. He was the founder and CEO of Heartland Payment Systems, a Fortune 1000 payments processing company acquired last year by Global Payments for more than $4.3 billion. Carr is author of Through the Fires: An American Story of Turbulence, Business Triumph and Giving Back and Working Class to College: The Promise and Peril Facing Blue-Collar America.

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The Best Thing You Can Do to Onboard Your Sales Reps

By Eric Esfahanian

Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves. Whether it’s in their personal life or professional, everyone wants to be part of a cause.

However, if you want to be part of something bigger than yourself the only way is to wholeheartedly believe in that cause. If you do not, chances are your enthusiasm will expire quickly and you will be unsuccessful at whatever you were setting out to accomplish.

This is the approach sales leaders must take to onboard sales reps successfully. Forget the tools, at first. Before memorizing pitch decks, CPQ training, and updates to CRM – and before account plans or sales stages become a priority – take time to create “true believers” of your company’s messaging.

On my new hires’ first day or even before we onboard, I tell them the primary objective for their first 90 days is for them to become true believers in the Gryphon value proposition. I need my new reps to entirely believe, with zero doubt, that our service can really help our clients and prospects in really meaningful ways. Their training regimen does not consist of simply boning up on our products, support, and competition – although that is important down the line – but the training doesn’t have context until new hires have become completely convinced that the right customers will find truly significant value in our offering.

If your new sales reps (first) create and (then) communicate a solution message that is deeply held, the conviction will be contagious and the message will resonate with your clients and your message will be something they care about too.

The “Big Why”

To make your new charges true believers during the onboard process, you must not only be one yourself, but be able to answer what I call the “big why” of your product. Specifically, “Why does this prospect need to care about our solution – and why now.”

This might take a bit of time to construct, but it’s an essential weapon in your arsenal. When building these true believers, your message must be simple and compelling enough to connect on an emotional level. The Big Why’s effectiveness is inversely proportional to the time it takes to explain it. So, keep it as simple as possible without losing the impact of the message.

The Three R’s

After training your team on the value proposition and the Big Why, give them the opportunity to ask a million questions about your product, poke holes in your messaging, and play as much devil’s advocate as they want. As a leader, this gives you the opportunity to restate the value, reinforce the proof, and relate the value to specific clients.

Be honest with your reps about all the strengths and weaknesses of the solution. Proactively tell them about objections they’ll likely get from customers. This will convey credibility to them in ways a white paper or data sheet never could and will transfer from you to them, if they are listening intently.

The Payoff

When you are hiring new people, the cause you are enlisting them for is your company’s mission – first and foremost. You have a responsibility to make that mission something exciting and something that focuses on more than features, benefits, and price.

If you successfully create employees who are completely committed and can communicate persuasively, their passion and enthusiasm will overshadow any lack of industry knowledge, product knowledge, a little higher price, or a few missing bells and whistles.

Your true believers will be your company’s evangelists – and the gospel they preach will have the potential to turn your prospects into client converts. Make sure their verses have meaning beyond the dollar and the deal.

For more than 20 years, Eric Esfahanian has been helping clients increase sales and marketing effectiveness with innovative business intelligence technology and processes. As chief revenue officer of Gryphon Networks, Eric is charged with driving growth of Gryphon’s Fortune 500 client base with cloud-based sales performance management solutions that increase revenue and client retention while reducing training/onboarding times for large, distributed sales organizations. Previously, Eric held sales leadership roles with MicroStrategy, Hewlett-Packard, and EMC Corp. He received his MBA in Entrepreneurship from Babson College and Bachelor’s degree from Boston College.

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Why You Need to Know How to Sell to the C-Suite

By Sharon Gillenwater

I gave a talk at the Sales 3.0 Conference in May about best practices for selling to the C-suite. As recently as a couple of years ago, I would probably not have been invited to speak on this topic at a sales conference – mostly because C-suite selling has historically been a pretty niche endeavor.

But, wow, has that changed! McKinsey is now talking about how CEOs have become  de facto chief digital officers. Analysts and Fortune 500 CEOs are discussing the need to shift to C-suite selling on earnings calls.

What’s driving this is the reality that digitization is no longer a side project that can be confined to the margins of the business. Digital transformation is no longer something to be piloted by an innovation team or in an innovation lab. It’s just become too important to the survival of the enterprise. And that makes it the mandate of the C-suite team to oversee it and carefully scrutinize major technology purchases.

So, if you believe what these analysts and CXOs are saying, the rationale for C-suite selling clearly exists. But what do you need to succeed – and who is doing a good job…and how?

Getting Buy-in and Support from Your Own Executive Team

At Sales 3.0 I used the example of Salesforce and its CEO Marc Benioff to underline this idea. He’s been preaching the need to sell to CXOs for at least a decade. In his 2009 book, Behind the Cloud, he laid out three basic tenets essential to selling to CXOs:

  • People buy from people
  • Relationships matter
  • Sell business outcomes, not products

How well does this work? Well, back on a February 2016 earnings call, Benioff stated, “This is the absolute best quarter we have ever had…an all-time high in the number of large transactions.” With more than 600 seven-figure-plus transactions, Salesforce was hitting it out of the park. Not only were they closing a lot of new enterprise customers, they were increasing business with existing enterprise customers in a big way.

What was Salesforce doing to be so successful? Well, Benioff stated it very plainly: “Every single [large transaction] was done with the CEO.”

But it took more than just Benioff confabbing with C-suite executives to make these deals. It took a sales engine led by Benioff’s hard-driving lieutenant vice chairman, president, and COO Keith Block, who bought into this vision and made sure the sales force was geared up and accountable. This enterprise sales approach shifted gears to change the focus to business transformation and business outcomes – not transactions.

As Block himself said on that same earnings call, “In the past three weeks I’ve had more conversations with CEOs around transformation than in my entire career – over 30-plus years.”

This kind of discussion, of course, always leads to the topic of scale. And a good question is, how do you scale CXO selling efforts?

Recalibrate Your Definition of “Scale”

Earlier this month at SiriusDecisions 2017, Nick Panayi and Dorothea Gosling of DXC Technology told the story of how they shifted from an ABM focus to what they are now calling “pursuit marketing.”

Using “pursuit marketing” for a handful of large strategic deals, DXC Technology’s  marketing organization assembles and deploys a team of marketers to collaborate with sales to swarm an account with highly targeted content and messaging. Essential to the effort is developing a thorough understanding of the account at the center of the pursuit – and using this insight to engage the customer at all levels of the organization, including the C-suite.

The goal? Increase win rate and shorten deal times for large deals.

As Panayi put it, “We decided to focus where the money is [and] focus in on a market of one.”

One of the most common concerns we hear from our customers is how to scale CXO engagement programs – and ABM in general. What the DXC Technology case study teaches us is that sales and marketing can achieve big, game-changing wins by recalibrating their definition of scale and focusing on a much smaller number of accounts. In their ABM frameworks, Sirius Decisions calls this out specifically as “large account ABM,” a subset of ABM that requires deep insight on executive decision makers and the companies being pursued.

Make Measurement Easy

Sometimes we make things too complicated. A clear takeaway from Sirius Decisions Summit was that, when it comes to large account ABM, measurement is a pretty easy proposition. As Dorothea Gosling of DXC Technology put it, “The ROI of pursuit marketing is indisputable – you either win or you lose.” And, if you consider the Marc Benioff example above, 600 large deals closed in one quarter (all of which included CEO engagement in the mix) is pretty easy to measure – and a pretty compelling outcome.

Summing up CXO Selling

Is CXO selling the new frontier in enterprise sales? Given how integral technology is to the business of an organization, it would be foolish to stick with the same old same old and sell point products into enterprise silos. In 2017, analysts and executives alike are seeing the need to engage the decision makers at the top. And leaders like Benioff, Panayi, and Gosling are showing us how to build a foundation for success.

Sharon Gillenwater is founder of Boardroom Insiders, where she provides expertise in CXO engagement strategy as a value-add. Prior to founding the company, she operated her own consulting firm, San Francisco Group, serving clients such as Cisco Systems, VMware, Sun Microsystems, Adobe Systems, NetApp, Lockheed Martin, and more. Born and raised in San Diego, CA, Sharon earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, San Diego.

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Overcoming Barriers to Deploying Sales 3.0 Strategies

By Paul D’Souza

Have you leveraged Sales 3.0 technologies in your sales organization? Have you deployed any yet? Or have you found yourself having to rethink some of your projects because they were not going as planned?

Based on my experiences (and I typically work with companies that generate less than $50 million in annual revenue), every company has its own set of issues to deal with. Here are three potential problem areas to watch out for.

#1: Organizational Structure

The new breed of marketing and sales tools to which we have access today allow us to engage with clients in very different ways. Our ability to impact and improve the customer experience warrants that we revisit and redesign how we are structured.  Take a step back and review your organizational structures to determine if they support the new approaches you can take to engage and serve your customers. Are you engaging with your prospects and building relationships of trust during your marketing activity? Has the sales process begun?

Start with your go-to-market strategy and chart your new customer journey. Do this in a vacuum regarding your current organizational structure. Once you have charted your customer journey and have a good understanding of the tech-stack needed to engage them, review it against your current organizational structure. Does it map? You might need to redesign your organizational structure to map to the new Sales 3.0 go-to-market strategy.

Your Sales 3.0 strategies will lean heavily on your tech-stack, so make sure your people teams are structured to pick up from where they drop a customer off for you to interact with. Break down your traditional organizational silos and align your people teams. You might also want to compensate your staff differently so they show up to serve your clients who are engaging with your brand.

Remember: There are no sales cycles anymore – just buying cycles – and your sales strategies and sales processes need to map to them.

#2: Disconnected Tech-Stack

The best way to orchestrate an effective customer experience is to integrate all your data. Think continuity and compatibility. It is getting easier, but it still takes some effort to make sure you have continuity of data and information to ensure your customers have a good experience engaging with you and your brand. Your technical teams can figure this out, but ask them to integrate applications and give you access to the data so you can design effective customer journeys and monitor customer engagement.

Very often IT systems are focused on the needs of specific departments and they miss the big picture of focusing on the customer and their “experience.” So start linking your departments together structurally and then redesign how your technology systems will serve your new business model and your go-to-market strategy. It’s about having the right tool set.

#3: People Skills

This is a common problem area when embracing Sales 3.0 strategies. By definition, a Sales 3.0 strategy will be anchored in a technology solution that produces actionable data for someone on your team to act on powerfully. In most cases, the quality of this data will be higher than was previously available. The question is: Are your people trained to take the right action and leverage this information in a timely manner so you can move the needle on your revenue and profitability?

As an example, a common Sales 3.0 strategy will highlight a short list of customers who are ready to receive a phone call or your “next best offer” based on their activity and the activity of customers just like them. Are your salespeople trained to be respectful of the timelines or the “window of opportunity” to make these calls and engage with this subset of primed customers – and skilled enough to make them this special offer? Please don’t make assumptions here. Review the skills needed and the SOPs your people will follow to make the most of these accelerators a Sales 3.0 strategy could provide you. This is where having the right mindset and the right skill set comes into play.

For Sales 3.0 strategies to work, one must select the right tools and have them configured to serve your customers and your business. The key objective is customer engagement and the key outcome is accelerated, focused activity that should increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your people teams. Do this in phases – constantly iterate.

Founder of the D’Souza Group’s Delivering Peak Performance and author of the award-winning book, The Market Has Changed: Have You?, Paul helps business leaders take themselves and their teams to peak performance levels of activity by improving their sales strategy, sales process, and mindset.

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How to Build Genuine Connections with Your Prospects

By Greg Kelly

Salespeople today are looking for ways to build genuine connection with contacts and prospects. However, they frequently lack the right tools to do so in a meaningful way.

At the end of the day, salespeople can try to craft the perfect email, but no medium is really as engaging as video. In fact, a brief and personalized video can even enhance your face-to-face encounters. And, if salespeople have the proper software, video provides analytics that can be even more valuable (especially to today’s data-driven sales teams) than face-to-face encounters.

Here’s an example. Right before his onstage presentation at the Sales 3.0 Conference in San Francisco last month, Vidyard’s director of product marketing, Jeff Gadway, was speaking to Lisa Gschwandtner, editorial director at Selling Power, about the power of ViewedIt. He didn’t have his laptop handy (or a lot of time to chat). Rather than stop there, Jeff texted our sales team at our booth, asking them to record a quick ViewedIt and send it to Lisa before he jumped on stage.

Here is that video:

Here’s where a video, recorded using a tool like ViewedIt, gives salespeople an advantage over a handshake and a smile. After sending the video, we could see when Lisa viewed it and how much of it she watched. She was also offered a link to create her own video as a reply. Meanwhile, Jeff was easily able to follow up from the airport later that day, thanking her team for inviting him to speak at a great event – and for being so eager to start creating videos herself.

Here is Jeff’s video from the airport:

If you are excited about prospecting with video, but are curious about the success our clients have seen with the product so far, we’ve got you covered! Through the use of ViewedIt, sales teams are seeing the following results by using video throughout a sales cycle:

  • 5X higher response rate
  • 8X higher click-through rate
  • 80 percent longer engagement
  • 20 percent higher close rate
  • 30 percent larger deals

Ready to get started with ViewedIt and join us in bringing human connection back to business? Here are three basic kinds of videos you can record; plus, you can read more about using ViewedIt in this blog post: “Three Sales Emails Proven to Boost Reply Rates by 8x.”

Webcam Selfie Videos

Screen Capture Videos

Recap & Repurpose Videos

As a product marketer at Vidyard, Greg Kelly is passionate about the power of video and the roles it can play for every organization. From marketing to sales, support, and internal communications, Greg loves connecting the dots as to how video can help.    

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