Monday, March 30, 2015

Pre-Order Today: The Frugalnomics Survival Guide

Excited to announce that our new book is available for pre-order: 
The Frugalnomics Survival Guide 
How To Use Your Unique Value to Market Better, Stand Out and Sell More
Preorder your copy today:
  • Hardcover -
  • Kindle Edition -

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Top Priority: Content Overhaulin?

On the Velocity TV show Overhaulin’, legendary car customizer Chip Foose secretly schemes with family and friends to transform an unsuspecting owner's old and tired antique car into a custom masterpiece. 

A frantic week of customizing is followed by a reveal, where the surprised owner is blown away by the results. 

New survey results indicate that sales enablement teams would love to have Foose-like services too. Not to overhaul their cars, but to remake their old and tired content.

Overhauling Sales Content was the top priority, this according to a poll of proposal managers and sales enablement professionals at the Qvidian Connect conference this week in San Antonio.

From the audience of over 400 it was clear that the Content sales reps were using (or not using) was the priority focus this year.

So what were the top Content Management priorities?
  • Purging, to get rid of older irrelevant content, because so much of it is dated, overwhelming, and frankly, not used.
  • Aligning the content with the buyer’s journey and the sales motions, so the right content is proactively recommended for each step in the process.
  • Personalizing presentations, proposals and other content, because buyers don’t like generic, instead demanding more relevant insights, discovery, advice, recommendations, financial justification and case studies/ success stories to match their unique profile and needs.

Most organizations were also launching more new products this year, indicated as the top business driver for change.

And with these new products, inevitably comes more content, making it more important to purge outdated / unused assets,, as well as providing a great opportunity to create content that is aligned with what today’s buyer wants – more focused on the prospect’s unique challenges and business value versus a product pitch,  and providing ways to make the content much more personalized and interactive.

There is sensitivity to the customer: how they have evolved and are demanding different, more personalized content.  But with this demand also comes a realization that sales enablement teams have to  “do more with less” , because enablement budgets have not increased even as more reps have been added and customer demands have increased.

On Overhaulin’, when Foose gets an antique to makeover, he first has to cut back a lot of rust and outdated design elements, and then goes to work crafting a cleaner, absolutely stunning one-of-a-kind  show car.

When everything is said and done, getting the deal comes down to this: "Does the Salesperson understand the prospect’s business issues and can they clearly articulate the solution and the value delivered?".  For Content Overhaulin’ to be successful it too has to go beyond just a cut and purge: to create more personalized value-focused content and recommendations to help sales improve each unique conversation and proposal.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ponos and Chronos – Ancient Advice to Drive Modern Sales Success?

At a recent sales training, I had the pleasure of having Demetrios Miras in the class. Being of Greek heritage, Demetrios approached me after the session to tell me how much he liked the discussions about Aristotle, and how proud he was about how much the ancient Greeks could teach us about modern selling.

Indeed, 2,600 years ago Aristotle taught us three important ways to “win friends and influence people,” and amazingly, these three ancient “selling” techniques align perfectly with the three “buy buttons” of the brain, as revealed by modern neuroscience:
  • Logos (Logic) and the New brain (Neocortex) - use of reasoning to convince your buyer and the conscious portion of their decision-making, that the purchase is rational. Financial justification is vital to win over your buyer, proving that the “cost of do nothing” is untenable and the return on investment (ROI) is substantial and quick.
  • Pathos (Emotion) and the Reptilian Brain (Cerebellum) – use of simple visuals, contrast and storytelling to gain the buyer’s emotional connection to your conversations and proposals, making you more memorable, gaining empathy and sparking action.
  • Ethos (Trust) and the Middle Brain – use of success stories, references, 3rd party validation to provide a positive “gut feel”, gaining credibility and impressing on the buyer that you are someone worth listening to, and are trustworthy to buy from.
Demtrios pointed out that Aristotle had even more wisdom to impart, with two more important “purchase motivators” that sales reps could further leverage in their conversations and proposals:
  • Ponos (Pain)– In this “do more with less” economy, your prospects are under extreme budget and resource pressure, and are often struggling to just “keep the lights on” versus considering new innovative projects. Often your prospects aren’t fully aware of the issues you are trying to help them address. As a result, a good amount of your conversations and proposal content needs to focus, not on your solution and its benefits, but educating and proving that the status quo pain / need has to be addressed. Success means assuring you are aligned with known issues and helping to make these a priority, while helping to uncover issues that could be costly if not addressed. The key: helping the buyer answer the question “Why Change?” by illuminating the “Pain”.
  • Chronos (Time Period) – it is important to not only convince a buyer that they should change from the status quo (Why Change?), and that you are worth buying from (Why You?), but to convince them that waiting is not an option (Why Now?). Making the buyer conscious of Chronos, that time is money, is imperative to winning and accelerating the purchase decision. Your prospects don’t have unlimited budget and resources, and your proposal is not the only one they are considering. You have to convince the prospect that your proposed project is a priority above all others, and that every day / week / month of delay has a tangible cost.
In the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the bride’s Dad, Gus Portokalos would always say that “the Greeks invented everything”, and as I learn more about Aristotle and what he can teach us about modern selling (let alone Plato), Gus may have been right, and certainly Demetrios Miras has much to be proud of with his heritage.

According to Gus, “There's two kinds of people: Greeks and everybody else who wish they were Greeks ”.  When it comes to selling, we may all want to be Greek, or at least sell like one.

Thank you Demetrios Miras for your insights on how much Aristotle can be applied to modern selling situations!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Death of a Salesman? Forrester says Yes (at least 1 in 5 at risk)!

Despite a growing economy, research indicates that there will be over 1 million less B2B sales reps employed in 2020 compared to today.

At the recent Forrester’s Sales Enablement Forum , a study by Andy Hoar, Principal Analyst at Forrester, was revealed showcasing this 22% expected decline over the next five years.

Based on what types of sales reps you have in your organization, this could mean guiding them to a new career and certainly retooling their skill set. Forrester outlined four archetypes, and which ones are at most risk:
  1. Order takers – transactional B2B sales reps are most at risk of being displaced by an online buying experience that makes it easy to obtain personalized recommendations, price / configure and purchase, often creating less friction in the buying process when compared to working with the Order Taker.
  2. Explainers – who have been leveraged in the past to convey information about various solutions, are next most at risk due to buyers being able to find this relevant content online more effectively in most cases than from the Explainer sales rep.
  3. Navigators – who are talented at helping buyers navigate the decision making journey and gaining consensus with larger buying committees, will still be relevant, but will see some shrinkage as well, as online self-service resources get smarter at helping buyers navigate the decision making journey.
  4. Consultants – who focus on buyer outcomes and value, are the only archetype expected to grow, adding ½ million to their ranks, as their insights and advice remain relevant and vital to their customers.
The main culprit for the decline is a move to self-service, moving more transactions to inside sales, and a perceived lack of sales reps focused on customer outcomes.

For the most successful sales reps, technology is being leveraged to create the “Bionic Sales Rep” as sales tools are used to enable non-selling time-savings, process guidance and more effective conversations, business cases and proposals. The best are leveraging sales tools to enable more selling time, be more even more consultative, and better communicate, quantify and deliver value.

The Bottom Line

Along with the research on the decline in number of sales reps, Forrester announced that next years’ event would be renamed from Sales Enablement to B2B Marketing. Another sign as to “The Death of a Salesman”? Certainly many in the audience took notice.

What do you think about the research and Forrester pronouncements?
What are you going to do differently to keep your sales reps relevant and valuable?

Friday, March 06, 2015

Mastering the Consensus Sale: Do you know your 5.4?

By Dan Sixsmith
The creators of the 'Challenger Sale' are back with a new wrinkle. Not only should Sales challenge its prospects, armed with new intelligence and personalized insights to win more business, but now the research shows it also needs to proactively identify and build consensus among all of the decision makers. CEB's research around the increasing role of buying committees tells us that there are an average of 5.4 individuals involved in signing off on a typical B2B purchase decisions. Those sales execs who successfully uncover the identities of and build consensus with 'the 5.4' in their deals are winning more business today.
First, despite an improving business climate, there is still an overall slant toward risk aversion. Not many individuals want to stick their necks out alone. Further, CEB says that the selling organizations themselves have some culpability for the rise of the decision-by-committee process. 
Many companies have unknowingly elongated the buying process through the creation of more complex solutions and packages which require the expertise of several stakeholders at the client organization. In short, CEB says that the B2B buying process today is broken. The successful companies of the future will need to deploy integrated marketing and sales teams who will research, inquire, investigate, mediate, counsel, problem solve, and repair the buying process on the way to building consensus for a greater share of wins.
What will be key is to understand each member's individual perspectives and challenges and then connect the dots around a common language among all of the potentially diverse constituencies. CEB also calls out the need to find the 'mobilizer' in the buying committee and work to reduce the risks for her to successfully lead the charge against the status quo within her organization. The mobilizer seems like another name for 'champion' which has been used now for years. When we think of a champion, it is usually around someone going to bat for you and your solution within the organization. 
What is new and backed up by CEB's research is that consensus building is required much earlier in the decision journey. We know that buyers are 57% through the decision journey before reaching out to sales. In the new research, CEB tells us that group conflict peaks at 37% of the way through the journey. That means organizations need an integrated effort between marketing and sales to connect earlier, be more consultative and to make the case for change--not necessarily for your solution, but helping prospects acknowledge and agree that there is an issue and it needs to be addressed. Alinean CEO Tom Pisello and I outlined a strategy to more effectively connect with your client's buying committees in a recent blog post:
The research proves out the importance of making the connections within your client organizations. The top performers evaluated their recent wins and losses and found that for the deals that were successfully closed, they typically had identified and connected with 6 or more stakeholders. For the deals lost, the number was 5 or less, which brings us to the question: "Do you know your 5.4?"

Sunday, March 01, 2015

3 Big Takeaways from SiriusDecisions Sales Leadership Exchange

I had the pleasure of attending SiriusDecisions Sales Leadership Exchange last week, an exclusive gathering of some 120 sales executives and sales enablement leaders.

The two-day conference featured top analysts and proven practitioners, discussing how to best achieve intelligent growth. Here are my three top takeaways:

#1:  Disrupt or Die

Technology is advancing quickly, and if you don’t leverage these advances to disrupt the way your sales reps and channel partners engage with customers, you yourself may be disrupted instead, this according to the futurist and author James Canton. (@futureguru). 

The key? Celebrate experimentation, as a Trend Setter (leading the way off the beaten path) and Adapter (someone who is always eager to learn something new), versus a Traditionalist or Maintainer, (clinging to and preserving the status-quo, to the detriment of the organizations long term health and viability).

One of the trends James Canton highlighted is the evolution of your buyers. They are now hyper connected and as a result, more empowered via online and social collaboration and information. As a result, they are demanding a more customized and streamlined purchase experience.

As a result, Mr. Canton pronounced that “Marketing as we know it is dead”.  Although the crowd reacted with some shock at his eulogy, if you think about it, he is spot on. The old way of marketing evolved from a world of mass production. Marketing’s job was to push mass-produced products to buyers who did not have many sources to spark and fuel the purchase decision.

Today, B2B marketing is world of noise: unfortunately bombarding prospects with more advertising, white paper download offers, emails and cold calls than ever before (32% more than 2 years ago according to SiriusDecisions). More is not more, and as a result, current mass marketing is becoming less and less effective every year.  Instead, marketing needs to realize the buyer is in control, migrating from pushing product pitches to offering value added content and resources instead.

With marketing less than effective, Mr. Canton indicated how it was vitally important for your organizations to begin experimenting with g a better way to sell: Predictive Sales. This involves leveraging analytics to better understand your prospects, and personalized content, social collaboration and better value articulation to improve customer engagement and elevate the buying experience.

#2:  Differentiate from Your Competition

In a brand new survey by SiriusDecisions, 100% of sales executives indicated that they expect sales to grow, with the majority targeting between 10% and 20%. However, only 38% are confident they can hit these forecasted growth targets

For the majority who are clearly unsure they will hit these growth goals, Competition is the executives biggest concern.  Almost 1/3rd of respondents indicated Competition challenges versus concerns over sales talent, products and buyer engagement.

So how can you address the Competition challenge, assuring that your sales reps can differentiate your solution from the competition?

An interview we did a couple of weeks ago with Jim Ninivaggi, the head of SiriusDecisions Sales Enablement practice and one of the key presenters at the event, reveals that in today’s competitive B2B market, it’s really difficult to distinguish yourself on the basis of your company, product, service or price any longer. The vendors who excel are those who transcend this, to sell and market better than the rest - to deliver a better customer experience.

However, most B2B sellers are missing the mark by pitching their products versus marketing and selling their value. They’re not meeting the minimum expectations of today’s prospects, much less delivering a superior experience.

Delivering a better experience begins and ends with the customer conversation – the precious time your sales reps and channel partners spend with prospects, or early in the buyer’s journey when your marketing content is doing the speaking for you. The key question to ask is, “Is my content marketing and are my sales reps effectively articulating and delivering value in each conversation?”

#3:  Improve Value Articulation

Unfortunately, most sales reps still can’t effectively articulate your unique value, making this challenge again the number one sales performance challenge – for the 4th year in a row, according to SiriusDecisions.

Most organizations realize they need to pivot from pitching products to selling value, however, the majority of sales reps and channel partners haven’t changed the way they engage.

And so the Value Gap persists, between the way sales reps continue to focus on your company, products, demo and price and buyers who would instead like Sales to more effectively diagnose their issues, provide best practice advice and communicate / quantify the value you can deliver.

Perhaps the Value Gap exists because the majority of training remains product centric? Perhaps we haven’t provided enough executive support and made a strong enough case for change, helping reps and partners to understand they have to evolve or they will be disrupted? Perhaps we haven’t armed reps and partners with the right value messaging, sales tools, training, coaching and support?

Regardless of the shortfalls, the sales organizations that can overcome this and the other challenges will achieve much higher quota success and indeed be the disruptor vs. the disrupted.