Monday, January 31, 2011

Sales Prospecting Techniques: How Winners Prospect

If you are currently in a situation with a weak pipeline and few, if any, resources available to generate leads for you, you may have to do what so many salespeople avoid, and that is to prospect!
Effective prospecting is a critical component of sustainable sales success. However, prospecting is not selling. You may be a well-trained and/or experienced salesperson. But your training may not have included prospecting. Or perhaps you never prospected at all. In either case, read on.

The output of prospecting is a list of qualified leads that may buy your product or service. Selling begins only after a lead is categorized as qualified. If you start selling too early, you run the risk of pigeonholing your products and services before you have the opportunity to understand your prospect's requirements. That generally leads to commoditization--where price becomes the most important buying criteria.

Winners understand that, as with effective selling, prospecting should not be done by the seat of one's pants. You need a plan. That means an objective assessment of your situation, a goal, and resulting strategies and tactics to achieve that goal. So if you aren't comfortable with prospecting or haven't had to do it, I would like to share with you my plan that has worked for many of those winners:

When designing a prospecting process you'll need to take a comprehensive as well as objective look at your individual situation. Here are eight of the considerations for filling the "new business" pipeline:
  • What are the key characteristics of your territory? Customers, references, competition, supplier market share, etc.
  • Where and how does your product or service best fit? In which companies, markets, geographies?
  • To what degree is your company name or brand recognized by your potential market?
  • How effective have you been at prospecting? Do you have the skills, tools, and determination to make it work? Has your company provided the training you need?
  • What have been your traditional sources of business leads: blind RFPs, referrals, networking, business partners, your company's telemarketing function? What statistics can you find that will provide you with guidance on where your efforts should be best invested?
  • What has been your conversion rate? That is how many leads does it take to create a new customer?
  • How much potential business is out there for you, based upon your analysis of your territory?
  • What are your current time commitments to customers, internal meetings, etc.? Realistically, how much time can you dedicate to prospecting?
There is a new business revenue number to which you must commit --to your management and to yourself. You must be convinced, based upon your assessment, that this goal is achievable.

Winners will typically devise a number of strategies, which together provide the how--as in, "How am I going to achieve my goal of $3.5 million in new business this year?" Here are my 14 proven strategies:
  • Improve the skills you determined were weak in your assessment.
  • Ask every key person in every existing, satisfied customer for ideas on where you might find new business opportunities. It's important to reassure your existing customer that any new opportunities will not take away from the attention and value you provide to them now or in the future.
  • Target a list of say, fifty companies. You must be able to justify why every company is on that list based upon the situation assessment that you performed.
  • Commit to prospecting two to eight hours every week, depending on your pipeline. Lock in that time in advance and build the rest of your schedule around those regular sessions. Have (or find a way to have) the discipline to stick with your plan.
  • Qualify, qualify, qualify! I've seen salespeople waste incredible amounts of time trying to convince prospects to buy something from them without ever really asking the tough questions. A few of the key criteria in obtaining your leads are: identification of decision makers, current supplier situation, their financial situation, decision timeframe, and price as a buying criterion. Remember, "Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell."
  • Commit to following up. Lots of opportunities are lost because the salesperson gets distracted or simply does not keep on top of potential business opportunities. Have your follow-up materials at hand and make sure you record next steps into your calendar, CRM software or contact manager.
  • Make prospecting a quality, not a quantity effort. Sure, you are going to have to make a certain number of contacts, by phone, by mail, in person to come up with one good lead, but if you focus on activity rather that productivity, you'll be left with very little for your efforts. After all, you most probably don't get paid for the number of calls you make. You get paid for how much you sell.
  • Make it a practice to do some research on every company which you target to prospect. Winners look for information about the key executives as well. There is plenty of valuable information about this and other strategies listed in my archives. Click here to view past issues.
  • Get your messages and talking points down cold. Those messages must include value statements that will provoke interest or action at each level of contact you have with an organization. Don't be afraid to use a script. However, if you do, make sure you are so familiar with it that it absolutely does not sound as though you are reading it.
  • Decide in advance whether you are going to leave a voicemail message for people you can't reach and what that voicemail will contain.
  • Be prepared. Make sure you know and have responses to all the common objections posed by your potential customers. Those should gracefully be turned into benefits wherever possible.
  • Provide value at every point of contact. Think: Why should this person speak with me, provide me with information, meet with me, buy from me?
  • Take notes. Record key points. It will improve your efficiency and build your credibility with prospects when, during the next call, you can recite what they said last time.
  • Invest the time for tracking and measurement. You can't improve what you don't measure.
Tactics are the actions, tasks, efforts you have to take to execute your strategies. I suggested above that improving key skills required for prospecting might be a necessary strategy. Planning, questioning, listening, Internet research, relationship building, networking, and telephone skills are all critical for effective prospecting. If you are not where you'd like to be in any of these, or other areas, put a plan together to get the required education, training, or coaching. If you don't, you are limiting your success and your income.

If you don't like to prospect or have convinced yourself that you can't do it effectively, get out of your comfort zone and try the approach I outlined above. It will make you money!

Thanks to Dave Stein  of Side Road for his insights.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sales Tips: Using Influence to sell

Selling is fundamentally a question of the influence of mind over mind.
If you as a salesperson exercise no influence whatsoever upon the mind of your customer, but the customer does all the deciding, you are not a real salesperson. You are an order taker.
There is a certain proper influence that every mind may have over every other mind. This influence arises from strong personal character, from a knowledge of products and services, and from a knowledge of the science of selling. Your character, knowledge, and abilities can be improved and strengthened in the interest of your work (and career as a salesperson). First, let us clearly understand the distinction between proper mind-control, and hypnotism or other forms of mesmeric influence.
Proper mind-control:  If you arrange your thought and presentation logically, so as to lead your customer into the proper attitude toward your products or services, you are well within your rights. So is the salesperson who introduces new and overwhelming arguments, and he who studies methods of so impressing his personality on a customer as to inspire confidence.
Certainly you can’t justly criticize a salesperson for studying his customer’s face and manner in such as way as to find out the exact minute when he would be most likely to consent to a purchase, or for any other studious effort to learn exactly when to urge his strongest points. The salesperson must learn when his argument is at its best, and, conversely, when the customer’s mind is in its most receptive condition. That is the minute for action. You must be able to recognize it when it comes, and must practice every possible method of bringing it about. You must compel the buyer to minimize any objections in his mind and to become enthusiastic over the advantages that you have presented. This is proper and legitimate mind-control. It has nothing to do with hypnotism, mesmerism, making a sale to an intoxicated or demented person, or any other unfair method of taking advantage of an abnormal condition of the buyer’s mind.
The following are examples of legitimate mind-control:
  • A salesperson finds a buyer opposed to his product because he does not understand its features (and benefits). A simple explanation of benefits compels the buyer to change his mind.
  • A salesperson finds that a buyer is impulsive and enthusiastic. He therefore describes his products enthusiastically and secures the order “on the spur of the moment.”
  • A salesperson finds it difficult to secure the buyer’s signature to an order. He watches his customer’s face until it shows a keen interest, then hands him pen and paper with a request to sign, at exactly the right moment.
  • A salesperson learns that his customer is inclined to favor those salespeople for whom he has a personal relationship. He therefore cultivates a feeling of friendship between himself and his customer, and uses it to secure an order.
These are simple examples, but they make the meaning clear. You will no doubt be able to add many similar examples from your own knowledge, such as the use, at the proper time, of the names of well-known customers of yours.
The formula for developing a mind control is very simple. It is a study of the five senses and the manner in which they influence the mind, and a constant effort to apply in practice what you have learned.
 Thanks to Alen Majer who writes on the art of selling

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Technology for Business: 5 significant trends for 2011

Scot Finnie is the Editor in Chief for Computer World. He is an outstanding thought leader in technology and below we have posted his trends for 2011.
Would you recognize a significant IT business trend if you saw one? Over the years, many products, technologies and IT-related business trends have been hyped beyond their significance. But the killers are the ones that go unnoticed and wind up being transformational. It's difficult to know the difference, but there's an old journalism adage: Follow the money. With that in mind, here are five things to keep an eye on as we march toward 2011.
1. The recession is transformational. Since late 2008, many companies facing reduced top-line growth have eked out profits with deep cuts. In many cases, those savings have been held aside, awaiting the right moment. Odds are, that moment will come in 2011. For IT shops, business growth could require new technology, but additional IT resources may not be added as quickly. Senior IT leaders should be planning now how to meet the demands of anxious CEOs with smaller staffs and shorter timelines.
2. The spotlight remains on cost-saving technologies. Given the recession, it's no surprise that virtualization, the head-slappingly obvious money-saver that was hot well before the recession, is even hotter now. A year ago, Gartner named it the No. 1 technology for 2010, based on a survey of CIOs. I'd put it there again for 2011, followed by cloud computing , software as a service and, to a lesser degree, business analytics.
In Computerworld's Forecast 2011 survey, respondents said cloud computing is the most overhyped technology, but they also said it's No. 2 on the list of technologies with the most promise for 2011. Both sentiments are true. Cloud computing holds even more potential for cost savings than virtualization, but is it ready for prime time? And cost savings might not even be the cloud's main advantage. Its biggest benefit might be the fact that it makes it possible to provision server and storage capacity quickly. 
3. Mobile is exploding. Everyone can see this. But are IT shops focused on the management, support and security challenges that come with mobile computing? A huge percentage of employees are bringing personal quick-access storage devices to work and putting sensitive documents and e-mails on them. And here come tablets. Over 30 new tablets were announced or delivered in 2010, and they're inexpensive enough that a lot of people are buying them.
4. Software is undergoing rapid change. Take the public-cloud phenomenon and stir in largely Web-based mobile applications, and you'll see the start of a software trend that could transform the way we work. When you connect meaningful enterprise data to tablet computers served via your data center, private cloud or hybrid cloud, you've got a transformational technology. For years we've been trying to unchain knowledge workers from their desks so they can interact with one another and work wherever they go. There is a potential to create near-real-time business communication without us having to work at that full time. The days of large, monolithic, LAN-connected, proprietary enterprise apps are numbered
5. Enterprise 2.0 will run its course. Crowdsourcing information (the real value of Web 2.0 for the enterprise) is a powerful tool. It's a simple way to help us avoid starting every new undertaking from scratch. It shapes ideas and provides valuable insights. And it's on its way to becoming pervasive. But it's not a technology; it's more like a business strategy. The hype surrounding Web 2.0 technologies will die down, and business use of these tools won't be thought of as a key trend in 2011.
Scot Finnie is Computerworld's editor in chief. You can contact him at, and follow him on Twitter (@ScotFinnie).

Monday, January 24, 2011

Saugatuck Releases New Study on SaaS, PaaS and IaaS Trends Through 2015

Growth in Cloud IT continues unabated, with the emergence of hybrid application architectures.

Today's economic situation continues to favor the Cloud, driven by businesses that are reshaping themselves. The Cloud - including IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and Cloud Services - will drive increasing business and IT activity, resulting in hybrid architectures to manage and a new Cloud IT mission. Through 2015, SaaS will continue to dominate IT spending, including social networking and mobility solutions - key aspects of the boundary-free enterprise.

These core findings serve as the foundation of the latest research study from Saugatuck Technology Inc., titled "Key SaaS, PaaS and IaaS Trends Through 2015 - Business Transformation via the Cloud." Released today via Saugatuck's Website, the study builds on analysis of global survey data, on interviews with experienced user organization executives, and insights from leading Cloud providers, to build a realistic, working model of Cloud IT adoption, evolution and, most importantly, its transformative effect upon enterprises large and small.

"Cloud adoption has been to date mostly a point-solution phenomenon, and we know from every previous instance of IT that point solutions cost more in the long run," according to Saugatuck VP and Distinguished Analyst Mike West, the report's lead author. "If IT, Finance, and business leaders can see how and where Cloud IT has the potential for transforming their businesses, they can manage it strategically and, in the short term, take advantage of the cost efficiencies. In this report, we have presented scenarios for Cloud IT adoption through 2015. And we deliver guidance to user executives as well as to providers of Cloud IT and traditional IT as to how best to manage the Cloud's potential, both present and future."

Find below a representative list of the study's key findings: 
  • By 2015, there will remain no business computing category that hasn't moved to the Cloud - with 65 percent or more of all NEW business application / solution decisions Cloud-based or Hybrid by 2015.
  • The hybrid business portfolio will be dominated by Cloud solutions in 2015, as the on-premise segment transforms from the driver of transactions to the repository of business data.
  • While Cloud-based development, or PaaS, will be somewhat slow to emerge, SaaS will remain the dominant Cloud delivery model through 2014, as enterprises of all shapes and sizes transition to a new way of managing their application portfolios.
  • Pervasive mobility and social networking together will change the landscape of enterprise SaaS and Cloud Business Solutions.
  • By 2012, many of the fears associated with IaaS (lack of standards, transaction and data/security integrity) are resolved, with customers realizing that its value lies less with cost savings and more with agility (for large enterprises), and service levels and compliance (for SMBs).
  • Through 2014, 65 percent of Private Cloud deployments will be packaged vendor offerings delivered as a drop-in appliance.
  • Over time, enterprise portfolios will become workflow-driven hybrids of Cloud and on premise data and functionality that are monitored, measured and managed to meet enterprise performance objectives.
  • System Integrators of all sizes and flavors will increasingly be the key drivers of innovation in terms of enabling enterprise customers to migrate new and existing workloads and make their Cloud solutions work effectively.
  • As enterprise customers of IT in the Cloud transform themselves, exploiting new Cloud capabilities, their counterparts in the IT industry will also undergo transformation as their business models and partnering relationships change.
This 25+ page research report is available immediately to clients of Saugatuck’s premium Continuous Research Service (CRS), or can be purchased by non-clients from Saugatuck’s Website by clicking here.

About Saugatuck Technology
Saugatuck Technology, Inc. provides subscription research and management consulting services focused on the key market trends and disruptive technologies driving change in enterprise IT, including SaaS, Cloud Infrastructure, Open Source and Enterprise Social Computing, among others. Founded in 1999,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

CRM Adoption: Why, What & How to Adopt CRM

Most sales organizations leverage some type of CRM (customer relationship management) system to help manage their business activities. And, like any process or system, there are some employees who embrace and adopt and others who don’t.

Initiatives to implement and/or upgrade CRM systems for both B2B and B2C sales teams are different based on the company and industry however many of the CRM adoption challenges seem to be the same.

There are three key questions that need to be answered if you’ve been asked to drive a CRM adoption project at your company:

1) Find out why Reps are not adopting the system today
2) Define what “adoption” means for your company
3) Create a phased in, plan of action to drive adoption

1) Find Out Why Sales Reps Don’t Adopt The System

If you’ve been asked to improve adoption of a CRM system at your company, your first step should be determining why Reps are not using it today. The real root causes for lack of adoption. We recommend setting up some focus groups with sales reps, sales managers and internal business partners like IT and Marketing and talk about the system- both what’s working and what’s not.

It's important not to rely on only anecdotal comments of just a few employees. They may not speak for the majority. Instead meet with a large enough sampling, to truly get your arms around the problem. Ask them to be as specific as possible.

Here are three key reasons we have heard why sales reps don’t adopt: 1) The existing system is too time consuming to use, 2) The employees have a fear of being watched and/or 3) The Sales management team does not participate or actually use the systems themselves.

Some sales teams find the CRM process counter productive, as it takes them away from what they enjoy most- selling – and instead fills their time with data entry and administrative processes. Every company and sale team is unique. Take the time to find out the obstacles for and against CRM adoption at your company.

2) Clearly Define What CRM Implementation Is

Most CRM systems have thousands of features and vast functionality, but only a portion may be leveraged or apply to your business model. Before you can drive adoption, you must define adoption. Discuss these questions with your key stakeholders: What specific CRM behaviors do you expect, when and by whom? What behaviors are most important? What do you want managers to do and what do you want reps to do? What are the business results you expect from full CRM adoption? How will CRM support your business strategy?

As the leader of a CRM adoption initiative, answering these questions is critical, so you can tie your plan of action to the business needs and achieve the desired results.

3) Create and Implement a CRM Adoption Plan

Now that you know the causes for lack of CRM adoption, the definition of adoption in your company and what business results you are trying to drive with CRM, you’re ready to create and implement your CRM adoption plan.

There are many steps you can take to drive adoption, which include:
Lastly and most importantly, lean on your CRM Partner for support. We know that with our customers, we find that when we support them through the journey, the adoption rate is higher and the implementation is smoother.

Happy Selling!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sales Planning: How To Develop A 2011 Sales Plan

Didn’t we just write a sales plan? We worked like crazy people to end the year in grand style while celebrating the Holidays with friends and family. Who has the time to write a sales plan for 2011? I urge you to find the time if you expect to keep your sales job. Besides, I’m here to help you write a successful sales plan for 2011.
Let’s not just write a 2011 sales plan for the sake of having one. Instead, let’s develop a 2011 sales plan that is truly a working document. Your 2011 Sales Plan should be a road map to a successful 2011 sales year.
There a many sections in a sales plan for 2011 but truly only two questions need to be answered.
  • What Do You Plan To Achieve In 2011?
  • How Do You Plan To Achieve It?
Develop a 2011 sales plan around realistic goals. Your sales goals may consider some of the following…
  • % Of Quota
  • Revenue Attainment
  • Employee Turnover
  • Churn Rate
  • Sales Activity
  • Close Rate
  • Funnel Levels
  • Forecasting Accuracy
This list could go on forever. I urge you decide what’s important and focus on those goals in your 2011 sales plan. That’s how to develop a 2011 sales plan that can and will achieve its sales goals.

How To Develop A 2011 Sales Plan
Use this data in your 2011 sales plan to plan for year over year improvement. If you ended 2010 at 101% of quota, you may have a realistic goal/projection of attaining 110% in 2011.
Now the hard part… What will you do to in 2011 to gain those nine extra percentage points?

What Should Be In A 2011 Sales Plan
Most reps and sales managers simply explain away extra productivity with plans to increase activity. Instead of 8 new appointments every week, the new sales plan for 2011 call for 10 new appointments a week. How weak is that? Let’s get real and develop a solid 2011 sales plan.
Use training and development in your 2011 sales plan as a tool to achieve your new sales goals.

How To Write A Sales Plan For 2011
You’ll close more sales if you have more qualified prospects. Institute sales prospecting training as a way to get more qualified prospects. You’ll close more sales if you improve your close rate. Improve your close rate with improved sales strategies. This is the type of sales training that must be part of your 2011 sales plan.
Improve your team’s sales skills and you’ll be sure to pick up those nine extra quota attainments points. Ensure your team has the skills to master the sales process. This should be a key point in any solid 2011 Sales Plan.
I urge you to include employee development in your 2011 sales plan.

Plan for great sales success in 2011!

Thanks to The National Sales Centre for their insights on this topic.