Archive for the ‘Sales Activity’ Category

To demo or not to demo?

April 21, 2010

Many software sales professionals rush to do a demo.  Such a strategy is fraught with risk.  Check out this post from Sam Reese (CEO, Miller Heiman) on the Miller Heiman blog which offers some great advice and perspecitve.   I enthusiastically support the comment to Sam’s post from Bob Hatcher (a former colleague of mine from Lotus) who points out:

One thing to keep probing for is what they want to see or learn from the demo. A key question to ask could be framed like this: “Our products solve a lot of problems for our customers, so I am sure to target this demo for you, what would you like to see that would convince you that our solution would have value for you and would help to solve your problems?

With this question, even if you don’t customize the product/demo itself, you can customize the presentation of the demo.

In scripting demos I always break them down into three components:

1) What you say
2) What you show
3) Why what you showed is important to the prospect.

You can’t get to number 3 if you don’t know the answer to the above question!

Dave Stein adds some insight to this important topic from the point of view of having a precise demonstration strategy in your sales process-particularly for technology companies.


Sales People, Sales Process and Sales Metrics

March 12, 2010

I’d like to share a great post by Greg Deming at Peak Sales Performance (listed in my Blogroll as well) which takes you through 5 important points on the role of sales professionals, an 8 step sales cycle, metrics for each stage of the sales cycle, some recruiting metrics, and how to use the metrics to create a “Sales Excellence Template“.  Given the title, it makes sense to include it here on my blog!

The “sales excellence template” provides the best framework for building sales process metrics I have seen.  It truly is as simple as a manager inputing their annual goal, and working backwards to identify the metrics they need for each sales person on their team.  Here’s a back-of-the-envelope example:

Annual Goal    =$12M

“Over Assignment” Buffer     =$3M

# of Sales Excs   =8

Annual Goal/Exec   =$1.875

Average Sale     =$100k

Annual Deals/Exec   =19

The Sales Exec’s Annual pipeline would look like this:

119 First Presentations (10/month) 

 95  Needs Analysis  (8/month)

 62  Formal Presentations  (5+/month)

 53   Decision Pendings   (4+/month)

 32  Negotiations  (2+/month)

  19   Implementations  (2/month)

By tracking these #s individually and collectively, a manager has a road-map to measure performance.  They also can be keenly aware at any given moment as to the status of their business with visibility into problem areas where they can coach, motivate, mentor or initiate change.

One of my earlier posts discussed the importance of looking at the front end of the pipeline with the same energy as reviewing what’s closing.  By employing Greg’s template, that process is much simpler.

Close Often! Throughout the sales process-

February 8, 2010

Great post  by Anthony Iannarino from The Sales Blog  on “closing” throughout the sales process, not just at the conclusion.  Constant focus on adding value with each sales interaction, and closing to “move forward” are key attributes for successful sales professionals.

Top 10 bad questions to ask your prospect!

March 27, 2009

Throughout this blog we have discussed the value of asking insightful, value-added questions to your prospects to establish both your credibility and the credibility of your proposed solution.  Steve Giglio has brilliantly captured the worst questions a sales professional could ask in this economy (or anytime!).

Pre-call planning is essential!

February 20, 2009

Top sales executives are committed to employing  pre-call planning as the foundation for a successful meeting with a senior executive.  The mission of your meeting is to ensure a continued sales process (assuming your meeting is with a fully qualified prospect).  The mission of the pre-call planning process is to ensure a successful meeting.  To that end, establishing your personal and company value through intelligent questioning, effective objection handling, and reducing or eliminating the feeling of risk for your prospect is essential.   Mary Donato has penned a short but powerful description of a pre-call plan process in a recent Sales and Marketing Management article that I recommend.

When you need to “assume”!

February 17, 2009

Jill Konrath makes a great point (complete with a phone script!) on why you must “assume” some things when calling senior executives. (Why you must assume….) It is crucial to establish yourself as credible immediately.  My strategy is to avoid “telling” the prospect about their business or challenges.  Rather I would start the call with “our customers are telling us how much the economy is impacting their ’09 plans, and how saving money on …….is critical. How are you and your team adjusting to the changing climate?”

End of Qtr/Year Price Objection

December 19, 2008

It’s happened to most of us in the enterprise software sales marketplaphoto_duncanlawce.  You’re in the final review meeting.  Your proposal has been verbally agreed to, and your prospect pulls out the “higher authority” objection mentioning that the CFO or someone wants/needs a price concession.  Your commission statement flashes before your eyes (without this deal!).  The poker game begins.

Strategic sales excellence dictates that you calmly address the objection directly with questions to expose the issue.  For this example, we will assume it is purely a gambit to get a better deal.  I have used different combinations of the following with good results.

In any case, it is time to review the key value points your solution will deliver and quantify the pain that will be addressed.  It is important, during this review,  to gain agreement throughout the discussion on each point.  If you don’t, you haven’t finished selling, and you have missed something in your process.

Now the fun starts.  If you are extremely confident, you can employ a soft version of the “take-away” close which goes something like:

“Bill, I’m sorry we seem to be on different planes, here.  Based on the value we provide which addresses your issues at the price we discussed, I expected we would proceed as planned.  I can only wonder if perhaps our solution isn’t the right one for you.  What do you think?”  He who speaks next loses.  “Bill” won’t concede at this point, but you have shifted the negotiations to a different level, and taken a much more powerful position from which to negotiate a settlement.

Another approach for those of us in the SaaS/subscription world, is to suggest a compromise.  Consider offering to extend the subscription by one month, in return for accelerated payment terms. You need to get something in return for the implicit discount of the 13 month subscription and full price on accelerated terms makes the finance department happy. 

One final approach, and the one I like the least, is to agree to a lower price in return for a reduction in services.  This approach puts the long term relationship at risk because your solution may not be used in an optimal way, and the overall value may be compromised. 

What’s your favorite/most successful approach?