Category Archives: Sales Enablement Strategies

Why Content Marketers Should Be Certified in Your Sales Process

When you think about whether to certify sales reps on the sales process, the answer is obvious – of course you should! Reps use the sales process every day and need to understand how the sales stages relate to the buyer’s journey. Reps also use the sales process as an activity checklist to drive intended outcomes. Reps are coached on the sales process, which is reinforced by first-line managers, and success is confirmed by buyers’ actions. However, one group that often is forgotten in the certification process is marketing, especially marketing roles who create content for reps. Unless they have gone through sales training, they may be unaware of how reps and buyers actually engage with one another, and how reps use and present content during those meetings. Yup, classic misalignment.

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Eliminate, Offload, Expedite or Automate?

On the surface, the secret to time management is simple: Be sure to spend most of your time on activities that are both urgent and important. The trick is to accurately determine what activities fall into what category and then ruthlessly avoid those that don’t meet that litmus test. Easy to say, but not always so easy to do in our distraction-filled, always-on, always-available world of chat, email, mobile phones, multi-tasking and interrupt-driven workdays. The SiriusDecisions Sales Activity Matrix assigns sales activities to the four quadrants of core selling activities/direct engagement, core selling activities/internal, non-core-selling activities/direct engagement and non-core-selling activities/internal. One of the goals for sales operations is to reduce the amount of time sales reps spend on activities that fall into the lower left quadrant (e.g. non-core activities/internal).

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Reflections From Sonoma: Sales Leadership Exchange 2014 (The Days of Wine and Closers)

On February 26 and 27, more than 85 senior sales leaders gathered at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa for SiriusDecisions’ inaugural Sales Leadership Exchange (SLE). While the weather was a little wet on the first night (we’ve been asked to run the event throughout the Southwest to help with the drought), it didn’t dampen the energy and enthusiasm of our attendees. We designed the SLE to foster networking and conversation by limiting the number of guests and holding it in a venue that allowed folks to unplug for a few hours. Mission accomplished – according to feedback from attendees and sponsors. Our theme was productivity – which was fitting for our locale. Sonoma is famous for vineyards that produce some of the best wines in the world – and one thing we learned during the wine tasting is that to grow great wine grapes, you have to “stress” the plants. The idea is not to provide the best soil or plenty of water, but to provide just enough nutrients, and just enough water, so that the plants create fruit with concentrated flavor. So instead of yielding lots of mediocre grapes, you end up with fewer grapes of higher quality, which yields better wine. This is analogous to the challenges our sales leaders face – how to improve yield in markets that are “stressed” by improving their sales organizations’ productivity to ensure growth.

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What Is the ROI of Your Sales Asset Management Solution?

Clients often ask me how they can justify the cost of a sales asset management (SAM) solution. They sometimes want a magic formula to show them that after purchase of the SAM solution, they will see a payback period of X months based on a Y lift in sales. No such thing. This is not to say there isn’t a benefit to buying a new SAM, but equating it with ROI is the wrong approach. In the past decade, organizations have faced increasing pressure to justify every dollar spent and describe how each expenditure contributes to the bottom line. On the surface, this approach seems logical and practical. If the company is going to spend money on a new solution, it should realize a financial benefit. But consider the following comparison:

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Sustaining Change: Think Dolphins, Not Whales

In my last post, I discussed the use of agile development techniques to implement new sales tools, training strategies, methodologies or processes for the sales organization. But a successful deployment only makes the tool or process available. The real effort is in ensuring long-term adoption and lasting behavioral change that achieve the desired return on investment. A great deal of research and more than a few models, books and blogs addressing organizational change are available. One of my favorite analogies comes from David Feeny – a prominent British academic and authority on business transformation – who compares dolphins to whales to demonstrate the right away to sustain change.

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What Sales Operations Can Learn From Agile Development

Incremental software development concepts have been around since at least 1974, when E.A. Edmonds introduced an adaptive software development process. But it wasn’t until 2001 when the process was formalized with the publication of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, which defined the approach now known as agile software development. Sales operations and enablement professionals can apply some of the same principles used in agile development when deploying new tools, training, methodologies or processes to the sales organization. An agile approach emphasizes speed of deployment, flexibility in design, transfer of knowledge and adaptation to changes in buyer or user requirements. Here’s how to adopt the key concepts of agile development to your sales productivity initiatives:

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You Win Some, You “Luge” Some

A client recently came to us with the following question: What do we see other b-to-b companies doing to help their reps accelerate late-stage deals? Their reps often struggled to “cross the finish line” and close opportunities at the bottom of their funnel, so the client wanted to know what content and tools they should develop. What training might be useful? What offers should be extended? The truth is, there are probably several factors contributing to this problem. Maybe their reps are weak at negotiating. Maybe they are unable to sell effectively to senior-level decisionmakers who often play a role late in the buying process. Right now, we are helping the client to diagnose the exact problem, and then we’ll explore the possible solutions to address them. Perhaps they could leverage tools like ROI calculators or client reference systems. Of course, this discussion got me thinking about the Winter Olympics – particularly the luge competition. Perhaps this client’s problem wasn’t a “bottom of the funnel” problem at all.

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The More Connected I Become, The Less Connected I Become

I used to be a pretty good networker. I was disciplined and organized. I’d set aside a couple of hours a week, block the time on my calendar, and I would rarely let other “more urgent” activities (shout out to the late, great Stephen Covey) take that time. Back then, the tools of my networking trade were simple: a phone, my contact list (first stored in a Rolodex (for the Millennials out there, below is an image of a Rolodex) eventually moving to electronic contact management systems. (I used ACT! and my trusty Palm Pilot to organize the names I had). I used a tickler system to remind me to reconnect with folks on a regular basis. I would sometimes take notes to remind me of our last conversation, their kids’ achievements, etc. – more often than not, I’d just remember. It was done primarily via phone, though sometimes in person over breakfast, lunch or drinks – having an actual conversation. Harvey Mackay, the author of the networking how-to book Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, would have been proud!

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Sales Enablement Can Be the Pits

I recently went to see Ron Howard’s latest movie Rush. If you are not familiar with the movie, it’s about two Formula One racecar drivers and their intense rivalry. While the movie was disappointing, it had some great driving footage – and one scene in particular that caught my attention and got me thinking of sales enablement. (You know it has to be a pretty bad movie when I start to daydream about sales enablement.) The scene showed the orchestrated precision of a Formula One pit crew. Within a few seconds, tires were changes and fuel was topped. The pit crew was run by a crew chief, who also helped the driver set strategy before the race and adapt strategy during the race via radio communications. So, here’s what got me thinking of sales enablement.

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Sales Enablement Technology – Utopia or Dystopia?

A common theme in science fiction is the hidden dystopia in what otherwise appears to be a perfect world – a utopia aided by technology. The underlying message is ominous: Technology is a direct threat. In the world of sales, technology that should help reps succeed at their jobs can become dystopian if the process is not considered first. Unfortunately, many companies throw technology at a problem before fully understanding the issue, and they’re disappointed when adoption or ROI is lower than anticipated. The good news is that a few simple actions can be taken to avoid this problem:

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