Monday, May 26, 2014

New Sales Rep Ramp Up Taking Longer than Ever

If you are adding salespeople to help drive revenue growth, hoping to capitalize on the recovery and grab your share of the growing economy, you are not alone.

Twenty-nine percent of companies expect to expand their sales organizations between 10%-30% in the coming year, with over 6% expecting to grow a whopping 30%, this according to the Sales Execution Trends study of 200 worldwide sales leaders by our partner Qvidian.

The challenge with adding sales reps is that they require a large investment; with each salesperson costing $135,000 a year in sales support costs alone, and most importantly, take a long time to become effective, increasing the investment risk.
According to the CSO Insights, most salespeople take ten or more months to
 become fully productive. This despite the fact that most new rep are hired from similar industries, proving that even experienced reps can take a long time to start producing.
And Forrester indicates that it can take even longer, up to 36 months to effectiveness, in certain industries like technology, medical solutions and complex business services.

The New Salesperson and the Value Gap

One of the most important challenges for new sales reps to bridge is the value gap.
According to SiriusDecisions, the #1 reason for sales quota shortfall is the inability for sales reps to articulate value - the ability to clearly communicate the value to different stakeholders in industry relevant terms, as well as the ability to quantify the value to ever-frugal executives – now required to fuel 95% of purchase decisions (IDC).
Unfortunately, most sales reps, especially new ones, don’t do this very well:
  • 10% of sales reps are perceived as value-focused by prospects, according to research by Scott Santucci and Forrester’s Sales Enablement Practice.
  • Over 60% of buyers are disengaging with sales teams because the sales reps didn't present value or really understand the buyers' business challenges (Qvidian).

Minding the Value Gap

The new salesperson needs to be armed effectively to Mind the Value Gap by effectively articulating value. Unfortunately, most new sales reps are not equipped properly to ramp quickly.
You can help new reps and even veterans by addressing the following:
The right Value Message – the content needed to arm and train sales professionals on the right value messaging and quantification, and to serve as the foundation to build conversation tools.
 The right Value Messaging needs to include:
1.    Value Matrix – a guide to structure the messaging for different selling situations
2.    By Challenge – focusing on the challenges buyers are experiencing, cataloging research insights to help illuminate what others are experiencing in regards to the challenges.
3.    By Role - since each stakeholder has a different value perspective, the value messaging needs to be tuned for each to map to unique challenges each are experiencing and how the solution can address these challenges to deliver tangible bottom-line impact.
4.    Cost of Do Nothing – tallying the cost of not addressing the issue.
5.    Differentiating Value – understanding the unique features of the solution and how it can deliver incremental value above competitive offerings at a lower cost of ownership.
The right Value Conversation and Quantification – the sales tools needed to help guide the salesperson, to intelligently leverage the Value Messaging in each selling situation, and help to simplify the quantification of value.
The right Value Conversation & Quantification should include:
1.    Visual Storytelling – providing visually compelling imagery to help convey the value messaging in pictures vs. words – making the presentation more memorable and impactful.
2.    Insights – helping to present the right insights, and even collect insights from each customer conversation, aggregating, processing and leveraging these in each subsequent conversation
3.    Quantification – providing the tools needed to help salespeople collaborate with customers in tallying current “Do Nothing” costs and the cost savings, productivity / process improvement, risk mitigation and revenue improvement benefits.
4.    Situational Intelligence – automatically assembling the right visual storytelling, insights and quantification based on the profile of the customer, roles of stakeholders and discovery questions.
5.    Usage Intelligence – tracking what sales reps are leveraging the tools, what they are presenting, and how to fine-tune these for better ramp up and improvement.
6.    Customer Intelligence – tracking each customer interaction, discovery responses, analysis results and consumption of leave-behind reports, to fine tune the approach and drive improvements
Click here to learn more how you can arm new sales reps with the right tools to Mind the Value Gap and drive ramp up success.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What is Wasted Selling Time Costing You?

There is a common complaint amongst sales reps: “We spent way too little of our time actually selling.”

And the complaints are real.  According to CSO Insights, up to 60% of sales time is spent on overhead versus selling time with customers. Only 2 out of every 5 sales days are actually spent selling!

Instead of meeting with customers in person, on the phone and in on-line meetings, many Sales reps are often saddled with inefficient internal processes and tasks. 

Now some of the non-selling time is inevitable; as there will always be important overhead tasks including account research, travel time, reporting and internal meetings / coordination.

But if you were to examine your own sales reps time allocation, there are sure to be many tasks that could be streamlined and automated.

In our own research, we have come across some key “time sucks” that are costing precious selling time and can be eliminated with a modest investment.

Did you know that for each of your sales reps, on average spend:
  • 2 hours / week customizing PowerPoint presentation decks and proposals,
  • 1 hours / week looking for key collateral and resources to share w/ prospects, or recreating content that already exists but is difficult to find and leverage,
  •  1 hour per week developing financial justification / business cases, which are now a requirement on most deals.

The research indicates that almost a half a day each week is spent on finding, customizing and creating value communications and quantification, a vital requirement of every sale, but time that could easily be automated.

This totals 24 lost selling days per year, 10% of total work time for a typical sales rep. This costs your organization almost $13,000 in lost productivity per year per sales rep, and an even greater impact in lost revenue and quota achievement.

This means that with a sales team of 100, 10 sales reps are currently wasted because of a failure to improve and automate value communication and quantification.

What if you could:
  • Automate the customization of conversation materials, eliminating the wasted time of customization?Enrich the content to include key collateral and resources?
  • Streamline the development of financial justification and credible business cases?
  • All the time, evolving the conversation resources from product pitches to value communication and quantification?

The Bottom Line: You can significantly regain precious selling time and improve selling effectiveness by automating value communication and quantification.

Click here to learn more:

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Three E's of Boosting Sales Productivity

We recently attended the SAVO Summit in Chicago, a gathering of over 600 leading sales enablement, sales and marketing analysts, executives and partners (including Alinean) to share the latest research, exchange ideas and learn new best practices.

Here are three key research metrics that caught my attention and reveal the challenges with current sales enablement strategies:

1)   The Value Gap: The number 1 issue identified by sales and marketing execs as to why sales growth goals are not being achieved is not the lack of enough sales reps, adequate training, pricing or product issues, but sales reps’ inability to articulate value in their customer conversations! Jim Ninivaggi, the Services Director for Sales Enablement at leading research firm SiriusDecisions, reported from the main stage that over 71% of respondents indicate a growing value gap as the top issue above all others: Frugal prospects need to understand the bottom-line impact and ROI of any proposed solution, while sales reps haven’t evolved from traditional product pitches.

2)   A Failure to Advance: As a result of not being able to provide valuable insight or differentiate the value of their solutions to buyers, up to 80% of marketing leads don't advance, and only 7% of sales reps get a 2nd meeting, this according to research by Forrester.

3)   Repeating Insanity: Unfortunately, many organizations are repeating the mistakes of the past, but the research clearly shows that the same old strategies won’t work. The current strategies of revenue growth via hiring more sales reps and throwing a ton of training and content at them are less than productive. Mark O’Connell, CEO of SAVO Group reports that sales reps fail to retain 80% of what they learned just 3 weeks after sales training.

Sales Productivity and the Three E's

To overcome these issues, the solution proposed is to improve Sales Productivity in a systematic way, focusing on three “E’s”:

1)   Efficiency – make things quick and easy for reps, such as the ability to easily find relevant content, and reducing the time it takes to prepare personalized presentations, proposals and business cases.

2)   Effectiveness – making sure that sales reps are doing the right things and doing them well.

3)  Engagement – making sure that sales reps can have relevant conversations with prospects – being able to communicate and quantify insights and the value of proposed solutions in a way that is personalized, unique, memorable and "impactful".

The Bottom-Line

The benefits of these three sales enablement initiatives is compelling, helping to boost quota attainment by 10-15%, shorten new sales rep ramp up time by 17% (4 weeks), and improving sales win rates and deal size by over 20%.

So the big question … what are you doing today to address the three E’s?