Posts Tagged 'marketing'

My Notifications of the “death of selling” may have been premature

There is an interesting debate going on in the sales industry blogosphere about whether selling is dying. What we are really discussing however is “will we need salespeople in the future and what will their role be”.

I used to publish a quarterly newsletter (Spare on Sales and Marketing) back in the early nineties… I was recently doing research for an article I am writing and came across the newsletter published in July 1993 in which my lead story was “Selling is Dying”.
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From the Article…

There are essentially four elements that drive a salesperson’s success. These are a.) Selling Skills, b.) Knowledge (Product and Industry), c.) Time and Territory Management, and d.) Relationship Building. I used to hire salespeople based on their selling skills because that was the most important driver. That is no longer true. Today’s top salespeople are the ones who have knowledge. They fully understand the product or service they are selling. They fully understand the needs of the prospect and the marketplace.

The closing line in my article back then was “for selling in the nineties (1990’s) the name of the game is how do we deliver the most knowledge (added value) to our customer.”….

According to Selling Power Magazine, Gartner Research analyzed the market and projected that we will downsize from twenty million salespeople today to four million by 2020. This projection is based on industry trends and the growing sophistication of software applications (to deliver knowledge) and the continuing acceleration of computer power and social media.

At a Sales2.0 conference in 2010, Gerhard Gschwandtner, publisher of Selling Power asked the audience to raise their hand if they have ever purchased anything from Amazon.com. Almost everyone raised their hand. Then he asked “How many of you have ever spoken to an Amazon salesperson?” Nobody raised their hand. The exercise demonstrates that a lot of products are being sold through automation.

I believe at some product levels, we don’t necessarily need outbound sales personnel, but at higher levels, we will always need them.

As technology improves, more and more products will be sold automatically in the Business to Business (B2B) arena. It’s already happening in many acquisition areas like office supplies and some forms of printing, computer purchases, etc. Many state governments and large corporations have initiated on line requisitioning where an RFQ is published and the best respondent (best price, highest quality) can win the bid and the buyer and seller never talk face to face.

So who will need the four million salespeople that are left? Many of them may be situated in call centers rather than outside sales positions. The balance will be working for companies where the buyer cannot capture the knowledge or comfort required to make a good buying decision.

There are a number of industries where the customer will need additional help in his research and decision making process and there will always be a role for the salesperson in these situations. The role may become that of the differentiator or negotiator.

Industries where you are selling professional services or highly technical products will always need salespeople. Often in these industries there is a technical consultant available to assist the salesperson and the customer in understanding what he is investing in.

So, ultimately, we are really discussing the question of “what’s the value the salesperson brings” I believe the salesperson’s task at hand is to be become much more informed about the prospect’s business and industry and their strategies. Then the salesperson needs a full understanding of the potential his product or service offers to assist those strategies.

To some extent very complex (highly engineered) products will require salespeople as well. I don’t see countries and companies buying Boeing aircraft on the web in the near future.
So the salesperson of the future will need to be a “knowledge broker” more than anything else.

The competencies (drivers) required for this position will include:
Knowledge of  
—General business 
—The Prospect’s business
—The industry
—The competition
Questioning and Listening Skills
Strategic Thinking
Conviction, Confidence and Integrity

So, perhaps selling (as we once knew it) is dying.

If a salesperson wants to be one of the remaining four million, he/she will need to grow the above skills, work continually to increase their education and begin looking for sales opportunities with companies whose products are complex and hard to sell.

Thoughtfully yours

Todd

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Is your marketing process delivering “high quality” sales leads?

As a businessman, would you say that “maximizing” your sales is revenue important? If it is, you need to make certain your sales and marketing folks are “knowledge brokers”.

In my previous post I wrote about the need for your sales team to become “knowledge brokers”. Recent studies have confirmed that buyers today are often 70% of the way through the “buyer’s journey” (http://bit.ly/tvENtn) before they engage the salesperson. This means your marketing process needs to become focused on delivering relevant information, rather than simply creating awareness.

The power of the internet has clearly changed the buyer-seller dynamic and a new approach to sales and marketing is required. The buyer suddenly does not need to rely on the salesperson any longer for much of their information gathering. They simply go to the web and conduct research. They communicate with peers about solutions and ROI. They read informative articles in trade publications. They utilize social media. This means that the marketing effort must extend much further down the sales funnel then ever before.

Up until five years ago, marketing’s role was to create awareness through advertising, PR and other conventional means. Their goal was to find prospects that might fit the customer profile and then pass that contact information to sales. These are still important functions of a well designed marketing process. Today however, the buyers are looking more and more to gathering product and supplier information through an informal research process without contacting the supplier’s sales organization. This means the marketing message needs to be smarter, deeper and more directed at creating the customer relationship. They need to help deliver high quality sales leads.

There is no time or place any longer for internal arguments between sales and marketing and their respective roles. There is no place left for complaining about the quality of the leads (from sales) and the quality of the selling process (from marketing). It is time to become aligned and jointly engaged in the process that delivers a “customer”. This situation also means that management of the process must be shared by the sales manager and the marketing manager and in time we will begin to see the new role of Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) take the place of these two positions.

When I say that marketing needs to become a “knowledge broker”, I am suggesting that the marketing process needs to deliver more and more of the product and service information that the salesperson used to deliver. The marketing team needs to extend their reach. They need to create awareness just like they always have. They need to advertise in less traditional ways (search engines, ads on web pages, etc). They need to publish product and corporate information brochures but more in an electronic form rather than paper. They need to conduct PR campaigns, but cannot limit them to trade and newspaper print media. They need to create highly informative web site content and ease of navigation that will capture the reader’s attention and provide a deeper level of knowledge about products and services. But all of that is what was always done except in a different form and process.

Now product and service information needs to be much more about how the product or service fits into the buyer’s business, how it works for other industry leaders. It is about how to implement it quickly easily and with as little business interruption as possible.

But the real change is how the marketing team engages the buyer on his journey. Marketing needs to develop new ways to track the buyer’s activities, learn more about their needs and more about how (and by whom) decisions are made. The final outcome must be that the sales “lead” that is passed to the salesperson has already become a highly qualified prospect. The lead must include “in depth” information about the buyer’s needs and process and hopefully an established relationship.

In order to accomplish this, management must be willing to extend the marketing budget (some of which may come from the sales budget since the work requirement has shifted). Management must make certain that the sales and marketing teams are fully aligned and understand the corporate strategy. And finally there must be solid agreement on the definition of what constitutes a quality lead. If you have the lead defined properly, you can work backward through the process of delivering knowledge to the prospect that turn him into a customer.

If you want to “maximize” your sales revenue, you can begin by assessing your marketing team’s process based on the discussion above.  If you are not sure how to do this or don’t have the time, there are professionals available to guide you through the process, confirm your present impressions and provide a roadmap for change.

Please let me know if I can be of assistance.

Dave Brock – The Personification of “Thoughtfulness”

As demands on our time continually increase, most of us are taking less time to be “thoughtful” and think things through.

Let me tell you about someone who has figured out how to remain “thoughtful”

I have been utilizing social media extensively for about a year and have found it a valuable medium to gain exposure, and to learn. I am active in LinkedIn and Twitter; and I dabble in Facebook and Google+.

As I began using these media, I found that there are a lot of folks out there with a lot of expertise. Sometimes the expertise is real and sometimes it is imagined. As I began sorting through the chatter and found folks who seemed to have real expertise, I started following them more closely and listening to what they had to say in their BLOGs and in responding to other’s questions.

I kept noticing this guy Dave Brock who popped up from time to time and his comments and BLOG posts always seemed to be  very “thoughtful” and well measured. He even answered questions that I had posted in the same thoughtful way and I began letting him know (in my responses to him) that I appreciated his thoughtfulness in thinking the question through and then answering in a well written response.

As I became more intrigued with him, I looked up his web site “Partner’s in EXCELLENCE” (http://excellenc.com) and found an almost staggering amount of services being offered and also that the company was truly global with offices around the world. The descriptions of the services were well written and again “thoughtful”. The client list will match those of the largest consulting organizations in the world. I think you would find solutions here that you might not find anywhere else.

From time to time I post testimonial BLOGs about folks who have impressed me and whom I have grown to admire for their expertise. So I decided to write one about David, however I had never met him except for exchanging comments on the web.

So I fired off an email asking him to send me some background information. He responded immediately, but suggested rather than send me a bunch of material; he thought it would be great to simply chat on the phone. He even offered up three potential times to talk and then said I have been hoping to meet you at some point and am so glad you reached out.

So here I am, thrilled and so appreciative of this guy running a world wide company and obviously very busy would take the time to connect with me personally.

When he and I talked earlier this week, he was everything I expected and more. As we talked he shared with me that it has always been his personal goal to provide “thoughtful” advice and guidance to his client’s, family and friends. I told him he had succeeded in reaching that goal because the word that I believed best described him was “thoughtful”.

I also asked him how he comes up with so many great (almost daily) BLOG posts (http://excellenc.com/Blog.htm ) and he told me they are often driven by some event that disturbed him (like an email addressed to “occupant”) or a comment he saw that was just flat out wrong.

I think you will find value in reading his posts and watching for his comments on the social media sites. And if you need help with any business issues, contact him to see if he can help.

So…..if you are ever looking for “thoughtful” advice and commentary from a terrific person, I highly recommend that you follow Dave Brock (http://twitter.com/davidabrock ) and listen to what he has to say. You will never be disappointed.

Thoughtfully yours,

Todd

Maximizing Sales Revenue Through “Alignment” My Compliments to Christine Crandell

I assist companies who are trying to “maximize their sales revenue”. Every company I meet with is looking for help in this area and I am guessing yours may be as well.

During the last few years, I have been focusing on “Alignment”. I attempt to align the sales, marketing, and customer service organizations to the corporate strategies and then more importantly align them to each other.

The Aberdeen Group found that highly aligned achieved an average of 20% annual growth rate in the present economy. This is compared to a 4% decline with their non-aligned peers. CSO Insights found that aligned companies had an average of 10% more of their sales people on quota.

Because this is a fairly new approach to the business of maximizing sales revenue, I have looked to the thought leaders who are driving the alignment paradigm and more importantly ones who have actually done the work and generated outstanding results. Alignment is not for the feint of heart, but it works.

Although there are a number of bright people who have written and presented methods on the subject, none has demonstrated a higher level of thought leadership than Christine Crandell.

Christine is an excellent writer and consultant who has documented success stories, proven in real life that the theory actually works and has developed processes to help companies implement it.

Years ago Christine noticed and recently wrote that “Customer Acquisition is a Myth” “Companies do not acquire accounts; it’s actually the other way around. (http://christinecrandell.com/2011/06/customer-acquisition-is-a-myth/)

Because of the power of the web and social media, customers actually find out more about a product before engaging with a sales person now more than ever before. She may have coined the term “buyer’s journey” which describes the process they go through.

If the buyer’s journey takes them to the web, social media commentary, corporate web sites, and conversations with their peers before ever talking with a salesperson, it is marketing’s role to be certain they are publishing relevant content and understanding where the buyer’s journey takes them. As they take the journey, the marketer needs to build a base of information about the buyer and at a predefined moment determine that this buyer is a viable sellable “lead” and turn it over to sales for follow though to closure.

Christine believes (and it has been my experience) that Alignment is not possible without an active participation of the CEO in the process. The CEO needs to believe it will be profitable and has to become engaged in clearly defining the “corporate strategy and plan” to the sales and marketing and customer service teams. He has to make clear to his management team that this is his program for maximizing revenue and he has to be engaged with accessing the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are used as the metrics to measure the success of the process.

There is much more to the process of sales, marketing and customer service Alignment and we cannot cover it here. So I suggest that if you want to understand it, you become a student of Christine Crandell. I can help you implement it once you have learned the value and her thoughts on the procss.

 

 To learn more about Alignment and Christine Crandell, I suggest the following resources. She is President of New Business Strategies.

             Her web site is http://christinecrandell.com         

             She writes a column for Forbes Magazine on the subject twice a month.

             You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ChrisCrandell

She can also be found on Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook

I hope you find her work as insightful, thoughtful and well written as I do. She is the expert’s expert.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to let you know that my company has the knowledge, background and skill set to implement “alignment” and other strategies to help you “Maximize Your Sales Revenue”  You might look at our “No Risk Engagement” page and contact us to discuss your situation. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Thoughtfully yours,

Todd