Welcome to your weekly roundup for Oct 13-20. This week we’re summing up insights why it's becoming urgent that salespeople take on more autenthic terms of engagement, why self-development is crucial for operational efficiency, and how to recognize the signs of a bad sales manager.
If salespeople haven’t already taken the hint to drop the “smile and dial” mentality in favor of more authentic terms of engagement, they’re in serious trouble, threatened by the increasingly educated B2B buyer, search engines and social networks.
This is the sentiment of Shane Schick’s coverage of Jill Rowley’s keynote at the 2017 Canadian Innovation Exchange Summit this week in Toronto.
If Rowley’s words aren’t enough to convince you, take it from DiscoverOrg’s recent research:
- Only 54% of sales professionals can clearly explain how their solution positively impacts a customer’s business
- Buyers rate two-thirds of B2B salespeople as being average or poor
- Most buyers prefer salespeople wait several days before following up after an initial sales call
However, before salespeople can provide value, they first must earn the attention of the buyer with smart prospecting.
Rowley told the story of how she engaged Steve Lucas, Marketo’s CEO, by reading and commenting on his content. In her comment, she used some of his language, and introduced the idea of her solution.
Before their initial meeting, she had done enough homework to know he has two kids, does CrossFit and has Type 1 diabetes.
She also kept tabs on other decision makers from Marketo who were engaging with her content, which gave her an idea of the kind of insights to share with them later on.
Of course, this is just one example of how salespeople can use digital breadcrumbs to gain insights about their buyers and plan personalized outreach. Another critical component of adding value to customers involves continual training, enablement and education at all levels of the team.
*This is a summary of Social selling expert Jill Rowley shares her best advice for connecting with buyers by Shane Schick.
Companies in the physical space rely on operations to optimize their processes, but this art is somewhat lost in the digital space, writes Gary Whidden, who leads a sales team at Facebook.
He outlines three principles that can help your business achieve success:
Find Your Flow
A flow unit is “the basic unit of analysis that a process is designed to create or serve.” Whidden makes the analogy of in a sandwich shop, if the flow unit was anything other than customers, the shop would neglect the customer experience.
If you’re in a high transaction sales role, volume of calls might be your flow unit.
If you’re in a longer sales cycle, it would might be “influence.”
How can you focus on your flow to improve efficiencies in the sales process?
Identify (and Relieve) the Bottlenecks
A bottleneck is a term that describes a point of congestion in a process.
In the sandwich shop, this might be an employee slicing meat too slowly. The solution would be to buy pre-sliced meat.
In a sales cycle, lack of buyer or product knowledge, not handling objections and even talking too much could be a bottleneck.
Identify where the problem exists, and allocate resources accordingly. Try out new sales tactics and continually reassess to make sure you’re always catching what’s getting in the way.
Invest in Inventory
In a sandwich shop, if the bread runs out, so does the service.
In a sales organization, if self-development runs out, so does the level of service. Self-development is inventory.
Whidden talks about demand forecasting, which is a way operational experts manage inventory to analyze demand for products.
You can apply demand forecasting by “thinking about what sales skills you will need to develop and leverage for future sales interactions.”
Read and follow sales blogs, keep up to date with the latest methodologies and explore coaching on successful sales tactics.
*This is a summary of 3 Core Operation Principles To Drive Sales Success by Gary Whidden.
Bad sales managers could result in millions of dollars in lost revenue, but they can also negatively impact morale, creating an unhealthy and unproductive environment for the rest of your team. Here are some telltale signs of recognizing a bad sales manager:
Inconsistent/unsustainable results: Bad managers can create short-term results, often using negative tactics, which is why it’s so understand their impact. Leaders will see over time the manager has failed to build the team and their capabilities, and therefore drive results.
Drive away good people: People want a career trajectory that will help them grow. They want managers who will help them, and invest in the growth. Bad managers only look out for their own success, and as a result, good people look for fulfilling career opportunities elsewhere.
Bad managers tend to attract people like them: Just like bad managers drive away good people, they pull in people like them, further covering up the problem and making it worse.
Create barriers between organizations: Bad managers don’t only affect sales, their poor leadership creates alignment issues with other departments within and outside of the organization.
Bad managers tend not to be personally accountable: Bad managers blame others for failure, diverting attention from activities that drive results.
Developing your sales managers should be a top priority for leaders. And if they aren’t receptive to training, they need to go.