Insights and interviews about sales... and more.
One of the biggest problems that sales teams face is definitely the transition of one or more salespeople to the competition.
Very often what generates this transition is what we call the 'Belonging Problem': salespeople (both internal and external) don't feel part of the company they represent.
But what can sales managers do to reinforce this sense of belonging and prevent the best resources from moving to the competition?
I talked about this with Brad Deutser, President & CEO of Consulting Firm Deutser, the Clarity Institute and the Belonging Rules Institute and author of "Leading Clarity: The Breakthrough Strategy to Unleash People, Profit, and Performance" and "Belonging Rules: Five Crucial Actions That Build Unity and Foster Performance."
In the early 2000s a major revolution happened in sales: most companies switched from a full sales model led by the A.E. to a split model, in which more junior workers (SDR/BDR) were in charge of prospecting and the salesperson was in charge of closing the sale.
Although this model is considered scalable by most companies there are conflicting opinions about it, especially from the perspective of customer-centricity and profitability.
I had the opportunity to discuss this topic with Darius Lahoutifard, creator of the M.E.D.D.IC. methodology, Founder of the Meddic Academy and author of the book 'Always Be Qualifying: M.E.D.D.I.C.'.
One of the activities I love to to do better understand what’s going on in the sales world is reading job ads for salespeople and some of the things that most fascinate me are the KPIs.
Among these, the pipeline generated is my favourite one and in the last 3 years I have seen several companies include the volume of pipeline generated in the job requirements.
More specifically, I am referring to those companies that require their salespeople to be able to generate at least 3X – 4X pipeline of the assigned quota.
But why so much quota?
What is the effect of this KPI on the sales force activities?
Nowadays how much does fear of change weigh on a buying decision?
And how do the best salespeople (the so-called 'High Performers) overcome the prospect or customer indecision?
How do they manage this fear so that the customer orprospect can to overcome the indecision experienced?
I talked about this with Matt Dixon, Founding Partner in DCM Insights and author of 'The Jolt Effect', 'The Challenger Sale', 'The Challenger Customer' and 'The Effortless Experience'.
In the last months we have seen an increase in the use of the words 'Revenue Operations'.
In fact there are many companies which have transformed or are transforming their processes to start a Revenue Operations program.
However there are lot of other companies that decided not to take this path, postponing the change until there is a need, when the conditions will better, when the 'right moment' will come.
Many of these justifications hide a harsh truth: those who don't change are afraid of change and overlook the risks of this non-decision.
But who needs to shed light on the risks involved in not changing?
Who is responsible for maximizing profits and making the company's structure more and better performing?
Who has to start a Revenue Operations program, giving the company clear goals in the medium and long term?
As you can imagine all of this belongs to the CEO of the company.
So what happens when a CEO takes the ownership of this transformation program?
And in the absence of a change-oriented CEO, who can replace him/her?
I talked about this with Stephen Diorio, Director of the 'Revenue Enablement Institute,' member of the 'Forbes CMO practice' and author of the first book on Revenue Operations, "Revenue Operations - A new way to align Sales & Marketing, monetize data and ignite growth."
In every company power - especially decision-making power - is not stable, and if you work in sales you already know this.
To understand how power varies and if power is changing / has already changed we need to refer to the theory of power nodes.
Following power nodes helps you understand where the decision-making power lies and what action you should make to move the sales cycle.
But what are power nodes and how to recognize them?
During a negotiation emotions are the main characters, in a positive or negative way.
The ability to understand the other person and the control over one’s own emotions plays a crucial role: any mistake can jeopardize the sale and the relationship built up to that moment.
But how to calm down when there's a high risk of emotional escalation?
In an economic downturn we naturally tend to focus more on existing customers.
This reasoning behind the action is quite logical: companies will buy less and it will be more difficult to establish relationships with new customers, so it's more effective to turn to the existing ones so we achieve our goals.
After all, a relationship already exists and the sale will be safer and less difficult.
Fortunately or not, this doesn't work in real life.
Selling to existing customers requires the same effort, commitment and respect as selling to new customers.
I had the opportunity to discuss the topic with Brent Adamson, researcher, speaker and author of 2 best-selling books that changed the world of sales: 'The Challenger Sale' and 'The Challenger Customer'.
Despite their dynamic nature, selling is a profession with a high concentration of scripted behaviours: in other words, when selling it's very easy to adopt similar and repetitive behaviours in totally different situations.
Fortunately, there is a way to notice when you are using scripted behaviours that are not functional to your objective.
It just takes training and discipline...
A few weeks ago I wrote about the problem that many salespeople are facing because nowadays we're exposed to way more knowledge.
When used well, more knowledge generates more expertise but this expertise has a downside too.
In fact, it can lead us to block novelty and change.
So what can we do to protect from this issue?
In the last decade the amount of resources available has literally changed our job, making it a profession like all the others.
Becoming a professional means becoming an expert, but expertise exposes us to a risk.
And this risk should be mitigated with proper actions, for the sake of our careers.
A few weeks ago I talked about 'Demo Pressure' and how to do avoid it.
The most effective antidote is to organize a 2-steps Demo (with the first one being a Discovery) and schedule the 2 steps at a certain distance so to increase your effectiveness.
But, why is it so important to take days between the 2 steps?
Well, the reason lies in our brain and in the way we work.
If you sell software for a living, you receive lot of demo requests.
I'm sure that you often talk to people who want to skip the discovery and go straight to the demo.
When this happens, the sale becomes more difficult and is severely compromised.
But, how do you avoid this pressure?
How should you act so you don't upset the prospect and get discovery anyway?
A few months ago I wrote an article and recorded a podcast about discounting.
I focused on what happens when you discount, describing its financial impact with a simple example.
Over the past few weeks however, I realized that the knowledge we salespeople have about the effects of discounting on corporate profits (and other) is extremely poor.
This is precisely why I decided to talk to a specialist.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Alessandro Monti, Dean of Marketing, Sales & Retail Faculty at CBS International Business School in Cologne to discuss about the topic.
In the last two years we went through several changes, especially in sales.
It seems we're living a situation of constant uncertainty, which makes it increasingly difficult to close sales and get accurate commitments from customers.
But how to close a sale in such an uncertain time?
What can be helpful?
I talked about this with James Muir, sales trainer, speaker and author of the best book on sales closing ever - 'The Perfect Close'.
In 2016 David Brock (CEO of Partners in Excellence and author of 'Sales Manager Survival Guide') wrote an interesting and counterintuitive article.
According to David, the SDR/BDR model was not a fit for complex sales and it needed to be revised.
Three years later, that article is still more relevant than the day it was written: this is why I decided to explore the topic with David trying to understand why he came up with a different, out-of-chorus point of view.
Sales Negotiation deserves more space in the training industry.
There are many books and resources on Negotiation, each with a different focus: Legal Negotiation, Hostage Negotiation, Purchase Negotiation... but there are only 3 on Sales Negotiation.
Patrick Tinney is one of the few authors who delved into it in his book 'Unlocking Yes,' one of my favourite texts.
Furthermore, he's one of the few who believes companies and people should invest more in the development of Sales Negotiation - because it is totally different from all others.
I had a chance to interview him, talk about his books and explore this and other concepts in this podcast - enjoy!
As I said a few weeks ago, one of the most important consequences we're living is the shift from selling to evangelizing.
This shift generates another one, namely the shift from persuasion to influence.
What does it mean for us of and how does it influence the sales training industry?
The Risk of Inaction is one of the strongest sales levers: it can help you solve your customer's problems more effectively and to speed up your sales cycle.
Nevertheless you should manage it carefully, otherwise you run the risk of jeopardising your performance...
Should you offer a discount or not? And if yes, when?
What kind of events trigger a discount?
These are all fair questions, but have you ever wondered what happens to your company's margins when you offer a discount?
Even 10% discount can make a difference....
Objections handling is a mix of skills: listening, questioning and negotiating (for example).
However, there's one skill in particular you should possess: that of isolate and manage it as a separate entity.
How to do this in the most practical and natural way?