Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Deal or No Deal: Compelling Event Data to Help Close the Deal

I Just read a great post on the Salesforce blog, entitled “12 Best Practices That Help Sales Managers Make Their Teams Successful” by Walter Rodgers, CEO of CloudCoaching International.  There are some terrific insights in this post and I thought it made sense to highlight and elaborate on some of his points.  Technology, along with strong leadership methodology, leads sales teams to higher success rate, more wins, more deals closed. Let’s delve into two of Walter Rodger’s 12-point plan for sales managers.

“Manage the Forward Pipeline: The difference between pipeline and forecasting.”

Rodgers does a great job at explaining the difference between pipeline management and forecasting, differentiating between late stage deals and future developments of deals and projections.  This is where the technology piece enters.  Now that you know the difference –how do you act on that information?  Temporal event data keeps your finger on the pulse of any changing events, good or bad that are happening with the companies in both, your forecast and your pipeline.  What if you have a company that just reported Q3 earnings and they weren’t as strong as they originally projected? And you were very close to working up the paperwork to negotiate the terms of your agreement, wouldn’t that be important to know as that would undoubtedly change your strategy and your immediate next action points?  For your pipeline, knowing the conditional events of your companies determines where they are on the priority list based on their earning or any other important data.  My point is: knowing how to make teams successful is only half the battle, having the tools to implement best practices is what will drive better results.

“Protect their time: You can’t sell if you aren’t spending time with customers.”

Technology can’t create more time – we will leave that to the Einstein’s of the world, but technology can help reps manage and allocate their time better.  Like Rodgers said, “Highly effective sales managers practice good time management habits, and they enable their sales teams to make the most of their time by eliminating demands on their time that don’t directly help drive revenue.” Creating more time, does not ensure more results.  In fact, it does not even ensure more actions are taken.  However, technology can help with both.   The use of temporal data can aid sales people in determining the best set of actions for that day.  By best set of actions, I mean the handful of things that can be accomplished in the window of time variable within a given day to interact with customers.  Using temporal data highlights which contact is prime to contact, and what message will resonate most TODAY.  Further, data visualization tools speed the process by using the data to narrow those actions, saving time….which will, hopefully, be utilized to squeeze in a few more actions.  The latter would be great,  but it is gravy on top of the impact you will receive from better executed choices.

Now Rodger’s point # 12 is key: “Celebrate: Winning is fun. Celebrate it!” Why? Because your reps choose to take compelling event data and turn it into higher quality results in all stages of the funnel.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Building Strategic Partnerships

We have all heard that all too common expression: “It takes a village…” Like it or not, it is true.  From micro-communities to SMBs to large corporations, it takes many voices and many hands to see a project through to fruition.

We do our best when we reach out, build alliances, foster collaboration and build trusting relationships, in order to help grow the business. 

One of the most tried and true marketing strategies is word-of-mouth.  In B2C it is easier to see through social platforms where your voice is now projected further than simply to your one friend, but to your 360 friends on-average and to their 360 friends on-average.  That is quite a reach.  But in B2B, recommending a data center consolidation program is less easily spread via word-of-mouth social platforms.  Will you feel compelled to retweet, post, etc. that the new update in functionality helps to increase server blah blah blah?  Probably not.  This is why building partnerships with companies that share some of the same value props with you can help to spread your message in both, your voice and their voice.  The best advocates of your brand are others who have used your product and believe that what you do will help their clients. This is still word-of-mouth, but through your alliances and partnerships.  You might not get someone to tweet about the new plug in software update that changes data speed, but when the meeting matters, you have a company that will advocate for you, because they believe in what you do and you believe in what they do.  You are trusted and you trust. Call it a win - win. 

Some easy steps to start the process:

1. Start by listening.  This can be done on your social platforms.  See what companies you want to build relationships with based on similar core messaging or complimentary messaging. 

2. Take the step and send an email, via linked in or personal email if you have done your research. Introduce yourself and see whether or not your values align. 

3. Think about what type of partnership you are looking for and what your potential partner is interested in. There is a wide range from content sharing to revenue sharing.  See what makes most sense.  You can start off small and grow your relationship. Kind of like dating.

We don’t have to operate independently, we can use “the village” to help support our similar value propositions, so all parties can benefit and grow.


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Friday, October 5, 2012

Attaining Real Knowledge is No Easy Feat - Your Smartphones Alone Can't Save You

Do you remember when you were a little kid and you asked your mom how to spell a certain word and her response was always, “Go look it up in the dictionary!" I used to hate that.  Why? Because I didn’t know how to spell the word that I was trying to look up, if I did, I would not have needed the dictionary.  I am not looking for the definition, but the spelling. Duh?

Attaining knowledge today is actually harder than the age before smart phones.  I bet you think I have hit up the company fridge a little early to make such a bold statement like that, but I can explain myself. 

Since smart phones and the Internet, no longer do I have to reach for that all-too-heavy dictionary.  The answers are, literally, at the tip of my fingers.

But, is the availability of information today negatively impacting productivity?

Recently Mark Hurd, a keynote speaker at an Oracle event stated: “90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years” That is big.  Seriously, as you are skimming this post, take a minute to fathom that. ( I will even give you a little white space.)

We are now all content “experts”.  We can push out our own information and be our own advocates.  But, in order to create a stream of knowledge that will actually be useful for your productivity you need tools—tools that can capture information and turn it into useable knowledge.  This is no easy feat.

3 tips to increase your knowledge, and therefore, your productivity:

-       Manage content with tools in one easy-access place.  Keep it simple.  You don’t need to know everything about everyone.  You need to filter in relevancy.
-       Create systems and schedules to monitor the tools and make sure that you are using them effectively and efficiently.
-       Adapt. Remember agility is the key to success in sales and marketing.  Keep your finger on the pulse of the companies you care about using the tools you have at your disposal.

The data isn’t going anywhere – it will only get harder, so discover the tools for you to get the job done making you a tad bit more knowledgable.

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