Improper Use of BANT Will Cause You to Kill Opportunities

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 @ 13:04 PM

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I received an email asking me to check out an article on the Salesforce.com blog that features an infographic they hoped I would promote.

The article focuses on the middle of the funnel and the handoff between marketing and sales.  In doing so, they discuss MQL's (Marketing Qualified Leads) and SQL's (Sales Qualified Leads).  While I don't have an issue with the infographic, I have huge issues with the content of the article and if you follow the advice in this article, you'll have far fewer MQL's that your salespeople can turn into SQL's.

Here's why.

They are promoting the use of an adapted form of BANT - in this case, BANTA.  BANT was introduced by IBM in the 60's as a way to qualify opportunities.  It stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline.  This article adds Attitude.  These are important milestones in the sales cycle so what's wrong with BANT?  As a tool for qualifying, there is nothing wrong with BANT.  My issue is with WHEN BANT is used.

Most of you are familiar with Solution Selling.  That was one of the earlier sales processes for selling consultatively.  Technology companies loved Solution Selling but every time my company was asked to help a tech company the second thing we always had to do was replace Solution Selling as the standard sales process. (The first thing is evaluate the sales force) Why?  Solution Selling called for salespeople to qualify too early in the sales process and that was still AFTER the opportunity had been handed off from Marketing. 

This short video explains the importance of sequence and timing in the sales process and especially why you can't qualify too early.

The second stage of the sales process is too early for salespeople to qualify an opportunity because at this point the potential customer has no incentive to answer any qualification questions!  YOU WILL LOSE AN OPPORTUNITY IF YOU ATTEMPT TO QUALIFY TOO EARLY!  If that is true, then what business do we have asking Marketing to qualify opportunities before turning them over to sales?  

There are 2 sets of qualifiers required:

  1. Are they qualified to meet with us?
  2. Are they qualified to buy from us?

These are two completely different issues.  In the first case, we want to know how close the opportunity is to the profile of our ideal customer.  In the second case, we want to know if they can actually buy from us.  BANT provides a framework for the second and as you no doubt saw in the video, the components of BANT don't come into play until the third stage of the sales process.

This is simply the latest from several years of fake news declaring that:

  • Cold calling is dead
  • Consultative Selling is dead
  • SPIN Selling is dead
  • Salespeople are dead
  • Sales process is dead
  • Inbound is King

So who comes up with this crap?  Usually it's marketers with something to sell, who have little actual expertise in sales, sales strategy or sales process in all their variations.

What should you do? 

You can't go wrong if you focus on perfecting sales process and consultative selling. As for Marketing, let marketing do what they do best and generate leads.  If there are too many crappy leads for your salespeople to waste time on, add dedicated BDR's (Business Development Reps) to identify the good ones and hand them off which brings us back to MQL.  What is a Marketing Qualified Lead?  They are willing to have a conversation about whether we can help.  Period.  Let your salespeople convert interest to opportunities.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales process, Consultative Selling, Dave Kurlan, solution selling, BANT, salesforce.com

Is it Your Salespeople or Did You Make a Bad Decision?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 @ 12:10 PM

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Consider buying a car that had an insanely cheap price, with every option you could imagine, as well as options that you never thought you could use.  Nice!  But, you can't drive it until you hire an after market specialist to install instrumentation on the dashboard, a steering wheel, brakes, and gas pedal in the driver's area.  When you finally accept delivery and take it for a spin with your family, everyone hates it, nobody wants to drive with you, and you feel like it wasn't such a great price after all. You can't trade it in, and now you're stuck with it. Sounds impossible, doesn't it?  But for many companies, that is exactly how things are playing out for that purchased this popular application.

Salesforce.com.  

Consider this quote from a client:

"You were right, you know.  Six months ago, when you told us that we wouldn't be happy with the integration of the customized sales process into Salesforce.com, we didn't understand what you meant.  But now we do.  It's clunky, not really part of the interface, the customization cost us tens of thousands of dollars, and it doesn't work the way we need it to.  We are so sorry we didn't listen because that train has left the station."

Companies think they have to buy salesforce.com when, in reality, there are some really great alternatives.  Our favorite is Membrain.  It doesn't cost as much, doesn't require third-party integrators to get it to do what you want, and has perfectly good dashboards out of the box.  There's even a standard configuration for Baseline Selling.  [Speaking of Baseline Selling, I've received so many compliments on the great job of the voice over talent on the new audiobook!  You can order all versions (hardcover, paperback, Kindle, audio) of Baseline Selling here.]

Nobody should be stuck in a CRM application that salespeople don't want to use!  They will be inconsistent at best with regard to entering data, when they should actually be living in their CRM application.  Whether they are inconsistent or invisible when it comes time to enter and update opportunities, you won't have real time data on your dashboard and that makes the application useless to management.  At that point it's like owning a car that has a folding chair for a driver's seat and the car does not have a working speedometer, odometer or gasoline gauge. 

CRM is important.  Accurate forecasts are important.  Visibility into each and every opportunity is important.  Integration of the sales process that must be executed and the stage and milestone on which each opportunity sits is important.  Real time visibility is important.  If it's not working for you, cut your losses and move on.  Isn't that what you would do with an under performing salesperson?

Kitedesk featured me in a Sales Expert interview that you can read here.

I was the guest expert on a Rapid Learning Institute Webinar on the sales candidate interviewing mistakes you must avoid.  You can listen to that Webinar here.

I'll be hosting a 30-minute presentation of my own on October 25 at 11 AM Eastern.  I'll be talking about the 6 Hidden Weaknesses that impact sales revenue!  If you would like to listen in, you can register here.

Topics: salesforce.com, sales process, sales CRM, membrain, Baseline Selling, Dave Kurlan

The 3 Most Important Questions about Sales Process and My Answers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 09, 2016 @ 06:05 AM

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Sales Process is a topic that I have chosen to write about around 25 times over the past 10 years. All 25 articles can all be found in my series on Sales Process.  Lately, we are finally beginning to see some improvements being made in this area.  For example, back in the early 90's, when Objective Management Group (OMG) first began measuring the existence of sales process, only 9% of all salespeople were following one with any degree of consistency and effectiveness.  It was amazing to me that for 20 years, this number failed to change!  But recent statistics are showing that 20-25% of companies and their salespeople are finally following and using a sales process.  Hooray!

With sales process finally getting the necessary attention, we should turn our attention to the three related issues that need to be addressed.  Which sales process should you select, and into which CRM application should it be integrated and how can it be customized?

To help answer the question of which sales process, it's important to understand that there aren't that many to begin with!  Names you might recognize as sales processes, like Challenger, SPIN and Sandler, are really methodologies - not processes.  For example, this short video explains one complete Sales Process - Baseline Selling - and compares it with Challenger, SPIN and Solution Selling.

It should be clear that you need a complete process and it should be customized for your business, what you sell, who you sell to, and the challenges that you face.  If you already have a process, or think you have a process, you can grade it for free using our complimentary sales process grader.

As for the CRM into which it should be integrated, where do I start?

Enterprise-size companies will need to choose Salesforce.com because it's the only platform that will do everything an enterprise-size company needs.

For everyone else, there are lots of choices, and Salesforce.com is probably not the best choice - unless you like spending a ton of money on customization, only to have a clunky interface that salespeople dislike.  And if your salespeople don't like it, they won't live in it, and if they don't live in it, the information on that dashboard, which you paid a fortune to customize, will be as useless as a typewriter.

It's difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to truly integrate sales process into CRM and expect its presence to be useful.  However, there is one CRM application which is perfect for businesses where the focus is sales process, the playbook, the pipeline and the dashboard.  Salespeople love it and that means they will live in it, data will be available in real time, and your dashboard will be predictive!  It doesn't need a whole lot of customization out of the box, and what customization it does require, won't require an integrator.  I think that if you check out the version of Membrain with Baseline Selling pre-integrated into it, you'll want to have it.

Some companies really get stuck when it comes to CRM, swayed by the crowd to move to Salesforce.com, but overwhelmed with the work required to roll out an instance of salesforce.com to their sales force.  Speaking of stuck, the folks over at #Getunstuck asked me to record a short video for them on how I get unstuck and you can check it out here.

Getting back to CRM, I've also written a dozen articles on CRM.  This article on scorecards illustrates the power of having a CRM application that can be easily customized and tweaked as you go along and gain more information.  Another article discusses the 16 problems with CRM.  Finally, this article provides an example of how you can use the information on a CRM dashboard to improve revenue.

Sales process, without a CRM application that can fully utilize it, is solving only half of the problem.  CRM, without a good sales process, yields the same net outcome.  And when both the process and the CRM app are not as good as they could be, you're essentially moving at the speed of water evaporating!  You're slowly moving backwards!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales CRM, membrain, salesforce.com

Bigger Sales Pipelines - The Dangerous Truth

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 18, 2016 @ 16:04 PM

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I usually get notified when new sales studies are published and I'm asked to link to those reports from my Blog.

Last week I was invited to download the 2016 InsideSales.com Business Growth Index Report.  I read through it today and while I wasn't terribly surprised by anything, there were a few findings that are quite interesting, showing that some companies aren't making very good decisions, and these decisions could be representative of your company too.

The report showed that overall, pipelines are larger and that would generally be viewed as a positive. But it was no surprise that sales cycles are longer and win rates are lower.  The quality of leads was responsible for all three -  the larger pipelines, longer sales cycles and lower win rates.  In other words, companies were either raising the bar - they wanted better leads - or lowering the bar - they wanted more leads.  

It appears that in the case of better leads, better was defined as bigger companies with bigger opportunities, which increases the total value of the pipeline. Greater competition, a longer sales cycle and lower win rate are the obvious outcomes of that strategy.  

In the case of more leads, the number of opportunities in the pipeline increases.  Of course, more is the opposite of better and longer sales cycles and lower win rates are an obvious outcome of that strategy too.

My question is, do more opportunities, despite the lower win rates and longer sales cycle, translate to better revenue growth?  

The reality is that pipelines should not simply get bigger!  If we know the annual revenue goal, closing percentage and average deal size for every salesperson, then we know exactly how many opportunities must be in each stage of the pipeline at any moment in time.  When we know that, it's all about effective targeting and scoring.  Last week I spent a half day helping a company nail their scoring mechanism.  If you get that right, you'll know not only whether an opportunity qualifies to be in the pipeline, but whether it should be pursued, assigned resources, and quoted.  When companies choose to simply put more in, it's usually because they already have too many of the wrong opportunities in the pipeline.

There were some findings around technology usage.  It showed that in 20% of the cases, the competitive edge could be attributed to technology with the biggest three examples being CRM, Sales Intelligence and Sales Presentation tools.  But even with CRM showing the most widespread usage, only 45% attributed their competitive edge to CRM.

Speaking of CRM, it seems that the data for this analysis came from CRM, so I assume they were mining Salesforce.com data from multiple companies and industries.  With so many executives complaining that their salespeople hate using Salesforce.com, and with sales managers having to hound their salespeople to keep the data current, it raises questions about the accuracy of the length of the sales cycle.  Many salespeople delay entering data until an opportunity is well underway, while others delay entering their follow-up and follow-through, including when they have closed the sale!  These issues cause sales cycles to be represented as both artificially short and long!  We could give them the benefit of the doubt and suggest that it evens out...

The authors grouped findings by company size -  smaller than and larger than $1 billion; but only 11% of the respondents were from the larger companies.  Another thing that might have skewed their findings is that 60% of the respondents were from software and business services companies.  While those industries are certainly hot right now, the lack of balance hides what might really be taking place.  If pipelines are bigger, sales cycles longer and win rates lower, what do you suppose those three metrics look like in the not-so-hot industries?

Well it's not what you might think!  Win rates went down in both tech and non-tech, but they dropped by 100% more in the tech segment.  Wow!  See, that's how some would report this finding - by dramatizing it - when the reality is that win rates dropped by 2.1% in non-tech and 4.7% in tech.  Also surprising is that the increase in the number of new opportunities was 10.8% in tech but 18.3% in non-tech.  To my thinking, it's the rest of the world catching up with the tech and finally getting with the program!

All of these findings are nice to know, but in your company, it comes down to two things.  Let's assume that your deals are not lost because of quality; and your deals are not won because of price.  After all, there can be only one lowest price and one best quality.  That means everyone else has to sell value.  In value selling, differentiation takes place in the field (or on the phone) and that means your ability to differentiate is reliant on:

  • Consistent and effective consultative approach,
  • Effective milestone-centric, customer-focused sales process, and
  • Consistent and effective coaching from sales managers - on their deals and personal growth.

 In my experience, this is generally not what is taking place in most companies.

You can improve the sales process and sales coaching by attending my annual Sales Leadership Intensive - May 17 and 18.  It's two days of the absolute best training on how to effectively coach salespeople and much, much more.  Use this link with embedded discount code to save 30%! [Update - Sold Out]

You can find out if your salespeople are truly selling value and to what degree they are using a consultative approach with a sales force evaluation.  For most companies, the information learned and action steps identified make this a no-brainer.

And you can simply hire better salespeople, but using the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment there is.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, salesforce.com, long sales cycle, sales win rates, building the sales pipeline, insidesales.com

The 5 Questions That Get Prospects to Buy so You Don't Have to Sell

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 30, 2016 @ 18:03 PM

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It's a catch-22 that I find myself in all of the time.  In this business, I can't ever be better at training, coaching, evaluating, consulting, and general sales expertise than I am when actually selling.  If I am less expert at selling, I will lack credibility.  I become one of those people who, if they can't do it, they teach it.  On the other hand, I can't be better at selling than at providing expertise because it is often very threatening to potential clients. They fear being sold something - especially consulting services - from someone who could possibly fail to meet expectations, and my business would fail if I caused that to happen.  So what is a sales expert to do? Let's answer that question, discuss how it applies to you, and share some questions that will help you sell more of what you have!

I need to let and help people buy from me and cannot, under any circumstances, sell.  I've been doing it that way for 30 years and it has worked so far!  The balance is so, so important.  This is something that can be transferred to any sales force.  If you understand the delicate balance I described, you and your salespeople can apply the same balance to your prospects and customers.  Make sure they buy from you, but don't be found guilty of selling to them.

If you get the hang of that approach, you'll have taken the first step to becoming a consultative seller!  Because in order for you to help prospects buy, you must become adept at listening and asking questions.  If you do nothing but listen and ask questions, everything will change.  Of course, they need to be good questions.  As soon as you ask a dumb, stupid, moronic question, that conversation will end.  So what are good questions?  Any question that:

  • Helps your prospect to go wider and deeper in response to what you just heard,
  • Encourages your prospect to provide further details,
  • Uncovers the consequences of an issue they shared with you,
  • Gets your prospect to share how those consequences impact them, and
  • Monetizes the issues and impact they have discussed.

The only problem with all of this is that most salespeople can't do it!  This article discusses why more salespeople suck than ever before and this article explains consultative selling in much more detail!

Recently I was asked to take a look at this article on the Salesforce.com blog about the 3 must-have elements for building sales teams that soar.  They were hoping that I would not only share the article, but especially the infographic that you see below. They did a great job on the infographic. Some of the information in the article is good, some is good common sense, and some - well some contains made-up statistics!  When you see numbers like 50% and 100X, you know there isn't science behind those numbers.  And the days of reps calling 120-170 prospects per day?  Sure, maybe in 1970 when prospects answered their phones.  Sure, if the same reps don't also have to conduct actual sales calls/meetings.  Sure, if the sales manager wants to burn their reps out after a month.  Seriously,  if a dial that goes to voicemail takes an average 3 minutes and you have a ten-minute conversation with 10% of the 170 people that you dialed, you would have spent :

  • 10 minutes x 17 conversations for 170 minutes or nearly 3 hours,
  • 153 dials x 3 minutes for 459 minutes or 7.65 hours,
  • And with four 10-minute breaks and a lunch hour, that's an 11.5 hour day and no time to conduct any sales calls or meetings!

If reps are still doing dialing-for-dollars, 3 hours per day is plenty unless they are in a call center and all they do is schedule meetings for account executives.  Half a day for prospecting and half a day for following up with sales calls makes much more sense! And remember, you won't have time to sell consultatively if you are cranking out that kind of call volume.  That can only lead to transactional selling which, unless you sell something extremely simple, very inexpensive, and for the lowest price, transactional selling won't accomplish anything.

 

Click To Enlarge

The Three Must-Have Elements For Building Sales Teams That Soar

Via Salesforce

Topics: Dave Kurlan, growing a sales team, prospecting, salesforce.com

A Guaranteed Fix for Inaccurate Sales Forecasts

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 @ 06:09 AM

The weather has become quite predictive - if you want to know what it will be like in say, an hour.  Meteorologists are still fairly accurate within 24 hours, but for the most part, especially where I live in New England, they are challenged to get it accurate beyond a day in advance.

Think of that in terms of your pipeline, forecast and budget.  We know that forecasts are notoriously inaccurate, but that's when you're looking at the forecast for the month, quarter or year.  Meteorologists would never be accurate if attempting to predict temperatures, precipitation, cloud cover and storms a month in advance.

Are your expectations completely unrealistic when you attempt to forecast sales for the month or quarter?  For most companies, inaccurate forecasts are the norm and expectations for accuracy are insane.  But that's when companies rely on CRM applications that fall victim to any of the following 10 challenges:

  • It was designed for customer service rather than sales.
  • It has a contact or customer focus rather than an opportunity or sales process focus.
  • It was over-designed with too many features.
  • It is not user friendly.
  • Salespeople hate to enter information into it.
  • It's too easy for salespeople to manipulate the likelihood of closing.
  • Sales Managers do not regularly inspect opportunities for accuracy and appropriate stage.
  • Pipeline is a state of being, not a gap analysis.
  • Pipeline is a report rather than a staged, visual representation of the business.
  • Salespeople don't live in it and it hasn't become an essential part of the sales culture.

There are dozens of CRM applications out there.  While some are very well-known, like Salesforce.com, others are very obscure.  Well-known doesn't mean you should use it at your company - it might not be right for you.  Obscure doesn't mean that you shouldn't use it at your company - it might be perfect.

In the end, regardless of features, if the salespeople don't embrace it, then it will be a failure.  We have so many clients that bought CRM applications that aren't being used as expected, it's embarrassing.  Yet moving to another CRM application seems like throwing money out the window and admitting that your initiative was a failure.

On the other hand, companies think nothing of changing copier brands - even in the middle of a lease, they change banks when terms or relationships make it necessary, executives move in and out of cars every two years, homeowners cycle through crappy landscapers, we upgrade our phones, tablets and laptops every year or two, and we never think twice!  Why is it such a nightmare to move to another CRM application?

Moving is really not that difficult.  The problem is that it cost a lot of money to customize the first application, get everyone trained, and input all of the data.  There is a huge fear that moving to another application will be just as difficult as the first go-round.  But that's more fear than reality.

For example, we moved a client from a popular CRM application to a more useful and appropriate application.  They did spend and waste a fortune on the first one, they did spend months entering data, they did go through a long and drawn out training program for users and it was a monumental failure.  However, moving to the new application was a easy as pie.  It needed almost no customization, had no complicated navigation, and an hour of training had everybody up and running. The data was imported, not entered manually, and the salespeople love it so much they are not only using it, but embracing it.

The best news of all comes in the form of the client's results:  

  • Salespeople are living in CRM!
  • Opportunities cannot be arbitrarily moved forward in the sales process.
  • The likelihood of closing is calculated based on reality, not hope.
  • 100% adoption translates to real time, accurate data in the dashboard.
  • Salespeople see their pipeline stage gaps and proactively respond to them.
  • Forecasts are accurate.
  • Everyone is happy.

It's not that moving to a better CRM application is a new cost or even difficult - it isn't!  It's that for most, walking away from the initial investment of money, time, emotions, commitment and your bad decision is so hard.  But it's not a divorce, it's more like changing banks.  You move away from one that no longer suits your needs and begin working with another that you perceive to be better.

Do you need some help sorting out your CRM situation?  Just shoot me an email and I'll steer you in the right direction.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, salesforce.com, sales forecast

How Significant is the Migration to Inside Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 @ 06:09 AM

Sales Leadership Intensive

Last week, I led our annual Sales Leadership intensive and hosted the best group of sales leaders to ever attend the event.  Chad Burmeister, who is well known throughout the inside sales community, was one of the attendees.  At one of the lunch breaks, he was talking about the customers his company, Connect and Sell, helps.  He commented that most of them are inside sales organizations.  Chad thought that we would have data to demonstrate the transition to inside sales over the past several years.

I began by reviewing my personal clients at Kurlan & Associates and compared them with clients from several years ago.  Sure enough, the numbers were amazing.

As recently as 5 years ago, only 20% of my personal clients were inside sales forces.  Today, that has increased by 150%.  Half of my own training, coaching and consulting clients are inside sales forces!  I investigated further and looked at the many other Kurlan clients who work with the rest of my team and learned that 73% of those clients are inside sales forces.  

Next, I reviewed around 250 of the newest Objective Management Group (OMG) accounts for sales candidate assessments and discovered that 42% of the open positions are for inside sales roles.  That number is quite different from the percentage I found with Kurlan clients and even though 42% is significantly greater than five years ago, I wanted to learn more about why there was such a disparity between the Kurlan versus OMG percentages.  

I dug deeper and learned that the likelihood of an account being for an outside sales role was in direct proportion to the number of years that our OMG Parter/Sales Expert has been with OMG.  That's code for how old the OMG partner is!  Sure enough, most of the older, longtime OMG Partners are still most comfortable doing business with, or positioning themselves with companies that have traditional outside sales forces.  When I looked at the recent accounts represented by newer and younger OMG Partners, 75% of them were for inside sales roles - much more consistent with what I found when I looked at the distribution of Kurlan clients. 

Who knew?

Chad knew.  Way to go, Chad!

What do these number mean for you?

Last year I wrote about the Great Migration to Inside Sales.  The article highlights eight scenarios that help you determine whether or not making that move is right for your company.

I wrote about the move to inside sales again in December and asked why the migration took so long to occur?  That article explains the various inside roles and makes a better case for migration winning out over the status quo.

SALES EFFECTIVENESS STUDY

OMG is working on a major sales effectiveness study that looks not only at traditional sales effectiveness, but also inside, inbound and social selling effectiveness.  The study must be inclusive and not just for huge companies and that's why I need your help.  I would be so appreciative if you would take 5 minutes from your busy day to provide your anonymous data.  No names, no emails, no follow-up.  Although it's an easy survey to take, it's crucial that we produce this unbiased study.  Won't you please help me?


The September, Week 4 Issue of Top Sales Magazine is available 
here.  And the brochure for the 2014-2015 Top Sales Academy is available here.  On October 8, I'll be leading the session on How to Master the Art of Coaching Salespeople

Salesforce.com's blog posted an article of mine that asks whether or not you can turn customer service reps into salespeople.  If you have CSR's, then you must read this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, inside sales, sales effectiveness study, Top Sales World, objective management group, salesforce.com, chad burmeister, connect and sell

Top 10 Reasons For Inaccurate Forecasts

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 @ 07:02 AM

sales pipelineFor double article Friday, in addition to my Sales Pipeline Nazi article, I have the following bonuses for you:

For those of you who wanted to attend the Webinar on the Sales Candidate Analyzer, here is a link to the recording.

WittyParrot has just released the Top 50 Sales Productivity Tips ebook with 50 Experts, including me, offering their advice.  Download it here.

And the March Issue of Top Sales Magazine is available!  It includes an article from me and several other noteworthy sales writers.  You can download your copy here.

**********

The Sales Pipeline Nazi

When I wrote this article, the Northeast corner of the US was being walloped by yet another snowstorm, which in this case, was very accurately forecasted.  At the same time, the first email I saw today had a link to a very funny video – a spoof of a Pipeline Review being run by Hitler.  Here is a link to that video on You Tube.

So the storm and the video led me to the following thoughts.

We joke a lot about sales forecasts being no more accurate than weather forecasts, but everything is relative.  An inaccurate forecast of cloudy won’t have much of an impact on anyone, but an inaccurate forecast of sunny and warm might.  An inaccurate forecast of flurries might not cause a problem if they don’t materialize, but an inaccurate forecast of a foot of snow – in either direction – has serious consequences.

Inaccurate sales forecasts are legendary.  Here are the 10 most common reasons why salespeople, sales managers, Sales Directors and CEO’s suffer from this: 

  • They lack a formal, staged, criteria-based pipeline.
  • They lack a functional, sales-specific CRM or Pipeline Management application.
  • Their sales process is not integrated into the CRM/Pipeline Management application.
  • Salespeople have the power to suggest the likelihood of closing.
  • Salespeople have the power to override the application’s weighting of an opportunity.
  • Salespeople fail to LIVE in the CRM application, providing infrequent updates, causing most report and dashboard data to be outdated.
  • There is a lack of accountability for keeping the application up-to-date - not weekly, not daily, but in real-time!
  • The data being entered is not being inspected by management.
  • Nobody cares about getting it right.
  • The concept of pipeline management has not been integrated into the culture.

As for the weather, we learn to live with those inaccurate forecasts by preparing for the worst.  We also learn to check back often, get an updated forecast the night before, the morning of and right before that outdoor event, trip to the airport, or 6-hour drive.  What if our salespeople did that?  What if sales managers did that?

If sales forecasts are truly like weather forecasts and we have learned to make the best of the weather, why can’t we simply employ the same strategies and tactics to sales forecasts?  Why can’t we get updates, check-in, check back, verify and re-verify?  Why can’t we get it right?  Why don’t we get it right?

In my opinion, there are a combination of factors at play that discourage salespeople from taking the steps that I just mentioned:

  • Laziness – “It’s too much work!”
  • Fear of Rejection – "When I check back, what if they changed their mind?”
  • Need for Approval (Need to be Liked)  - “They might not like me anymore.”
  • Fear of being wrong – “How could I live with myself?”
  • Pressure to find new opportunities – The only time hunting takes precedence over anything!
  • Consequences of removing an opportunity and its related value from the forecast and/or pipeline – “It’s much better to slide the opportunity to next month than the alternative.”

We must get sales forecasting right.  And we can.  If one company can do it, all companies can do it.  But it takes a commitment, from the top down, to make it work.  It takes work after the commitment has been made.  If the first 9 reasons, from my list at the beginning of the article, are properly addressed and the appropriate commitment has been made, then any company wishing to have an accurate sales forecast can have one. 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, crm, Pipeline, membrain, salesforce.com, sales forecasts

Kindle - Lessons Applied to the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 @ 06:02 AM

Readers who have purchased the Kindle have totally embraced that device.  Some think it's the Kindle, not online sellers, that is the biggest threat to brick and mortar book stores.  Those of us who own a Kindle are reading more books, and reading them more easily and conveniently than before we had the device. So why have sales forces, especially in smaller companies, been so resistant to technologies that make it simpler and more convenient to record, share, track, manage, forecast and see, in real time, the who, what, when, where, and how of selling? There are many applications available and you've heard of those like ACT!, Goldmine, Salesforce.com and Microsoft CRM.  I've written on more than one occasion that I like Landslide.com the best.  If you want ease of use, salespeople who embrace rather than resist using it, little to no data entry (you can call it in) powerful out-of-the-box dashboards, and your choice of sales processes built-in, including Baseline Selling, Landslide is the only choice.

Speaking of the Kindle, many of you have been asking for me to do this so:

Dave Kurlan is now on the Kindle.

Receive my Understanding the Sales Force Blog on your Kindle.

You can receive my best-selling book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball on your Kindle.

And you can help me out.  The Blogs are listed by Kindle popularity and since mine just went live, I assume it will show up last out of 1500 or so business Blogs currently available on the Kindle.  Please forward this article to your Kindle toting friends who might care or it may never be discovered on the Kindle device. And if you are like me, and you prefer to read your favorite Blogs on the Kindle at the same time you read your favorite newspaper on the Kindle, then why not subscribe to the Kindle edition?

(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales management, Salesforce, Sales Force, Landslide, kindle, ACT, Goldmine, salesforce.com, microsoft crm

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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