Three Ways Sales Reps Can Be More Productive and Increase Efficiency

By | B2B Sales, Sales Productivity
It’s very true – many of the best companies are struggling with the amount of time their sales reps spend in front of prospects.

Great field sales reps are horrible admins. Don’t believe me?

Ask any marketing director in charge of providing marketing support to a sales team. Ask a VP of sales that’s charged with herding the cattle. At any tier, the response is the same.

I’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of field sales reps over the years and the absolute best sales reps are coin operated.  If a task gets in the way of selling, they don’t do it.  Why should they?!

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Fix 5 Common Mobile Device Mistakes at Trade Shows and Boost Your ROI

By | B2B Sales, Mobile Productivity Tools, Sales Productivity
Mobile devices, included iPads, Android tablets, phones and iPhones are being used more and more at trade shows these days.

Whether it’s as a mobile sales tool in a sales reps hands, a tablet on a stand showing videos, or even just a mobile tool for scanning badges, Trade Show Managers need to prepare their sales teams appropriately. Read More

ipad sales app

#1 Reason Reps Only Use 35% of Digital Sales Collateral Marketers Create

By | B2B Sales, Mobile Productivity Tools, Sales Productivity
Marketers spend a ton of time, money, and effort creating digital sales collateral for our sales teams.

In fact, I would argue it has never been easier or more cost effective to generate videos, images, PDF brochures, mini-apps, etc.

Never!

Yet, despite all the systems and repositories…time and time again salespeople ask us if we have a brochure for X or case study that is an example of Y.

Are you kidding me?  Yes, we gave you that 6 months ago.  Why are you emailing me? Read More

Call a Timeout

By | Sales Productivity

Guest Post by Mark Shalinsky – Business Development Manager at The New Office.  Mark is a veteran sales guy that loves the hunt and metrics.  He taught me some great techniques over the years including “whale hunting” at conferences, one of my go to strategies. In this article, Mark shares how to to become a communication catalyst, pulling in a collaborator to make everyone a winner.

I ran into a rough situation the other day.

My boss and I are in the boardroom. Across from us are sitting the client champion (I’ll call her “Darcy”), one of her colleagues, and two outside consultants. We had several short conversations with Darcy prior to finagling a sit. Usually, I go on these alone, or with a pre-sales engineer, not typically with my boss, the CEO of the company. I like to hold him in reserve so we can play good cop / bad cop during negotiations. For whatever reason, my boss decided he wanted to be in the thick of the action.

I’ve worked for a bunch of tech companies and up until now all the founders were tech people. Mostly extroverted, so they’d stare at my shoes not their own. My current boss is the consummate, old school sales guy. He loves filleting the pain, negotiating, and closing. He’s the encyclopedia of sales plays and effective meeting strategies, so I know I’ll always learn something when he comes along.

So we get started. I boot up our demo and immediately our champion, Darcy pulls out her Gatling gun and starts peppering me with questions. Right out of the gate she’s on fire. We’d barely finished the pleasantries, and she started to unload. And unload hard she did. You know those deep cutting questions that go to the core of your product and your value proposition.

While I was able to easily and deftly field these questions, it put me on the defensive track. Defensive is terrible. Defense deflects the ball. Defense does not control the conversation. The worst part, I could not get on the offense. Remember what I said about my boss being the quintessential sales guy? Well, he was able to grab the ball and called a timeout.

Wait. Can you call a timeout on a sit? Why did nobody ever tell me? How come I never knew? Regardless, my boss slammed his hand on the big red button and said, “Darcy, we’ve had a couple of conversations, why are you the only one talking?” Then he laid on the big William Shatner pregnant pause. Darcy mentioned something squirrely tried to go on offense again, but my boss wouldn’t let her. “Darcy, we’ve got two of your colleagues, I have an idea what they do from our intro, and are you are paying a handsome sum to these two implementation consultants to sit here and listen to Mark’s answers?”

Then he dropped the mic, put the ball right back in the middle of the table and went back to the edge. It was at that moment that something amazing happened. With little prompting, those two statements got five people starting to talk. Those two groups had not outlined the problems that they wanted to solve individually, as a group, nor had they had the opportunity to hash out their issues.

It became abundantly clear that the entire reason we were called in was to act as a conversation catalyst. Darcy needed to have the conversation with her colleagues and the consultants that my boss had created, however she did not know how to get that conversation started. Then when she found herself in a room with three different groups that, in her mind, all had set objectives, she believed she needed to dominate the conversation to get her way. Wrong.

Had the sit gone the way Darcy initiated the result would have been an impasse at best, a failed implementation that would have made my product look bad, the consultants overcharging their client, and Darcy pulling defeat from the jaws of victory that may cost her her job.

The better way, start from zero. If we are all not on the same page from the outset, start again. Yes, we did go around the table make introductions with roles and responsibilities. However, I failed because I let Darcy grab the ball and run with it. She ran to her end-zone. The problem, her end-zone was not my end-zone, her colleague’s end-zone or the consultants end-zone.

Step 1 is to identify the players.

Step 2 have each player define what success looks like.

Step 3 paint the complete picture where everyone comes out a winner.

If you can’t provide the complete solution, be honest and offer what you can. Gain credibility with effective meeting strategies like offering to pull in a collaborator that can help you make everyone at the table a winner.

 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAaTAAAAJGRkOGJlNWVjLTliYTYtNDgyZS05M2MxLTZhMmI2MmYyOGQ0OAAbout the author

Following an academic career, Mark moved into business development and has been the critical early sales hire at start-ups that have grown to become global brands in scientific publishing and IT security. Currently, Mark leverages academic skills and sales experiences in the tech sector identifying market sweet spots and cultivating sales reps into power-players, closing bigger deals faster.

Read more of Mark’s articles here and follow him on Twitter.

3 Growth Hacks for Sales Teams that Struggle to Get in Person Demos

By | Sales Productivity

Guest Post by Mark Shalinsky – Business Development Manager at The New Office.  Mark is a veteran sales guy that loves the hunt and metrics.  He taught me some great techniques over the years including “whale hunting” at conferences, one of my go to strategies. In this article, Mark shares 3 growth hacks for sales involving long sales cycles and in person sales demos.

Enter Mark.

I had a call today with a sales leader of a small regional company looking to expand his sales footprint. While they have done a lot of great things in the past, have recurring revenue, an active inbound lead funnel, there is a lot that they can be doing to accelerate their growth using a few growth hacking techniques for sales.

About the company

The company, including the sales leader, has a three person sales team. The sales reps do everything; prospect, demo, close, and book renewals. Currently they are using an entry level CRM marginally better than spreadsheets, but they are committed to growth and have bought a license to the big boy CRM, Salesforce.com. The commitment is firm as they are using a consulting service to set it up for them.

The are not looking at a stepping up digital marketing right, the need to tune their sales reps first. For this reason, I will not discuss anything on marketing at this time.

About the solution being provided

This company has a powerful disruptive technology with a 95% win rate when they get to the demo. The problem is getting to the demo. The decision maker for their product is either the CEO or CFO and the demo requires a 30 – 60minute in person hands on demo.

Pretty time and labour intensive for a C-level executive. This seems like a lot, but with a 95% win rate, the demo is pretty much cash in the bag.

As well, the sales leader says he has a >90% renewal rate, so they can count on a very stable recurring revenue. Also this data was built on several years of successful sales so there is a nice annual recurring revenue (ARR) buffer that will help fuel this growth phase.

The Question: How can they accelerate growth?

Sales is hard.

Anyone who is in sales understands this. The reason there is the 80/20 rule is because while sales is hard, it is a catch all career, and many people don’t have what it takes and linger.

The first question I asked this sales leader, is the first thing I ask any sales hunter, “What is your funnel equation?”

The funnel equation

V # Calls gives

W # Conversations which leads to

X # Demos that convert to

Y# Commitments resulting in

Z $ earned.

Once you understand your funnel equation you can start working the dials and increase conversion rates.

Over a longer period (thing week or month) your funnel number should be relatively stable. My funnel is a bit more involved than most people’s but I like to know how many raw dials I do because some days I strike out completely. However, like a slot machine, I know that the more dials I put in greater chance of a conversation, and it cascades from there.

Full disclosure, I have no idea how slot machines work.

I know logging calls is tedious, however there are a lot of softwares out there that can link and log your calls in your CRM, once in your CRM you can easily measure and report and on them. At that point you can have your funnel numbers. Put it on a dashboard, have it motivate you to crush those numbers.

As well, I’ve previously written another article about my call logging methodology. In short, to save you from reading another one of my articles, every call can be noted in 140 characters or less and prefixed with one of a handful of annotations such that;

GVM: got voice mail

LVM: left voice mail

Call: spoke to intended person

Demo: ran demo

Close: closed business

Email: sent email and email logged (Yesware, Cirrus Insights,& Sidekick do this automatically and nicely)

Solutions to accelerating growth

Now that I’ve learned about the company, the solution, the process, I am ready to recommend some ideas to help them accelerate growth.

Sales Growth Hack 1: Hack the reps

As mentioned above being a sales rep is hard. The caveat is most of us got into sales to make some money and most sales reps are coin operated. The brutal part of this company’s equation is being able to reach the decision, so we need motivate the reps to reach the decision makers, and reach them more often.

The first of the growth hacking techniques is to make sure that the reps are making their dials, emails, and initial contacts in sufficient numbers. How do you do that? Incentivize the different stages of the funnel equation.

What better way than to make it a cash based competition?

For this to be effective and ensure that nobody is gaming system (within reason), two competitions should occur simultaneously; most dials in the week and most booked sales demos in the week. This way there is an incentive to making a lot of dials, more dials equals more chances of sales demos.

As well, the prize for most demos should be larger than the prize for most dials. In this way if a rep decides to game the system for most dials and wins, their win will pale in comparison to someone who did the work, did the dials and consequently booked the most sales demos.

The second rep hack is giving the rep the tools they need to book the demo. This is done by being different, being affable, and being spectacular.

How can you be spectacular?

Everyone loves an unanticipated gift.

First determine the customer acquisition cost (CAC), from that how much can you spend on an introduction gift for 60 leads (20 leads per rep) per month. The rest is easy. The target demographic are mostly homogenous, CEOs and CFOs of companies that span many industries. Each rep is given a budget to spend on 20 leads and select some special gifts to send out to them. I’d guess the top reps would research their leads and find something very personal to buy their way to the demo.

Sales Growth Hack 2: Hack the client

One key advantage this company has is several years of sales and a very low churn rate. The best and easiest way to find new customers, is to request referrals. A better way to get referrals, and considering that the signatory on the renewal check is both the champion and someone with a keen eye on the budget, is to incentivize that referral.

I’d run my referral program in two different ways. The first way would be straight up incentivize the renewal. You are up for renewal, any email where you e-troduce me to a qualified lead gives you a free month of service. E-troduce me to twelve of your friends, get a year’s worth of service. The caveat here is to set a maximum. However if someone can offer forty leads with a 75% conversion rate, I’d let him ride and ask for more. Something to think about.

The second way would be to incentivize them on referrals and testimonials. This could come in the form of 6 months of free service for a few referrals and a testimonial. Have the testimonials come from leaders in the area, either in target geographically or target verticals, something that even without referrals the sales reps can use to gain an entrance to a company and book the demo.

Sales Growth Hack 3: Hack the company

The final acceleration growth hacking technique I would apply would be separate the sales reps responsibilities. If not completely then temporally. Based on the tenants of “Predictable Revenue” and the latest book from The Bridge Group, each part of the sales unit needs to function and be incentivized differently. Obviously for a small company with limited sales staff, doing so may be hard as initially gains will be slow with one rep is booking demos, one focused on closing, while the third is working existing clients for referrals.

The hack here is to take all the reps and have them all work on the same aspect of the sales cycle for a period, then they all move to the next stage.

For example, it is the start of the new fiscal quarter, everyone’s in on a call scrum working only on attempting to book sales demos. During this week the sales leader would run the most dials and most sales demos booked competition.

The next week everyone works the referral program, the next two weeks the whole team should all be out on the road running sales demos. When the new month starts, like groundhog day, everyone is back in the office for a week of booking demos call scrums.

Conclusion
This company is in a good place. They have a great product, they have existing clientele, they have cash to experiment with and they have trained sales reps. What the company needs do is start looking at their funnel metrics, understand their numbers and start testing processes that will adjust those numbers.

 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAaTAAAAJGRkOGJlNWVjLTliYTYtNDgyZS05M2MxLTZhMmI2MmYyOGQ0OAAbout the author

Following an academic career, Mark moved into business development and has been the critical early sales hire at start-ups that have grown to become global brands in scientific publishing and IT security. Currently, Mark leverages academic skills and sales experiences in the tech sector identifying market sweet spots and cultivating sales reps into power-players, closing bigger deals faster.

Read more of Mark’s articles here and follow him on Twitter.
3 Benefits That Come With Using Mobile Sales Apps

3 Benefits That Come With Using Mobile Sales Apps

By | Mobile Productivity Tools, Sales Productivity, Selling Tips

“Efficiency” may have been the top thing on your mind when you gave your sales team tablets.

The ability to streamline operations with an array of mobile devices is evident, as many businesses are realizing. Your sales reps can check email and schedules, access documents, share files and collaborate with their co-workers on mobile devices.

And, of course, any gains in efficiency means that you’re shaving off the time it takes to get things done — which eventually results in financial savings for the company.

But you don’t have to settle for just increasing productivity. More companies are now using enterprise mobile sales apps to aggressively drive more sales as well as energize their sales teams.

Think of a custom sales app as the tool that could prove to be a game-changer.

Here are three benefits of mobile apps for sales teams including how they improve team efficiency and how a customized app caters to the priorities of your sales team.

1. Prioritize your data.

3 Benefits That Come With Using Mobile Sales AppsBy developing a sales tool that’s tailored to feature and prioritize the collateral that is critical to your company’s sales outcomes, you can empower your team by keeping the most important information at the forefront.

Likewise, all components of a customized app can be designed to accelerate steps in the sales process. You are simplifying your team’s ability to access important information. More importantly, the benefits of mobile apps ensure that keeping the priorities of your sales strategies are at the top of mind.

2. Track progress.

With a customized tool to improve team efficiency, you have another avenue to make the most of your one-on-ones with individual sales reps.

Now that they have a tool — you could call it a personal assistant — to help them more quickly get to marketing collateral for their sales calls and presentations, you can hone in on other obstacles that may be impeding their performance.

It’s a great way to energize your team as well as eliminate the excuses.

3. Improve customer-facing collateral.

Prospective customers are smarter — a lot smarter than they were just 5 to 10 years ago.

With all the information available on the Internet, they’ve already done most of their research by the time your sales reps arrive on the scene.

Consider this research from CEB: The average business buyer does not contact suppliers until 57 percent of the purchase process has been completed.

That means they’re studying and comparing products and services provided by you and your competitors before your sales reps arrive on the scene.

That translates into the need to deliver a very customized sales presentation to each customer.

More than likely, each one will be at a different stage — with different questions.

A customized mobile app that’s searchable can help you sales reps quickly find the answers to their prospects’ questions without fumbling around — or saying something like “I’ll get back to you.”

The bottom line is that you need to provide your team with tools and benefits of mobile apps that will enable them to sell instead of complete administrative tasks.

While tablets and mobile apps are increasing the productivity of companies in various industries, a customized app provides what you need to accelerate your sales.

Want more on how to improve team efficiency and how to use mobile sales tools effectively? Read this article on 5 proven hacks for creating revenue with mobile sales tools now.

4 Essential Tips for Powerful Marketing Asset Management

4 Essential Tips for Powerful Marketing Asset Management

By | Mobile Productivity Tools, Sales Leadership, Sales Productivity, Selling Tips

You already know that your company’s marketing materials are like gold when it comes to hitting your sales numbers.

If you have effective deliverables in the ideal formats, they can have an incredible impact in getting your points across to a prospect.

And, if you’re smart, you’re steadily producing marketing assets that address the questions clients and prospects may have in researching your services and products. They likely include case studies, white papers, videos, tutorials, webinars, slide presentations and research.

But here’s a good question to ask when determining the effectiveness of all those marketing assets you worked so hard to produce: How effectively are they being used?

If you don’t have a solid marketing asset management system in place, you could be missing out on opportunities to move your sales figures to the next level.

We compiled a list of 4 essential tips for developing a powerful marketing asset management strategy.

1. Assess where you are.

4 Essential Tips for Powerful Marketing Asset ManagementTake the time to gauge your team’s ability to quickly locate and leverage your marketing materials. As part of that review, take an inventory of everything — deleting the materials that are no longer useful but continue to take up space.

Next, check for any gaps. Is there marketing collateral that is under-utilized? If so, identify the reasons why. Is it difficult to find? Are fees, policies or other relevant material regularly updated? Is your sales team even aware certain materials exist?

It could be that you are lacking a marketing asset management system that could identify as well as resolve any of these issues.

2. Clearly define goals.

Before undertaking any changes to your marketing asset management, figure out what you’re trying to achieve.

A simple tweak may not give you the results you’re ultimately going after. For example, you may not simply want to create a better system for categorizing marketing assets.

How about making it easy for a sales rep to quickly perform a search based on a prospect’s specific question? Get input on all of the challenges that are facing your team in using those assets and envision the ideal situation.

3. Compare the tools.

There are hundreds of tools you can use for your marketing asset management — from traditional file folders and cloud services like DropBox.

You also could opt for customized digital asset management tools that give you the flexibility of gaining instant access to your marketing materials without worrying about having an Internet connection.

Also, check into options that provide you the ability to automate updates as well as provide CRM integration, as well as those that are user-friendly.

Think long-term. You don’t want to be in the position of re-evaluating the effectiveness of your tool a year from now.

4. Thoroughly train your team on digital asset management tools — until they get it.

What good are power digital asset management tools if few people are even bothering to use them? If you did your job well in Step 3, your team should be able to quickly adapt to your new marketing asset management system — especially if it is an intuitive tool designed specifically for your team.

If you did your job well in Step 3, your team should be able to quickly adapt to your new marketing asset management system — especially if it they are intuitive digital asset management tools designed specifically for your team.

Make sure you get plenty of input beforehand to ensure that you have team buy-in about how it can transform results.

With digital asset management tools that are working for you — not against you, you’re equipping your team more effectively get the results that lead to better sales. It can be the start to a beautiful alignment between sales and marketing, ensuring consistency, organization, and collaboration.

Making Case Studies a Part of Your Sales Strategy

Making the Case for Using Case Studies in Your Sales Strategy

By | B2B Sales, Business Mobility, Sales Leadership, Sales Productivity, Selling Tips

What’s behind every great sales team?

That’s the million-dollar question for sales managers who are comparing their performance with that of their competitors.

More than likely, it’s not as complicated as it seems.

It could be a combination of supportive managers, ongoing training, and substantial bonuses. But don’t forget your sales collateral. It could give your team the competitive edge they need to bring in more sales.

And nothing seems to do the job as well as case studies. They give you credibility simply by showing that you can actually deliver the results you claim you can.

Consider them your top sales collateral for turning sales prospects into clients. But don’t just settle for the same old case studies you’ve been relying on. If you haven’t changed them recently, it could be time for a complete overhaul.

Here are 6 ways you can transform your case studies into powerful pieces of collateral.

1. Tighten them up.

Back in the day, marketing and sales teams sort of went with “more is better.” That doesn’t work anymore.

You can count on the fact that your prospects are bombarded with tons of content in all sorts of forms. Try to keep your sales collateral as simple and condensed as possible while getting the point across effectively.

There’s no need for a 5 to 10-page case study. Get all that information into 1 to 2 well-designed and engaging pages.

2. Tell a story.

Every single case study should tell a story, from beginning to end.

The beginning should clearly explain the challenge a client was facing and how your company was able to resolve it.

The middle should provide more information about the solution that was implemented and how it impacted the organization.

And the end should demonstrate the results of implementing this solution, providing the reader with a clear picture of your customer’s experience.

Case Studies as a Sales Strategy3. Add customer testimonials.

Customer testimonials don’t have to be super long, but they certainly need to be powerful.

Ask your current and previous clients for feedback on what their experiences were in working with you as well as how your solution made a difference for their company.

Use their feedback to incorporate some personal feedback into your case studies, which will help “humanize” the content.

4. Try different mediums.

Think outside the box when building case studies.

One-sheets are great, but a two-minute video or a slide presentation could be even better. Getting a previous client to agree to a video interview not only can provide you with a great case study, it can give you the extra leverage of a solid customer testimonial.

Bonus tip: Make sure the most updated versions are easily accessible at all times. Include them in your digital catalogs or asset management system.

5. Develop numerous versions.

Step back and consider the different types of clients you’re serving.

Do you have a mix of medium to large businesses? B2B as well as B2C?

When developing your case studies, go for a good mix of different scenarios and challenges as well as client profiles. You want an assortment so that your team can choose those that are most similar to their prospects.

6. Get creative.

Whether you’re developing print collateral, video or slide decks, don’t be afraid to show off some of your company’s personality.

Dare to be different in design, format and tone.

Likewise, ask your clients to be extremely candid about any steps in the process — from any doubts they had beforehand to any hiccups along the way. It can go a long way in coming across authentic and hardworking in exceeding expectations.

Case studies can be powerful tools in your sales arsenal, and you should give your case studies a close look. Investing the time to upgrade them could give your team what it needs to show that your company can deliver what it promises.

How Do You Measure Up? 5 Essential Qualities of a Great Sales Leader

How Do You Measure Up? 5 Essential Qualities of a Great Sales Leader

By | B2B Sales, Business Mobility, Mobile Productivity Tools, Sales Leadership, Sales Productivity, Selling Tips

While you constantly measure the performance of your sales team — checking their ability to hit goals and manage their pipelines, you often take the time to measure your own performance as a sales leader.

Of course you do.

Well, OK, maybe you don’t.

One of the most essential traits of a great sales leader is actually taking the time to assess his or her own performance.

That would be the No. 1 quality of a great sales leader. Looking within.

Let’s take a look at five more.

1. You’re constantly aware.

Mobile Sales StrategyGreat sales leaders are not only looking at and stressing over numbers; they’re in tune with where each of their sales reps are with their individual performances. Are they struggling in one particular area? Is there a mental roadblock? Are they overwhelmed? Stressed? A great sales leader can pick up on those cues and take measures to help their sales reps overcome obstacles to move on to better performance.

Are they struggling in one particular area? Is there a mental roadblock? Are they overwhelmed? Stressed? A great sales leader can pick up on those cues and take measures to help their sales reps overcome obstacles to move on to better performance.

A great sales leader can pick up on those cues and take measures to help their sales reps overcome obstacles to move on to better performance.

2. You invite feedback.

“What do you need?” “How can we make this better?” “What challenges do you face?”Are all good questions to ask your sales reps. A great sales leader is willing to get input from their team without feeling attacked. This is also a great way to build trust

Are all good questions to ask your sales reps. A great sales leader is willing to get input from their team without feeling attacked. This is also a great way to build trust

A great sales leader is willing to get input from their team without feeling attacked. This is also a great way to build trust with your team.

3. You motivate.

While you hold everyone accountable for reaching their goals, you still find ways to recognize milestones — both large and small.

Just pointing out the top performers based on sales numbers can get repetitive. Find creative ways to recognize people on your team who also are discovering new approaches to the same old challenges.

Also, it’s a good idea to find ways that will help build the core 60% of your sales team. A small percentage in their percentage could be a big driver in top-line revenue.

4. You’re honest.

If things are not going well, your team can count on you to be direct and honest. You openly talk about challenges — avoiding the need to put a positive spin on any discouraging updates.

When you get to this point, your team will be more likely to help you solve any problems.

5. You remove roadblocks.

PD4_3629Along with assessing their employees for cues that could indicate stressors or frustrations, a great sales leader is analyzing ways to remove roadblocks that get in the way of the team’s performance.

Are inbound sales materials inadequate? Do they have the information they need at any given time?

A great sales leaders will be able to provide all of these to their team so they can focus on what they do best: selling.

Want to take that one step further?

Provide teams with the right tools they need to streamline the process.

A good sales team can go out and sell, but they can only do so much if they have to do everything manually.

A minimal increase in sales from the core 60% of your sales team could be a HUGE driver in top-line revenue.

Imagine what a mobile sales tool, specifically designed for them, could do for your numbers.

Frankly, it’s a no-brainer.

Give teams the tools they need and they’ll be able to make themselves and you look better.

So… where do you start?

View our article, “What Kind of Mobile Sales App is Best for Your Team?”, to learn more:

What Kind of Mobile Sales App is Best for Your Team?