The 60-Day Sales Discovery Challenge in 5 Simple Steps

By Rachel Cavallo

I spend a lot of time interviewing sales leaders to diagnose their sales challenges. The number one theme I hear? Their teams don’t know enough about their customers. They don’t ask the right questions, don’t ask enough questions, and don’t apply what they learn to sell more.

Typically, my question back to them is, “So what are you doing about it?” I’m a firm believer that teams will rise to the expectations of their leaders, but those expectations need to be clear, succinct, and consistently applied and measured.

I also know that it takes 30 to 60 days of consistent focus to change behavior (the behavior of the sales professional AND the leader). Widespread, long-term change is daunting, though, so, here is my challenge to you… Take a 60-Day Sales Discovery Challenge with your team.

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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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The Top 4 CRM Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

By Erica Abt

CRM (Client Relationship Management) can be defined as “the strategy upon which companies plan, manage and analyze interactions across their customer’s lifecycle to acquire, grow and retain customers”.

That’s at least what CRM is supposed to be. Instead, what we usually hear from clients about their CRM are comments like:

“It’s a mess.”
“We use it badly.”
“We bought it for reporting but since nobody uses it, it adds no value.” 

For a tool that is so expensive, time-consuming to implement, and promises to help sales people do their jobs more easily, it’s surprising how many companies struggle to get the full return on their CRM investment. Why is it so difficult?

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"Stop Helping Me Sell More"

By Michael Perla

One of the perspectives I’m fond of is around the dose-response relationship[i]. In other words, what is the minimum dose I need to take (or do) to deliver the response I’m looking to achieve. In exercise, you often see this with high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is where you intersperse short-duration, high-intensity intervals (e.g., 20-40 seconds of hard running) with active rest periods (e.g., jogging in between). With a minimum dose – say a 20-minute session – you can achieve high-levels of fitness and health.

As an analogue in sales, an up-front dose of more researching and planning at the start of a sales cycle  – before conducting sales calls or targeting accounts – can help to accelerate a sales professional’s results later in the sales process. The Corporate Executive Board (CEB) – now part of Gartner – has found that top-performing sellers often spend more time planning and qualifying than average performers.

With this relationship in mind, it helps to create a frame around a dose that could potentially be harmful as well. As with most things, more is not necessarily better. More exercise can equal injuries and repetitive stress disorders, not unlike too many sales methodologies or technologies can create frustration, fatigue, and eventual turnover.

We are finding that a lot of our clients are much more conscious and intentional of what they ‘throw’ at their sales professionals in terms of change. Too many change initiatives can equal lower productivity and dissatisfaction, usually the opposite of what the sales organization is trying to achieve.

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“I Need to Grow My Sales Pipeline”

By Michael Perla

“Our pipeline is not where it needs to be”, the SVP of Sales said to me, “We need 30% more than what we have now”. “Our immediate focus is on growing the pipeline … How do we do that?”

I hear this type of refrain a lot in my work. It’s also an area that many CEOs are asked about on conference calls – how their sales pipeline is looking, which can be used to predict future revenue performance. The sales pipeline gets a lot of attention from C-suite executives to sales management to sellers. I wrote about pipeline dynamics last year and ‘Pipelies’ before that. Net net, the sales pipeline is the barometer of the ‘future’ for a lot of companies and its current market valuation is derived from future expectations.

In the most prosaic way possible, the pipeline is basically a pipe with lines – the pipe is the sales process and lines are stages. The sales pipeline represents opportunities that are arranged along each of the sales stages or steps that comprise the sales process. The de facto standard today is that your sales process should align to your customer’s buying process, assuming they have some sort of process, which is likely to depend on what they are purchasing.

So if we get back to the question in the title of this post, there is a bit of work to really understand what’s going on with a sales pipeline. First off, are you even assessing the complete picture?

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Back to the Future – The B2B Sales Imperative

By Warren Shiver

“Whoa, this is heavy…There's that word again; "heavy." Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the earth's gravitational pull?" -- Back to the Future

A recent HBR article, The New Sales Imperative got me thinking about the classics. Seems like the “new” B2B sales imperative looks a lot like the old one. It reminds me of NBC’s great slogan in the 1990’s when they would show reruns of their must-see lineup on Thursday nights (the era before Netflix, streaming, etc.), “If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you.”

I’m not quite sure of the original source, but we were working with sales teams to define their buyer-aligned sales process with supporting “customer evidence” back at OnTarget in the late ‘90s for clients, such as Microsoft, IBM, and HP. There are reasons that good ideas are enduring, especially in sales where there are such clear scorecards.

Back to the Basics

We are often asked about the latest sales trends and pushed by clients, especially those focused on Learning & Development, to offer the latest sales technique, program, or approach. Increasingly, we are recommending a back-to-basics approach for many of our clients.

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The 4 Most Common CRM Disasters

By Symmetrics Group

Sales leaders ackowledge CRM's role in business success, yet 63% of CRM initiatives fail. Learn the warning signs and first responder tips for four of CRM's biggest pitfalls with our CRM Disaster infographic.  Dig deeper and download our disaster prevention article "CRM & Sales Effectiveness: Where's the Link?" where Tim Clarke of Symmetrics Group explores the critical components of a successful CRM program.

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The Millennial Sales Pursuit – You Spin Me Right ‘Round

By David Szen

In consulting, we have the pleasure of working with clients across a variety of industries who share interesting stories.  Every once in a while you hear a story that makes you stop and think about the traditional ways we try and advance a sale. Here is one of those such stories…

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7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation Blog Series – Step 3: Building Your Case for Change

By Warren Shiver

In our research on sales force transformations for our new book, 7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation, the greatest challenge we heard from our interviews, as well as the survey was the difficulty in achieving sustainable change within a sales team. Even though sales teams and leaders excel at convincing others to change, they are typically highly resistant to change themselves. It’s no accident that there are five steps required to complete in our sales force transformation approach before moving to implementation, and this blog focuses on the third step: building your case for change.

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7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation Blog Series – Step 2: Building the Foundation and Vision of the Future

By Michael Perla

What is your vision for the future? Do you know what you want the sales organization to become? Is your vision of the future big-and-bold and inspiring? These are several of the key questions that Warren Shiver and I set out to answer with a two-year research project that culminates with the publishing of our book, the 7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation.

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