Descartes Philosophy: Applied to Modern Sales Challenges

By Hope Eyre

“Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” -- Morpheus, The Matrix (1999)

Last week, we attended our first large-scale virtual conference.

Organized by an industry association client of ours, it was in every way analogous to a sales kick-off meeting. About 8000 attendees registered. At any one time, 1800-1900 people were viewing a main-stage event, attending education sessions, browsing exhibitor booths or virtually networking.

The conference interface was intuitive and easy to navigate. You could go into and out of live sessions as easily as walking into or out of a hotel ballroom – easier, actually. You didn’t disturb anyone by opening a physical door. If you wanted collateral or presentation material, you picked it up and dropped it into your virtual briefcase for later viewing. You could chat with just about everyone.

Who would have thought 4 ½ months ago that an organization could pull this off virtually?

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Sales Leaders: Assess Skills Gaps Now to Avoid Pipeline Issues Later

By Hope Eyre

We suspected this would happen, and then we got confirmation from the Sales Ops team at our largest client.

“Some of our best sellers have become some of our worst,” they said.

The client was describing a subset of sellers who had historically been star performers based on the strength of their relationships; especially those who had relied heavily on face-to-face socializing.

“It’s the ones who never had to lean into any technology, because they were successful without it,” the lament continued. Pipelines already under stress were absolutely going to be affected.

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7 Tips to Get the Most Value from Your Virtual Meetings

By Warren Shiver

Like you, I’ve been working to adjust to a world of 100% meetings and most social interactions through my devices. Stress of the overall situation aside, it’s been fascinating to experiment and learn what’s working and not. Trust me, I’m still learning.

Since for those of you in sales, there is a strong chance that this remote environment will endure for a while given that even when companies welcome back their employees, how much longer will it be before they welcome you -- An outsider who just flew on a plane with 180 others to get to their front door?

Certainly, I welcome that day, but in the meantime, here are the best virtual meeting and engagement tips and ideas we’ve come across.

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Why Sir Francis Bacon Would Have Loved the Challenger Sale

By Hope Eyre

A couple of weeks ago, I was teaching a class in Business Case Selling to a high-tech client. Virtual is a tough setting for this topic because the length of time you can hold a seller’s attention on a webinar is shorter than what’s needed to teach it well.

We solve this by extending the training experience well outside the webinar itself. Pre-work, practicum assignments, manager coaching and the like. Several smaller pieces connected to build one compelling lesson.

Our client’s main objective with this training is to win without discounting, every sales leader’s dream.

To do this, their sellers have to prove, in empirical detail, the financial value of each high-tech solution to the customer. These sales are complex, lengthy, competitive and customers are known to start bidding wars to drive down price.

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CSO, CRO, VP of Sales: Which Leader Fits Your Company? Which Fits You?

By Masami Middleton

As sales consultants, we encounter sales leaders with a variety of fancy acronyms in their titles. In addition to the SVPs/EVPs of Sales, the sales leader landscape also includes CROs, CSOs, and CGOs. While these titles imply a distinction in roles, to most people, it’s just alphabet soup. 

What’s the difference between a Chief Sales Officer (CSO) and a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) or Chief Growth Officer (CGO)? From the CEO or board member perspective, which role does your business need? For a sales leader, which role is the best fit with your capabilities?

The easiest way to distinguish between these roles is to compare their scope of responsibility, core objectives, and what defines success. Appointing a “heavy hitter” to a CSO, CRO or CGO role, rather than a VP of Sales, indicates the need for a greater span of oversight from a strategic, revenue generation, and customer lifecycle perspective.

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The “Unluckiest Generation” of Sellers

By Warren Shiver

We’ve been interested in the impacts of the different generations in the workforce and specifically related to sales since our initial research for our book The Multigenerational Sales Team. According to the US Dept of Labor, in 2019 Millennials displaced Gen X as the largest cohort in the American workforce.

Last week, I came across an article in the Washington Post titled “The unluckiest generation in U.S. history,” which is quite a statement given some of the challenges that have confronted prior generations (world wars, pandemics, Great Depression, etc.), but it certainly caught my attention. The reporter Andrew Van Dam notes, “After accounting for the present crisis, the average millennial has experienced slower economic growth since entering the workforce than any other generation in U.S. history.”

What does this misfortune mean for early career sales professionals? What other trends from today's pandemic will impact the next generation of sellers and sales leaders?

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What Sales Leaders Can Learn from Epicurean Philosophers

By Hope Eyre

It’s called Pandemic Downtime, and we have it. That extra time we’d normally never have because we’re on airplanes, entertaining clients, and generally doing the things people do when they’re free to leave the house.

A lawyer friend of mine and his wife always have interesting podcast recommendations. So while I was browsing through a list they’d given me, I stumbled across a series called Philosophize This!  by Stephen West.

The host is a superb storyteller, adept at explaining philosophical tenets in a relatable, entertaining way. Imagine attending a lecture on Socrates given by Jimmy Kimmel. That’s what he’s like.

My colleague, Warren, was nearing the end of a Thomas Keller cooking series he’d been watching on Masterclass, so I suggested Philosophize This!  We figured strolling through non-business topics while we had the time might boost creativity when we returned to a faster pace.

Philosophy isn’t exactly familiar territory for either of us, but after listening to a few episodes (Daoism, Confucianism, Stoicism), we were hooked. It was only a matter of time before we started trying to relate the concepts we learned to the business of sales.

Topics: sales process
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Using “Down Time” to Get Your CRM In Order

By Erica Abt

Sales professionals are occasionally faced with a lull in client meetings due to regular business seasonality, vacation schedules, or as we all know too well - a global health pandemic. While maximizing face time with clients should always be the #1 priority, it is important that sales teams take advantage of any extra time at their computers executing high value activities.

 

When the reason for the extra time calls for increased sensitivity around typical sales tactics (like aggressively cold calling for new meetings or asking for more business), we encourage sales teams to look inward and use the time to evaluate and improve their own business processes and tools so that they are ready to hit the ground running when a normal schedule resumes. One example of an internal tool that requires “TLC” in order to drive sales effectiveness is the CRM tool.

 

In this blog we explore four foundational CRM data elements that sales leaders should routinely evaluate to ensure the tool accurately reflects the status their client relationships in addition to their territory’s pipeline potential.

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Talking to Your Sales Team: Do it More Often, Starting Now

By Hope Eyre

If you manage sellers, frontline sales managers or indeed anyone, you understand they’re under stress, apprehensive, and craving any type of normalcy until actual normalcy returns.

Most sales leaders we talk to are currently in break/fix mode: Some are having to shrink their organizations or reduce pay. Most are trying to figure out how to help customers whose businesses or entire industries have been upended.

All are worried about the health and safety of their teams in addition to working hard to help sellers quickly become accomplished in a virtual environment. The key to managing much of this lies in how you’re communicating with your team while stress is running high.

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4 R’s of Building Trust and Customer Relationships in a Virtual Environment

By Rachel Cavallo

What if today’s unprecedented circumstances could actually help us to build stronger relationships with our customers? What if today, when faced with insurmountable barriers like quarantine and social distancing, we could actually get to know our customers better and be the type of sellers we always say that we want to be – the type of sellers who genuinely care about our customers’ success, who empathize with their challenges, and who bring vital information that is insightful and highly relevant to the situation our customers face today? But how?

The general presumption among sellers has long been that if you really want to develop relationships, you have to get face-to-face. While we find that many sellers interact with their customers over email, text, and phone, they really rely on those face-to-face moments in the office or over lunch to build strong relationships. But maybe today, when we take away the “easy” part, we’re actually left with what really matters… it’s not the lunch or the warm smile and firm handshake (Yikes! Where’s the sanitizer? Will we ever do that again?), it’s the trust and the value that really matter… that’s what builds and sustains a firm foundation.  We can build solid relationships remotely… in fact, we might even be able to do it better – we just have to adjust our approach.

The fundamentals don’t change. We believe there are 4 key components – We call them the 4 R’s: Be Relevant, Be Real, Be Relatable, and Be Reliable.

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