October 29, 2009

Sales Systems: a framework for developing user skills

The functionality of today’s Sales and CRM systems is impressive, however that means they require higher levels of training and skill on the part of users. Insufficient, or inadequate training of users is a key factor explaining why the fact that most organizations have not reaped the benefits of their systems. It directly translates into low levels of usage, sales productivity and sales effectiveness.

So, how many users are at advanced, expert, or just foundation level? What level do they need to be at, given their various roles? The following checklist will help you assess and develop the CRM/SFA skills levels of your team. It is also an ideal structure for planning user training in respect of new systems implementations.

Put a tick in the box beside each activity users are able to complete. Those activities un-ticked then represent the ideal starting point for further training.

Level 1: Developing Foundation Skills

Here are the key tasks, or foundation skills, you will need to successfully use the CRM / sales automation tool:

1. Can you create an account and set Type, Source, Industry and Rating as appropriate, or to default? 

2. Can you create a contact in a specific account, add notes of a conversation to it, schedule a call with the contact and send an email to the contact person? 

3. Can you change your password? 

4. Can you search for a company or a person in the database and view their information? 

5. Can you edit a contact and an account and save the changes? 

6. Can you order accounts in alphabetical order, both in ascending and descending order? 

7. Can you order accounts by a specific category in rating, type, or source to show only a list of the ones in the category you have chosen? Can you see the number in the category without counting them? 

8. Can you enlarge the number of accounts shown at any one time to 50? 

9. Can you send and email with an attachment to yourself and check that it arrives correctly? Can you view the sent email in your sent folder? 

Level 2: Becoming an Advanced User

Here are the key tasks, or advanced skills, that will demonstrate your proficiency in the use of the CRM/sales automation tool:

1. Can you create opportunity, setting probability, start and end dates, etc., and assign follow-up call to it? 

2. Can you view opportunity created in Forecast tab, viewing under quarter and year tabs? 

3. Can you assign an account to another user, view accounts and contacts owner by other users? 

4. Can you open accounts, or contacts, in edit and in view mode? 

5. Can you change dashboard layout? Putting neglected accounts in the right panel, top activities by priority and by date in the centre column and open cases in the right panel of the screen? 

6. Can you send test email using a template & change if required? 

7. Can you export a file containing account details for backup? 

8. Can you upload a document to the database and rename it? 

Level 3: Becoming An Expert User

If you can complete the following tasks they you will have reached an expert level of proficiency in using the CRM/sales management tool, and managing or administrating the system for your company:

1. Can you import a list of companies or contacts from an excel spreadsheet, then set rating, type, source and industry as appropriate to the records entered en masse? 

2. Can you review a selection of 6 accounts (randomly chosen) in the database? Are they completed correctly? Is each one assigned, is there a next action, is there a type, rating, source and industry rating? Are notes kept of meetings and conversations? Are emails and documents present? 

3. Can you quantify & compare activity and progress by 2 users, in terms of number of accounts\contacts, level of activity & effectiveness? 

4. Can you generate a report? 

5. Can you create an email template, using different typefaces and colours. Send a test email using the template and make changes as required? 

6. Can you add a category to the ‘type’ drop down menu? Then update an account – changing type to the new category you have added. 

7. Can you add a new user, reset a user password, reset roles, or priviledges, change the order in which different applications (e.g. accounts, contacts, etc.) are displayed? 

8. Can you customise the database to company standards: Dashboard, Drop down menus, User set up, etc. 

October 23, 2009

Sales Systems: Why People Don’t Use Them & What To Do About It

Most companies have implemented some form of sales system (CRM or SFA system). However, few have achieved the promised payback on their investment. One of the key reasons is patchy use of the systems implemented. Indeed, our experience shows that such systems are under-used, or not used at all, by a majority of sales reps, sales support and sales administration staff.

Our clients point to 7 reasons why people don’t use (or at least don’t use properly) their sales / CRM systems. They represent real barriers to achieving the expected sales effectiveness and customer relationship management benefits. These reasons and what to do about them are examined overleaf.

Reason # 1: The wrong system has been implemented / inherited – the system in place does not meet user needs. Typically that means it is:
  • Cumbersome, unsteady/unreliable, or slow
  • Difficult to use (rather than being intuitive and easy to follow)
  • Inadequate in terms of help/instructions
  • Lacks key functionality (e.g. does not have a diary function, no remote access, or does not allow you to enter 8 digit product codes)
  • Does not integrate with other applications that staff must already use (resulting in duplication of effort)
  • Not tailored to the needs of users (e.g. drop down menus, field names, etc. do not correspond to the business in question)

What to do about it: Management should review if the existing system can be improved, or should be replaced.

Reason # 2: The information contained in the system is of poor value – the company and contact information in the system is incomplete, out of date, or not relevant. The system is not being purged, or updated on a regular basis.

What to do about it: Management should institute periodic reviews of the quality of the information in the database. Then provide the administrative resource to purge the data, replacing redundant information with new target lists and contact information, and importing for reps information that is kept in other locations (spreadsheets, outlook address books, etc.).

In addition the automatic capture and assignment to users within the system of web, or email enquiries should be set up.

Reason # 3: The system has been implemented without sufficient user buy-in, or understanding of the benefits (both to users and to the company overall).

What to do about it: Re-launch the system, starting with one small group of users who can most immediately benefit from using the system (or are suffering as a result of not being able to use it) and provide the support to enable them to reap the benefits for themselves. With this group as advocates spread news of the benefits to others.

Reason # 4: A lack of leadership - the system is not being used, or aggressively promoted by senior management (e.g. sales managers, or directors).

What to do about it: If the sales manager is not using the sales database, then he is not in a position to expect anything different from others. He/she has to demonstrate a commitment / competency in respect of using the system. That includes moving from spreadsheet based forecasting and paper-based sales reports, to conducting every conversation with reps or the team by reviewing the relevant account, opportunity or lead in the database.

Reason # 5: Lack of appropriate incentives, where the proper usage of the system is not written into job descriptions, staff and team performance reviews, or linked into the receipt of bonus and commission payments.

What to do about it: Increasingly job descriptions stipulate that keeping sales records, account and contact information up to date in the sales system (including notes of meetings, telephone conversation, etc.) is mandatory. This aspect of job related performance is formally reviewed at staff reviews and moreover payments of bonuses or commissions are linked to the same.

Reason # 6: Inadequate system administration and support to users, including help in terms of lost passwords, user problems, importing lists, organizing mail outs, etc.

What to do about it: Every database or CRM system requires an administrator. But that is not just somebody who can, when requested, set up a user, or change a password.

It is a more active role of reviewing usage levels on an ongoing basis to ensure users have the skills required, that data is being entered in the correct/uniform manner, that neglected leads, accounts, or opportunities are being followed up, etc.

It is also a resource that can pro-actively anticipate and meet the needs or users and teams, such as assisting in the creation of new lists for entry to the database, input of sales letters, proposal and other templates, etc. – all designed to ensure that users can gain the maximum benefit from the system.

Reason # 7: Insufficient, or inadequate training of users. That means not just an intensive one day training session, but periodic training in line with a progressive building of skills, from foundation to expert levels (depending on the specific role and requirements of the user).

What to do about it: The functionality of today’s Sales and CRM systems is impressive, however that means they require higher levels of training and skill on the part of users.

Although salespeople in particular may have little time, or patience for office based training, or indeed may not even admit that it is needed, it is clear that one of the key reasons why sales systems are not used is the frustration experienced by users who have inadequate systems familiarity, or skill.

Office based staff tend to fare best in terms of the training traditionally provided for CRM and sales systems implementation and much of that training tends to be provided up front.

Greater care is needed in terms of providing training to non-office-based staff. Training participation must be mandatory, with certification and providing access to ongoing training and intensive support provided, based on scheduled follow-up between each rep and the system administrator.

When it comes to user training we recommend a 3 steps process to building user skills, including establishing foundation, advanced and expert levels of skills depending on users requirements (see related article/checklist).

10 Reasons Why You Need A Sales System

Imagine an accountant without an accounts package, or an architect without a CAD programme! Well, most sales organisations do not have a widely used and effective sales system. That is costing them in terms of lost sales, as well as lost time and effort.

Here is a list of the compelling reasons why you need a good sales system and the benefits it will deliver.

Increase conversion rates at all stages of the sales cycle. A sales system enables sales opportunities, or leads can be managed more effectively, including the universal application of a more consistent and effective sales process.

A system enables a more systematic, structured and managed approach to the management of sales; leads, opportunities, etc. Nothing is left to chance as salespeople and their managers can, for example, immediately identify neglected accounts, leads that need to be followed up and opportunities that require more work before closing.

Provide increased visibility, predictability and control in respect of sales. That means managers can see what is happening, they can use this information to predict what is going to happen (including inbuilt forecasting tools) and can take action, without waiting until the quarters results are in, or the next sales meeting takes place.

More accurate and reliable sales pipeline forecasts. This is because more information is available and that information is more up to date. In addition the use of a system applies more rigor and consistency to how information is stored, including

Sales people are by nature optimistic, however a sales system tapers optimism with reality providing for a common sales language (e.g. when is a hot prospect ’hot’?) and relating opportunity ratings and close dates to the more objective standard of work done (e.g needs analysis completed) and progress made (contact with 3 senior managers in the buying group) in respect of each account, or opportunity.

See ‘Don’t Rely on Spreadsheets’ for details of the limitations of the traditional spreadsheet based approach to sales forecasting.

A sales system can reduce reporting time by up to 50%, eliminating the frustrating work of manually compiling written call sheets, cross checking spreadsheets, requests for updates, etc. With a sales system that is being implemented consistently all the information required by managers should be available through dashboards, or easily accessible reports.

Enables a more sales-led approach to marketing, facilitating a switch from expensive mass marketing (e.g. advertising and events) to on more measurable direct, or one to one contact with target customers. In this way it aligns sales and marketing more closely. Other benefits to marketing include, the automation of tasks such as capturing web generated leads, mailing of electronic newsletters, tracking of opt-outs, etc.

Makes people more productive and efficient, reducing time spend on paperwork, information search, personal organization (e.g. route planning and time management), meeting preparation, and, of course reporting. Functions such as diary reminders of scheduled tasks, integrated email and document storage (such as proposals) are particularly beneficial to busy reps.

Maximizes collaboration across sales teams and between sales and marketing by ensuring access to shared information and tracking of requests/activities/cases across different members of the team.

Enables managers to tracks and manage levels of sales activity and effectiveness across the sales cycle. It provides mangers with key metrics and KPIs in respect of sales and marketing, including number of leads generated, number of sales meetings, or conversion rates at different stages, for example from lead to meeting, or from cycle to close.

Makes leading and managing a sales force easier. This works in a lot of ways, here are just some examples:
  • A system makes sales meetings – managers have all the information (result of meetings, status with opportunities, etc.) from the system, so meetings can focus on a transfer of enthusiasm, knowledge and insights, rather than a role call of opportunities.
  • Managers get to do more coaching thanks to a sales system, which identifies what sales people, markets or products may be struggling.
  • What gets measured gets done, thus a sales system generally results in an increase in the levels of sales activity (initially at least).
  • As sales people are motivated by their performance relative to their peers, the introduction of a system that provides greater visibility of comparative performance, can when handled correctly, spur individual sales people to ‘up their game’.

More and better information is available to the people who need it. Such improved openness and communication, generally enhances levels of trust and respect and in turn performance. It also enables managers and their people to make better decisions, for example where to focus limited sales resources, what areas will delivery greatest results, etc.

In so many organizations the second-guessing by managers of the activities and progress of salespeople because they do not have accurate information available is unhelpful and can be demotivating. A sales system ensures that a sales person and his or her manager are constantly on the same page. It results in clarity of expectations and reduces the likelihood of suprises.

Customer relationship management. Sales databases began as a central repository for customer information and as their functionality expanded, they became effective tools for managing customer relationships. This is still a vital role for any sales database to perform, enabling managers and their teams to engage in more co-ordinated, systematic and proactive customer contact, resulting in more effective account management, increased customer loyalty and growing customer revenues.

The 9 Deadly Sales Prospecting Sins

The slowdown has accentuated the underlying problems that exist with respect to sales prospecting in many organisations. We call them the 9 deadly sins of sales prospecting.

1. Sales leads appear as much by accident as by design, leaving the company is vulnerable to a slowdown in enquiries, prospects, or sales, or to the loss of a major customer, or prospect. Where there is active prospecting it is sporadic, triggered by an imminent sales need, or crisis.

2. Salespeople regularly complain about the shortage of leads and time spent cold calling. From time to time management expresses concern about the conversion rate of sales to leads and proposals.

3. Poor quality leads waste a lot of time for salespeople, with regular complaints about ‘tire kickers’ and a desire to only meet people who are interested in and able to buy.

4. There is over-optimism regarding the status and prospects of sales leads, while patchy sales prospect information, makes accurate sales forecasting difficult.

5. The names on target and prospect lists roll over from month to month, with little cleansing of old names, or elimination of cold leads.

6. If a sales person leaves his prospects and leads are lost and there is an over-reliance on enquiries, personal contacts, or some primary source of leads.

7. There is an over reliance on cold calling is, but results are patchy and the burden is still with salespeople who complain about the challenge of balancing prospecting with selling.

8. Leads are seen as the responsibility of sales, while the role of marketing is not clear. Where there is marketing, it is a set of discrete and sporadic activities (trade shows, ad campaigns, etc.) isolated from prospecting.
‘The slowdown has accentuated underlying problems with respect to sales prospecting.’

9. Systems, including databases, contact management, or sales automation tools, are lacking, or under-used. One of the implications is that the follow-up of leads by sales people is not systematically tracked, with some leads just disappearing ‘off the radar’ without explanation.

Rolling Out A Sales System

Managers often complain about the difficulty of accurately forecasting sales and objectively rating opportunities. In addition they often lack the information to monitor and control sales team, or campaign effectiveness.

Meanwhile as organisations involve more people in selling, often from outside the sales team, the issue of co-ordinating activity and preventing overlap or duplication becomes important. The answer to these issues is a sales system.

From our experience successfully moving a sales team from paper to a sales database, or CRM system, can boost efficiency by between of 30 – 40%. However, this advantage will not be easily won.

Why You Need A System

SFA (Sales Force Automation), or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Systems solve these problems by providing:
  1. A central repository for customer, prospect & marketing information
  2. Real time reporting & tracking of activity and effectiveness in terms of; leads, opportunities, accounts, etc.
  3. Sales productivity tools in terms of reporting, scheduling, dairying, etc.
  4. Marketing campaign management (including newsletters and mail outs)
  5. Customer relationship management

How to Spot A Good System
  1. Easy to use: intuitive enough to learn quickly and fast enough to save time.
  2. Add value to the user, help them sell and deliver
  3. Are flexible and display meaningful results within a mouse click
  4. Able to solve day to day problems for the user and is consistent with the way they sell
  5. User led not management led.

Are you Ready for a System

Although the sophistication of even the on demand or hosted systems is impressive, the reality is that there is no turnkey database solution.

So, beware it will take quite an effort to get a database up and running, even the most ‘user friendly’ systems, so it is important to get the timing right. The reality is that you need to double your estimate of the time and effort it will take to get the system up and running and then most crucially get users using it.

Overcoming the Adoption Hurdle

The adoption of sales systems is a major challenge. In short, most users don't use them faithfully. There are lots of reasons for this, but much of it comes down to the failures of planning and implementation, particularly around adoption. Here are some tips:
  1. Ensure people see their own activity and accounts when they log in, not someone else’s
  2. Deploy sales tools gradually, invest time in winning buy-in. Start with a small pioneer group
  3. Pick a sales champion / project manager
  4. Communicate the benefits clearly (less paperwork, more sales opportunities, better time mgt etc.)
  5. Provide lots of training
  6. Heavy on the admin support to start with at least (i.e. import contacts for users, be available to answer queries, put various documents into the system, customize the fields, etc.)
  7. Develop a cheat sheet for training. Highlight why the system will help people and key functions they should use initially
  8. Ensure people at the top are using it (leadership)
  9. Review progress, learn from it
  10. Roll it out in groups
  11. Certify and reward users for using it
  12. Make it part of sales meetings and sales reviews. Ensure it is forward looking
  13. Put it in people’s job descriptions

Sales People: stick to the truth, regardless of the consequences

Salespeople are often caught in a difficult position when it comes to being completely honest with the customer. For example, the buyer asks about certain product functionality, that is not yet available.

Now the functionality is under development, or that it will be developed if the customer signs the order. However, the buyer has asked a straight-forward question: ‘does the product do A?’ Just how should the sales person answer? He could tell the truth and potentially sabotage the sale, or he could lie and say simply answer ‘yes it does’. I would argue that 9 out of 10 sales people will answer ‘yes it does’.

Sales people don’t like to lie any more than anybody else, but faced with the prospect of alienating they buyer they are often called upon to fudge the truth. The only problem is that fudging the truth is something that buyers are increasingly unwilling to accept. Having been sold a ‘pig in a poke’ too many times before they know how to catch sales people out and indeed revel in doing so.

Sales people should stop taking chances on being found out. They should stick to the truth, regardless of the consequences. They should surprise the buyer with refreshing honesty – an honesty that the buyer is likely to repay in spades with trust and respect.

We saw just how powerful this can be in a presentation by one of our clients recently. The prospect had set out a list of requirements and asked competing vendors to present its response. Our client’s sales director listed not just the requirements that could be met immediately (some 60% of the total), the requirements that would require minor customization (a further 25%) and the requirements that would require software code development (the remaining 15%). He also listed the dependencies, addressing upfront the key project risks (such as integration with 3rd party systems), the steps to mediate risk, examples of how this had been achieved in previous projects, and so on. What a breath of fresh air! It immediately indicated trustworthiness and credibility.

Don't Rely on Spreadsheet Forecasts!

10 reasons to ditch your spreadsheets and employ a SFA/CRM system

Increasingly managers complain about the difficulty of accurately predicting what deals will close and when. However in spite of a more complex sales environment, most organisations still rely on spreadsheets to manage opportunities and forecast sales.

This short article outlines 10 reasons why a more sophisticated approach is required.

1. Forecast accuracy inevitably suffers using a spreadsheet because you have only limited visibility, predictability and control in respect of sales (opportunities, accounts, activity, etc.).

A few columns on a spreadsheet are inadequate to describe today’s complex sales.

2. Spreadsheet-based analyses are more subjective because they struggle to adequately communicate how, for example, an opportunity is rated.

Moreover, they don’t map opportunities to your sales process – e.g. has the buying group been identified/covered, has a formal needs analysis been undertaken, has budget status been clarified, etc.

3. Have you got the latest version? It is impossible to keep a spreadsheet based sales forecast or sales campaigns up-to-date. This is compounded with different versions being used across a sales team.

A spreadsheet only gives a snapshot at a point in time and is quickly gone out of date. It is not a collaborative working tool.

4. Spending too much time on reports? Managers who track sales using spreadsheets spend twice as much time in report preparation, so to do their sales teams. This is an inefficient use of time, given that most sales systems will produce reports at the press of a button.

Furthermore, it means that most face to face time between sales managers and their people is spent information gathering and reporting, as opposed to coaching.

5. Sales Meetings involving the use of spreadsheets are grossly inefficient – with updates being made line by line to different accounts, or opportunities for each sales in turn.

That means the sales meeting is caught up with detail that is irrelevant to most of the team and this distracts from the more strategic elements of a sales meeting.

While I am interested in talking about my own opportunities and how they are progressing, I don’t really need to know that the buyer in my colleagues number one account is away on holidays, or his main contact has just returned from a golfing holiday and that the results of the pilot project are being reviewed Thursday week. While it may be interesting to my manager, I would rather be out selling that listening to all that unnecessary detail.

No wonder that meeting involving such protracted opportunity reviews don’t finish on time!

6. Spreadsheets don’t trigger actions in a diary where an action is allocated to an account, or an opportunity and they don’t provide a record of the associated actions, emails, meetings and so on.

7. Managers should have dashboards at hand so that they can review at a glance their pipeline, identify priority accounts, and so on.

8. Too much information in people's heads. Spreadsheets are of little use if a sales manager or a sales person leaves as the understanding behind them is lost.

With growing levels of sales person turnover, it is vital that detailed account, contact and opportunity info is held in a central repository (a sales system, or database), so that it does not vanish when a rep leaves.

9. What does all the information mean? A spreadsheet will struggle to give a sales manager the metrics he/she needs, including the ratio of leads to meetings, or the win rate of proposals.

10. Who is doing what? A spreadsheet won’t adequately tell a sales manager where his sales people were, or should have been was last week, or where he should be next week. It won’t enable him to identify areas where the rep needs coaching either.


Managers want increased visibility, predictability and control in respect of sales. That requires a more systematic approach to leads, meetings, cycles and orders which has outgrown the capabilities of spreadsheet based sales forecasting, or reporting.

Thankfully, this is made possible by a wide variety of sophisticated tools, called Sales Force Automation, or Customer Relationship Management systems. Spreadsheets are not the answer.

October 21, 2009

Think Cost of Buying, Not Cost of Selling!

The cost of selling to an organization is only a fraction of the cost of that organisation’s buying decision. For example where a major buying decision involves 3 competing suppliers, the time that the seller spends with the buyer has to be multiplied by 3, with the buyer allocating time to each of the suppliers involved.
With lengthening and more complex sales cycles, sellers are sensitive to the rising cost of making a sale. However, they don’t give much thought to the costs for the buyer. That is the cost for the buyer of making the purchase decision.
Calculating the Cost of the Buying Process
The table below suggests that the buying decision in respect of a complex sale can easily range between 45,000 and 135,000 depending on the number of managers involved and the length of the buying process. Buying decision C for example takes 6 months for completion, involving 5 managers on the basis of an average of 1 hour per week over that period. The cost of that buying decision could be estimated at 45,000, based on an annual salary cost (including some overhead allocation) of 110,000 per manager.

number of months

number of weeks

number of managers

number of hours pw



cost per day

total cost

What are the implications of costly buying processes?
Complex buying decisions cost more. This has a number of implications for buyer and seller alike, including:

The decision to fully engage in the buying process, is in itself a significant commitment of resources. For this reason it is generally made in stages, with the sponsor in the buying organization first being required to present a justification for a buying decision business case being prepared.

Only a limited number of projects can be evaluated at any one time. This can mean that although a project is of interest, the timing may not presently be right. Vendors must demonstrate to vendors how their projects can impact on the buyer’s immediate business priorities.

Given the cost and time required organisations will want to ‘kill off’ poor projects as early as possible. The vendor may have to do the initial running for a project to gain a sufficient ‘head of steam’.

Organisations are standardizing the approach to the making of buying decisions, including standard steps to be followed, templates for documents to be prepared, etc. This serves to makes the process more repeatable and consistent, thereby saving time.

Involving another supplier in the process costs money, after all 3 suppliers means 3 briefings, 3 presentations, 3 proposals, etc. So involving a supplier does represent a real commitment of time and effort. Of course there is also the potential embarrassment cost if including a particular supplier proves a mistake.

Buyers will inevitably want to limit the time / cost of the buying process, that means being judicious about time spent with sellers. When sellers want access to all the stakeholders they need to be conscious of the fact that this represents an additional draw on their time and adds to the cost of the decision.

Buyers want to get something back for the time spent with vendors. OK they may need to meet with vendor C because their internal process requires 3 vendor quotes, but if each vendor required 20-40 hours of time (including the briefings, the presentations, the proposals, the ongoing communication, etc.).

Once a vendor has been selected, it makes sense for the buyer to want to develop and deepen that relationship, as opposed to going through the entire process again. When customer defect to another supplier they face real switching costs related to the process of evaluating, educating and learning to trust another vendor.

How to save the buyer’s time?

Sellers often express concern about buyers placing ‘unreasonable’ demands on them during the sales process. That is expecting the seller to spend lots of up front time without any commitment on the buyer’s part. This is a valid concern. However, to be fair sellers must also consider the burden that they place on buyers.

The salesperson in helping the buyer to buy, seeks not only to help the buyer make the right decision, but also to cut the cost, or burden of making the decision in itself. He, or she has the potential to free up, as opposed to tying-up the buyer’s time. So here are the rules to follow:

  1. Always obey the rules regarding access, don’t go over or around others to get to who you want
  2. In order to ensure you access the right people, map the buying process to the organisational chart to identify you need to meet.
  3. Tell them why you want to meet, ask them what they want to get from it and set a clear agenda in advance.
  4. Take advantage of other forum for interacting with those managers of interest, for example, industry association events, conferences, etc.
  5. Use access sparingly and plan it to get the most from any time you have with stakeholders. That includes meeting at the right time and when the objectives or value of doing is at its most. For example, make sure you have your initial briefing, or scoping completed first.
  6. Click here for the rest of the rules for access.

So, the salesperson must minimize the draw on the buyers time, while at the same time maximizing the buyer’s return on each sales encounter.

October 02, 2009

How Are You Going to Pay The Buyer For His, or Her Time?

How are you going to pay the buyer for his or her time in meeting with you?  Just what will the reward be?

What is Your Return On Sales Encounter
The challenge is not just to demonstrate the benefits of your products and services, but also the benefits for the buyer of even meeting with you.  After all, the meeting has not been free!

Calculating the Cost of the Sales Meeting
Many sales managers have calculated the cost of a sales call and even a sales cycle. The figures can be frightening. However, few have stopped to consider the buyer’s costs and what he or she is getting in return! We call it the Return On Sales Encounter.

Return on Sales Encounter
Imagine the buyer took a calculator in hand and calculated the return on an encounter with a salesperson, starting with the cost of a meeting in the first instance and the inevitable follow up emails and calls that will result!

     Buyer's Direct       Cost of
     Salary Cost           1 Hour
     60,000                    47
     80,000                    63
     100,000                  78
     150,000                117

So, you have just cost the buyer anywhere between 47 and 117 euro, dollars, or pounds depending on how senior he, or she is. But of course that has just covered his direct salary cost, so his, or her encounter with you has to be worth a lot more than that!

Have you been worth it?
Now of course, very few buyers will do the maths, but that does not suggest that they are not acutely aware of the value of their time. There are not enough hours in the day and there are lots of other things that the buyer could have been doing instead of meeting with you. Not least of which is dealing with the many emails and voice mails that are now waiting.

How to Buy Yourself More Time?

It is time to show your value, to demonstrate your worth. So, tell the buyer something that he, or she did not know, or knew but had forgotten about. Instead of delivering your features and benefits pitch, share an insight that is relevant to the performance of his, or her business. Tell him, or her what his competitors and peers are doing and the implications, or lessons to learned.

What else is required?  Well, recognize the value of his, or her time. Don’t take up an more of it than is necessary. That includes not calling, or emailing unless you have some value to offer, that is something interesting and useful to say. It means that if you say your meeting is going to last for 40 minutes, keep it to 40 minutes.

If that is too difficult, then just write the buyer a check for him, or her time instead!

Buyers Cringe as Telemarketing Numbers Rise

I talked to a manager in one of the leading telemarketing agencies today. He told me of new offices opening worldwide and the addition of hundreds of new telemarketers. Needless I wished him and his team well. It was the only polite thing to do. However, privately I shuddered. Here is what I was really thinking – 'great another couple of hundred cold calling telemarketers is exactly what the world’s buyer DON'T need!'

At the same time many of our clients have been very slow to wean away from their dependence on traditional lead generation methods and in particular cold calling. That is in spite of the fact that response rates for the past 12 months have been falling beneath the floor.

The reality is that those who are depending on cold calling and telemarketing to generate new prospects and new customers are in for a world of pain. To those managers we say ‘take the next cold call that comes into your business and see how you like it!’

Like it, or not the telemarketer is the first causality of the buying revolution. The good news is that there are lots of alternatives that are much more effective and much more buyer friendly. Also there are a great number of ways to warm up even the coldest of calls.