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

 

 

 

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 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

 

Apr 202020
 

Everyone in sales knows they have to speak to decision-makers. Everyone. I mean everybody. This explains why… so few people practice it!?!

That is one of the factors that differentiates a salesperson from someone whose business card says ‘salesperson.’ Please ignore the rest of this article if in your current sales process, or consistently, you do reach and engage with the decision-maker. Simply jump to the Comments’ section below and tell everybody how you do it!

Salespeople are always grateful for customer interaction and see any touch as progress so they often settle. It is the dichotomy of salespersons. They need someone to sell to and when the person they should speak with is unavailable they find recourse in anybody else. The second choice may in fact be an influencer or part of the process, but that does not take away from the fact that a decision-maker is not hearing from the seller. Speaking to non-decision-makers is not without merit. In today’s environment no one is able to make a decision on his or her own and increasingly the purchasing is done by the proverbial committee. More in defense of the salesperson, the pertinent point in not talking to the person they need to be speaking to the most. It is often the decision-maker who chooses not to engage with salespersons. The reason typically is a lack of time, which leads to salesperson being relegated or filtered.

With that said, there is a lot to be said about the professional salesperson who manages to speak with the decision-maker by making the case that the two need to communicate. Moreover, think about how much of the message and advantages of the good or service being offered is not reaching the ears of the person who needs to hear it the most because fact remains that no one can sell for you. No one can and no one will. If they could they would be in sales and they would work at your company. Sales cannot expect prospect company employees to know the selling company’s offering like they work at the vendor. Finally, think of the disadvantage a salesperson is in if his or her competitor has gained access to the person who needs to hear their message the most.

The above is reality.

 

Photograph Credit: Razvan Chisu

 

So what should a salesperson do?

Firstly, do not make demands. Remember, it is not about the needs of the salesperson. It is about the needs of the buyer. Instead follow a two-fold path as outlined below:

1- A good seller asks pertinent questions that go to the heart of the needs, wants and vision of the decision-maker. Not only good questions lead to the seller being considered an expert, but also the answers can best be supplied by the person in charge leading to contact between the two parties.

2- Instead of making demands, appeal to the better judgment of the middleman. If they, like you, see the benefit and if they, like you, want to do right then ask them how to go about it. In other words, recruit them to the cause. Just like the salesperson knows his or her products or services best, the contact knows his or her company and its staff better.

One more thing: please do not carry generic messages. Know your prospect, fine-tune a reason and make it non-generic.

Here is a bottom-line: if the salesperson believes in the reason for the call and believes the decision-maker’s company needs it and believes it is for the good of the prospect company then that conviction will carry the weight, power, presence and tonality to carry the salesperson through.

 

What do you think?

 

Things That Need To Go Away: sales pitches that generically claim to save time and money.

Jun 082016
 

In an earlier article I wrote, “Analyse your expenditure and revenue sources. Do some customers/vendors/partners cost you more than they bring in? Now is the time to discover them and ditch them. Be brave about it.”

It is a simple concept. Business is in it for the revenue and, more importantly, profitability. It is not about the sale. It is about the profitable sale. If you agree then how do companies come across unprofitable customers? The customers who make more demands than they are worth, the customers who rather bankrupt their supplier than establish a partnership, the customers who find success mutually exclusive…

There is no one to blame, but us, the sellers, the sales managers, the shortsighted companies who are the enablers of the shortsighted customer.

How does one end up there? First and foremost, the culprit is selling on price. When a customer has nothing to differentiate a vendor on then the easiest fallback is on the vendor’s price. As discussed here often there are many other differentiators you should sell on – service, after-sale service, education, reliability, industry knowledge, you!, etc. – and if you do and the customer is uninterested then you have reached the definition of the undesirable customer.

You might have come across the following anecdote about a company’s sales force:

CFO: What happens if we train them and they leave? CEO: What happens if we don’t and they stay?

Let’s turn that around to customers:

CEO: What happens if we do not discount and they go somewhere else? CFO: What happens if we do and they become our customers?

Companies need to shape up, get their chins up, become confident in their product or service and get a differentiator and acquire customers based on it. Otherwise, the cycle perpetuates itself. Is it a pipedream? Perhaps, but companies possibly have no choice either as natural selection will force their hands? Companies selling on price and acquiring customers at any cost are bound to go out of business.

Ask yourself: how are you serving your company by perpetuating a precedent-setting low, or no, profit transaction?

Then ask yourself: how are you serving your company by not understanding your customer and not articulating yourself based on it?

bad idea

Related articles:

Myth: Customers Value (The cheapest) Price Above Anything Else

Of haggling, discounting and price pressures

Not Competing On Price

*Things That Need To Go Away: Sales Managers Who Pressure Salesperson To Close The Sale At Any Cost And Salespersons Who Pressure Sales Managers To Close The Sale At Any Cost

Aug 122015
 

It is not the first time that I write about What Matters To Employees.

See the older iterations here and here.

Here is an update from 2015, which depicts the top 3 priority ‘wants’ of the employees as

1- Pay

2- Location

3- Flexible hours.

TOP 3 Employees

 

 

 

 

To speculate, the ‘top 3’ are likely not as cut and dry as it seems upon first glance. For example, ‘pay’ could mean base pay or variable or signing bonus, etc. ‘Flexible hours’ could mean number of hours worked or vacation days. Moreover, as always, negotiations and wants and needs are not win-lose. For example, a person might mean ‘signing bonus’ and not just ‘salary’ when discussing ‘pay.’ Similarly, an employee might mean ‘office hours’ when discussing ‘flexible hours,’ which may even be in sync with employer needs as they need people in different shifts.

For another perspective, which is different from the results of this survey, read my interview with author Beverly Kaye.

*Things That Need To Go Away: employers pretending the above are not priorities.

 

Sep 232012
 

So you want a raise and believe your work justifies asking for it. Salary is the company’s tool to hire, drive performance and keep employees motivated. An employee’s salary balances your and the company’s needs.

Before speaking to your manager do your research. Ask for a time and in a non-threatening, but firm, tone and setting pull out the results of your number crunching.

1- Do others with a similar job and length of experience in the industry receive a higher salary?

2- How about the benefits and other incomes? How does your benefit plan compare? Do you have pension or investment matching? How about education assistance or  other similar benefits?

3- How often does the company initiate a pay raise? Is it congruent with industry practices? How does it compare with the inflation rate?

4- How is your performance? How much time and effort do you put into it?

Inform your manager! Summarize and list the information for him or her politely. Make a case for yourself and prepare to negotiate. Also note that other items (flex time? extra vacation days? one-time bonus? etc.) might have value for you and be possible for your manager to award.

 

 

 

Jun 052012
 

I firmly ‘believe’ that having belief is one of the keys to success. This is not some spiritual intangible. It is an imperative. Wayne Gretzky, a Canadian hockey player, is often quoted as saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” It is as simple as that. Believing is about doing. Time and time again when a salespersons is convinced that an effort is futile it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Successful salespeople know that when all hope is lost the worst possible thing to (not) do is to give up. One last e-mail beseeching customers, one more call exploring alternatives, one strategic question to a prospect may turn things around.

One needs belief however. The belief that something may happen. Ironically, it is the more experienced and tenured salespeople that often fall victim to a lack of belief. They internalize the mistakes, failures and objections and project them into various current situations. It should be the opposite. The more pertinent question invoking belief is ‘have I sold before?” or ‘have I interviewed for such a job successfully before?’ or ‘Did I win in a similar situation in the last year?’… then why not again?

Your believing not only determines what you do, but it also determines that you do it. Moreover, it is the duty of the management and company to give, instill and maintain that belief. Salespeople are humans. They need support as much as anybody.

 

Nov 282011
 

Salespeople: do you know why you should undertake a task? Do you have a reason you can convey to customers that explains why doing something is beneficial? Has your sales manager explained to you the ‘why’ of what you are being asked to do or shortchanged you in the interest of simplicity and saving time and only given you the ‘what?’
Managers: Have you explained the ‘why’ to your teams? People who know why they need to do something, why they need to do it a certain way or in certain timeframe do it better as they are armed with a reason, rationale or logic. Take the time.

Asking ‘why’ also helps instill continuous improvement by questioning why something is done in a certain way and if a better process could come to be. Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story Of Success has a detailed briefing on the risks of ‘soldier mentality.’ For example, Korean Airlines’ poor safety record in the 20th Century is partly attributed to pilots, co-pilots and other personnel never questioning an order and never examining the ‘why.’ It makes for interesting reading.

Nov 272011
 

 

 
 
This is one of the conundrums of selling. Salespeople fear that all customers want is to obtain the lowest price or else… or else the customer will proceed to buy from someone else.

Several months ago I wrote about a pre-emptive approach to selling one’s value, as well as justifying one’s price. http://www.alighaemi.com/wp/?p=747

 

It might bear repeating the lowest price is not always the winning bid. In fact, more often than not the lowest price is not the winner. Product price point is a little like setting employee salaries. So long as the employee believes his or her salary is fair, and so long as it is near industry average and provides a level of comfort the amount goes away as a deciding factor and factors like relationship with one’s manager and co-workers, growth, learning and respect become job satisfaction criteria. In the same way, as long customers feel that they are not being taken ‘for a ride’ and have received fair value the selling conversation will shift from price to criteria like needs’ satisfaction, reliability, after-sales support, prestige, name brand and more.

 

There is always someone or something that is less expensive in one’s category. Yet, the cheapest steakhouse is not always the most popular. There are plenty of diners that serve steak, but they are nowhere near as popular as the more expensive steakhouses. Does Prada sell more hand bags or ‘Joe?’ A Chevy will transport one from point A to point B. Yet, people still buy and drives Acuras, Lexuses and even Porsches. Indeed, the most expensive mobile smartphone is the most popular, Apple’s iPhone.

 

Salespersons need to remove the pricing-only mindset from their heads. Sell the value of the product or service and become comfortable that a less expensive alternative exists, and will always exist, and yet there is a market for other (more expensive) options – ones you might be representing.