Archive for the ‘Velocity’


7 Principles for Individual Sales Success

You should only read this if you believe that your level of success is largely up to you. Yes, it’s impacted and influenced by external events, but it’s not your sales manager, employer, customer, product, partner, bank manager or religious leader who ultimately determines your destiny. It’s you, and in difficult selling times, that’s the first principle that you have to accept.

There are few professions where the inner strength of the individual protagonist is as critical as that of an individual salesperson. During each sales call, you put your own credibility – and that of your company – on the line. Most likely, you are the primary arbiter of success or failure, and you always face the risk of failure or rejection. But when you win, the sense of achievement and personal gratification are amplified just because you are always putting yourself out there.

There are 7 principles that winners exhibit more frequently than others.  These are not best practices, processes, methodology, or selling skills – but rather personal choices that you control to define your personal purpose – the ‘why’ you do what you do.

1. Ambition: To achieve your ambition, you first need to be very clear as to what it is. There are two main questions you should ask yourself;

  1. “Do I know what I really want to achieve?” and
  2. “Is my goal ambitious enough?”

A ‘shoot for the moon’ goal is a wonderful motivator. By figuring out your personal outrageous goal – conceived in a moment of suspended reality – you see what might be possible. Then you can plan to achieve that ambition by breaking it down into attainable and realistic steps. Winning sales professionals do this in small ways every day as they strategize how to maximize revenue from an account, or win a specific deal. Then it is the art of the possible, planning the realization of the ambition.

2. Commitment and Resilience: How badly do you want it? Will you stay the course? Invariably you will see seemingly ‘lucky’ people for whom everything just works out. Evidence of their hard work is sometimes hard to see. Enduring hardship is frequently the bedfellow of success, so you’ve got to be committed to your goal and both resilient and relentless in its pursuit. When you continue to do the right thing, and stick with it, good things invariably happen.

3. Honesty and Integrity: These are two of the least understood, and most under-valued, personal and business assets. A reputation for being honest or having high integrity is priceless. It brings trust and openness, deeper relationships and more productive engagement. Trust is ‘truth delivered over time’. It is hard to win but easy to lose. The sustained value of these assets cannot be overstated.

4. Inquisitiveness and Learning: In sales, as in life, it is better to be interested than it is to be interesting. You need to be inquisitive and curious about what matters to others and less focused on what ‘interesting’ stuff you have to say. When you have earned the right – you can then be interesting.

If you are in the right job/company/industry, being interested in your customers’ business/industry/market comes easily to you. You have a natural passion for what you do, choosing to continuously self-improve. Without this passion to learn, you will find it hard to be naturally inquisitive. Then you’re possibly in the wrong job/company/ industry – and probably stuck in mediocrity.

5. Empathy and Perspective: Without Empathy you can’t possibly appreciate what’s important to your customer or your own support team. Remember the last time you complained about your marketing / product department, ‘I just don’t understand why we never seem to get … [Insert leads, new features, competitive analysis, better pricing]. Usually when you start a sentence with ‘I just don’t under stand why …’, it’s usually just that – you don’t understand. Arrogance is usually bred from ignorance, and that’s never pretty or productive. Consider the other Perspective.

6. Vision: Innovation and Leadership: Ambition without vision is dangerous and usually counter-productive. Vision elevates ambition to a higher place, one where your insight, founded on innovative thinking and thought leadership (informed through Inquisitiveness and Learning), propels you to the front. (There is another V for Velocity – click here to learn more)

7. Enterprise: You’ve got to work hard, really hard, no really, really hard. Come up with the right strategy to fulfill your ambition, and then through your own initiative and resourcefulness, determine how you best execute your plan. Unless you have the requisite Commitment and Resilience you won’t reach the uncommon heights you’ve visualized in your ambition.

When you put these principles together – Ambition, Commitment, Honesty, Inquisitiveness, Empathy, Vision, Innovation, and Enterprise – you can choose to A.C.H.I.E.V.E. your goals.

It really is up to you.

 

 

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A little sales dashboard humor

dogberts-consults-dashboards

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You know it matters that the data is accurate if you want to understand how to improve your sales performance.

Here’s a Slideshare that shows you how to figure out how much you sell by focusing just on the Four Levers of Sales Velocity (aka Forget the Pipeline!)

It’s not all about the size of your pipeline.

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Unpacking Sales Velocity

When Henry called me yesterday he asked a really interesting question. ”Why is it”, he said, “that everyone feels that the start of the year is the only time that they should look to build their pipeline?”

Henry works for a software UX design company that we partner with. His company plays a huge role in designing Dealmaker to be really, really, easy to use.  They do spectacular work. If you are a Dealmaker user you will know what I mean.

Henry’s question was prompted by the fact that over the last month (i.e. since the start of the year) his company has been inundated with requests from customers looking for his help.  They want him to design new websites, upgrade the UI of their applications, and design new marketing campaigns to attract new sales opportunities.

What’s really great about Henry is that over the time that we have been working together he has assimilated much of the sales methodology that we embed in Dealmaker and has immersed himself in the personas of the sales person and sales manager.

His follow up question was “Anyway, why is it that they are fixated on pipeline, adding more and more deals that they then don’t qualify properly or follow a proper sales process?  Shouldn’t they be thinking about each of the four Sales Velocity levers?”  I have to tell you, I just sat back and chuckled to myself.  I just love the fact that in the process of getting to understand the very best UX for Dealmaker, Henry now automatically thinks about the things that we all want our sellers to think about every day.

I have written about the Sales Velocity Equation before.  At its heart it says that there are really only four levers that you can pull to impact how much you sell in a given timeframe.  These are (i) the number of deals, (ii) the average deal value, (iii) the win rate, and (iv) the sales cycle.  When you take this to heart, you can see that it is not all about more leads, more calls, or even more opportunities.  Some times it is about increasing your average deal size by understanding the value of what you can provide in context of the customer’s business problem. When mapping your sales process to the customer’s buying process you can often take some control of the sales cycle.  Win rates generally increase when you bring insights to the customer that lead to your UBV (Unique Business Value).

Each of the levers impact how much you sell, and you should care about each of them equally.

If I get time over the next week or so I will write about how you can increase how much you sell by working with each of the four Sales Velocity levers, but for now I will just point you at this Slideshare that unpacks Sales Velocity for you a little bit.

Sales Velocity Equation

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7 Principles for Successful Sales Leadership

One of the perks of my job is the interaction I am privileged to have with so many great sales leaders. During the beta phase for a new solution we just launched (to help sales managers understand the potential vulnerabilities in the sales performance of their teams), I had more intensive interaction than usual with a number of sales leaders.  Going beyond the challenges of the front-line sales manager, which is really the problem that Dealmaker Sales Performance Insight helps with, I was struck by some common principles that seem to be consistently applied by those sales leaders who are at the top of their game.  Here is my synthesis of those conversations.

1.    Lead with Purpose:  Your team cares less about what you are telling them to do, but more about why you are asking them to do it. With a shared understanding of where you are headed together, you can more easily collaborate and communicate.  If you can articulate a higher purpose than just hitting the targets – they know they have to do that without you telling them – they will understand the ‘why’ you are taking the direction you are taking, and that is always more powerful than the ‘what’.  When ‘why’ is understood, the team has a better chance of figuring out the ‘how’.

2.    Set High Standards – Hold Everyone Accountable:  Inspire your team to execute to the best of their ability – every time. Every single internal and external interaction matters.  It reflects on your values if you let poor practices develop without instant intervention. Slow response to a customer, casual email communication, bad manners to internal colleagues, poor quality proposals to customers, or arriving late or unprepared to a meeting, all let you (and the whole team) down.

3.    Write the Plays – and then Play them Right: Sales strategy is relatively easy. Constant execution and sales discipline is harder, and separate the great from the mediocre.  From business development through follow-up after the sale, the overall sales process (or go-to-market strategy) will contain milestones, trigger points, best practices, disciplines, and specific recommended tactics. Writes the plays, and then ensure that they are rigorously adopted, every day.

4.    Be the Role Model: As a sales leader you will undoubtedly have other things on your plate distracting from your core task. De-prioritize these time thieves.  Spend your time on exhibiting to your team how you are holding yourself accountable to the high standards that you have set.  Lead from the front. Execute your plays. Remember, you are in charge.

5.    Be Prepared to Rebuild: If you don’t have the team you need, you must be prepared to re-build. Always be recruiting and building a bench. Just like nurturing prospects for future business, the sales people that you want to hire are probably not immediately available the first time you connect with them. Start the conversation early.

6.    Prepare to Win: Winning doesn’t happen by accident. It usually happens when you are better prepared than your competitor.  Methodology helps, but systematic planning will equip you to deal with situations that arise without warning.  Deal reviews, account plans, sales process refinement, smart sales software, are tools you might use. Once the game starts they are usually on their own and it is then too late to help your team.  You need to prepare them in advance to win.

7.    Embrace Change Methodically:  The business world continues to evolve. Buyers change. New competitors emerge. Economic stability fluctuates.  Responding to change is never easy – particularly when things are already going well. When things are going badly you might feel the need to press the restart button. In either case you must accept two constants; (1) you need to make this quarter’s number working with what you have today and (2) what you have today will need to change just in time to serve your needs tomorrow.

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Why Big Data for Sales fails

The Big Data hype worries me. A lot. Particularly as it pertains to sales analytics. When it comes to understanding the inflection points that should be the determinants of behavior change to improve sales performance, we don’t suffer from an information deficit, we suffer from an insight deficit. Big data is perceived by some as the answer to the question. The problem however is that we often don’t know the question.

It is true that where we are today is a direct consequence of our past actions. You might therefore assume that a singular focus on finding correlations between historical data and results is the panacea to predicting future sales performance or performance hurdles. The difficulty however is that without applying context and experience there is a grave danger of mistaking correlation for causality, being blinded by a seemingly strong linkage between data and results without understanding the true causal factor.

Here’s an example. In some of our customers we have seen a direct correlation between the early identification of budget (allocated to a related project) as the most important indicator of sales success. But when we look at the data for others, budget seems to be less of a factor. When we looked beneath the data to understand the reason for this we uncovered an interesting fact. Early identification of budget is an important factor more often in a situation where the solution being offered could be classified as a ‘nice to have’ as opposed to a ‘must have’. This applies most frequently when the solution makes something better instead of fixing something that’s broken. Context and an experiential compass are important heuristics to apply to divine the meaningful from the obvious. Don’t let the data fool you.

Every day sales managers are struggling to find the answers to make their sales team more effective.  Often remote from their sellers, and relying on weekly calls and reports from their CRM systems, these managers find it difficult to identify, interpret and influence the important factors that predict sales success or failure. Sales managers are battling to discover whether their sales teams are doing the right things at the right time to positively impact their sales performance. The volume of data is overwhelming and the insight is missing.

Sales managers can’t manage what they can’t see, and sometimes, even if they can see the data, they don’t know how to find and interpret the most relevant metrics that influence future performance. They grapple to extract pertinent insights that tell them the absolute truth about their sales business – today, and into the future.  It’s just to hard interpret the data. And it gets worse.  Even if they can find and analyze the data to derive the pertinent insights, the resource required to prescribe effective coaching or curative actions for each sales person, in a consistent and informed way, is overwhelming. But Big Data, as currently being prescribed, is not the answer.

According to a recent Infochimps survey most big data projects fail. According to this recent study, even though 81% of companies have Analytics projects as one of their top priorities, 55% of these projects do not finish.  And while we all know that IT projects are not always successful, Big Data / Analytics projects will fail 30% more often.

The most common reason for failure is inaccurate scope.  People try to boil the ocean, and assume that more data is better.  Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case.  Now that technological advances have made it possible to accumulate colossal amounts of data at an ever-increasing rate, it has become almost axiomatic that the answer to everything in in the data.  But in fact it is not.  Companies are making BIG bets on BIG data alone without any qualitative assessment that applies deep domain expertise. That has the potential to lead to BIG decisions being made with BIG confidence that is sadly misplaced. BIG Mistake.

The second issue is lack of business context.  Without the right business context it is hard to know what questions to ask – so in that case any answer should do – but of course that doesn’t work.  It is understandable though that if there is a separation between the people with the business knowledge and the people with the analytics tools – then success is unlikely.  Sales people need to be at the center of any sales analytics project.  It cannot be a disconnected project owned by the business analysts or the operations team.

The third point is really an extension of the second.  If you don’t have business expertise, domain knowledge, experience and a ‘nose’ for what’s right then you can’t apply any human qualitative input – and that makes it hard to connect the dots.

The most common challenges according to the study are Time and Tools.  Now if the tools are hard, and the scope is wrong, then you will of course need a lot of time.  We don’t believe it needs to be that way.

The leading sales organizations we have seen are not just using reports, or big-data centric analytics. They are combining targeted smart sales analytics, strengthened with embedded sales methodology knowledge and experience. In the best of cases they are using intelligent automated systems to help expose the relevant sales metrics, gain actionable insights from the data, and provide automated coaching advice to accelerate sales cycles, increase the health of their pipeline and align and motivate their sales teams.

And they are realizing significant business benefits:

  1. Increased performance of the sales team based on more informed sales management and more knowledgeable sales coaching
  2. Improved sales productivity for individual sellers with automated coaching and visualization of results for greater alignment and motivation
  3. Accelerate sales velocity by measurement and analysis of win rate, sales cycle, deal size and pipeline health to reduce risk and take advantage of opportunities

I will follow-up this post with a set of recommendations on how you might approach sales analytics or big data projects – but I’d welcome your thoughts on this.  Right now, there is a lot of time and money being spent in this area and most of it is wasted.  It doesn’t have to be this way. The life of the sales manager is hard enough.

 

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10 Things Every Sales Manager Should Know About Sales Performance (Infographic)

Thanks to our friends over at Work.com for helping us with this infographic.

10 Things Every Sales Manager Should Know

 

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The data in this infographic is based largely on the Dealmaker Index Global Sales Benchmark Study.

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When is your Win Rate not your Win Rate?

It seems pretty simple at first, but calculating your Win Rate is not as straightforward as it might appear. In most cases sellers will think about their Win Rate as the number of wins as a percentage of the number of opportunities that were pursued. But that doesn’t tell the full story.

Let’s say I am working the four deals listed here.

  • Deal A: $20,000
  • Deal B: $10,000
  • Deal C: $40,000
  • Deal D: $30,000

Scenario 1:

In this case the results of the four sales cycles are as follows:

  • Deal A: $20,000 – WIN
  • Deal B: $10,000 – WIN
  • Deal C: $40,000 – LOSS
  • Deal D: $30,000 – LOSS

I win Deal A and Deal B, and lose Deal C and Deal D.  Win two. Lose two.  That may be viewed as a 50% Unit Win Rate.

However, when we add the values of the deals, we get a different result.  The aggregate of A and B is $30,000, where C and D together to a value of $70,000.  On a value basis this translates to Value Win Rate of 30%.

If you look at your pipeline as a predictor of future revenue, using your win rate, as factor of value, then you should consider the difference between Unit Win Rate and Value Win Rate.

 

Scenario 2:

But while deals of a similar profile generally follow a similar sales cycle, it is rarely the case that a group of opportunities will all start and finish at the same time.  Time itself is the added dimension.

In this scenario, only three of the four deals close in the time period we are measuring.

  • Deal A: $20,000 – WIN
  • Deal B: $10,000 – WIN
  • Deal C: $40,000 – OPEN
  • Deal D: $30,000 – LOSS

Once again I win Deal A and Deal B, and lose Deal D, but the sale cycle for Deal C has not yet come to a conclusion – or, as is equally likely, I have actually lost Deal C, but have not recorded it as lost, or I just have not realized that I have lost it.

With two wins and one loss, you could argue that the Unit Win Rate is 66%. Following this logic, the Value Win Rate would be 50%, as the total of A and B is $30,000 and the value of D is $30,000.

But what about Deal C?  Can I ignore the fact that I have been expending resources on this deal that has yet not be completed?  I think not.

Whichever path you take to measure Win Rate, you need to do so with your eyes open, and focus not just on the headline Win Rate number, but what it means to understand the patterns in your business.

At The TAS Group, we have extensively researched how companies measure Win Rate and what this number means to them. Those who use Dealmaker appear to have a much deeper understanding or their win rate and how it plays into their overall sales velocity equation.  In addition we have learned that in addition to the variables that play into the two scenarios outlined above, it is very important to be able to measure win rate from different positions in the pipeline.  We tend to refer to this as Pipeline Conversion Rate; i.e. the conversion to win from stage X in the pipeline.  The value of this approach is a deeper understanding of the value required in each stage of the pipeline to ensure you have adequate coverage to enable you to attain future revenue goals.

As with other sales performance initiatives, the key thing about measuring Win Rate is that by first understanding the questions you want to ask, and applying the appropriate tools to help you uncover the metrics that matter, you can get a clear picture of the problems you have to solve.  That’s always a good place to start.

 

 

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12 Elements of a Great Sales Playbook

The implementation of a sales playbook can be one of the most impactful initiatives for any sales organization. There are two reasons for this tremendous ROI. First, by following some simple guidelines, it can be a remarkably easy initiative to implement, and second, research shows that this results in 33% additional revenue.

We have done hundreds of Sales Playbook deployments with Dealmaker Smart Sales Playbook. Here are the 12 Elements of a great sales playbook that you should use to guide your implementation. 

1. Repeatable Winning Sales Processes

The key word here is ‘repeatable’. When everyone adopts the same sales process, there is a common language that is understood, not just by sales, but by the whole organization.  Recent research shows that while only 60% of sales teams have a sales process that is well defined, and well executed – those who do are 33% more likely to be High Performers*.

2. Customized to the Buying Cycle

Customers buy in lots of different ways; some purchases are guided by a single decision maker, while in other cases there can be a large buying committee. Some issue RFPs (health-warning!), others invite recognized suppliers to discuss their issues,  an increasing number learn in the Social Universe, and just a few remain with the incumbent supplier trading ‘the devil you know’ for potentailly more advanced or competitive solutions. Unless you visualize the journey the customer wants to take, you won’t be with them when they reach their destination.

3. Sales Tools in Context at Each Stage

At each stage of the buying process, salespeople need to employ just the right tools – at the right time to advance the sale to the next stage in the process.  A B2B sale is not a single event. In fact it is a collection of micro-sales events, each crafted to move closer to the eventual goal. Salespeople are busy and often don’t know which tool they need, where to find it or how to use it at the specific point in the micro-sale. Integrating sales tools into the playbook as part of the sales process is the solution.

4. Industry Sales Process Templates

It is widely accepted that tailoring your sales process to the specific needs of an industry will increase your chances for success. Third party industry sales templates are readily available from suppliers who have been tracking and analyzing millions of sales cycles.  That is the catalyst you need to get started.

5. Many Simple and Complex Processes

One playbook or sales process does not fit all.  Sometimes you are pursuing a brand new customer or a very large deal that demands a complex and sophisticated set of ‘plays’ to win the deal.  In other cases, the transaction might be quick,  one that suggests a diffferent rhythm. Your sales playbook should have the requisite intelligence to support that automatically and serve up the right playbook at the right time.

6. Process, Benchmarks and Insight

Benchmarking delivers many advantages for companies looking to improve the performance of their sales organization. Your playbook must capture those benefits, learn from them, and uncover inisghts that help you to drive your sales velocity.  When deploying a playbook, ensure that you have built in a capability that guides you to progress through these stages of evolution for your sales team.

7. Team Visibility for the Sales Manager

Being a front-line sales manager is one of the hardest jobs in sales.  It is also the critical link in sales.  Unless the sales manager has with all the tools he or she needs to easily manage the business, the whole performance of the sales organization suffer.  You need to provide them with the ‘Easy Button’.  Sales playbooks are often designed just with the sales person in mind.  Remember that the sales manager is the critical link.

8. Integrates with CRM System

This one should be a ‘no-brainer’. The playbook must integrate tightly with the CRM system so when the sales person works with an opportunity, the playbook will always be present, just where it needs to be.  That way the playbook (if it is smart enough) can react to the attibutes of the opportunity, like the size of the deal, or the products included in the opportunity record to present the right playbook for that opportunity. Complete integration with your CRM delivers the  optimum experience for the sales person, and provides sales managers with greater flexibility on how they view the data in the context of the rest of the business.  It is important.

9. Informs Sales Forecast Visibility

Salespeople spend about 2.5 hours each week on sales forecasting, and for most companies, the accuracy of sales forecasts leave a lot to be desired. To maximize the impact of your sales playbook on the accuracy of your sales forecast, there are two things to consider. (1) Does the sales playbook incorporate intelligence that objectively monitors the close date of the sale? (2) Does the sales playbook provide the sales manager with insight into deal vulnerabilities and risks in the forecast?

10. Motivational and Visual

There are only two reasons why an individual does not complete a task.  Either they do not have the competence, or they are not motivated enough  to do it.  Think about that – these are the only two reasons.  Your sales playbook should improve competence and increase motivation.  The competence piece is easily understood.

Motivation is a little more challenging. A study on What Motivates Sales People shows that, perhaps surprisingly for some, compensation is not the primary motivator. ‘Making Progress of Winning’ is ranked by sales people as the main reason they get up in the morning. To entice adoption of the sales playbook (rather than force compliance) your sales playbook needs to provide true value for the sales person – resolve that reward/effort equation, so that the salesperson gets more back from the playbook that they put into it.

11. Social and Collaborative

As B2B companies rely more heavily on social collaboration tools, some of the biggest gainers are going to be salespeople. Sales people who are the leaders in their organization are using social tools such as Chatter in Salesfore to improve collaboration in their own sales teams. Leading sales playbooks help by letting everyone ‘follow’ the plays, contributes to the conversation, and collaborate on the deal. The B2B world is constantly becoming more social and collaborative and you should ensure that your sales playbook accommodates this advancement.

12. Mobile and Cloud

Time is precious, and the sales person’s time is incredibly precious, both to them and to the sales organization looking to maximize the performance of their key quota-bearers.  Since so much of a sales person’s time is spent moving between A and B and back again, they should be equipped with the mobility to connect to their sales playbook allowing them to be responsive, productive, collaborative and consistent at any time, wherever they are. In other applications, mobile and cloud capabilities are being leveraged to facilitate access anywhere, anytime.  It must be the same with your sales playbook. Unless mobile and cloud are core elements of your sales playbook plan, the initiative could face severe challenges in a very short term.

 

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Sales Playbooks & CRMs – The Perfect Tango

I was speaking recently at a conference on Sales 2.0 tools.  During the coffee break after my session I ended up in a conversation about sales enablement and sales playbooks. The conversation got derailed for a while as one particularly active participant wanted to debate the role of mobile and cloud technologies in the future of sales professionals. Seriously? I am not sure I understand how anyone would feel the need to ask that question. In my opinion mobile and cloud are as certain a part of our future as death and taxes – but maybe that’s just me.  Anyway, I am getting somewhat off the topic.  I say ‘somewhat’ only because the sales playbook discussion took a turn, and the debate centered on whether it was essential that a sales playbook was integrated with a company’s CRM.  (As you may know, we have spent a lot of time on this because of the work we do with Dealmaker Smart Sales Playbook.)

Wasn’t it ok to have a defined playbook in a PDF could be linked to from a sales opportunity record?

Well, no!

For me that is almost the same as asking if it would be ok to have all of the contacts for an opportunity in a spreadsheet ‘linked’ to the opportunity record in the CRM.   It just doesn’t make any sense.

There are many facets to Sales Playbooks in general and this topic in particular – but I have addressed here the two most important that you should consider as it pertains to making sure that your sales playbook and your CRM system work optimally together.

1. Integration of Sales Playbook with the CRM System

This one should be a ‘no-brainer’.  Let’s say you use Salesforce as your CRM.  If that is the case, you are already asking your sales team to enter their opportunity information into Salesforce. If that is where your opportunity information is held, then that is where your playbook should be.  It must integrate tightly with the CRM system so when the sales person works with an opportunity, the playbook will always be present, just where it needs to be.  That way the playbook (if it is smart enough) can react to the stages of the sale, the attributes of the opportunity, like the size of the deal, or the products included in the opportunity record to present the right playbook for that opportunity.

But not all integrations are created equal. If you are on Salesforce, then the playbook will benefit hugely if it is ‘native’ on the Salesforce Platform.  Unlike other solutions that are linked to Salesforce, or just lightly integrated, this means that your data resides in the Salesforce Cloud, with the same security as Saleforce, the same performance as Salesforce, and all of the data captured within the playbook is inherently accessible to Salesforce reports, dashboards, and other applications. You do not have to worry about the security of a third party Cloud, the data transfer issues that occur with non-native solutions, or the reliability of a third party hosting infrastructure.

Complete integration with your CRM delivers the  optimum experience for the sales person, and provides sales managers with greater flexibility on how they view the data in the context of the rest of the business.  It is important.

2. Informs Sales Forecast Visibility

Salespeople spend about 2.5 hours each week on sales forecasting, and for most companies, the accuracy of sales forecasts leave a lot to be desired. In fact, based on recent research; companies who do not define and effectively execute a sales process have inaccurate sales forecasts 71% of the time! When success or failure is usually measured in margins far less than 25% – these forecasts are truly worthless. The good news though is that there can be a very strong causal connection between sales process and forecast accuracy.  In that same research study, it emerged that companies who did define and execute their sales process well reduced the level of inaccuracy to 33%.  That is a 200% increase in sales forecast accuracy.

To maximize the impact of your sales playbook on the accuracy of your sales forecast, it must be integrated with the CRM and you should consider.

  • Does the sales playbook incorporate intelligence that objectively monitors  or manages the close date of the sale? that is in the CRM? If you have built in the sales best practices, and your sales playbook can learn about the rhythm of your business, then it should be smart enough to help predict the close date of the opportunity, and identify for the sales person the difference between their opinion of when the deal will close, and a projected close date based on past behavior of winning sales cycle.
  • Does the sales playbook provide the sales manager with insight into deal vulnerabilities and risks in the forecast? It should be able to answer these very important questions: What’s in the forecast?  Are any of the reps counting on unusually large deals to make the quarter? Are all deals being worked? What’s closed? What’s projected? Which deals are moving quickly, and where are the opportunities that are stalled?

Your sales playbook when integrated with the CRM should help you to give those 2.5 hours back to the sales person, improve the accuracy of the forecast for each opportunity, and provide the sales manager with insight into the factors that will help her understand what she needs to do to make or exceed the quota for the team.

(Disclosure: My company, The TAS Group, is in the business of helping companies increase sales velocity using Dealmaker Smart Sales Playbook integrated with Salesforce.com.)

 

 

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Gartner: Cool Vendors in CRM Sales

Gartner just released their 2013 Cool Vendors in CRM Sales report and are selling it on their site for $495.  You can get it  here for free.

According to Gartner, the 2013 Cool Vendors in CRM Sales offer new technologies that improve sales performance and effectiveness. They use mobile, social, big data analytics and the cloud to help salespeople improve their selling skills and find new prospects. We are delighted to be included in the list of just three companies that made it through Gartners diligence.

Key Findings

  • Cloud applications combined with mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) are enabling salespeople to be more engaged in the sales cycle in real time at the source of the interaction with the customer, thus making them more effective and efficient in capturing, managing and updating information throughout the sales process.
  • Internal and external social network intelligence applications are emerging to assist salespeople with finding and developing new sources for lead generation and moving these newfound contacts and opportunities to a quicker close and with greater certainty.

Discontinuous, or sporadic, classroom sales training is approaching a fast demise; sales technology applications that help salespeople use sales methodologies and automate sales processes are showing great promise.

Enjoy the read.  You can get the report here.

 

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