Nov 202022
 

curiosity

Many readers of my posts are probably among the people who think a great deal about sales and what makes a good salesperson. It is a constant source for thought and observation. Personally, being a hard worker has always struck me as being the key ingredient to sales success – even over ‘smart work’ or product knowledge. This belief stems from personal experience and my own observations over the years (as well as published research).

 

What made the topic top-of-mind again was a new article on BBC’s website, which posited that curiosity is a trait that drives success. The story pointed out that those who are curious, and show patient inquisitiveness, are more likely to experience academic success, boost earnings and boost memory. These are useful traits for a salesperson and, should help with complex enterprise sales as well, since they enhance the desire for discovery and engagement. Who could argue with those vaunted traits?

My caveat – there is always one – is regarding when curiosity is misdirected and unproductive. Scrolling through Twitter or one’s Facebook feed does not count. Sparking one’s curiosity is important (as is the employer sparking employees’ curiosity), but it has to be directed at the right activities.

 

If sales is the lifeblood of a company and salespeople lead the sales then what other skills are desirable?  How about consistency and focus? How about desire and desire to learn and teach? Well, perhaps ‘desire’ falls into the ‘hard work’ category. I would add presentation skills and sympathy and care to the list. Sympathy and care apply to the salesperson’s feelings towards both the customer and one’s own company. The last quality may encompass this, but let us call out interpersonal and people skills of course. Perhaps these are all fit for individual posts, but what do you think?

 

Things That Need To Go Away: Salespersons Who Do Not Care

Oct 092022
 

Had you heard the phrase “ghost job” before? I had not even if its meaning should be obvious.

It is sadly stupefying that such a concept exists. First, though, let me travel back in time to a previous life when I was personally job hunting. A former VP of mine was employed at a company on my target list so, noticing an opening, I pinged him for an internal referral. His answer? That position was filled some time ago. Why was the job posting active and marked as open?

Whether as a team manager or VP Of Sales I had been open with my direct reports, human resources and larger team that we should always be recruiting and keeping an eye out for good candidates. Things happen. people leave, promotions create openings or more good staff is needed due to expansion. That, however, is distinct and different from actually having job listings for positions that do not exist.

According to a survey of over 1,000 managers involved in the hiring process by lending company Clarify Capital 43% of hiring managers kept job postings active to “give the impression that the company is growing.” Moreover, also 43% kept job posting open in order to “keep current employees motivated.” 39% admitted that the job posted was already filled. Among other statistics 34% said it was done to placate overworked employees.

How many euphemisms for lying are there? Ethics of leading people on aside, one wonders how the marketplace and existing employees (including overworked ones) reacts to a company and its management that is not honest when one reason the ghost jobs exist (or don’t exist) is to impress that same market. 27% of employers with active job postings even claimed they forgot to delete the job requisition, which begs the question whether anyone is even looking at the incoming job applications. This comes on top of a survey earlier that found that 77% of job seekers say they have been ghosted by prospective employers. Astoundingly, 10% of job seekers say they have been ghosted by employers after they have been offered a position!

This lack of courtesy surely has business implications in terms of creating distrust, ill will and, one wonders, whether the barrage of statistics claiming millions of unfilled positions in the economy is accurate.

The recommendation to look at the date of the job posting is sound. Jobs posted for 30 days or longer are likely ghost jobs. Moreover, companies that repeatedly post the same jobs on their career page and pop up on job sites with the same position month after month are also clearly suspect.

My request and advice is for everyone to take responsibility and treat one another with more dignity, integrity and honesty.

 

Things That Need To Go Away: Untruths, Half-Truths And Toying With People

 

 

Oct 062022
 

Photograph Credit: Brett Jordan

Most people agree that salespeople are infused with specific temperaments and skills. It goes with the territory, sure, but how durable is the expertise that makes the person capable?

 

Theoretically, the know-how, the proficiency and the innate drive should be as perpetual as any job – if not more. Then how does one reckon with the following scenario?

A friend, who is a musician, was laid off from his stage hand job, did some carpentry, worked on music a bit and now, good news, is busy and working as a stage hand again for the first time in a couple of years. Apparently, he is employable and has not lost his skills or chops despite a two-year gap.

Let us switch over to sales and sales management now. A salesperson who has stepped away from the profession for a year would perhaps not be afforded the same courtesy as the friend above. Recruiters are always fishing for that employment gap. The hiring manager may have instructed the recruiter to avoid folks with gaps in their resume or the recruiter shuns such individuals as a matter of routine. Stepping away from the profession is unacceptable and apparently precludes one from the ability to sell.

Photograph Credit: Lubo Minar

The question that makes me ponder right now is whether there is something special about sales and sales management that makes recruiters zoom in on a concern or perhaps there are too many sales/business development/management types and recruiters can be extra picky. Perhaps the concern is more prevalent than just salespeople and it is that there are not enough handy folks and, therefore, standards are more forgiving?

 

Things That Need To Go Away: Actions Without Rationalization

Oct 062022
 

 

Is this website going racy? No, not in that sense.

On the phone with a former colleague of mine he was lamenting how he has to fly to a tropical destination to attend President’s Club. For those who are not familiar with the term, ‘President’s Club’ is an annual reward bestowed to salespersons who have achieved a milestone and typically met or exceeded their goals. Their employer treats them typically to a trip – could be other incentives – to a coveted location.

Sounds good.

Then again… motivation is personal. My friend was hating it and sounded particularly unhappy about it. This person had obviously achieved his sales targets and been placed in an elite category to be offered this incentive (membership?), but the company had managed to ruin his proverbial day by offering him a free aeroplane ticket and stay somewhere far away. Perhaps it was the pandemic, perhaps it was the long flight or the discomfort of being away from home or family, it really does not matter, but he was irritated to be going to “club” where he sarcastically complained would have to spend time with his boss “the VP of sales in a speedo.”

What is wrong with this picture? The presumption that everyone is motivated in the same way coupled with no one being willing to stick their necks out to do things differently means that – COVID-19 aside – companies organize ‘club’ events not really acknowledging that motivation may mean different things to different people. Not being an accountant this writer cannot vouch for the accuracy of this statement, but conventional knowledge has it that companies can deduct part of the costs of the Club by incorporating educational sessions into the schedule.

 

So, companies need to understand what motivates their people and personalise their approaches. My own assumption is that most people would be motivated by the opportunity to attend President’s Club, be recognized, network and receive some education as well. Then again, perhaps that is not true or a proportion of people simply play along because they believe it is expected of them to react a certain way. What a shame.

 

Things That Need To Go Away: Companies Motivating Their Employees Without Finding Out What Actually Motivates Their Employees

Jul 212022
 

Photograph Credit: Samuel Regan Asante

 

Are you familiar with the concept of WIIFM? It stands for What’s In It For Me. No, it is not (exclusively) the modus operandi of the Facebook generation. It is a formula for getting what you want. You get what you want by appealing to other people’s needs.

 

We had spoken about negotiating higher salaries and overall benefits before, but there are more things that we want and the best way to obtain them is by figuring out what the person we want it from wants. In other words, trade for it. In a perfect world, people would have sympathy and all be perfectly interested and objective, but in this world a clash of styles, egos and competing priorities interfere.

 

Get what you want based on what the person you want it from wants. It is negotiation-persuasion time.

Need a raise? Conduct your research as the linked earlier articles mention, marshal your facts and enter into a dialogue with your boss. State the facts, justify it and do not put the boss on the defensive. Justify the request and make sure the boss hears what you have done for the company and, indirectly, the value you bring him or her.

Need resources? You need more room, more vehicles, more equipment or more people? Think about why the person you are asking cares. What is the detrimental consequence of your lack of resources for the person you are approaching. Connect the dots explicitly to the person’s responsibility and professional health. Let the person know what may not occur or fall short without resources and ensure they are things directly related to what this person needs. Offer metrics and outline expected results. Numbers make it real as opposed to intangible benefits, which would be harder to justify.

What about a colleague? The easiest way is to negotiate and give something back to the person in exchange. Again, what does the person get for giving you what you want? Do you have resources to trade for? Do you have people, expertise, machines or time to give back? If not – this is the harder way – you have to go to the boss to get someone to listen. Management should make co-habitation, collaboration and coordination a workplace rule as well,  but most do not.

What about externally? Do you need more business from a customer? Have you been giving them 100%? What will they get from you in exchange for a referral or introduction? Could you offer them extra free licenses, free rides or cheap consulting in exchange for their Rolodex? This is a win-win and net increase for both sides.

 

It is worth noting that a positive self-image is important to most people. The intangible piece of this conversation is to make sure the person you are speaking with hears how giving makes them effective, impactful and a role model.

Photograph Credit: Andres Haro

As always, do not forget to take the shot. Famously, one who does not shoot does not score.

 

*Things That Need To Go Away: Taking and not giving

 

 

 

Jul 132022
 
remote work

Image Credit: RoadLight

 

Statistic Canada reports that 40% of Canadian jobs could be performed through telecommuting. The same study indicates that 80% of people who were asked to telework due to the pandemic look at the arrangement favourably and would like to continue doing so at least half their work time.

 

What is bad news for Aeroplan status hounds and addicts is good news for Cloud and technology providers. We have known for some time that employees prefer this arrangement.  Employers is another matter, of course, and I must confess that I am of two minds about this situation, as well, given the mental and physical health issues – the very important matter of the need for social distancing to prevent the transmission of the virus aside – that arise, but what is the implication of the virtuality of virtual work?

Salespeople need to double their efforts and work almost twice as hard to make up for lack of access to prospects and customers at the latter’s places of work. They have to contend with less group meetings or on-sites at offices. Group e-mails, conference calls and video meetings are the new normal. Everything else is the exception now. Going against this grain makes it difficult to recruit and retain employees to start. On the plus side, employers have access to a larger work pool and can cast a geographically wider net.

People need to ramp their knowledge of digital technology and seek out ones that are easier to use for customers. Many people are not comfortable with the technology and even more people do not wish to contend with difficult applications. Make it easy on yourself and insist on making it easy for your customers. Even if the pandemic is vanquished the outcome is a hybrid work format so choose correctly.

That is, have the right tools, be set up properly, test everything to ensure it is monkey-proof and double down on clarity and explanations because things can get lost in translation when communication is remote. Also, spend a moment to thank technology and the Cloud because without these advances a pandemic would have been a disaster by a multitude. Actually, never mind, the providers are getting paid handsomely for their efforts.

 

A few telework tools to add to email and the telephone.

 

  • Asana: Workflow management software that helps organizing and keeping on top of the team’s work.
  • Flock: Video and audio calling, texting and chat for businesses.
  • Monday.com: Project creation and collaboration software
  • Slack: Business communication and ‘channels’ dedicated to specific topic that allows voice calling as well.
  • Teams: Microsoft’s chat, audio and video call and file storage platform. It has gobbled up Skype as well.
  • Zoom: Video calling

*Things That Need To Go Away: The proliferation of difficult-to-use software whose accumulation is itself as much a headache for users as is using it.

remote control by Sony

Image Credit: Nuzree

May 192022
 

A Sales Process is a structured route for the salesperson to get from Point A (a customer is just a gleam in the salesperson’s eyes) to Point B (a sales has been made). For sales to succeed a repeatable and logical set of steps need to be taken. Otherwise, the salesperson and sales manager are relying on luck and we all know how that works.

Sales processes of course could be flexible; however, not having one is a first step to oblivion and not following one is arrogant, lazy and foolish. Customers have their own buying process and that needs to be respected and understood. However, merely and blindly following the customer’s process is a ticket to not realizing that serious customers will not buy unless a series of triggers and events are satisfied, which is the seller’s job.

Here is a high-level sales process cheat sheet:

 

Sales processes are typically depicted as a funnel with logical steps following one another or more recently as a flywheel or a circle. The idea behind the former is that one step follows another and it is logical to follow the steps from left to right. The idea behind the latter is that the process is repeatable and moreover customer is not dropped into a vacuum at the conclusion of the sale and account manager, customer success, cross-sell and up-sell follow. Both depictions have advantages and disadvantages. They both work. What does not work is not having a sales process.

 

Points for more detail:

 

  • Prospecting: Includes calling, e-mailing, LinkedIn, advertising, marketing events, referrals from existing customers and even inbound leads that would be assessed as qualified.
  • Qualification: Speaking of which, what is the problem that leads itself to your solution, who is responsible and is there a budget to do this?
  • Development: In-depth discovery of the situation and lay of the land. Is there an alignment between problem and your solution? If yes, time to have a mutual plan to move forward.
  • Presentation: An already discussed and semi-validated solution is presented. In-depth discussion about details ensues.
  • Discussion: Problems, objections and roadblocks are discussed and removed. Depending on the level of complexity and product/service legal, licensing and post-sale services teams are engaged.
  • Closing: Negotiation and paperwork. Signatures on contracts required.
  • Account Management: Delivering on promises and contractual obligations, exchange of funds and execution on promises/obligations.

 

*Things That Need to Go Away: Salespersons who skip steps thinking they got this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 302022
 

 

 

I posted an article on Sales Enablement recently. Much of the modern software used in that niche utilizes Artificial Intelligence (AI). So let us focus on AI now.

 

What Is AI?

Firstly, let us understand what AI is. Most of us will think back (forward?) to Arnold, Terminator and Skynet and why not? Machine Learning is a subset of AI, but more precisely Artificial Intelligence is programming that teaches a system to mimic human behaviour and actions, but obviously at a faster and more effective manner that brings with it the consistency of a machine. More completely, AI is a series of networks that leverages statistics and instructions over and over to emulate humans. It is designed to improve overtime as well because the more ‘experiences’ (a.k.a. statistics) it has the more complete it becomes.

One more thing, AI may be all the rage now, but it is hardly new. This notion goes back to Alan Turing and the 1950s. For an early application look up ELIZA from the 1960s.

So What (For Sales)?

The end goal, however, remains somewhat elusive. Systems are not perfect. It is thought that perfection has been attained when humans cannot fathom whether they are dealing with a machine or a human being and results are impeccable. If AI, therefore, includes Machine Learning, analytics, natural language, simulation, learning and interaction then how can it help the profession of sales? Here the idea is to take all the information and transaction in sales – conversations, e-mails, responses or lack thereof, every CRM entry, every sale, every lost deal, et cetra – and put them into one place in order to help the seller. The goal is to identify the correct course of action, the next step, the way to help customers and sellers and to win business. Is it possible? To some extent the answer is yes. The hesitation, however, stems from the unpredictability of human psychology and of course different cultures and needs or wants. Yet, AI is supposed to learn those too because after all, it is all data translated to action.

 

So, Is AI Going To Take Over The World And Rid Us Of Our Jobs (And Sustenance)?

Maybe. Still, as of today the reality on the ground is that AI is here to assist, help, improve and enhance the seller’s efforts not replace it. Put that way, would anyone argue against help? Which salesperson would claim he or she does not need help? One issue, that one can foresee easily, is that AI may be trained to be biased to think like a seller or a vendor. To be successful, this writer supposes, AI needs to think like a customer or prospect. That is the way to successfully sell after all.

 

So Which Are The Tools?

Like any other category, AI solutions are bound to be comprised of the good, the bad and the so-so and trials, proofs of concept and honest assessments are a must. It is smart to gauge results, ask the user community (the sales team) honestly and measure revenue enhancement before committing. Randomly picked, because TNG and SugarCRM are as good or bad as any other to keep an eye on, I have bookmarked this in order to track the revenue for my ‘proof is in the pudding’ hobby tracking, but truthfully the market will speak sooner or later.

 

One last thing. Candidly put whether effective or not, the reality is that the market for AI-driven solutions in sales is going to expand. Just keep in mind how much salespeople have traditionally disliked using CRM and yet the parallel expansion and growth of the sector! One factor that speaks to my hypothesis is the growth of AI in other niches. With increased adoption of AI in healthcare, customer service, arts and more the concept is becoming mainstream, which means more revenue for the sector to enable improvement and also for more people to become more comfortable with the notion.

 

Here goes a list of vendors and providers in the Sales AI space:

 

  • Affinity (including Nudge.ai) – A tracking CRM for industries where relationships are important.
  • Conversica – Provider of a conversational AI. Claims that all its AI Assistants are more accurate than a human. Suited for business development and marketing.
  • Clari – An opportunity management and forecasting tool to offer better visibility to sales teams.
  • Drift – Sales and Marketing conversation at the right time with the appropriate content plus insights especially for inbounds.
  • Exceed.AI (Part of Genesys) – Similar to drift geared towards inbound prospects and leads for sales and marketing, it automatically picks up the conversation, sets appointments and updates Calendars.
  • Gong.AI – Captures and analyzes customer interactions for insights and next steps.
  • Heyday – Tuned for retail, Heyday’s AI connects inventory and catalogue to customer search results and nudges sales to connect with customers when most appropriate.
  • Introhive – Relationship intelligence that leverages CRM to reveal ones network and relationships with customers.
  • Kixie – Automates calling and texting of the names in CRM and records and tracks the events.
  • People.ai – Provides persona-specific productivity tools and provides insights.
  • SalesDirector.ai – Offers predictive insights into sales team’s pipeline and customer interactions.
  • Salesforce – Salesforce, the leader in CRM, has embedded AI in much of its solutions for insights and automation.
  • Saleswhale (Part Of 6Sense) – An AI assistant to engage with and follow-up with leads.
  • VeloxyIO – A platform that integrates e-mail, CRM and calling into one solution and view.
  • Zendesk – Engage with and support customers across a myriad of channels and keep all interactions in one place.

 

*Things That Need To Go Away: AI technology companies that are made to be acquired as opposed to being there long-term to help customers.

Apr 182022
 

 

Sales Enablement has been quite an oft-discussed concept in sales circles for the last decade or so. As the name suggests the concept should be simple. Sales Enablement is the who, what, where, when and how of enabling sales (defined here broadly as inside, outside, SME, enterprise, BDR, etc.) to achieve its goals in general and quota targets specifically. Simple enough. Yet, there is a lot more to helping sales, and indeed the whole company, deliver the value message to customers.

Personally, Sales Enablement for me is anything and everything that enables sales. As such, and for me, marketing is sales enablement. A company executive travelling or getting on the telephone with a salesperson to aid his or her effort is sales enablement. Training is sales enablement, et cetra.

However, there is a niche and segment for Sales Enablement all to its own in the marketplace. The segment is large given how the addressable market is vast. The number of vendors vying for a piece of the pie is large because sales is so crucial to everything everybody does. These vendors and suppliers define the market more narrowly than my definition and seek to inhabit the more focused and accepted definition of what the marketplace for their solutions is.

This narrower definition speaks to tools, solutions, programs, software and content that allow the Sales team to find prospects or take a top of the funnel prospect and convert it to a paying customer at the bottom of the funnel. Yes, it is still multi-disciplinary and multi-faceted, but defined more narrowly than my definition above. And with the advent of technology, Sales Enablement in the hands of its official suppliers and vendors has become more technical, more up-to-the-minute as pertains to the needs of the individual accessing it and more relevant for the type of sale it is accessed for and, notwithstanding the automation of much of it, has become more advanced and scientific. That automation piece is actually important because salespersons do not always have the will or time to engage with the technology proactively. it is a win for the sales team’s time and also insurance that the rights steps are being taken when the solution triggers events in an optimal sequence. Modern AI-powered solutions do wonders sometimes.

The more focused definition is fine and here you will find a list of the vendors in the space as of today. The sentence says ‘as of today’ because by the time this writer finishes this paragraph and hits the ‘publish’ button half a dozen vendors have sold themselves, merged or failed rendering the list dated. This is only half a joke. Another half a joke is how a company that is in Sales Enablement could not enable its sales team to take over the world (yet wants to help everyone else do the same). Yes, it is understood that many companies do not seek to remain or grow. Like any sector, half of the companies out there seek to be acquired and cash out. Here is another quip: it is said (by me) that any company with a a.ai domain is flashing a sign saying ‘buy me! buy me!!’

The list is coming shortly, but first a few bullet points on why Sales Enablement is seriously important and a comment on its integration with other departments.

 

Why are companies adopting formal Sales Enablement programs and solutions?

 

Sales is not an insular position. It needs and feeds everyone else at the company. From the management team to Marketing and Delivery sales needs to be hand in glove with everybody else. Sales and other departments need to be in sync. The right Sales Enablement environment enables this aspect. This is internal alignment.

Similarly, sales needs to be in sync with its prospects and customers. Sales needs to supply the right impetus, content and information to its customers – whether the two parties are speaking currently and directly with one another or not. Sales Enablement needs to ensure that the two sides (supply and demand) are related and relevant. This is external alignment.

Finally, all of this should be measurable and accountable. How many videos professionally filmed and uploaded by companies have you seen that despite clearly having cost time and a monetary bundle in preparation, lighting, filming and editing have a paltry one hundred views (half of which is the producing team)? Isn’t something amiss? Yes, there is. It is not serving the needs of sales or its customers obviously. How many leads from Marketing were garbage? How many quality leads were mishandled by Sales? Why are people not responding to content? These are mere examples of a mismatched Sales Enablement piece of the puzzle that is not performing and is screaming for a programmatic review, be it content-wise, consumption-wise or perhaps even forming an accessibility point-of-view challenge. Things need to be measurable so they can be manageable so we improve and consistently recaliber.

Finally, Sales Enablement should be integrated. The more all the sets of data, material and processes are integrated the more likely for them to actually work, to be leveraged by sales, to save the requisite time and ultimately to contribute rather than detract. Moreover, when all solutions are integrated the company can better measure the effectiveness and garner insight into what is working and what is not at scale.

Perhaps an ancillary reason to adopt these solutions is to recruit salespersons in the first place. Obviously, enablement tools help the team be successful, earn more and treat customers correctly, but what a recruitment tool? A company adopting the right tech can expect to have more successful sales teams and give people more reasons to work there, right? After all, this whole article is about adding value.

 

 

Is there a list of providers and vendors in this space?

 

With that said and without further ado, here is a list of companies in the space. As mentioned, this is narrowly defined and offerings such as marketing-only, training-only or CRM are omitted.  One further ado: Having not personally used all these solutions, inclusion does not equal warrantee that it does what it says. My experience is that several are quite useful and helpful. A few are a waste of time and have proven themselves to be a nuisance. The advice goes doubly for readers who are not in the USA. Contact data are more scarce internationally in many of these tools and process norms do differ from country to country. Review and analysis before buying are your friends.

  • Adapt – Real-time customer data that integrates with your CRM
  • Apollo – Find prospects, segment them and connect with them
  • Bombora – Buyers’ intent data to understand who is looking to buy
  • CallMiner – Analyses your communication with your customers to drive your actions
  • Chorus – Conversation intelligence to analyse sales meetings and suggest improvements. Owned by Zoominfo since 2021
  • Cognism – Market and Sales intelligence including contact information and intent data
  • D&B Hoovers – Contact information including areas of responsibility and job titles
  • Datanyze – Contact information for businesses and which solutions they use
  • DealHub.io – Share information and quotations with customers, automate steps and track engagement
  • Demandbase – Connects first and third-party data for one view of accounts – now includes InsideView for CRM data management
  • DiscoverOrg – Contact information and profiles that is integrated with your CRM. Part of Zoominfo
  • Dooly – Organizes opportunity notes and fields and syncs them into Salesforce to share with others
  • Enablix – Connect Sales and Marketing content for data-driven decisions on what content is needed next. Also measures engagement
  • Enthu – Analyses team’s calls and collates them for management for intervention, training or other insights
  • ExecVision – Conversation intelligence and mining platform in multiple languages
  • Global Database – An international business directory
  • Gong – Captures and analyses customer interactions to determine best course of action and areas of hit and miss
  • Groove – Automates sales activities and lightens the administrative burden of sales. It also automates action items
  • Guru – Create, share and access data and within the sales workflow
  • Highspot – Combines content, customer engagement and knowledge sharing in multiple languages
  • InsideSales.com – Playbooks for sales to optimize sales interactions including appropriate contacts and triggers
  • Jiminny – A coaching tool to record, analyse, track and learn from your customer conversations to enable improvement and analytics
  • Klue – A competitor insight platform compiled from internal and external sources
  • Lead 411 – Company and employee contact information and triggers
  • Leadgenius – Scale your outbound by finding the right contacts and lists
  • LeadIQ – Targetted information on potential leads integrated with CRM
  • Lessonly – An eLearning solution including presentation, tracking and assignments. Purchased by Seismic in 2021
  • LinkedIn (Sales Navigator) – A professional networking and communication social media. LinkedIn is a part of Microsoft
  • Lusha – Identify a prospect’s e-mail and telephone number, especially in the USA. It acts as a browser extension
  • Mediafly – Create and enhance your presentations, including trackable links and analytics
  • MindTickle – Identify the right sales behaviour and train the team on it
  • Observe – An analysis of your customers’ audio calls and text communication to derive sentiment signals
  • Outreach – Helps create and manage sales workflows and track them
  • SalesHood – A Learning Management System (LMS) that includes testing and tracking
  • SalesIntel – Helps you identify your prospects with buying intent and provides contact information
  • Seamless – Finds your prospects’ contact and LinkedIn information
  • Seismic – A content management platform that allows Marketing to create and customize sales-related material and for the sales team to discover and brand it for a particular engagement
  • Showpad – Sales content management, training and coaching in one. Track content usage by the customers as well
  • 6Sense – Uncovers buying behaviour and information based on web activity, which triggers for ABM efforts
  • Slintel – A market intelligence and buyer intent. Part of 6Sense now
  • TechTarget – Identify target contacts and acquire their contact information
  • Uplead – Business and contact data including e-mail verification
  • Volley – Convert leads into customer using intent data and personalization
  • Zoominfo – 360 degree view of customers including intent data and hierarchies

 

Any names missing? Let me know.

One final important note: All applications should be tested for ease of use. Salespeople are busy and dislike spending time when a software is not user friendly. All purchase decisions should take this, as well as utility, into consideration. Need to heavily configure? Need to code? Need to wait minutes for it to load? Need to complete a curriculum to use the application? Need to become versed in boolean search parameters? Skip the tool.

 

*Things That Need To Go Away: Sales Enablement solutions that make the sales team neither more effective nor more efficient

 

Sep 072021
 

 

Photograph Credit: Ross Findon

An acquaintance and a friend called recently. We used to catch up in-person, but those times seem like so long ago. After some catching up and chitchat the conversation drifted into a desire to switch from making a living as a salesperson to a technical programming role.

The discussion was ‘is it wise to switch to a technical role?’

This is always a tough question to answer. It is doubly difficult when someone is putting food on the table and is gainfully employed as a salesperson.

My generic answer, of course, is that a life spent not pursuing what you really want to do is a life wasted. That is simplistic perhaps, but absolutely true. Secondly, the old adage that you won’t do a good job if your heart is not into it probably applies too. The opposite may also stand. You will do a good job if you have a passion for your work programming.

 

Either way, kudos for the introspective question and honesty to explore a more desirable life.

 

Photograph Credit: Ben White

 

With that said, past the above, here is my advice:

Firstly, do you have the skills to be competitive? Are you as good as the average next person out there with whom you have to compete? If not, do you have the time and financial wherewithal to get there? There are plenty of courses and programs out there if you are not where you need to be today.

Secondly, writing and applying software, as well as changing careers, require both someone to sell the application to users and explain the career change respectively to buyers and employers. Taken as such, the sales experience becomes a useful skill (again). Moreover, the best programmers have business and people acumen and can speak to and understand that aspect of technology as well. It is likely that a (former) salesperson could tick that box.

Every business has a lifecycle requiring someone to build something (an engineer or, in this case, a programmer), someone to sell it and someone to account for and keep track of both sides of the ledger i.e. revenue and expenditures. In the context of these needs, one could make a more rational decision.

 

Individual circumstances vary and one size does not fit all, but the above should be a good starting point. What do you think?

 

*Things That Need To Go Away: Not Liking What You Are Doing