Blog Archives

Five Trends Changing Sales Enablement

In their recent book Bold, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler overview five technologies driving change and providing the basis for entrepreneurial opportunity. Four of the five are driving change for B2B sales, including rep practices, sales management, and even the sales-marketing interface. Here are the four that matter for today’s B2B sales: Networks and sensors – Infinite computing – Artificial intelligence – Robotics – Today, sales enablement is utilizing the technology in each of these areas, even if it’s in early development. Networks and sensors, for example, are limited to data input in a CRM or tracking behavior on an iPad. Infinite computing and artificial intelligence are combining to improve ad targeting and appointment setting over the internet. Robotics are represented in the ubiquitous robocall. Each of these capabilities is

Posted in Digital Sales Enablement, Sales Process

Digital Field Sales Management

One of the huge blind-spots for sales management has been the ability to see what reps are really doing as they perform their jobs. Reps perform in customer offices, at entertainment venues, in off-the-cuff conversations, and nearly always out of the view of their managers. This leaves the managers reduced to ride-alongs, self-reports, and CRM data and KPIs as their primary management tools. And it leaves nothing to say for the marketing director trying to successfully launch a new product through the sales team. Tablet-based sales enablement tools are changing all that. These tools create a rep-based mobile platform for presentations, access to collateral and training, and feedback sent to the main office. Because they’re on mobile devices, they can digitally go into meetings with the reps and engage with

Posted in Digital Sales Enablement, Sales Process

Digital Sales Enablement for B2B Reps

A friend and I were talking about the trend toward digitizing our world, and he argued that there are at least three things that can’t be digitalized— “food, sex, and the salesman.” I had to concede he was probably right about the first two, but the sales professional, in many ways, is increasingly digitalized. And for most who make that transition, they are better, more effective, and far more productive. But what does it mean for sales enablement to be digitalized? To me, digital sales enablement means using technology to improve the sales function in a business—and that means everything from filling the pipeline to leveraging relationships, effective presentations, and closing deals. Here are some of the ways that entire process is affected by digitalization today: Artificial intelligence (AI) is

Posted in Digital Sales Enablement, Sales Process

Benefits of Buying Process Research

How do your customers buy from you? Do you know? And what about these questions: What steps do they need to go through to close a deal? Who has to be involved? What are their fears and concerns at each step of the process? What do you need to address that other vendors aren’t to make customers want to buy from you instead of your competitors? These questions are the essence of buying process research, especially for complex, B2B purchases. While the questions and their answers are intriguing, many people remain uncertain about what these answers really mean. Here’s some of what people gain by doing this kind of research. Align your marketing strategy to the customer’s buying process Today, most content marketing still falls into the “spray and pray”

Posted in Customer Engagement, Sales Process

Supercomputing Analytics for Sales Enablement

When you have the privilege to work with elite supercomputing companies like we do, the experience opens new ideas and opportunities in unexpected ways. Supercomputers are the foundation of the new big data infrastructure. In a recent client project, we learned all about the underlying technology for big data analytics and applications in science, but that piqued my curiosity—how is it actually being deployed by business? I found one very compelling answer so far—relationship analytics. Medium- to large-sized organizations often have complex relationships. Multiple people in each organization have relationships with the other companies, and often those relationships are invisible, deeper than anticipated, and impossible to leverage. And yet, the nature of those relationships is reflected in the digital data connections between the two organizations—in emails, Salesforce.com, LinkedIn, Facebook, and

Posted in Digital Sales Enablement, Sales Process

The Artificially Intelligent Digital Appointment Setter

Although closing a big sale still requires an actual handshake, getting an appointment with the right person at the right time does not—it can be automated, and it can be executed digitally. And often, digital appointments produce better results. A human sales person prospects in a manner similar to this: Start with a profile of the target Find people who fit the profile Share the value proposition with the prospects See how they react Adjust target’s profile based on reactions Find more people to fit the new profile Repeat It is amazing, but artificial intelligence can now learn the same way people do using the same feedback loops. But AI can add data and functions, and turn the process much, much faster than people ever could. The result is a

Posted in Demand Generation, Digital Sales Enablement Tagged with: , , , , ,

The Uneconomic Buyer

My recent research into the healthcare buying process has revealed a new character: The uneconomic buyer. By now, we all know about champions, advocates, technical buyers, influencers, and even adversaries. But the uneconomic buyer is a different and fascinating role. The distinguishing feature of the uneconomic buyer is this: A purchase by them or someone close to them will actually cost this buyer money—hence, it is uneconomic for them to support the buying decision. Frequently, they actively undermine the purchase or kill the sale altogether. In healthcare, physicians and hospitals can find themselves in very difficult positions. For example, an OB/GYN physician builds a practice based on surgical solutions and women’s health. When a new procedure performed by an interventional radiologist becomes available, the OB/GYN must refer her patient to

Posted in Sales Process Tagged with: , , , , ,

Project: Educate Customers on How to Build a Business Case

Problem: The sales force was successfully getting initial project sponsors to buy into a software-as-a-service product by selling its benefits–higher productivity, enhanced revenue, and reduced expenditures. The product also relieved a giant headache their customers regularly experienced. While they had success with the initial project sponsor, a high proportion of the deals went flat when the buyer tried to complete the internal sale to senior executives. Proposals that had looked good hit the skids, and sales were lost. Solution: Signorelli created a detailed guide for doing the internal selling. It included checklists and worksheets for building the proper presentation, as well as guiding the customer on how to think through a business case. The final deliverable was a 14 page white paper that educated the buyers on how to effectively

Posted in Recent Projects

A Few Thoughts on Consultative Selling

A discussion on LinkedIn provoked a question about using consultative selling processes, how well they work, and how hard they are to implement. Although there is a lot more to say about, here were a few initial thoughts I shared in the discussion. Thanks for the question Bill. I use a consultative sales process, and I have helped many clients adopt the same over the past many years. Although each consultative selling process tries to differentiate itself with various terminologies, most are pretty similar. Some are better for services, others are better for software, still others are better for large companies versus small ones. Which one to use really all depends. The general trend I am seeing is that consultative selling processes are decreasing in effectiveness these days. Customers are

Posted in Sales Process Tagged with: , ,

Sales Process for the Government

In a conversation the other day on LinkedIn, someone asked: What is your favorite sales training for professional services sales, especially to Government buyers, and why? Sandler? SPIN? Miller-Heiman? Here was my response: None of these are great for most government buyers. The problem is that government buyers do not function the same way as most corporate buyers do. The user of the product or service is completely different from the buyer, who is usually a procurement officer of some kind. Procurement officers have a set of interests, issues, and concerns that are not similar to CFOs or other corporate economic buyers, and which typically are not successfully uncovered with probing questions, discovery, or assertions of increased value. That’s why none of the popular selling methodologies are very successful in

Posted in Sales Process Tagged with: , ,

Product Managers: Recognize Yourself Here?

A discussion group leader asked this question: If you with 3 bullets/points had to describe the most important tasks/activities for a product manager – what would they be? My response: Brian has this right, but one thing needs to be added: Marketing and sales channel optimization. Product managers I have worked with have marketing responsibility, and often pull their hair out trying to get attention in the sales channel. As Brian suggests, you  need to have products that meet customer needs, but you also have to understand how customers buy, and alter the engagement process to meet those needs. This is especially important when the new product is actually a different category of product, say when a sales force is used to selling disposable items, and suddenly has a capital

Posted in Customer Engagement Tagged with: , , ,

What are the best tools or programs you’ve implemented to drive CRM user adoption?

Someone asked this question in a user group I belong to, so I shared these thoughts. The number one reason CRM is not adopted by a sales force is the perception that CRM adds no value to the sales rep, and in many cases this is true. The only way to add value to the rep is to fully understand and document the sales process, and design the CRM system to the process. Far too many sales executives resist sales process, opting instead to allow for “creativity” in the sales force. Unfortunately, when supposed creativity substitutes for process, there is very little that can be done to drive adoption of a CRM system–which is, by definition, process driven. The system is almost defined to be irrelevant in such situations. On

Posted in Preparing for CRM

Segmentation or Specialization? Jack of All Trades or Master of One?

The question above was presented to a group of sales management professionals on a group at Linked In. Many people said it depnds on the products and how similar they are. That’s an important consideration, but the product is only one small part of  the overall  consideration. Here are three more critical factors to consider: A) Do the products require interactions with different roles on the customer side? B) How frequently will any new skills be used with a new product? and C) Do the realtionships that matter overlap and are they truly leveragable or not? The answers to these questions will tend to suggest either segmentation, additional sales team roles, or consolidation. For example, these questions often come up when a new product is added to the rep’s bag.

Posted in Acquisition Integration, Customer Engagement, Sales Process

How to Use Sales Process in Complex Sales

Sales process is essential to success in complex sales. Here’s why: Mental Map: The sales process is a mental map of what is happening in the sale. In a well-managed sale, a good sales executive always know where they are in the process. Cover Bases: Customers will inevitably skip steps. A good rep knows that when certain key steps are skipped, the likelihood of a successful complex sale goes down. He makes sure the customer covers those steps somehow. Target Your Team: By knowing the map of the sale, a good sales executive knows exactly where to target his team. If you don’t; know, you cannot direct resources properly. In a one-to-one sale, the power of persuasion can move a sales professional along rather nicely. In a large, complex sales

Posted in Sales Process Tagged with:

How a 10% Change Can Yield 50% Sales Increase

Here is a startling fact: Average sales people spend one quarter to one third of their time handling administrative tasks, including meaningless email. Here is another: Average sales people spend less than 21% or their time in actual selling activities. If you are a sales rep, you make your money selling. That’s it. Everything else, whether required by your employer or something you think you need to do by conditioning, is a distraction. Some people look at this and think: But I can’t always be in selling activities! Probably true. There’s prep work, customer research, and a lot of other requirements. If you are diligent about doing them to increase sales effectiveness, that’s probably a good thing. On the other hand, even a small shift to increase time in sales

Posted in Sales Process