What Happens When Sales Leaders Properly Use CRM

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Sep 24, 2018 @ 14:09 PM

Sherlock Holmes PIpe and Hat

Most companies design and execute sales process backwards. The problem is exacerbated by salespeople’s usage and adherence to process. Only 49% of salespeople in the 51st - 83rd percentile are strong in the Sales Process competency. Most of the A and B players are found in this group.

Having evaluated hundreds of company sales processes, one of the common big gaps is the lack of a key milestone for common fit.  That milestone should focus on what must happen in order for the company to do business with the prospect and what needs to occur for the prospect to want to do business with them.

In a recent client conversation about customizing their sales process I asked them to enter data for an in-process opportunity where the executives were on the call with the salesperson.

Before I summarize what they learned from this a little context is necessary. The opportunity was an introduction from someone the salesperson had done significant business with. The ultimate decision maker was the VP of HR. The company president, the salesperson, my client and the person who made the introduction were all in the meeting.

Here is the summary of lessons:

• The expectations for the meeting did not include potential outcomes;
• The President opened up about issues and challenges;
• They had apparent frustration;
• They failed to quantify the impact and frequency of the problems;
• The referrer shared openly;
• Little attention was paid to the real impact of the issues discussed;
• A relationship was created but only on a vendor level;
• They failed to discuss any compelling reasons to move forward;
• They did not discuss whether there was a commitment to solve the problems they uncovered;
• It was agreed the referrer would introduce my client to HR.

During post meeting follow-up, the referrer backed away from being an advocate because HR either does not think there is a reason talk or had limited information over what transpired.

The value from this exercise is not what the next step strategy should be, although defining this is critical and much easier having gone through the process. The value is in identifying what might have happened if the correct sales process was executed.

While the ultimate outcome can’t be predicted, following the right process could have resulting in the following:

• An agreement in advance that if there was a productive discussion either the President would introduce my client to the VP of HR or a meeting with them would be scheduled;
• By discussing the impact of the issues discussed the President could have built a case for about why they needed to make a change.
• If the President supported looking at new options, the referrer would have felt less exposed expressing their opinion post meeting;
• By having the President arrange the meeting with HR, the likelihood of HR feeling threatened could have been discussed in advance with the President and challenges dealt with in advance;
• A deeper and wider discussion with the President could have created a higher value relationship.

You are probably thinking, "I do this!" and I’m sure that sometimes you do. The question is, how frequently, how thoroughly, and most importantly, does your defined sales process force you into these kinds of conversations when you debrief yourself and your salespeople?

If you want to learn more about the most effective way to debrief and coach your salespeople, attend our best in class Sales leadership Intensive. This two-day program will help you improve your sales process, make you a better coach and help you build a team of higher performing salespeople. More information can be found here.

Topics: sales process, effective sales coaching, shorten the sales cycle, CRM Application, salespeople won't comply with CRM, sales productivity

Traffic Jams, Ice Flows and Sales Process

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 @ 11:04 AM

traffic jam, sales processOn a recent trip for the Inbound Marketing Summit, getting out of New York City was a painful process.  We left by 3pm expecting to beat the traffic, but had an entirely different experience on the return trip to Boston.

You may be wondering how traffic and ice relate to sales process.  Before I discuss this, I want to comment on the Summit.  If you haven’t been paying attention to “Inbound Marketing”, I suggest that you do.  Consider what I heard: 80% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years.  Assuming this number is off by 30%, it’s still a head-popping statistic.  Recent research shows that prospects have made up to 60% of their buying decisions prior to speaking with a salesperson.

Consider the implications of these data points and the profound impact which they have on the sales profession.   I ask sales and sales leadership professionals this question:  When they first begin talking to a prospect, “How often do their prospects have incomplete and or inaccurate opinions about the best way to solve their problems?”  The answer is always, “Very frequently.” 

If 60% of the buying decision has been made prior to the salesperson entering the conversation and the prospect's planned solution is lacking, salespeople must first help prospects to understand what they missed in their research.  Said differently, they need to unsell them prior to helping them determine what the best solution is.

How many of your salespeople, even the most productive ones, can do this consistently and effectively?

Now back to ice, traffic and sales process.  What frustrated us the most was how one minute we were whizzing along at 70mph only to be stuck in bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic the next minute.  This continued for close to 100 miles.

Several years ago, there was a study which reported that ice freezing in streams is a good model for predicting traffic congestion.  Ice forms first in the slow moving, shallower pools along the banks.  A small disruption in the flow of water there changes the main current and causes it to cycle through, slowing down and accelerating.

Back to the sales process.  Many of the delays experienced when attempting to close a sale can be attributed to 2 things: 

  • The prospect lacked a compelling reason to buy and
  • Something changed.

The most impactful elements which we can control are:

  • A properly defined sales process,
  • Consistent execution of the process,
  • Great sales coaching in the context of the process and
  • Improved recruiting and onboarding of new salespeople.

The best way to determine how effective your salespeople really are, is to accompany them on random, unplanned sales calls and only observe.  Experience shows the following will happen.

  • If there was a call strategy, it will be only partially executed.
  • Major milestones will be skip or missed.
  • Your sales process will not be executed consistently.
  • Your salespeople will begin presenting much too early.
  • Follow-up questions will go unasked or will be ineffective.
  • The prospect will control the process.

The biggest problem will be how the salespeople interpret the results when the call ends.  In virtually all cases, their perspective of how the call went will be overly optimistic.

Selling has changed and sales organizations must adapt.  Science and process need to become the new norm.  Sales leaders must be excellent coaches and embrace sales infrastructure with an operational mindset and your sales organizations must move toward a more process-oriented approach.

We have a few upcoming events targeted toward CEO's, VP's and Managers.  At a minimum, they will be great events to learn about the services which we offer.  The first one is our Annual Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston, MA on May 14-15.  Contact me if you have questions about getting registered.

The second is our Annual Boston Area Executive Luncheon on May 21st.  If you are going to be in the Boston area, please plan on joining us.  Contact me and I'll work on getting you a discount code for free registration.


Topics: sales management best practices, sales process, sales training, sales force development, effective sales coaching

Sales Leadership Missing Ingredient – Motivation

Posted by Chris Mott on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 @ 14:04 PM

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To what extent are salespeople self-motivated?  The answer that I commonly hear captures a critical flaw in how sales leaders manage salespeople. 

By nature, salespeople are emotional people who are driven by competition, fear of failure, recognition for success, financial reward, the satisfaction from problem-solving and many other factors.  They also want to be heard and given attention.

How they feel about themselves, their company, their sales leader and their quality of life has a profound impact on their capacity to be successful over time.  They must bring strong desire, commitment to succeed, a strong work ethic and attentiveness to building a quality pipeline.

A fatal flaw is that sales leaders believe salespeople are self-motivating, should be emotionally mature enough to weather tough times and able to bounce back on their own.  In a perfect world, without the emotional component, this is a reasonable assumption.  In the day-to-day world of a salesperson, this conclusion doesn’t work.

Great sales organizations pay attention to metrics and selling behavior.  They also spend much time practicing.  Dave Kurlan wrote a recent article on the Selling Power website that discusses this.

Great motivators pay close attention to how their salespeople are feeling.  Are they distracted by outside events?  Have recent losses caused them to question their ability?  Are they dragged down by a bravery problem?  Are they emotionally involved with things going on at home?

You can see and feel the symptoms of these problems, whether it’s the tone of someone’s voice, their eye contact, distraction or your sense that something isn’t right.  More often than not, sales leaders believe it’s temporary and don’t act until too much time has passed.  They engage the salesperson, but often without being present or on a surface level.

How honed are your sales motivations skills?  Are you practicing and setting the example?  When you hold people accountable, do you get emotional and lose objectivity?  Are you able to role-play anything at any time?  Are your salespeople learning from their mistakes and improving each day?

The majority of sales leaders are not well-trained or mentored.  Some are the sales leader by default and don’t commit the time and/or energy needed.  Great sales leaders should spend 80% of their time on the following: 

  • Coaching:  pre-call strategy and post-call debriefing
  • Motivating
  • Accountability
  • Mentoring
  • Proactive Recruiting 

If you want to grow revenue and profits and to improve the top line, there is no replacement for highly-effective sales leadership. 

Kurlan and Associates, Inc. is hosting a two-day Sales Leadership Symposium on May 9-10 in Boston.  This program will combine skill improvement with extensive practice and the development of a customized sales leadership plan for yourself and your people.  Information can be found at Sales Leadership Symposium.


Topics: effective sales coaching, developing your sales people, motivating salespeople

Sales Progress - Sales Momentum - Sales Improvement

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 @ 09:04 AM

I was at the gym Monday "starting over again" after a week away. As always I saw a woman I know working with her personal trainer. Twice a week she's there huffing and puffing. Several months ago I asked what motivated her. She answered "I'm going to be fifty and I want to be healthy."  

How many of you fit that description?

In between sets of overhead presses and squats I congratulated her on her commitment and progress. Without hesitation Joe the trainer said; don't lose sight of the objective, progress, momentum and improvement. He couldn't have said anything more appropriate or profound.

Whether you're the sales manager or someone else is, do not forget Joe's words. It's all about sales progress, sales momentum and sales improvement. Which of your salespeople or perhaps yourself needs to hear these words today, tomorrow and the next day?

While you're thinking about Joe and his sage advice watch this video if you haven't seen it already Beating the Little Hater.

Topics: sales management functions, Changing_Behavior, effective sales coaching, Sales Accountability

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