Category Archives: Sales Process

Salesforce is a round hole!

Square Peg Round HoleAre you still jamming your square peg business model into Salesforce?

Same stuff, different day.

Every time I speak with a contract Salesforce Administrator they tell me the same thing. “My client bought and implemented Salesforce and I’ve been hired to make it work.”

If you read this Blog regularly, then let me apologize for repeating myself. But there are many Salesforce customers who need to hear it multiple times apparently.

Salesforce is no different than any other computer application your company uses to automate a process. Therefore, processes need to be defined before implementing Salesforce.

It is imperative to take your well thought out sales strategy, create a sales plan that includes a sales process, and only then write a customization specification for Salesforce.

If your Salesforce implementation is not meeting your expectations, you need more than a Salesforce Administrator, you need to re-examine and document your strategy, plan and process.

What Do Software Development & Sales Have in Common?

Technical Debt

Technical Debt you keep using that wordI’ve had an epiphany. I attended a presentation on Technical Debt. As I listened to the speaker discuss how software code development processes can cause Technical Debt, I thought that the topic was interesting, but not really relevant to SalesClinic or our clients. Unfortunately, I’ve worked with companies that have had significant Technical Debt without even knowing it. My epiphany hit on the drive home from the event.

Wikipedia defines Technical Debt as “a neologistic metaphor referring to the eventual consequences of poor system design, software architecture or software development within a codebase. The debt can be thought of as work that needs to be done before a particular job can be considered complete or proper. If the debt is not repaid, then it will keep on accumulating interest, making it hard to implement changes later on. Unaddressed technical debt increases software entropy.”

So what does this have to do with Sales? Everything.

Think about your Salesforce automation (SFA) system. In most cases we find that Sales or Sales Operations departments identify and implement these applications rather than making a request of the CIO. In implementing a SFA, screens are customized, reports are written and processes are defined. These implementations usually don’t keep up with the evolving business model or sales process learnings that are realized every day.

At some point in the future, use of SFAs by the Sales Team start to decline. Managers find that their reports don’t accurately represent reality. Things start falling through the cracks. That’s when the Technical Debt comes due.

Because the SFA has not kept up with the changes that the company’s market has dictated to the revenue generation process, it is forced to embark on an expensive and time consuming project of updating the SFA. To complicate things further, the user community needs to be resold on the use of the SFA and re-trained. This effects on-going adoption and has its own costs as well.

From a non-technical perspective, Technical Debt can be applied to Sales Strategy and Sales Processes as well. Even before considering the effect of change on your SFA, you must consider if the steps a sales rep takes to sell your product are still valid. Has the market moved forward but your sales process hasn’t been adjusted to meet the market’s demands?

Consider a newspaper sales team. From the late ‘90’s to today newspapers have evolved into media companies. They provide multiple marketing opportunities for local businesses that may have nothing to do with a print advertisement. Digital marketing solutions should now be part of every conversation between a sales rep and their prospect.

This evolution changes the Sales Process and therefore the SFA implementation. Not keeping up with your process changes and associated SFA customization equals debt. Take the time to start servicing that debt yourself or with outside help. Don’t have the same epiphany I just had when you can’t afford to pay the interest and principle.

Good help is hard to find…

Wanted-Good-HelpI say, “Nay, nay”.

It’s great leadership that’s hard to find.  Good people want to work for inspirational leaders.

Good help is in fact, easy to find.  It’s convincing them to work for you that’s difficult.  I have found that sourcing, hiring and retaining good talent is directly proportionate to the level of leadership in the company.  Great leaders understand that “greatness” is fleeting and therefore know how to inspire greatness when needed.  Talented staffs are motivated to do great things.  None of us are “great” every day.  Think of those who were farmers one day and then heroes on the battlefield the next.  They were inspired to be great by circumstance, dedication to a cause, and great leadership. No soldier ever enlisted because of the pay.   Sure, everyone goes to work for a buck, but motivation and inspiration trump compensation every time.

When I was a young man of 15, I went to work for a McDonald’s franchise for $1.65 per hour.  Sure, I needed the money for summertime fun, but there was much more to working there than donning a crew hat.  McDonald’s strived to build a culture of competition, a culture of understanding.  For me, it became a challenge.  Why?  I can attribute it to one inspiring leader… Lou G.

Lou G. was a regional manager who came to me one day and said, “Son, thank you for working so hard for us.  I want you to understand though, that we want you to work ‘smarter’, not ‘harder’”.  That one inspirational exchange led me to understand that the culture of the company valued my thinking more highly than my ability to “flip burgers”.  From then on, I went to work every day trying to impress Lou G. with my creative ideas.  The notion that my “mind” was the reason they hired me made me feel incredibly valuable.  Of course a raise every now and then was helpful, but what I really craved was Lou G.’s nod of approval.

So before you hold that meeting giving your sales team the “what for” because of underperformance; before you chastise your recruiters for sourcing sub-par candidates, take a closer look at your sales management team.  If they are more comfortable submitting reports; more at ease with attending meetings, they will likely never lead anyone to greatness.  If you can’t identify inspiring and motivational leaders among them, then you have discovered why good help is hard to find.

Making the shift from “transactional” to “consultative” selling.

Blog Change ImageI spent 7 years as VP Sales at an enterprise mobile app platform vendor. We partnered with both global and regional wireless carriers. I personally participated in numerous sales calls with the wireless sales teams in the SMB market.

The carrier Enterprise reps, who handled Fortune level prospects and customers, were consultative sales reps selling a complete solution. However the wireless field reps were more transactional in nature. It was all about selling another device or data plan rather than building a comprehensive mobile solution that included devices, data plans, EMM and apps.  If the wireless reps were going to differentiate themselves from the other wireless carriers, they needed to transition to consultative selling techniques.

This isn’t the only industry that’s had to make this transition. The newspaper industry is in the throes of this change. Historically they’ve sold print ads as transactions. Especially the Auto reps. But now they need to sell marketing campaigns that include print, digital, email, etc.

This move to consultative selling is a significant culture change for legacy sales reps that are used to transactional sales.

How prepared are your sales reps to make the move to consultative solution sales?

Understanding how your reps sell and ensuring the transition is successful is all about process. It’s also all about you, the Sales Manager.

What is your sales process? Is it documented? Have your reps been trained in both the process and strategy behind it? Are you managing to your sales process? Does your CRM properly represent it?

When a detailed sales process, that is supported by a well communicated sales strategy, is delivered to sales reps and monitored by effective sales managers, the transition from transactional to consultative sales becomes easier for everyone.