I N ST I T U T E O F SA L E S M A N AG E M E N T
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Mind your mental health ... and superpower your performance with the ISM Stress in Sales initiative
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BESMA 2019 NOMINATE NOW! Nominations are open for the British Excellence in Sales Management Awards (BESMA) 2019
l A BESMA trophy represents the UK’s highest level of recognition for outstanding sales achievement and highlights organisations that demonstrate best practice in sales l The awards acknowledge the vital role sales professionals play in today’s fast-moving business arena – and motivate them to produce more sales. BESMA offers employers an opportunity to demonstrate the value they place on their top individual salespeople and teams. And BESMA helps raise the profile of professional selling l Anyone can put forward themselves, another individual, or a sales team for a BESMA. There is no limit on the number of entries. Simply select the appropriate categories and complete an entry form for each l Accepted nominations will go through to a BESMA Judging Day on 11 or 12 September, under the direction of Head Judge, Kerry Nutley
The BESMA dinner and awards presentation ceremony will take place on 15 November at Wembley Stadium
Categories l Best Employer l Corporate L&D Team of the Year l Customer Service Team of the Year l External Sales Team of the Year l Innovation in Sales Technology l Key Account Manager of the Year l Lifetime Achievement l Rising Star of the Year l Sales Development Programme of the Year l Sales Director of the Year l Sales Manager of the Year l Sales Professional of the Year l Sales Support Team of the Year l Sales Team of the Year (over 50) l Sales Team of the Year (under 50) l Sales Training Provider of the Year l Student of the Year l Telesales Team of the Year
To book your places or for more information, contact Adam Brook, ISM Head of Marketing Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3870 4949
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WINNINGEDGE NUMBER 2 – 2019 ismprofessional.com
3 ISM Editorial
22 Tools of the sales trade
Marc Beishon provides an extensive round-up of software applications for salespeople and managers
The latest ISM views and initiatives
5 Sales Talk Sales industry news and research
6 Smarter Selling Institute of Sales Management 18 King William Street London EC4N 7BP Telephone: +44 (0)20 3870 4949 Email: email@example.com Website: ismprofessional.com Chief Operating Officer: Roger Bradburn Director: Thomas Moverley Corporate Account Director: Dave Millichap Head of Marketing: Adam Brook Head of Membership: Rachael Bourke Editorial: Marc Beishon, Tom Nash Design: Del Gentleman Advertising: Adam Brook Telephone: +44 (0)20 3870 4949 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Printed by: Ridgeway Press © ISM 2019. Opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by the ISM. The publishers endeavour to check all facts and figures prior to publication, but are not responsible for errors in material supplied to them for publication. Any article published will automatically be deemed to carry the sole copyright and be the property of the ISM. International Standard Serial No. UK ISSN 1746-6849
How to get more from your sales kick-offs; why public sector bids make sense; explaining the “flow” philosophy of leadership
9 Tools for the job What’s new in smart solutions for tech-savvy sales professionals?
10 Cover story: mental health The ISM launches Stress in Sales, a new initiative based on in-depth member research, described by ISM partner Zoë Douglas-Judson
16 Breathing underwater Ruta Misiunaite explains some of her key personal strategies for managing excess sales stress
20 Sorting wheat from chaff Richard Hilton on how to get smarter on lead generation
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28 Innovation insights
The true value of new products and features lies in the mind of the customer, argues Peter Colman
32 So, you think you’re busy?
Richard Higham and Alan Timothy on the importance of achieving the optimum level of sales activity
36 Creating value
Stacey Danheiser presents ways to boost the sales experience to uncover more customer value
40 Proposal blessing or curse?
There can be pros and cons to bid libraries, says Sarah Hinchliffe
44 Learning from experience
Rachael Bourke gains feedback from an ISM mentor and mentee
48 ISM profile Peter Colman of Simon-Kucher WINNING EDGE 1
EVENTS 2019 THE ISM OFFERS AND SUPPORTS A RICH VARIETY OF EVENTS FOR SALES PROFESSIONALS
ur programme of events offers unique O learning and networking opportunities to sales professionals at all levels
he ISM also works closely with other T professional bodies and selected commercial partners to provide the most topical events programme to both our members and the wider sales profession
isted below is a selection of forthcoming L dates for your diary
For the most up-to-date information on all ISM and ISM-supported events, visit ismprofessional.com/events
ISM 30-MINUTE WEBINARS 18 April 23 April 25 April 2 May 23 May 25 July 24 Sept
11am 11am 11am 11am 11am 11am 11am
Personal development essentials, Part 1: how to set quality goals Personal development essentials, Part 2: how to create an effective plan Marginal gains to improve outcomes as a sales leader Personal development essentials, Part 3: how to find the time Essential sales skills needed to succeed in the construction industry How to help employees find meaning in work Lack of pipeline: the No 1 reason you are not hitting quota
Ruta Misiunaite Ruta Misiunaite Ian Moyse Ruta Misiunaite Stella Dixon Andre Andersen Steve Burton
ISM REGIONAL EVENTS ISM Regional Events have been created to ensure that ISM members get maximum engagement with, and benefit from, the ISM wherever they are located. They provide an active forum for members from a diverse range of industries, organisations and sales disciplines to network, exchange views and share best practice with their peers. Members are free to attend as many events as they wish. Non-members are welcome to attend one group meeting, but will then be required to join the ISM to continue. To find details of events around the country – and catch up with our Regional Events blog – visit ismprofessional.com/events
BRITISH EXCELLENCE IN SALES MANAGEMENT AWARDS (BESMA) 2019
NATIONAL SALES CONFERENCE 2019
Nominations are now open!
NSC19 will again be co-located with the National Sales Exhibition at the Ricoh. This year, the event will host five conference streams for different sales roles, including Leadership, L&D, Academy, Inside Sales, and Graduate – aimed at rising sales stars – which launched successfully in 2018. Visit nsconference.co.uk
A BESMA trophy represents the UK’s highest level of recognition for outstanding sales achievement and highlights organisations that demonstrate best practice in sales. Anyone can put forward themselves, another individual, or a sales team for a BESMA. There is no limit on the number of entries. Simply select the appropriate categories, which are listed on the inside front cover of this edition, and complete an entry form for each.
11/12 September – BESMA Judging Day 15 November – BESMA dinner and presentations Visit ismprofessional.com for the latest BESMA news
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28 November – Ricoh Arena, Coventry
20% ISM member discount
For the most up-to-date information on all ISM and ISM-supported events, visit: ismprofessional.com/events
INSTITUTE OF SALES MANAGEMENT | EDITORIAL
NEW AND VIEWS FROM THE ISM TOM MOVERLEY reports on the ISM’s stress in sales survey and other themes in this issue of Winning Edge
ow stressed do you feel in your job? Sales has always been a highpressure environment but arguably there are more demands on us than ever as we approach the end of the second decade of the 21st century in terms of the pace of life, the impact of technology and always being available on your mobile, and aspects such as rising house prices, which have made life planning much more difficult, especially for younger people. In tandem, there has been an increase in people with degrees of mental ill health, which the government has recognised in promising to reform the Mental Health Act under health secretary Matt Hancock, who points out that one in four people are affected by mental ill health at some point in their lives, and that, “It is more important than ever that we put mental and physical health on an equal footing.”. We are playing our part with our survey on stress in sales and recommendations for creating and maintaining a supportive workplace environment (see page 10), and feel sure Matt Hancock would approve, given his thoughts about the value of Britain’s salesforce when we interviewed him for Winning Edge when he was minister for skills and enterprise. You can read more about my thoughts on this initiative on page 13, and we also have a complementary feature by Ruta Misiunaite on how to develop a personal strategy for working in a highly stressful profession. Ruta shares three key elements that will help you “breathe underwater”, as she puts it. A related initiative is the ISM Mentor Scheme, which you can also read about in this issue (page 45). This is a new programme for us and you can see ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
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“We are playing our part at the ISM with our survey on stress in sales” how two people got on in our pilot phase, account manager Matt Baller, who has been mentored by Anna Britnor Guest. As Matt says, mentoring is not a sign of weakness and organisations should normalise it. Anna reports that it’s a fantastic ISM membership benefit, providing the opportunity for learning in both directions. ALSO IN THIS ISSUE... We have updated our listings of software tools for selling in what we feel is one of the best such round-ups of the now many such offerings. It wasn’t that long ago that sales was still a neglected sector for software aimed at various parts of the sales cycle, as the primary offerings were general purpose customer relationship management (CRM) systems. These may have done a good job in managing contacts and generating marketing and service campaigns and plans, but they were notorious for being little used by frontline salespeople and their managers (and also caused a good deal of stress). That’s changed dramatically, as new technologies including tablets, fast mobile networks, social media, artificial intelligence, mobile projectors and more have enabled developers to produce a
new generation of sales enablement systems that put the right content in the hands of the right salespeople at the right time, backed up by integration with learning and coaching. At the recent Sales Innovation Expo, these frontline sales enablement systems were more to the fore than ever, with a number of competing products on show. There are also several other types of sales-oriented systems, which we’ve put in pots such as configure, price and quote (CPQ), sales intelligence and opportunity management. The lines are being blurred as some companies cover more than one category in one suite or system, and some CRM vendors are also primarily targeting the sales side. But there are plenty of niche offerings that can complement existing processes and, in any case, best advice is usually not to attempt a universal upheaval of your current methods. You may find that a territory mapping system or decent proposal software is all your need to make a significant difference. Analysing the strengths and weaknesses of your sales operation must come first. See also Sarah Hinchliffe’s article on page 40 about creating a central library of reusable information for bids and proposals, which some of the tools we list aim to provide. Check out too the article by Richard Higham and Alan Timothy on page 32, which is about sales activity, and is very much related to both stress and technology issues. As they say, a lot of time can be spent on tasks other than active selling – as little as 17%, as they found in one company. There is a correlation between activity and results, and getting it wrong through, for example, inefficient planning or not addressing the reasons why salespeople are reluctant to carry out customer-facing activities, will inevitably raise stress levels for those with hard to reach sales targets. And this is where sales tools come in too. Tom Moverley is director of the ISM.
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NATIONAL SALES CONFERENCE 2018
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EVENTS TO INSPIRE • CREATE • INNOVATE
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SALES TALK INDUSTRY NEWS SHORT SELLING N EW S RO UND- UP RATINGS RULE
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE Trade association, BMF, ushers in ISM-accredited sales training The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has introduced a ISM-accredited sales talent development programme to support new sales professionals looking to develop and manage a portfolio of customers. Designed for small groups of six to eight delegates and delivered over 12 months, the programme, Essential Sales Management, is aimed at new and aspiring sales executives, as well as those who have moved into sales with extensive product knowledge but limited formal sales training, who now require a sales toolkit to grow their customer portfolio. The programme instils sales management techniques and strategies to increase sales growth
and brand awareness in a competitive market. It has been devised, and will be delivered, by ISM Fellow, Sue Reed (reed-consultants.co.uk), and her team of associates, who are all experienced sales trainers in the merchant sector. The programme is delivered over 11 days, made up of a 1-day induction, followed by three 3-day workshops, and concluding with a final 1-day “business improvement – profitable portfolio” presentation. Delegates also receive ongoing support from a dedicated talent development coach and mentor. Successful participants in the programme will be awarded Executive ISM status, and have the fee paid for their first year of ISM membership.
LEAD GENERATION LOSSES
Researchers says muddled thinking is hampering many sales teams Marketing and sales constantly point fingers over leads – wondering who sourced them, if they are truly qualified or just contacts, and if there has been timely follow-up. Researchers at Miller Heiman Group say 43% of sales and marketing teams have no agreed lead definition, and 35% have no shared process for nurturing those leads once they are identified. Organisations may not even realise how much business they’re missing. The 2018-2019 Sales Performance Report from CSO Insights, Miller Heiman Group’s research arm, outlines three areas of focus to rectify the problem, by applying consistency and driving collaboration between marketing and sales:
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Process – Everyone needs to be following the same plan, from preparation and research for tailored campaigns to fixing unprepared cold calls and one-size-fits-all messaging Value messaging – Marketing should own value messaging and ensure that it consistently comes through across all communications Frontline managers – Consistent coaching from these key players drives reinforcement and adoption of desired lead generation behaviours. “Organisations need to stop worrying about aligning sales and marketing with each other, and start worrying about aligning them with the customer,” says the company. (See also page 20.)
Customer ratings have become an increasingly important evaluation tool for consumer purchases in the UK and globally, says Trend Radar 2019 – The Rating Economy, a study by pricing specialist Simon-Kucher. Consumers see ratings as their third most important criterion when buying, after product features and price – and more significant than brand. In total, 38% of UK survey participants (51% globally) believe they receive more value for money due to product ratings.
Edinburgh Napier University hosted sales students from both sides of the Atlantic at the recent UK University Sales Competition. A team from the University of Texas, Dallas, jetted in to take on talent from Coventry, Sheffield Hallam and the home university. Edinburgh Napier’s Max Hampapa emerged as the winner of the main sales role play competition after two intense days of pitching to, and negotiating with, a panel of experts.
Showpad, a sales enablement platform, has created three new UK sales roles. Jim Preston becomes director of mid-market sales, Iain Masson director of enterprise sales, and Tim Norman director of business development. In 6 months Showpad has tripled the headcount from 15 to 45 in its London office. Jim Preston writes on page 6 of this edition.
BESMA – the British Excellence in Sales Management Awards – is now open for nominations. Run by the ISM, BESMA is the UK’s leading award scheme for sales professionals and teams. See the inside front cover for more details.
If you are an ISM member and would like to contribute to Winning Edge, please email articles or ideas to Adam Brook at email@example.com
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SCORE FROM THE KICK-OFF Jim Preston shows how to ensure your sales kick-off equips and energises your team 2. Focusing only on learning sessions
Studies have shown that people forget 80% of what they learn from curriculum-based training in just 90 days. In general, salespeople are notorious talkers, so it’s no surprise their focus starts to falter after hours of listening to classroom or lecture-style training sessions. The main purpose of an SKO is to review existing and new content that will help teams to achieve the goals you’ve set. However, this is also likely to be the only time in the entire year you’ll have all your reps in one place at the same time. If you don’t create time and space for sellers to collaborate and share best practice you’ll miss the opportunity for engagement and development, and potential new ideas and solutions could be lost.
3. Failing to provide ongoing reinforcement
It’s not “mission accomplished” when the SKO has wrapped up. If you don’t continue to practise what you preach, engagement and retention will drop off, and there’s a risk reps won’t achieve their potential: according to research group Aberdeen, there’s a 20% increase in quota attainment among sellers after training reinforcement.
sales kick-off (SKO) is no ordinary meeting. It’s an opportunity to reinvigorate your team, and rally all your salespeople around a common goal for the year ahead. SKOs typically require a substantial investment, but this can pay off many times over when the event is strategically planned and properly executed.
FOUR FAVOURABLE FEATURES
THREE TYPICAL TRAPS
A great SKO can be an exceptionally effective way to introduce sales executives to new methodologies and content, and set them up to succeed. However, if you fail to capture and hold their attention, the event – along with the information and knowledge you present to them – will be forgotten almost as soon as it’s finished. Three of the most common planning and execution mistakes, any of which can ruin the effectiveness of an SKO, are: 1. Setting goals too late
Firm objectives are fundamental to a successful SKO, yet many sales and marketing leaders don’t set these in advance of developing the programme. Without a clear focus, the sessions you run will be disjointed, and leave reps unclear on what is expected from them and why. A haphazard approach is also inefficient: if you start putting sessions together before deciding on your objectives, you may be forced to make a u-turn and unpick everything you’ve planned. 6 WINNING EDGE
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JIM PRESTON is sales director for sales enablement platform, Showpad. Visit showpad.com
The most successful SKOs have four essential characteristics in common. Bearing these in mind will help you build a positive, engaging and impactful experience that equips reps with the knowledge and tools they need to win, and enables them to leverage what they learn immediately, and over the coming months and years. The four key characteristics are as follows: 1. Determine a common aim, and galvanise everyone around it
Reps need to understand how each topic and activity covered in the programme contributes to the larger goals of the organisation. This means the event must be cohesive, with all presentations and discussions built around a mission that’s clearly linked to delivering the corporate strategy, and which is effectively communicated. It’s all too easy for reps to feel like a small cog in a wheel that they can’t see. But by adopting this highly communicative approach, you will ensure they know exactly how everything they do contributes to the organisation’s aims. Setting a clear mission and goals also makes preparing and organising the SKO much more efficient. ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
2. Provide compelling content – all year round
For your SKO to have an impact, reps need to connect with the materials you present and retain information long after the kick-off ends. To get the right information across at the event itself, make sure you provide rich content around each of the session topics, which reps can review afterwards. The SKO is also the ideal time for marketing to introduce new client-facing sales collateral, such as decks, product overviews and upcoming campaigns. Since the sales team will be leveraging these, it’s essential to give them context that clarifies how each piece serves the company’s goals, share use cases for each piece, and allow them to ask questions. This will help reps use the content in the right way over the year. Ongoing training content gives sellers the opportunity to review what was taught at the SKO, and builds on it as business needs shift. This doesn’t have to be in the form of a long meeting or documentation – content can be delivered via convenient formats for reps, such as mobile video. 3. Switch up the session formats, and experiment with a variety of setups
To hold reps’ attention and ensure the SKO is unforgettable, you have to go beyond the traditional lecture-based sessions and provide a more engaging experience. Mix classroom-style presentations with time for networking, collaboration and sharing best practice. Many reps will find the opportunity to discuss their approach with peers, and seek advice on challenges and improvements, more valuable than what they hear in a presentation. This means it’s important to include time for networking and team-building exercises. For example, you could split the team into groups and present them with a problem to solve – each group can then share their solution and debate it with other reps. If possible, bring a client in to give a first-hand account of their experience with your organisation along their journey to becoming a customer. 4. Show your appreciation
This is a great chance to recognise and celebrate individual and team achievements from the past year. Organising dinners or off-site activities, meanwhile, will give reps the opportunity to loosen up a bit and strengthen team connections. ONE DESIRABLE OUTCOME
With proper attention to strategy and detail, you can hold an SKO that pays off for everyone. By inspiring your sellers and giving them a better understanding of future expectations, the event can make a tremendous impact on the performance of the sales team, and on the success of your entire organisation over the next year and beyond. ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
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PUBLIC SECTOR POTENTIAL PHILIP NORMAN summarises why you should consider selling to the public sector MULTIPLE OPPORTUNITIES Public sector organisations spend a whopping £230bn per year on buying products and services and, as a combined entity, they constitute the largest customer in the UK. They advertise over 10,000 contracting opportunities every month. LOW RISKS Public sector organisations can sometimes be slow payers – although there have been improvements for small suppliers – but they won’t go under owing you money. They also strive to award sustainable contracts, and recognise that you need to make a profitable margin yourself. They don’t want to award a contract and see their supplier go down the pan – this wouldn’t be good PR for them. So, the risks in supplying them are low. CREDIBILITY To say you are a supplier to the public sector sounds credible and acts as a tremendous reference for your brand and your product or service. WIDER PROSPECTS It’s easy to imagine public bodies working in isolation and not sharing best practice with each other. In reality, they often actively share learning and discuss new suppliers and products or services with each other. If you are delivering on your promises and adding value for your public client they will sing your praises and you may rapidly win multiple contracts.
STABILITY OF SUPPLY Winning a public contract can provide stability of supply, enabling you to take your business up a level or two. It is not unheard of for suppliers to win regional contracts and, by having the logistical infrastructure in place to deliver on them, gain private sector opportunities in those areas too. BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT Public sector contracts are also a great way to ensure your business is continually improving. Some public bodies have supplier management programmes that are designed to ensure the provider of the product or service will deliver certain initiatives in areas such as process improvement, cost reduction, environmental management, and other areas of strategic concern for the public sector. SALES FOR LARGE AND SMALL BUSINESSES The public sector purchases anything and everything from pens and pencils to prosthetic body parts and pest control. At some level, public sector organisations are almost certain to be using a product or service like yours. The public sector supply market is changing and now is a really good time to consider the opportunities a public sector contract might create for any large or small business in the UK. PHILIP NORMAN is founder of Bidbetter, a bid management firm that wins over 80% of public sector bids for its clients. Visit bid-better.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Dallas Cowboys, raised a book on flow to the camera at half time, while explaining how the method had helped him and his team prepare for the Superbowl. The Cowboys went on to win the Superbowl, the catalyst for events that brought flow leadership to businesses around the world. THE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE
GOING WITH FLOW Alex Ellinis discusses a leadership learning technique for organisational effectiveness and competitive edge
n our journey as sales leaders we have a clear objective: to create an environment where we are followed within a harmonious and collaborative place of work. We often look at different proven frameworks, such as DISC, Myers-Briggs, Belbin, traditional sales training, coaching, and mentoring to test and bring together sales professionals, managers and leaders. EXPLAINING FLOW
This plethora of options, often with varying costs backed by empirical evidence, creates many choices for leadership, but there is little that emphasises positive psychology as effectively as “flow”, a leadership philosophy and technique founded by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is the state where we perform at our peak, and our productivity, purpose, belonging and satisfaction improve. Flow is being on fire, in the zone, totally immersed, where actions become second nature and you are energised and focused. In 1993, Jimmy Johnson, head coach of the
“Obviously, the two things that you need to know are: who are your customers and what do they need? And who are your workers and what are their strengths?” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
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Within sales we hear and say things like, “Do more prospecting”, “Get a bigger pipeline”, “Improve conversion ratios”, “Upsell customers”, and “Reduce customer churn”. All are pertinent for sales effectiveness in today’s sales arena, but we often have confused salespeople, instructed by managers who are led in many different organisational directions by leaders pursuing a weak strategy. The challenge is how to deliver leadership that drives people to go out in tough markets to face rejection day after day and still strive to be the best. How do we as leaders train, develop and retain skills at all levels in our organisation, while also developing ourselves? Of 29 leadership qualities, identified, measured and globally benchmarked by Csikszentmihalyi and his research colleague Zoltan Buzady, they highlighted four core skills that leaders excelled in that brought people into a state of flow: l Flow-promoting leadership techniques l Setting a strategy l Balancing skills and challenges l Giving feedback. Collectively these leadership methods can offer a competitive advantage, improve existing skill levels, create a high-performance environment, and bring people engagement and satisfaction. GAME ON
ALEX ELLINIS (FISM) is executive director of the Greater London Business School. Visit greaterlondonbusinessschool.co.uk
Now, an award-winning leadership development game called Fligby trains managers in these skills. This interactive gaming tool puts participants into a virtual, but realistic, situation where they assume leadership of a Californian winery that has lost its direction. Each participant must navigate their way through 23 interactive scenes and make 150 decisions to turn the business around. The analysis generated at the end of the game enables organisations to conceptualise 29 leadership traits and assess the four core competencies for flow, which can also underpin a comprehensive leadership programme. Another major benefit can be to identify a pool of talented senior managers who could go on to top leadership roles. Fligby can help sales leaders focus on setting a clear strategy with goals, balancing skills and challenges, while giving feedback that collectively can help put themselves and their teams in a state of flow, enabling them to create a balanced workplace that drives sales, customer and employee satisfaction and, ultimately, profitable growth. ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
ON THE MOVE
E Q U I P M E N T F O R D I S C E R N I N G P RO F E S S I O N A L S
TOOLS FOR THE JOB
Samsung may be off your radar for notebooks but its latest Notebook 9 Pen and Notebook 9 Pro models look like powerful convertible portables with a high build quality. The Notebook 9 Pen comes with an upgraded version of its S Pen that is built-in and ready to use on the screen. The Notebook 9 Pro has a premium metal exterior and also has a pen but it’s not built-in, but is the pick of these two. The Pen model comes with a 13.3” or 15” display; the Pro just with a 13.3” screen. Both have i7 processors. MOBILE PHONE
RACE TO 5G
MERCEDES GLC COUPÉ
Shortly after unveiling the GLC SUV, Mercedes has followed up with this GLC Coupé, which “skilfully and combines the sportiness of a coupé with the functionality of an SUV”. Looks like a good job and it’s a decent looking car in a market where so much looks the same, or rather too oversized. The petrol engines have a hybrid electrical system and the diesel engines already meet the requirements of the Euro 6d standard. Initial engine choice will be complemented with further units. This being a Mercedes there’s a lot of emphasis on internal comforts and gadgetry – you even get a recommendation for a climate control programmes that “fits the situation and the individual”. Driver assistance systems include exit-warning, emergency corridor function (with something called active steer that also helps in changing lanes), and spotting the tail end of a traffic jam.
In preparing our sales tool listings (see page 22) we noticed a number of sales mapping apps, including this one from eSpatial, which is based in Ireland and the US. With a starting price of $100 a month you get features such as street level geocoding, route optimisation, territory manager and of course a mobile app. There’s a good blog that discusses how to use mapping software in sales and service. More at espatial.com
IN THE 5G FOLD This is Huawei’s Mate X, which combines 5G – the next generation of mobile spectrum – with a foldable screen, which has got a lot of attention in itself. It’s essentially a 2-in-1 smartphone and tablet with an OLED display and something called a Falcon Wing mechanical hinge that gives you the fold. You’ll be able to get this soon to run on EE’s 5G network that will go live in 16 UK cities in 2019.
Not be left out of the hype about 5G, LG has also announced a 5G phone, the V50 ThinQ, which is a bit bigger than 4G models to fit in the new technology and battery needed – but it also has an optional dual screen accessory, which sort of puts it in the foldable category. MOUSE
CLICK AND POINT
Lenovo, better known for its notebooks, has come up with this simple looking device – a wireless mouse that folds flat and becomes a laser presenter. Called the Yoga mouse with laser presenter, it’s designed to complement the firm’s Yoga notebooks but can be used with any PC. You get up to 1600 DPI tracking and it will work on almost any surface, and it weighs just 63 g and so will fit in a pocket. It will give weeks of use after a 2 hour charge.
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FREE YOUR INNER POWER ZOË DOUGLAS-JUDSON presents the findings from the ISM’s recent membership survey into stress. It’s part of the Institute’s major new initiative: Stress in Sales
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STRESS IN SALES | COVER STORY
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COVER STORY | STRESS IN SALES
he Stress in Sales 2018 survey marks the start of the ISM’s pledge to close the gap in mental health support, and specifically tackles stress in sales for the professional sales community it serves.
THE SCALE OF STRESS In October 2018, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published its annual Work related stress, depression or anxiety statistics in Great Britain, 2018. It kicks off with the Labour Force Survey figure of 15.4 million working days lost in 2017/18 among some 600,000 workers, because of these issues. Around 44% of those reported “workload” as the primary cause, with a further 14% citing a “lack of support”. The findings of the ISM’s Stress in Sales survey endorse this view. Since 2011, stemming from an original study by the Centre for Mental Health, it has been documented that “presenteeism” – or feeling obliged to be at work excessively – costs the UK economy £15.1bn per year from mental health issues alone. In contrast, there is an estimated cost of £8.4bn as a result of absenteeism, suggesting workers are more likely to go to work with hidden problems than go absent and admit them. The ISM survey findings support the view that, due to self-stigma, there is a likelihood of presenteeism among the sales community. Recent studies conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggest as many as 83 million people across Europe suffer with mental health issues, which equates to one in four adults in the UK, according to Mind, one of the leading UK organisations working for better mental health.
ZOË DOUGLAS-JUDSON is founder and CEO of mental health consultancy Mindologists, has a PhD in strategic change and performance, and is a consultant, practitioner, coach and motivational speaker. She has over 20 years’ experience delivering customised strategic change solutions to improve mental health, culture and performance. Visit mindologists.com
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DEFINING THE ISSUE Mind continues, “There’s no medical definition of stress, and healthcare professionals often disagree whether stress is the cause of problems or the result of them.” The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) suggests, “At the most basic level, stress is the body’s response to pressures from a situation or life event.” It goes on to describe stress as the body’s natural survival instinct triggering a “fight, flight or freeze” response to stimuli perceived as a potential threat. It varies from person to person. Defining stress for World Mental Health Day in 2018, the MHF describes it as, “The degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of pressures that are unmanageable.” While stress is not considered a mental health
illness in itself, it is closely connected to such issues. Too much stress can cause mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. “Stress is a response to a threat in a situation, whereas anxiety is a reaction to the stress,” says the MHF. It adds that prolonged periods of stress, including feelings of being overwhelmed, can affect both the physical body and mental state, giving rise to terms such as distress, chronic stress or long-term stress. At the same time, as the ISM survey notes, there is a “good” level of stress within sales, which is not only expected, but many purport to be needed. Every day, salespeople encounter stressful situations and it is widely accepted that this is part of the job. Feeling a rush of adrenaline and endorphins when a major deal is closed can provide a temporary feeling of elation and drive the salesperson on to find and close the next deal. ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM With such limited clarity as to what stress is and is not, it is no wonder the world is struggling to deal effectively with stress at work. Lack of prevention and cure is widespread geographically and is not culturally bound. A WHO report in June 2018 revealed “a global shortage of health workers trained in mental ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
STRESS IN SALES | COVER STORY
health”. In its latest Mental Health Atlas, it highlights that “scale-up of resources for mental health is not happening quickly enough” and that “failure to invest in mental health as a matter of urgency will have health, social and economic costs on a scale we have rarely seen before”. Stress in sales is real. It is not just a local phenomenon, it is not a blip in the system, and it is not more likely to appear in one sector over another. As the results of the ISM survey reveal, it is shrouded by stigma and self-stigma. Alarmingly, despite reports in the press to the contrary, over half of the respondents do not feel secure about telling their manager they are feeling stressed. Sadly, almost 80% of respondents report experiencing negative feelings as a direct result of needing to take stress-related time off work, regardless of whether it had been caused by work or not – with guilt and disappointment being the strongest feelings. While comments in the survey convey a growing belief that more awareness around mental health and stress is being generated, many respondents also comment that much more effort is still needed. This remains the biggest challenge for the sales community and the results strongly suggest improvements would be best achieved through significant changes to performance management and leadership style. When considering proactive interventions, and even prevention, it is clear from the responses that emotional suffering can be eased with more support. While the ISM report identifies that organisations are creating pockets of change, over 38% of line managers claim “none” or “very little” action is being taken to prevent excess stress and mental ill-health in their workplace. Less than 5% of leaders note Mental Health First Aid or similar programmes in their workplace. The most frequent suggestion for support is improved preventive measures and training. On a more positive note, almost 30% of leaders feel confident that they could deal effectively with stress in their team, with a further 55% having some degree of confidence but also a desire to know more. FIVE KEY RECOMMENDATIONS Throughout the ISM report a number of key findings are presented and discussed, with supporting research and industry statistics to provide evidence for workplace improvements in sales management. Here, I summarise those key findings and present five recommendations. The aim of the recommendations is to provide valuable insight and support to sales industry decisionmakers in promoting and delivering a brave new workplace, where “the human side of support” will in future be truly valued like never before. ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
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S E I Z I N G T H E I N I T I AT I V E O N ST RE SS TOM MOVERLEY, DIRECTOR OF THE ISM, EXPLAINS WHY THE INSTITUTE’S STRESS IN SALES INITIATIVE IS SO IMPORTANT While some stress is inevitable – and can be beneficial – too much can have a negative impact if it is not managed correctly. In short, too much stress leads to distress. To address this issue, the ISM is partnering with Zoë Douglas-Judson and Astrid Ennis, leading mental health professionals, to develop our new Stress in Sales initiative – a series of resources, such as webinars, whitepapers and blogs, to help foster mental wellbeing among salespeople. The initiative is already well under way, with our recent survey of members collecting 231 sets of data. It is a great response, and we will be building on it further in the coming months through additional research, interviews and focus groups with our members. The research results already gathered are more than a paper exercise for the members of the ISM. They provide an up-to-date, indepth look at what our members are experiencing and feeling right now. With such great insights from within our own specific specialist area of sales, we are better equipped than
ever to support our members in ways they truly need and deserve. Our members are more than a collection of national numbers or international statistics. In sales, we have our own nuances, so gleaning first-hand insight from our members on the issue of stress has been an imperative exercise if we’re to develop appropriate interventions successfully, and be able to support them well in today’s ever-changing sales environment. The importance of building a stronger awareness of stress among our growing community – particularly understanding the tipping point where healthy stress becomes distress – cannot be underestimated. The insights our members have provided are invaluable and will help us to continue our mission in raising the value of sales. While this Winning Edge cover story summarises the main findings from the survey, and puts forward some key recommendations for sales leaders, further features in future editions of the magazine will focus on different aspects of the research in more detail. In the meantime, more information on Stress in Sales can also be found at ISMprofessional.com
Recommendation 1: Clarify the causes of stress The report demonstrates a clear need for leaders to seek more clarity of the root causes of stress in sales, in order to remove or mitigate them and, in so doing, make a positive impact on performance, presenteeism and work-life balance. The survey shows that work-related stress is more likely to hinder performance, affecting as many as 37% of sales professionals. Furthermore, of that 37%, over 10% frequently consider a change of career. This recommended clarity should seek to embrace non-work related stress too, by raising the value of the sales professional as a human being, living a full life, as opposed to a “human-doing” enacting a sales life. This view is particularly supported by the fact that almost half of sales professionals struggle to switch-off from work. If sales leaders were to improve their WINNING EDGE 13
COVER STORY | STRESS IN SALES
STRESS IN SALES: WHAT ISM MEMBERS SAY
awareness and knowledge of the drivers of stress, impacts would be felt through reduced rates of attrition, absenteeism and presenteeism. Such favourable improvements and ways of working should naturally improve morale, employee longevity and sales performance. Recommendation 2: Create a culture of trust The second area for improvement is the significant need for leaders to create a culture of bravery and trust. With almost 80% of sales professionals reporting negative feelings should they need to take time off work, much must be done to change this. In addition, with over 50% of respondents lacking a sense of security to confidently discuss stress, a greatly improved sense of “It’s OK not to be OK” must be achieved. Stress and mental health issues are frequently considered to be invisible by many, even the sufferer themselves, but this is no excuse for ignorance or lack of ownership of its existence. While clarity and boundaries may still be blurred, responsibility should not be. When leaders improve internal communications to improve awareness of stress and clarity over mental health, favourable impacts will be noted. Creating a safe and supported place of work will reward the business and its people. Recommendation 3: Reconsider performance management Salespeople often behave in relation to how they are measured, so taking a fresh look at how performance is managed is highly recommended for the sales community. Leaders must give renewed attention to innovative ways of setting targets and balancing workload to improve motivation. Understanding that there is a fine line, and often an individually unique line, between good stress and bad stress for optimum sales performance, opens up a raft of new approaches. Leaders should also consider how they are recruiting their salesforce in order to improve the match of performance management techniques with the psychological profile and motivational mindset of new candidates. As leaders become more aligned and creative in how they motivate their sales professionals they will foster improved psychological contracts, performance results and overall job satisfaction. Recommendation 4: “Walk the walk” as sales leaders Leadership style is a clear area for improvement. As improved internal communications increase awareness, trust and bravery for the salesforce to “talk the talk”, leadership styles must
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STRESS IN SALES | COVER STORY
receive appropriate training to “walk the walk”. Demonstrable change must be seen through the behaviours of sales leaders if stigma and self-stigma are to reduce. Almost 90% of line managers notice higher than normal levels of stress on a regular basis. Reducing stress requires two-way strength and understanding between those suffering from stress and those supporting them. Fostering a culture of bravery and trust requires more than simply telling someone, “It’s OK.” Through original and lateral thinking, leaders must be given opportunities to put their training into action and show how they have changed, to allow others to follow. When leaders visually and vocally demonstrate new styles in communicating, leading, listening and motivating, barriers will begin to drop. As the sales community is encouraged to grow in confidence, so will the leader. Together, the workplace will observe at first hand the benefits of focusing on people as a valuable asset, rather than a cost burden. Recommendation 5: Commit to mental health training The final recommendation is based not on the strongest survey response, but the most consistent – the need for more specialist mental health training and support. Suggestions given included Mental Health First Aid training courses and employee assistance programmes (EAP), with some ISM members commenting, “It needs to be more than a tick-box exercise.” Though less than 9% choose EAP as a source of help in the workplace, the qualitative responses highlight the need for more than just a change in how sales professionals are managed. This conclusion is significantly strengthened by the survey finding that 55% of line managers – despite feeling some confidence about dealing with mental health issues within their sales team – still want to learn more. Additionally, three-quarters of respondents declare they had either never, or did not know if they had ever, received mental health or stress training at work. Awareness is key. From awareness, leaders can build a better understanding and ultimately improve their effectiveness in both spotting the signs and supporting those suffering internally from stress or mental health issues. Promoting an improved understanding of mental health and stress is at the heart of this challenge, if a lasting legacy of prevention over cure is to be achieved for organisations to reverse the escalating costs of absenteeism and presenteeism. You cannot fix what you do not understand – so, as a sales leader, the solution to stress in sales starts with you. You must take responsibility to fully understand and value your own mental health, and the mental health of those around you. ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
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I S M PA RT N E R P RO F I L E : M I N D O LO G I ST S ZOË DOUGLAS-JUDSON, FOUNDER OF MINDOLOGISTS – THE ISM’S PARTNER IN THE STRESS IN SALES INITIATIVE – EXPLAINS HOW THE CONSULTANCY CAN TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR TEAM’S MENTAL HEALTH Never before has mental health been so under the spotlight, yet it is still one of the most under-invested areas of human functioning, especially in the workplace. This is mostly due to confusion about what is and is not mental health, but also a lack of understanding of where the responsibility to improve it rests. Mindologists are geeks of peoplethinking, behaviour and mindset transformation. We deliver on the whole mental health spectrum, from shifting severe negative mindsets in our private practices, to enabling and developing high-performing behaviours, individually and in teams, through our outsourced support service. While there’s been a rapid development over the last 30 years in self-help and professional support, such as psychoanalysts and counsellors, these have tended to be issue-based only – to fix problems. We firmly believe that the mental health of you and your team is something to maintain and proactively support, not just fix. Mental health is often perceived as a negative issue that costs companies money, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Get your mental health right and everything changes for the better, including your bottom line. As the stigma around mental health is broken down, leaders and individual high performers are starting to value new approaches to building strong mental health. In the
workplace, it is now difficult to see why you wouldn’t invest in your greatest asset – your people. Mindologists can help. We’ll look after workplace mental health, allowing you and your business to stick to what you do best. At Mindologists we are constantly researching and refining how we influence, shift, motivate and effect meaningful and positive change to a person’s thinking, doing and being. A Mindologist is a hybrid practitioner trained in techniques and disciplines from many schools of thought. This ensures we provide a whole system perspective and approach to your physical, physiological and psychological self. We embrace a client-led approach – ensuring we are never stifled by fixed external standards or general market data – to deliver a unique mental health support service. With Mindologists it really is “all about you”. In delivery, we proactively and often subliminally implement the “how” part of people transformation, guided by your unique data inputs gathered through our Mood App, to impact both individual and organisation-wide mindset shifts. Blending our expertise with purpose-built technology, we actively listen to generate a true awareness and understanding of your current and future performance needs, then deliver customised services to meet those specific requirements. Investing in your mental health is akin to investing in a great nutrition and exercise plan – with quality inputs, your physical and mental performance benefit. Invest wisely... Visit www.mindologists.com
FREE YOUR INNER POWER Poor mental health can affect you, your salespeople, and your organisation. But you can free them all, releasing hidden depths of inner power. It’s time to show enlightened thinking by reducing the huge health toll stress exacts – as well as commercial nous by lifting the financial burden it places on businesses. How you respond counts. WINNING EDGE 15
FEATURE | STRESS MANAGEMENT
CAN YOU BREATHE
RUTA MISIUNAITE considers key strategies for coping with stress in sales
ales is not a walk in a park kind of profession. It is super-fast paced, extremely high pressure, and requires incredible levels of resilience to carry on when things get tough. And things get tough on a regular basis. Maybe that’s why the vast majority of sales professionals, when asked about how they got into new business development, say that they simply fell into it. Yours truly included. After all, no-one grows up dreaming about working in a highly stressful environment. And yet so many people dedicate their whole lifetime to sales. Personally, I’m not surprised. Once you’ve fallen, you fall hard. And fast. Pretty soon you find out if you’ve got it in you to succeed in sales. The thrill of the chase and the endorphin rush you get after landing your first deal 16 WINNING EDGE
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gets you hooked in an instant. Without realising it, you quickly forget about all of the blood, sweat and tears that go into winning a new account and swiftly move on to searching relentlessly for another fix. And then you do it again, and again, and again. Yes, winning new business is a drug and it’s highly addictive. Throughout my career, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring various sales roles – ad hoc projects, midmarket, key prospects and, most recently, sales management. Over 2,000 days in sales and there is one thing I know for sure: things will barely ever go your way. In a world where business challenges are changing more rapidly than ever before, there’s either going to be lack of resource, ridiculous targets that feel so unachievable you can only laugh about them, or you’re so overwhelmed
with workload that you simply feel like you’re drowning. Sure, you could try to power through and hope that better days and easier targets are just around the corner – but that is not how the world works. As I said , sales is not a walk in a park. Often, it seems like you need to have special superpowers just to get through the day. And one of those powers is the ability to breathe underwater. BREATHING UNDERWATER A few months ago, I had a conversation with a new starter who was getting overwhelmed with everything that was going on in her new role. It was her first sales position and, naturally, she didn’t know how to manage all the incoming enquiries that flooded her inbox. A perfectly ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
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normal situation that can be fixed with a little bit of coaching and support, right? What made me pause, though, was my unexpected way of thinking. When she said that she was drowning in workload, and asked for my advice on how to manage it efficiently, the first thing that came to my mind was that in order to have a successful career in sales, you have to learn how to breathe underwater. Sink or swim – a perfect case of professional Darwinism at its best. Welcome to sales, kid! Breathing underwater is, of course, humanly impossible. We humans are simply not built to survive without oxygen for more than 6 minutes. That’s why professional divers, rather than spending hours WINNING EDGE 17
FEATURE | STRESS MANAGEMENT
practising how to hold their breath underwater for as long as possible, invest in quality diving equipment instead. In sales, we often see people who are quite clearly drowning in workload but refuse to change their working habits, ask for help, or use new tools to become more efficient.
development that it’s hard to keep up, but I am going to share the top tips that have helped me get to where I am right now.
1. HAVE A PLAN One of the Founding Fathers of the US, Benjamin Franklin, said that failing to plan is planning to WORKING HABITS THAT fail. I love that quote (and I’ll be mentioning him NO LONGER WORK again later). It’s elementary that being in total We’ve all been there. You come into work on a control of your time and pipeline are key in Monday full of energy and motivation to finally having a successful career in sales. After all, time launch that proactive campaign you’ve been is money and yet we seem to be running out of it meaning to kick-start since last quarter. Who more and more these days. There are just not needs caffeine when you have a purpose? That’s enough hours in the day. right, nothing can stop you... In addition, if you don’t have a plan, you can’t You just need to check your inbox quickly in track your progress against it and prioritise what case anything urgent that came in over the you do accordingly. If you’re not clear what your weekend needs your immediate attention this priorities are, you will instantly get sucked into the “urgent” and “needs to get done now” to-do morning. Without realising, you switch on the list vortex with no hope of getting out. Trust me, autopilot and start responding to one email after as soon as you identify what’s important and another. Instead of doing what you initially set what will get you closer to your goals, your whole out to do, you get stuck in the same old routine day and workload will easily fall into place. of battling the hydra-like inbox, and being pulled into last minute internal meetings – firefighting The tactic that has worked for me the best so until the end of time. far is called “reverse engineering”. In layman’s Ten hours later, you’re the last one left in the terms, it means that you need to have the end goal in mind and then plan office, chit-chatting with the backwards. Make a list of key cleaners about collecting “if you spend your entire coins and how you’re both milestones you need to hit, day reacting to incoming write down all of the things this close to winning the queries and events, you will that need to happen in order lottery and moving to the make progress against each Caribbean. Or maybe it’s just never get a head start” goal and create a timeline me. Richard, if you’re reading within which you need to this, I miss you and I really achieve it all. Et voila! It’s as simple as that – you hope you made it. now have a plan. Unsurprisingly, if you spend your entire day For example, when you’re thinking about reacting to incoming queries and events, you will landing that big account that’s been on your never get a head start on anything you’re really radar for years, here’s a simple checklist of all passionate about. To turn things around, you need to begin going about your day differently. things you need to have figured out: I know, it’s easier said than done. We all know that l When is their current contract due to expire? old habits die hard, and change in the way you l Who are the key stakeholders you need to work does not happen overnight. I’m not going ensure you impress? to pretend that I’ve got it all figured out either, l What is your client’s decision-making process? because sometimes I still find myself staying late l How long does it take to set up your solution? l Knowing that, when do you need to get the in the office, my inbox is not always empty, and I signed contracts by? tend to procrastinate about some tasks until the Taking into consideration all the above, when is very last minute. We’re all human, after all. I have, however, invested a lot of time and the latest you must engage with your client by? effort in figuring out how to develop the right This sounds like basic information you probably habits and mindset that help me get closer to my already have in your head, but unless you use goals. By implementing them, I have not only got that intel to build a solid win plan, those business insights you have been collecting for years might my workload under control but also achieved be effectively useless. almost every single one of my personal development objectives over the past 3 years 2. CELEBRATE FAILURE (speaking of which, if anyone can hook me up There are very few books I’ve read in my whole with a TED talk gig before the end of 2020, hit me up). In this day and age, there are so many life that I could honestly say changed the way I resources you can access to aid your personal look at the world. But Black Box Thinking by 18 WINNING EDGE
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STRESS MANAGEMENT | FEATURE
Matthew Syed is definitely one of them. If you 3. ASK FOR HELP haven’t read it, I urge you to do so as soon as you Salespeople can be real control freaks when it can, because the wisdom carefully packed into its comes to managing a pitch. They want to be in pages will undoubtedly help you become a charge of everything from start to finish. better salesperson. If I were to write a oneI can’t stress this enough: ask for help. The trick sentence summary of the book it would be here is to delegate and draw on your experts and something like this – “Don’t be afraid of failure, their skills as much as you can, because just like but learn from it.” raising a child, it takes a village to win a new Throughout my career in sales, I learnt quickly account. Marketing, business insights, operations, that the more I try new things and the more I finance, legal counsel and senior management learn from my mistakes, the more successful I get. – these are just some of the functions within your Whether it’s different coldbusiness that would be more calling tactics, LinkedIn than happy to offer support. “The more I try new things connection request wording, After all, salespeople should and the more I learn from or proposal templates, if you only be selling. Some might my mistakes, the more want to keep growing in this argue that we’re not very day and age, you simply can’t good at other things anyway. successful I get” afford to stick to the oldIf you’re the sales superstar fashioned way of selling that in your company, asking for might have worked in the past. Trying new things help can feel rather embarrassing and countercan feel awkward and sometimes downright intuitive. After all, you’ve been doing the job for cringey, but if you never try, you never know years, so surely you’re the one that should be what works best. If you’re not employing the best helping everyone out, not the other way round. tactics, you’re already behind the competition. If you’re the newbie, you might feel awkward to These days, companies are very quick to be the one constantly bothering your colleagues celebrate successes, but often shy away from with a million questions on a daily basis. I get it, publicising (even if internally) their losses and, because I used to have the exact same thoughts most importantly, the main reasons behind them. running through my mind. What a shame and lost opportunity for collective Things changed when I found out about a learning. I am sure a lot of salespeople will be phenomenon called “the Benjamin Franklin nodding in agreement when I say that some of effect”. The great man used to ask his adversaries my best and most rewarding pitches were those I for help in order to turn them into his biggest did not actually win. fans. The science behind this is simple. Our brains Of course, it’s great to say that you have just cannot hate someone after doing them a favour, brought on a brand new account, but personally, so they default to liking that person instead. hand-on-heart, my best pitch was the one Keeping this in mind, it makes sense that asking after which I was able to say that I turned a for support at work will only help you build closer procurement-led price check into a client who relationships and, in return, accelerate your truly believed that our service was the future. personal and career development. Remember, Sure, it did not result in a new revenue stream for your colleagues and your boss want you to do my company in the short term, but it was an well. When people want you to succeed, they are invaluable sales masterclass that helped always happy to help. If that’s not the case, then accelerate my learning and development, which you probably need to stop thinking about certainly would not have happened if I had changing your working habits and start thinking scored an easy win instead. Sometimes, we lose about changing your employer... pitches because of things that are out of our control, but nothing can replace that feeling of MINDSET MATTERS confidence that you’ve done everything you So, here you go, these are the three key elements could to win a client. that will help you master your first sales For the young sales professionals out there superpower – breathing underwater. Having a who have just started out on their journey in this plan, celebrating failure, and asking for help seem roller coaster of a profession, I have a piece of like simple things you can easily implement into advice. Listen closely. Sales is a marathon, not a your day-today life, but as I always say, if it was sprint. Things will not always come easy but easy, it wouldn’t be fun. please do not give up after your first failure. Be To make sure that the new habits stick for excited about it. In fact, celebrate your failures longer than a week, you need to have the right because the more you fail, the more you learn – mindset. Mind over matter, as they say. But that’s and that relentless passion for improvement is a story for another time – make sure you read the key to being a successful salesperson. next Winning Edge to find out more. ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
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RUTA MISIUNAITE (LISM) is senior business development manager, mid-market, at IRI, which provides integrated big data, predictive analytics and forward-looking insights on technology platform IRI Liquid Data. In less than 6 years, she has progressed from junior salesperson at IRI to leading her own team. She is dedicated to continuous personal development, and to helping fellow sales professionals by sharing her knowledge and experience in blogs, webinars and, from now on, Winning Edge articles. Visit: linkedin.com/in/ ruta-misiunaite
WINNING EDGE 19
SORTING THE WHEAT
FROM THE CHAFF RICHARD HILTON explains how to get smarter with lead generation
s every sale begins as a lead, the effectiveness of an organisation’s lead generation process ultimately determines the extent of a sales leader’s future success. The more ambitious the sales goals, the more important – and challenging – the lead generation process becomes. Sales leaders continue to recognise lead generation as a top challenge. According to 38% of respondents surveyed for CSO Insights’ 2018-2019 sales performance report, Selling in the Age of Ceaseless Change, the “inability to generate enough qualified leads” is one of the greatest barriers to achieving success this year. 20 WINNING EDGE
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RICHARD HILTON is managing director EMEA at sales training and coaching specialist Miller Heiman Group. Email email@example.com or visit millerheimangroup.com
Despite a constant focus on leads, many sales leaders still struggle to articulate clearly what a lead is, where their leads actually come from, which leads are best, who should own leads, and how technology can improve lead effectiveness. BUT WHY? THE ANSWERS ARE IN THE DATA Many people assume that the marketing function holds primary responsibility for lead generation. However, CSO Insights’ data tells us that sales, marketing, and, to a lesser degree, service and referrals, are all common sources of leads – and sales leads the way. Sales generated over half (53%) of leads in 2018, compared with just 20% generated by marketing. That figure may come as a shock, given the increased use and sophistication of technology in marketing functions. With almost 7,000 marketing solutions on offer in 2018, new ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
LEAD GENERATION | FEATURE
platforms continue to roll out for account-based marketing (ABM), market identification, lead scoring and campaign automation. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY But what we’re learning is that early use cases that focused on automating volume – more emails, messages and contacts – did not improve prospecting quality in the eyes of the customer. The secret lies in leveraging the analytics that technology provides to tailor and personalise messaging, and making a mental shift away from quantity to quality and conversion rates. It’s not the number of messages that counts, but the conversion rate – and that’s based on quality. Technology adoption also impacts on organisational structures and confuses the question, “Who is sales?” Sales development reps (the people who do the heavy lifting on lead generation) now report to marketing in some organisations, but report to sales in others. Social selling presents another area where the lines between sales and marketing are blurred. Salespeople act as their own content marketers, individual brand managers and lead generators via social tools like LinkedIn. However, in my experience, better alignment between the social strategies for marketing and sales translates into better quota attainment and win rates. MARKETING AND SALES NEED ALIGNMENT ON LEAD DEFINITIONS Sales and marketing can’t collaborate effectively if they can’t agree on the definition of a lead. More organisations had a formal lead definition back in 2014 (50%) than they did in 2018 (34%). To optimise spend, it’s necessary to tailor lead definition to fit the ideal customer profile, specify various stages of lead maturity up to “salesready”, and establish marketing and sales responsibilities along the customer’s path. In addition, there must be a clear understanding of how to measure lead generation effectiveness. Success isn’t about the number of leads, but rather each lead’s revenue contribution, regardless of its origin. The importance of marketing technology, and the integration of marketing and sales processes, underscores the need to formalise and develop both functions equally. While a clear lead definition was once enough, organisations must now nurture prospects until they become sales-ready to drive lead generation effectiveness. Looking at the issue from the perspective of a customer’s path, it’s obvious that organisations need both a clear lead definition (including a scoring model) and a lead nurturing process. Sending “unready” leads directly to the salesforce kills the lead and frustrates the sellers. ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
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Ultimately, the end goal of effective lead generation is much bigger than the end result of any one deal – it’s all about forging profitable, long-term partnerships with buyers. Although sales process maturity, customer relationships and performance all impact on each other, and must be addressed together, revitalising lead generation processes offers the perfect first step on the journey to lasting sales success.
I M P ROV I N G L E A D G E N E RAT I O N E F F E C T I V E N E S S – F O U R TO P T I P S
EMBED CUSTOMER-CENTRICITY The most successful organisations connect all of their sales processes to the customer. Organisations worry too much about aligning sales and marketing. They need to worry more about aligning them both with the customer. This alignment drives integration by default.
DEFINE WHAT EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION LOOKS LIKE FOR YOUR ORGANISATION Collaboration doesn’t occur naturally. It requires an objective and a clearly defined strategy to measure success. A dashboard that reports a combination of leading indicators, such as conversion rates per lead stage, and lagging indicators, such as revenue contribution, increases visibility and awareness of lead generation effectiveness.
FIX THE BASICS: DEFINITIONS, SCORING MODELS AND INTEGRATED PROCESSES Define what a lead is, as opposed to an inquiry or an opportunity that has several maturity stages. Terms like “marketing-qualified” or “salesqualified” can distract from the customer focus. Instead, look at different lead maturity stages through the lens of the customer’s path. Next, develop a scoring model for the qualification and lead nurturing steps. Develop models that reflect the specifics of your industry as well as the complexity of your buying/selling scenarios. Once completed, integrate these models into your processes and ensure that the technology you use is based on your definitions and models, not the
other way around. With that basic foundation in place, AI-based technology solutions can gather and analyse the data to continue to evolve the model further.
PUT PROSPECTING RIGHT Marketing and sales leaders should improve collaboration in several key areas of prospecting to drive lead generation effectiveness: l PROCESS Generating leads covers the early stages of the customer’s path, which makes it a collaborative challenge for marketing and sales. The process must ensure that preparation and research for tailored campaigns based on lead definition are mandatory. In parallel, the process should also ensure that no unprepared cold calls and no “one size fits all” messages are sent to random recipients. l SALES ENABLEMENT Establish a solid, value messaging approach that creates consistency across all enablement services, especially those designed for lead generation purposes. Ideally, marketing plays an orchestrating role to ensure that value messages are consistent and tailored in all relevant enablement services. l FRONTLINE MANAGERS To drive the adoption of desired lead generation behaviours, frontline managers in marketing and sales must consistently coach their direct reports on lead generating and prospecting practices. Measuring success based on leading indicators, such as conversion rates, allows for quick adjustments based on changing buyer behaviours.
WINNING EDGE 21
SALES TOOLBOX Our latest round-up of sales enablement and performance tools By MARC BEISHON
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SOFTWARE | FEATURE
his is the latest in our listings of software applications that are aimed primarily at the frontline selling process and in particular at B2B sales professionals and their managers. It has blossomed into a vibrant sector of the software market and we don’t pretend to include all the apps out there – but we do think this is the most complete and up-to-date listing you will find. As usual, we do not include general purpose customer relationship management (CRM) systems although many do include or integrate with a lot of sales enablement and other apps and can also be used for account and opportunity management Salesforce is the obvious CRM system that has spawned a big add-on app community and these apps simply would not exist if off the shelf CRM systems had all the features needed for organising frontline selling. Some CRM systems are though more sales-oriented than others – Zoho for one. In our last round-up we noted that this market has been heavily targeted by the enterprise software players, which tend to simply acquire firms to bolster their sales and marketing offerings. Salesforce automation is now a $6bn+ market. Last year, one of the big independents, Callidus, succumbed to the call of the giant SAP, and its offerings are now being rebranded as SAP Sales Cloud although there’s still a Callidus website. Meanwhile other ambitious players are gathering strength below the giants – notable is Upland Software, which has acquired a lot of companies, most relevant here being Qvidian, the proposals software firm, and RO Innovation, a customer referencing specialist, which itself has bought up Boulder Logic. Another firm on the up is Seismic, which we picked out last time, and it has acquired Savo, another strong sales enablement player. For reviews see G2 Crowd, Capterra and the Salesforce AppExchange although they are biased towards US apps. A firm called Aragon Research is researching sales enablement software, as do Gartner and Forrester. Look out too for consultancies that specialise in sales apps, such as Redspire, a Microsoft Gold Partner and also an ISM partner. When browsing for apps bear in mind that firms can still stay in business by leaving a website up for a cloud system, but not actually update it. The warning signs are blogs and tweets that are old, no company address and named executives, and an off the shelf website design. You don’t want to invest in something where the plug has been pulled. Have we missed a key app? Let us know.
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PRO PO S A LS, PLAY BO O K S, PR ES EN TAT I O NS, S ALES ENA BLEM ENT WE’VE LUMPED TOGETHER apps in this category that major in the content side of the sales enablement sector, which seems to be the most common use of the sales enablement term, although it is used in opportunity management as well. Also, we’re mainly talking about B2B selling here – web-based content personalisation for consumer retail selling is a very different area. In presentation, it seems that no one is likely to ever top PowerPoint but the choice of alternatives is good and growing. We don’t list these as sales products of course as they are generic but ones to note include Prezi, which we’ve reviewed in Winning Edge; Apple’s Keynote is still being updated; British firm Sparkol (which sells the VideoScribe whiteboard animation tool); and Google Slides. Others to check out are Zoho Show, CustomShow, Haiku Deck, SlideDog, Slidebean, Visme, Wink and Emaze. The free LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice both have the Impress presentation module. Adobe is in this market too, and Preseria is suitable for conference presentations. SHOWPAD – one of the most active sales enablement players and an ISM partner. Just announced is a unified platform combining content with training and coaching. QVIDIAN – this was acquired by Upland Software and is one of the oldest and most solid purveyors of proposal and RFP offerings. CLEARSLIDE – a firm we said is one to watch and someone did as it has been acquired by Corel. It’s a strong platform for sales content and presentation and has engagement analytics. SEISMIC – a top-rated content platform and a company on the acquisition trail having snapped up another strong player, Savo Group, which has claimed to have one of the most complete sales enablement offerings. CALLIDUSCLOUD – now being rebranded as SAP Sales Cloud this is enterprise class content management. PROPOSIFY – says it can transform your sales team into a closing machine with its proposals offering. It’s a Canadian firm with a UK contact. RESPONSEFULL – probably the oldest proposal system was PMAPS from Proposal Software, now in the hands of RocketDocs and the ResponseFull brand – AnswerFull is the RFP/RFI product, and WinFull a sales playbook system. See responsefull.com for UK office. BRAINSHARK – an award wining sales enablement platform with strengths in onboarding, training, coaching and sales leadership as well as content. BIGTINCAN – an enterprise-level sales, marketing and learning platform said to be powered by artificial intelligence. Ranked highly for coaching and learning. KAON – sells a 3D product content modelling and interactive storytelling system. XAIT – has a collaborative platform called XaitPorter suitable for working up sales proposals. Based in Norway.
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FEATURE | SOFTWARE
PRO P O SAL S, P RE SE N TATI O N S, PLAY BO O K S (CONTINUED) PRESENTIA – a presentation offering designed for sales and so gets a listing. It’s from a UK firm. CLIENTPOINT – a cloud-based proposals system. IPSCONNECT – dovetails PowerPoint slides with PDFs, videos and other media for sales presentations. It’s from UK firm, Interactive Presentation Solutions. MARCOMCENTRAL – has a content distribution platform. It’s a company owned by Ricoh. NAPP – a Danish firm with a strong-looking salesenablement platform, now making a UK push. FISION – a decent looking sales and marketing content system from the top software firm in Minnesota. POINTDRIVE – a sales content system that is part of LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator family. SALESFRAME – a sales presentation offering from a Finnish firm. It has an active, up to date website and looks well worth checking out. QORUS – offers proposal, RFP, sales enablement and channel software. Sable International is the UK rep. LEVERAGEPOINT – a value proposition system for empowering B2B sales conversations. VABLET – mobile sales engagement from a US firm. There’s a version that integrates with Salesforce. KLYCK – a content and presentation system for creating “memorable sales conversations”. UNIFY– a UK firm whose offering allows you to create personalised brochures. See librisunify.com COMPANYAPP – has products including Presenter, a sales presentation app. It’s a UK firm based in London. IPRESENT – a sales enablement system that runs in the cloud. The firm has UK and US offices. PITCHER – an international firm that targets various verticals with its sales enablement offering CONGA COMPOSER – this document system continues to be a top-rated Salesforce app. Conga has acquired a number of firms recently, including Octiv for its sales proposal and presentation offering. SHARK FINESSE – helps you create RoI business cases. From a British firm based in Basingstoke. SALESELEMENT – a web-based proposal offering from a US firm that integrates with the main CRM systems. MEDIAFLY – a US firm that offers a sales engagement app and has trademarked the term Evolved Selling. It recently bought Alinean, another RoI player. ROI SELLING – has a range of RoI and value tools. RFP360 – a collaboration platform for both issuing and responding to RFPs. CONTIQ – described as an intelligent content discovery and customer engagement measurement platform. SLIDESHARE – don’t overlook the massive presentation sharing site owned by LinkedIn. PERFECT PITCH 24 – a sales presentation tool for the iPad and other systems. GLANCE – provides visual engagement tools such as co-browsing and screen sharing that can be embedded in the CRM system. Prospects don’t need a special app. ACCENT – provides sales enablement, presentation and content management products. There’s a UK outlet, Hargreaves Marketing.
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REDOCK – for the “tedious aspects” of proposal creation – “finds answers not documents”, as the firm says. HIGHSPOT– an ISM partner and one of the highest rated sales enablement platforms. See box below for more. GURU – unifies your collective knowledge, verifies its accuracy, and empowers your revenue teams (so it says). DOCSEND – an interesting system that allows you to send presentations and other sales collateral without clogging inboxes or getting lost in spam filters. ZOOMIFIER – a US company with content and sales and marketing engagement products. SalesHub is said to create “stunning, media-rich presentations and proposals”. SHOWCASE WORKSHOP – a firm based in New Zealand with a nice looking content and presentation app. PREZENTOR – this is a Danish company worth checking out for its sales content offering. ONEMOB – says it will quickly create pages of content to engage prospects, customers, partners and employees. UNBOXED – has Hub360, a sales enablement system. SALESAPPS – a French company with a mobile sales content system that runs on tablets. SHOWELL – a Finnish firm that says it has a fast and easy sales enablement platform and presentation app. Prices start from 20 euros per person per month. SALESHOOD – a US firm that promises to help you publish the right content at the right time and in the right context. Also majors in coaching and learning. RECAPPED – said to create beautiful sales proposals that let you assign next steps to clients, upload file attachments, leave comments and track engagement. BEEHIVR – a tool that allows you to build interactive sales content for reps. Based in Quebec, Canada. DOOLY – a sales playbook offering. Not a great website. ATTACH – managing use of your collateral materials. FOTOWARE – another content asset system. FOLEON – replaces PDFs for online display.
HIGHSPOT SPOTLIGHT Highspot has brought together content management, sales guidance and buyer engagement into its platform. It says content is generated using an artificial intelligence approach and, pushing the high tech story further, talks of “content genomics” which uses “machine learning to map the DNA of content as it evolves across an organisation”. Like a lot of sales enablement offerings it crosses over into other categories, in particular sales intelligence by bringing in fresh content from outside sources. There’s an interactive sales playbook tool as well, and integration with various online systems. The company has recently opened a European HQ in London under managing director Richard Langham, who was head of enterprise sales at Mendix and also ran EMEA for Adobe Document Cloud.
SOFTWARE | FEATURE
A DVOCAC Y A N D RE FE RE NC ES
CONFIGURE, PRICE, QUOTE AND CONTRACTS
THIS CATEGORY IS a part of the sales content picture but is the subject of a number of specialist products. Referral and advocacy of course are huge subjects in the B2C world. It’s part of lead generation too, which we don’t include as a category as it’s a massive marketing subject in its own right. RO INNOVATION – now acquired by Upland Software and allows you to manage customer references within a centralised library. REFERENCEEDGE – from a firm called Point of Reference. Runs natively on Salesforce. AMPLIFINITY – specialises in customer and partner referrals to keep them referring. VOCALREFERENCES – interesting firm that helps to capture video and text customer testimonials. INFLUITIVE – an active provider of an advocate marketing platform. Based in Toronto. AMBASSADOR – referral software “done right”. VIRAL LOOPS – more aimed at B2C but this is a UK firm with a lot to say about referrals. TECHVALIDATE – says its software “creates persuasive content from your satisfied customers”. WIWITNESS – for collecting social media testimonials. KRED – for building a trusted influencer network. ONALYTICA – a platform that helps you “discover, activate and manage influencers”.
CPQ – CONFIGURE, PRICE AND QUOTE – are applications that help salespeople to quote complex and configurable products, and also guide customers on ecommerce. This is an active if somewhat worthy software category that fits between CRM and ERP. It was a $1.1bn market in 2017. Forrester puts Oracle, Apttus and CallidusCloud as leaders. APTTUS – the leading player in CPQ, according to Gartner, and still privately held. ORACLE – Oracle CPQ Cloud is the core offering. IBM – offers a CPQ suite. CALLIDUSCLOUD – now acquired by SAP. FPX – a leading CPQ player for B2B manufacturing companies. It was acquired by equity firm HGGC. BLUEPRINTCPQ – the trading name of UK firm Blue Zebra Associates and a cloud CPQ player. INFOR – big player with dozens of products including CPQ and CRM. SOFON – a Dutch firm with CPQ, proposal and RFP offers and also sales management. Has a UK office. CINCOM – a long-standing business software player – 50 years old – with a CPQ module. APPAROUND – combines customer facing content and real time quoting. Based in Pisa, Italy. DETERMINE – includes contract, CPQ and RoI tools among its offerings. There’s a UK contact. CONGA – pops up again in contract management. CIS – a US CPQ vendor. See cisconfigurator.com VERENIA – this CPQ platform from a US firm is said to be the only one that is 100% native on NetSuite. CAMOS – a German CPQ specialist. TACTON – a major CPQ player based in Sweden. Targets the large manufacturing sector. VENDAVO – formerly EndeavorCPQ, it makes the Gartner magic quadrant and has a Sweden sales office. PROS – an international player with a London office. QUOTEWERKS – sales quotes and proposal system. SPRINGCM – contract and document management. MODEL N – its Revenue Cloud automates pricing, quoting, deal management, contracting and more. NSALES – a Danish firm offering a mobile sales ordering tool, nVision Mobile. It’s for the retail sector. EXPERLOGIX – US CPQ specialist. IQUOTEXPRESS – a US quote and proposal system. DOCUSIGN – the firm that’s led the market for automating sales contracts and agreements. PANDADOC – a CPQ and proposal system. KBMAX – a 3D CPQ system. CONFIGURE ONE – CPQ firm with an office in Harlow. BLACKCURVE – UK provider of price management software for distribution and retail. AXONOM – sells the Powertrak visual CPQ system. DEALHUB – CPQ that “your sales team will love using”. SIGMA SYSTEMS – international CPQ player. CLOUDSENSE – CPQ firm and a Salesforce partner. ZUORA – automates the order to revenue process. CONNECTWISE – targets tech and service players. SCORO – CRM and quoting are among the offers.
G A MI FI C AT I O N A N D L E AR N I N G KNOW WHO TO COACH Xvoyant is sales improvement platform that picked up a gold award at the latest Stevie awards. It aims to rapidly identify and prioritise each rep’s areas for improvement and further allows you to focus on the reps who most value and respond to coaching. As such it is crossover platform between opportunity management/pipeline and learning and coaching – as the firm says, “Understand what is happening with every deal in the pipeline and develop key skills at the same time.” It has a good line up of advisors on its board, including Jim Dickie, who co-founded CSO Insights, Jill Konrath, one of the sales world’s bestselling authors, and Simon Frewer, who is at “Challenger” consultancy CEB, now owned by Gartner. There are some sales coaching guides available for download at the company’s website, xvoyant.com
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WHILE MANY vendors say they have gamification, we’ll restrict our list to major sales players and specialists. GROWTH ENGINEERING – UK firm that majors on learning and has a game-based tool called Genie and a micro learning platform, the Knowledge Arcade. BUNCHBALL – still maintaining a leadership position as one of the early gamification innovators. QSTREAM – another innovator and says it has the only scientifically proven microlearning app. REFRACT – insight from sales conversations. MINDTICKLE – game systems for onboarding reps etc. HOOPLA – another of the major gamification players. XVOYANT – see panel. SALESMOTIVATE – from Callidus (and now SAP). MICROSOFT – FantasySalesTeam in Dynamics CRM. INSIDESALES – has gamification in its suite. LEVELELEVEN – says it drives behaviours with personalised scorecards and real-time TV broadcasts. GAMEFFECTIVE – provide reps with a live view of their personal targets and achievements. PLECTO – a dashboard team performance system from a progressive Danish firm. SALESCREEN – Norwegian firm worth checking out. CLOUDAPPS – has the SuMo sales motivation and leaderboard products that run on Salesforce. A UK firm. AMBITION – creates dashboards for all employees. ONEUP – UK dashboard and game player.
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FEATURE | SOFTWARE
BUSIN E SS/ SA L E S INT ELL I G E N CE HERE WE LIST information and intelligence systems that can be vital for fuelling sales research. We have not included the many business data companies that provide lists, instead focusing on companies with apps and platforms. We have included a few related offerings. LINKEDIN – its Sales Navigator has to be considered. DOW JONES – has a range of information products including Factiva, the news database. D&B HOOVERS – Dun & Bradstreet’s system is said to be a “sales acceleration solution packed with insight”. LEXISNEXIS – a major player that includes news and company research in its portfolio. BUREAU VAN DIJK – now owned by Moody’s, this is another major business information platform. VAINU – a major international B2B database system. LATTICE – a strong player in lead scoring and predictive analytics. See lattice-engines.com CONVERSICA – aims to qualify leads with AI. CALIBERMIND – built for B2B engagement across any channel and strong on tracking events. SILOBREAKER – a UK firm for making sense of the overwhelming amount of data available on the web. NODE – uses AI to generate ideal customer profiles. See hello.node.io. INFER – it matches your CRM records against its dataset “to identify thousands of signals”. See infer.com SOCIALMENTION – a social media search engine. INTROHIVE – adds “relationship intelligence” into CRM. ZANRAN – searches for data and statistics. BYPATH – a B2B sales intelligence system that analyses big data. It’s a French firm with a UK office. MINTIGO – a predictive marketing platform that the company says will be the “ultimate GPS for marketers”. RELATIONSHIP SCIENCE – allows you to map your relationships with other entities. The firm is promoting the idea of “relationship capital”. See relsci.com ARTESIAN – a strong UK provider of customer insight for B2B selling, with an artificial intelligence approach. INSIDEVIEW – a solid player that delivers detailed data about markets, companies and buyers, along with insights and connections, and uses AI of course. SIDETRADE – supports sales by recommending best cross-sell and upsell opportunities. It has UK offices. DISCOVERORG – a Canadian B2B sales intelligence firm that makes the grand claim of having the world’s most accurate, actionable prospecting database. COLLECTIVE[I] – maps buyer behaviour. DATAFOX – recently acquired by Oracle, this is another AI-driven company data management platform. CLEARBIT – appends accurate company and contact details to your CRM records. EVERYONESOCIAL – Content and tools for connecting across social media and other channels. DIGINIUS – UK firm with lead intelligence, social media tracking, competitor monitoring and more. LEADIQ – a well-rated prospecting system. DATANYZE – identifies technologies used by firms. Part of Zoominfo, a major B2B data company. OXYLEADS – specialises in email verification. HUNTER – another email address specialist.
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O PPO RT U N I T Y A N D AC C O U N T M ANAGEM EN T THIS CATEGORY IS about adding salesforce automation back into CRM. It’s about managing the sales cycle, not so much sales intelligence or content management, although lines between the categories are not as clear cut now. We’re not including mainstream CRM systems and call centre apps, but do include “sales CRM”. CALLIDUSCLOUD – now rolled into SAP, the offering includes opportunity management and forecasting. ORACLE – the software giant has a set of sales automation tools in its Sales Cloud suite. SALES-I – a UK developed system that alerts you to slipping accounts, automates sales reports and spots opportunities. It’s aimed at sectors such as distribution. VECTA – UK sales automation software aimed at manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers. FORCEMANAGER – a mobile salesforce system that tracks activity and analyses sales behaviour. AGENT3 – majors on insights for account-based selling and prospecting. Has UK and US offices. ZILLIANT – Its IQ range includes Sales IQ, which provides “predictive sales analytics to identify the best opportunities to retain and grow customer relationships”. There’s a London office. ALTIFY – bought the famous Target Account Selling (TAS) methodology some years ago. It’s a software firm with account/opportunity management, sales process and revenue optimisation tools. Has a UK office. ADVENTACE – automated sales methodology. PIPELINER – bills itself as a CRM player but firmly focused on managing the sales process. TOTANGO – a “customer success platform” for managing customer relationships with complex account hierarchies and multiple products. PERENSO – Australian firm with a field sales system. TECH4T – UK firm with a territory manager. PROSELL – provides a sales onboarding app. MARSELI – forecasting analytics. Runs in Salesforce. FRONT ROW SOLUTIONS – US firm with a reporting system for field sales calls. MEMBRAIN – a Swedish firm with a platform for complex B2B selling. See panel. OUTREACH – drives meetings and rep workflow. CACI – UK firm with field sales optimisation software. Not related to a US company of the same name. CLARI – a forecast and deal management offering. XENTOR – a UK sales management system. XVOYANT – award-wining sales performance system with pipeline goal tracking. See panel, page 31. DEALSHEET – an opportunity manager from UK firm Outside In Sales & Marketing. PLAN2WIN – a US developer, it has territory, account and pre-call planning products for Salesforce. REVEGY – a sales platform for key account management. US firm based in Atlanta. GEOPOINTE – a geo-mapping system for Salesforce. DEALGPS – a deal support tool from a Dutch firm called Ardens Soft.
SOFTWARE | FEATURE
OPPO RT U N IT Y & AC C O UN T M A NAG EMEN T ( C ON T I N U E D ) INSIGHTSQUARED – system with sales analytics, pipeline management, forecasting, coaching and more. JOURNEY SALES – its flagship, Smart Rooms, sets up personalised spaces for key account engagement. ANAPLAN – optimises quota planning, account segmentation and sales capacity. See panel, right. BPM’ONLINE – CRM with strong sales automation. CRMNEXT – more CRM with strong sales automation. SPARKSTONE – a UK sales-oriented CRM system. KAPTA – key account management software. FILEBOARD – has account activity functions. I-SNAPSHOT – “complete visibility” of sales team activity. Plus competitor analysis and lead management. DEMANDFARM – key account planning offering that integrates with both Salesforce and Dynamics. PEGA SALES AUTOMATION – from major vendor Pegasystems, this is a full service opportunity, account, territory and forecast management suite. SALESSEEK – a sales funnel management system from a London-based firm. GRYPHON NETWORKS – offers sales performance and intelligence systems, among others. SALESMETHODS – a UK firm with methodology and tools OrgChartPlus, ValuMaker and BlueSpace. SALES INTERACTION – UK firm that has a field call activity and coaching system called Advance. VELOXY – a pipeline manager for Salesforce. PIPEDRIVE – described as a simple sales management tool to organise sales information, activities and deals. SALESRABBIT – a field sales management product. BADGER MAPS – sales route/territory planning software. Works internationally. MAPVIEW – another territory planner. PORTATOUR – another route planner. ESPATIAL – Dublin-based sales mapping firm OCCURRO – a pipeline performance system from a UK firm called Occurro Consulting. TERRALIGN – has sales territory software. DISTRIBUTION ENGINE – a well-rated lead-routing app for Salesforce from British firm, NC Squared. TRACTION – a big Salesforce app provider – eg. Hierarchies, which displays things like account overlaps. See tractionondemand.com SALESMATE – a sales-oriented CRM system. KLIPFOLIO – dashboard system for sales and more. TEAMGATE – UK sales CRM worth a look. MAGIC SALESMAP – Google Maps sales app. FRESHWORKS – another sales-oriented CRM system. NOCRM – name is the clue that this is sales not CRM. TACT – an AI sales assistant. See tact.ai VANILLASOFT – major offering that is said to have the most powerful appointment setting software. PIPELINEDEALS – sales-oriented CRM system. GONG – sales conversation specialist for deals NUDGE – deal risk analytics, target account strategy, pipeline builder and more from a US vendor. POBUCA – UK field sales mobile app. SALESBOOM – sales-led CRM system. SELLUTION – opportunity management software.
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MADE IN THE UK
Anaplan was founded by Michael Gould, a Brit, in 2006, on the basis of a new modelling technology for planning. The firm’s products work in various department such as finance and IT, but it seems to be especially strong in sales performance and is included in Gartner’s SPM magic quadrant. There’s an impressive range of resources on Anaplan’s website.
WHAT IS SALES CRM? Some vendors describe their products as “sales CRM” – a recognition that to sell a product you still need the magic term, CRM. Salesforce puts it like this: “A sales management system, also referred to as or sales CRM, is a program that’s ultimately designed to make the sales process simpler.” Swedish firm Membrain is a case in point with its “CRM for complex B2B sales”. It talks our language: “We believe that the sales profession is one of the most important jobs on the planet. It’s also one of the most challenging.” It wants to “elevate the sales profession by designing technology and tools... Since our launch 6 years ago, we’ve seen that customers are sick and tired of CRM platforms just being glorified digital rolodexes.” Tough talk, and Membrain uses the other magic phrase, sales enablement, to describe its approach, and it seems to have covered both the pipeline management/forecasting side and content/front end side, so could be listed in our first section too. In a dig at Salesforce, it also says: “If you’re stuck with Salesforce you can still get the power of Membrain using our plugin.”
I N C EN T I V ES / PER F O R M A NCE THIS CATEGORY IS important because setting up an incentive and commission regime is notoriously difficult. Sales performance management (SPM) is the usual name for these systems. XACTLY – still one of the sector leaders and has enjoyed a record-breaking year. As well as compensation it does quota and territory management. CALLIDUSCLOUD – now rolled into SAP, there’s an incentives and compensation system. ICONIXX – an enterprise sales performance system, with compensation and quota management. ORACLE – has a top-rated incentive and talent management functions in its Sales Planning suite. IBM – covers incentives, quota and territory management, analytics and talent management. ANAPLAN – a solid SPM offering. See panel. INCENTIVES SOLUTIONS – a big sales performance provider; also has Joopy, a sales channels system. The firm has European offices. OPTYMYZE – this US firm has compensation, territory and quota products. NETSUITE – now owned by Oracle it has sales compensation management in its SFA system. GLOCENT – a sizeable sales performance player with an office in Germany. Its website could be better. BEQOM – a cloud sales compensation, territory and quota player with a UK office. CORE COMMISSIONS – US firm that has an automated commission offering. QUOTAPATH – a new US firm that’s raised $3.5m to market a sales commission system. FOCALREVIEW – compensation management software from a US firm, SpiraLinks. Has a UK office. NICE – has a solid compensation management engine to process complex calculations and rule sets. ZS ASSOCIATES – offers its Javelin sales compensation and territory tools. There’s a UK office. QCOMMISSION – sales commission software from a firm called CellarStone. PERFOMIO – sales commission software. COMMISSIONLY – aimed at SMEs.
WINNING EDGE 27
IF YOU BUILD IT
THEY WILL COME!
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SALES STRATEGY | FEATURE
PETER COLMAN presents the fourth article in his series on behavioural economics in sales management – reacting to biases to grow profits. Here, he explains that understanding value from a customer’s perspective is the key to selling new products or services
eventy two percent! Yes, 72% of new products and services fail to hit their profit targets. That’s what our research uncovered, and it’s a sobering thought for management teams. Businesses know that innovation is vital for growth and therefore invest large sums of money inventing new products and services, and yet most of these struggle to hit their financial targets. Something is not quite right with their value propositions. Clearly, there is more to launching a new product than just building it and waiting passively for the phone to ring and the orders to roll in. We’ve nicknamed one of the most common types of product flop as “feature shock”. These offerings are over-engineered by development teams. They suffer a form of confirmation bias and assume that what they would want from the product/service is also true for their customers. They add too many or the wrong features, without understanding if customers want them or, more importantly, if they are willing to pay for them. When sales volumes fail to land, sales leadership comes under pressure for discounts, which eat into profits. Unfortunately, the sales team carries the can, when really it is a number of poor decisions through the new product development process that has caused the problem. In the best companies, the sales function would be involved throughout this process rather than having the product thrown over the wall to them at launch. In previous articles I’ve covered topics such as incentives, sales strategy and tooling. This time I’ll turn my attention to introducing new offerings and, in particular, creating convincing value propositions for sales teams that use behavioural nudges to help persuade customers to buy. 1. “READY FOR LAUNCH… OR READY FOR SELLING” (LOSS AVERSION) Just because the development work has finished, it doesn’t mean your team is fully ready to sell. Your salesforce will be very familiar with and comfortable selling existing products/services. The new offering therefore presents a new opportunity, but will also be a risk to the reputation of the salesperson (even for top performers) if it
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WINNING EDGE 29
FEATURE | SALES STRATEGY
is unproven. It takes them out of their comfort zone by raising a lot of new questions for them. For example: how should they position it? What do customers value most? How do we stack up against competitors? How will they react to it? Is there any guarantee of success for my customer? People typically prefer to avoid losses more than acquiring gains (we can consider this too for reputational losses/gains). If you are going to persuade the salesforce to stake their reputation on pitching the new offering, a quick product overview isn’t going to cut it. You need to invest a lot more time on arming your sales teams with information, argumentation and building confidence through role-playing rehearsals. Role-playing practice is particularly important where you need your salesforce to change its selling approach. A few examples of these changes could be moving from transactional to solution sales, migrating from product sales to subscription-based services or selling into a new vertical market (industry sector). Lots of useful information and statistics are typically captured during the development process, but we often find this is not brought to the surface later in the process and wrapped up for the salesforce to help them sell (this is not about marketing brochures and the like). Without this valuable sales collateral, the path of least resistance is to default to the existing products/services, even if there is a “sales of new products” incentive in place. 2. “COST OF THE PROBLEM VS PRICE OF THE SOLUTION” (FRAMING) If you don’t understand the product’s/service’s value for the customer, you don’t have a value proposition, you just have a proposition. This makes it difficult for your salespeople to talk about performance rather than just the price of the solution they’re offering. The conversation needs reframing. In our experience too few firms focus on the monetary value (pounds sterling) that they create for their customers. You need to analyse how much it is worth to customers to solve their problem (ie. cost of the problem) and make it specific to them. For example, “Our solution reduces energy costs by around 8%, which for a customer with a similar sized business to yours amounted to £500,000 per year.” Once this is understood, you can decide what share of that reward you deserve in return. For example, one client in the power and automation sector aspired to capture at least 15% of any additional value created. This number directly informed the value-selling messages used by the salesforce. 30 WINNING EDGE
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3. “THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER” (COMPROMISE EFFECT) De La Soul, the New York hip hop trio, were right in their hit The Magic Number: it is three. This is so true when it comes to customer choice and product tiering (such as Good-Better-Best). Offer a customer one product and the answer is a simple yes/no. If you give them a choice of two products they’ll typically take the cheaper one. With a choice of three, the compromise effect kicks in and they’ll typically pick the middle one. Give them a choice of 10 or more and you’ll confuse the hell out of them, to the extent that they probably won’t buy anything. A useful test to see if you have designed your Good-Better-Best offer well is to look at the number of customers on Good. If the majority of customers are on this, what you actually have is really “too good” and in need of redesign if
“72%! Yes, 72% of new products and services fail to hit their profit targets... a sobering thought for management teams” you want to persuade people to trade up to the Better or Best offers. The “power of packaging” case study on the opposite page gives you an example of how this can be done.
PETER COLMAN is a partner at global strategy and marketing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, where he leads the sales effectiveness practice for the UK and Ireland. He specialises in commercial excellence programmes to address strategy, sales, marketing and pricing topics. Email peter.colman@ simon-kucher.com or visit simon-kucher.com
4. “NO ONE WILL PAY MORE THAN X” (ANCHORING) One of our many examples of “X” was £10 – and the case in question was a company about to launch its next iteration of an existing product. The management team had a problem as higher than expected production costs meant that margins were going to be so tight that the team was considering whether it should even launch. So where had the £10 threshold come from? We found that this had been a “gut feel” decision made by the management team (based on its extensive industry experience). While on the surface it seemed sensible (£10 would be a natural threshold), there was no research available to back the figure up. A quick survey of the salesforce showed it viewed £15 as the preferred threshold (we kept the management team’s view secret so that didn’t influence them). This extra headroom created the case for conducting some customer research. In the end, a launch price of £12.95 was selected, resulting in a much better margin for the firm. 5. “WE’RE KILLIN’ IT” (CONFIRMATION BIAS) This salesforce loved the fact that volumes (sales) were going through the roof, confirming what ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
SALES STRATEGY | FEATURE
the salespeople had said all along – the firm needed a “fighting brand”. All the volume growth was just in their fighting brand, though, and unfortunately, unknown to them, the category margins were nose-diving as this cannibalised their premium product. How did they get there? Let’s roll back a couple of years. Originally, this market leader had a market share of 60% in this product category with its main competitor making up the rest. Then a low-priced attacker entered the market, which picked off price-sensitive customers and quickly established a market share of around 10%, mainly at the expense of the market leader. Knowing that it couldn’t discount to match the attacker, the salesforce petitioned for a “fighting brand” and within a further 12 months this was ready for launch. Once the fighting brand was available, the highly motivated salesforce went to work selling it to recover lost market share… and sell it they did. The mistake that sales leadership made was not throttling the volumes. Within a year the fighting brand had a market share of 40%. Unfortunately, the market share of their premium product had plummeted to only 15%, so the resulting product mix was proving far less profitable for the firm. Interestingly, during that time, the attacker’s market share had stayed pretty constant at around 10%, even if it didn’t feel like it to the market leader. 6. “TIME TO PULL THE PLUG?” (SUNK COST FALLACY) What about those offerings that should never have been launched? We call these the “undead” and they either came to market dead on arrival or are offerings that still exist but shouldn’t. While it is easy to say with hindsight (another bias), once a firm has invested large sums of time, money and energy inventing something, the sunk-cost fallacy means that it is a very difficult decision for management to pull the plug. And if this happens to be a vanity project of a senior executive, then it can be highly politically charged too. Even with these pressures, canning the offering remains the right thing to do, though such a decision needs to be carefully positioned and presented. THE KEY TO PROFITABLE GROWTH While launching new products and services will come with some risk (72%! 72%! 72%!), not launching anything new will be a bigger risk. The key to getting profitable growth from new product development is understanding value from the customer’s perspective, and then arming your salesforce so that it is well prepared for those conversations. ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
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CASE STUDY: THE POWER OF PACKAGING This company had three service packages: the classic Gold/Silver/ Bronze combination. Our research showed that the Bronze package met the majority of customers’ needs. As a result, we reduced features within the Bronze package and kept the same price point. We then used insights from the research to add new features and higher prices to the Silver and Gold packages and designed a new ultra-premium priced Platinum package. Finally, the communications to customers were carefully planned prior to launch to ensure the correct value messages were included around each package. The result was a big shift in the number of customers within each package (seen in the table) and a monthly recurring revenue increase of over 50%.
PACKAGE BEFORE AFTER (% OF CUSTOMER BASE) (% OF CUSTOMER BASE) PLATINUM NOT AVAILABLE 7 GOLD 12 21 SILVER 32 BRONZE 56
VALUE PROPOSITIONS CHECKLIST The following checklist can be used to ensure that your value proposition is focused for each of your target customer segments:
DO WE RESONATE WITH CUSTOMERS BY DEMONSTRATING OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR OPPORTUNITIES/PAIN-POINTS?
DO WE ARTICULATE OUR CORE OFFERING PLUS ANY AVAILABLE OPTIONS AND THE BENEFITS THAT EACH SEGMENT WILL RECEIVE?
UNIQUE SELLING POINT
DO WE DIFFERENTIATE OURSELVES FROM KEY COMPETITORS AND LOWER-COST ALTERNATIVES, BASED ON KEY PURCHASING CRITERIA?
DO WE SUBSTANTIATE OUR CLAIMS WITH ACTUAL RESULTS, SUCCESS CASES AND REFERENCES ETC?
Customer conversations should have some clear, logical arguments for sure. They should, however, also have some behavioural nudges (for example, trial periods that use the endowment effect or “best seller”/“recommended option” signposting that leverages the selling power of social conformity) to help persuade the customer to buy into the new offering. Further reading and case studies about the 72% of new products and services that fail can be found at monetizinginnovation.com WINNING EDGE 31
FEATURE | GROWING SALES
SO, YOU THINK YOU’RE BUSY?
RICHARD HIGHAM and ALAN TIMOTHY consider sales activity in their latest feature on data-led insights to help achieve impressive sales growth
“Only 50% of small companies, and 70% of larger firms, measure the number of calls per period”
THE POSITION We all recognise time is at a premium. Just think of the answer you often get when you ask someone how they are: “really busy”. In this article we look at the part activity plays in achieving the sales result. Previously, we cited a typical figure of 44% of salespeople being under 80% of quota, for a salesforce of 350. We also stressed three levers that sales managers can pull to improve performance: l Activity: are salespeople doing enough… l Concentration of focus: on the right things, with the right people, with the right customers… l Effectiveness: in the right way… Together, these three levers provide sales managers with the “ACE” in winning the sales game. Here, we explore questions and answers about the part activity has to play in achieving the desired sales result. In Sales and Sales Management, David Jobber and Geoff Lancaster cite research that indicates only 50% of small companies (turnover less than £3m), and 70% of larger firms, measure the number of calls per period (the “A” of ACE). For concentration of focus (the “C” of ACE), 15% of smaller and 37% of larger businesses measure calls per customer; 56% and 54% measure the number of calls to prospects; while 55% and 62% measure calls on existing accounts. In looking at effectiveness (the “E” of ACE), 28% of smaller companies and 33% of larger companies measure prospecting success ratio. Interestingly (and somewhat alarmingly), only 21% and 31% know the cost of a sales call. This article focuses on understanding the actual and required levels of activity and finding ways to get activity levels to the optimum. THE PROBLEM Let’s look at some of the problems that stem from not getting the activity levels right. Not enough or too much? Here is a selection of very different examples:
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l A privately owned business we worked with in the construction sector had grown impressively over the years from a £20m to a £200m company. The key account managers were measured on two metrics that had served the business well in the past: top line sales, and miles driven/customers visited per week. The target number of visits per week was 15. No one knew where this figure had come from, but it was embedded in the culture as a KPI. But when we analysed the actual call rate it was 25. The team of 20 seemed to be over-visiting to the tune of 200 visits a week. At an average costs of a UK sales visit of £120 (as analysed by sales software firm i-snapshot on the basis of 21 million sales visits) that would mean an overspend of £24,000 a week, or a massive £1.25m a year. The company needed to know whether 15 or 25 calls a week (or another number) was the right activity level to achieve the desired result. l At the annual conference of a professional services firm, we got permission to correlate the number of calls with the sales results of the team. The top performer made over 300 visits and generated 3,200 hours of fee-earning work. The lowest performer only made 40 visits (yes, in the year) and generated about 1,000 hours. His argument that he was more effective “hour by hour” did not really impress... Interestingly, the second-best performer generated 2,800 billable hours from just under 150 selling visits. There was some debate about the optimum number of calls per week. Although the top performer was setting a really great example of sales, their high number of calls may not have been the optimum level of activity. Sadly, he was taken seriously ill that year and is no longer with the company. l The third example is an employee benefits consultancy that set up a division to provide services to SMEs. In its model, the consultants would combine selling with their professional work. When we worked on the sales effort needed to generate the growth demanded by the business, it was clear ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
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FEATURE | GROWING SALES
RICHARD HIGHAM (FISM) and ALAN TIMOTHY are directors of SalesLevers. Together with co-director Martin Allison (FISM) they cover the art, science and business of sales. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)7712 588757.
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that each consultant needed to make three visits a consultants made a radical improvement in sales week, but there was only time in their diaries for one results by replanning their time for regional selling. or, at most, two. Despite this clear mismatch of time They reprofiled their client base and reallocated and resource, the business decided to press on in the clients that were more than 2 hours travel away into hope that something would work out. It never did regional hubs. These regional relationships had and they pulled the project a few months later. comprised only 15% of their business, but were On a more flippant note, the correlation between taking up over 30% of travel time. By replanning activity and result was clearly illustrated to us on a selling journeys, each consultant gained time for an visit to the branch office of an insurance client. extra five visits a month. On the opposite page, we We asked who the guy sitting in the corner was. look at two effective approaches to optimising sales He always seemed to be present travel in order to maximise at his screen in the consultants’ sales activity. “Less time selling will either room. “Oh him,” said the Reluctance to sell reduce the result or branch manager. “We call him We can get everything right demand that each sales the ‘pilot light’ because he as far as the mechanics of never goes out!” selling time management are contact is more productive” concerned, but one of the big How does it happen? problems is what the sales Too busy to sell profiling tool SPQ*Gold describes as “reluctance While many businesses have invested in people to sell”. This is often driven by fear of rejection, whose only job it is to sell, many also have part-time uncertainty about how to deal with people or sellers. Maybe they have to deliver the service they problems, or low motivation driven by factors such sell (the “hunt, kill, eat” model), or perhaps they are as lack of belief in the possibility of hitting target, tasked with semi sales-related tasks from or a sense of unfairness. It is clear that when there merchandising to firefighting to compliance. is a low sales activity problem it is not all about It seems to be an inevitable aspect of the partcoverage models and time management. A lot is time seller’s life that active selling time gets pushed also to do with frame of mind. out by the other requirements of the job. Some of this is unavoidable but some involves “displacement The impact of changing activity levels activity”, where doing almost anything else seems There are many problems associated with sales more attractive then getting out selling. activity levels. But one that should stand out to One of the consequences of this in many businesses is that spending less time selling will businesses is feast and famine. When the business is either reduce the result or demand that each sales doing well there is no time to sell. When the taps contact is more productive. We worked with one turn off it is often too late to replace the missing sales team who were complaining about the business. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a pressure they were under to improve conversion constant stream of business development activity. ratios in a challenging market. We analysed their Time stealers sales activity and were able to help them see that There are multiple pieces of research available on maybe the problem didn’t lie in effectiveness but in the time salespeople spend actually selling. A recent activity. If they carried on at their current rate of piece we saw put it at about 33% of the time. Our eight calls a week they needed to generate £13,889 own research with one major telecoms business from every call. If they could increase their activity revealed a figure of 17%, when active selling time to 12 calls a week then generating £9,249 per call was defined as “being face-to-face or online with a would enable them to hit target. We then worked customer in a pre-arranged meeting focused on together to increase activity. growing revenue”. Certainly, there is a correlation between activity and results. Typically, top POSSIBILITIES performers carry out twice as many sales visits as So, what are the possibilities or options for lifting bottom performers. Using i-snapshot data, it is sales activity to the optimum levels? As a starting possible to quantify the differential and pinpoint point, consider applying the following five key rules success indicators. of time management: In a recent piece of work with an inside sales Parkinson: the more time you get to do a task, the team, we measured the top 10% (in terms of more time you need to complete it. revenue/margin) against the bottom 10%. Average Action – allocate a “time budget” and a deadline to call length for the top 10% (ie. time spent actively realise the task. selling to customers) was over 4 minutes, while for Murphy: each task needs more time than originally the bottom 10% it was under 1 minute. foreseen. Inefficient planning Action – calculate how much time is needed for each A London-based team of corporate health plan task in reality – and add a “security time margin”. ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
GROWING SALES | FEATURE
Carlson: completing several similar tasks at the same time is more efficient than doing them separately at different times. Action – group together your similar tasks in the same “time boxes” as far as possible. Pareto: 20% of our activity gives 80% of our results, but secondary activities often take up 80% of our time. Action – prioritise in line with the desired result. Eisenhower: “What is important is seldom urgent; what is urgent is seldom important.” (Quote attributed to President Dwight D Eisenhower.) Action – ensure you separate what is urgent from what is important. Practical possibilities for increasing sales activity Reduce admin time For many sellers, admin time eats up their Friday afternoon or intrudes into their personal and family time. The first clearly impacts on selling time. The second has other longer-term negative impacts. Much can be done to reduce admin time by using the right tools. Introhive, a relationship platform, can reduce the internal follow-up required after a client meeting in businesses where there are multiple points of contact; i-snapshot sees an average increase in sales activity of 21% over the first quarter. This equates to the productivity of an extra salesperson for every five members of the team. Rethink journey planning Two of our favourite and well tried techniques are the “donut” and the “snake”. With the donut you plan a critically important visit that will involve going to a particular location, be it a trading estate on the other side of town or a city on the other side of the world. Having got the “jam” in the centre of the donut you then plan a series of less significant meetings around it. You might not have travelled just for these meetings, but the cost and time have already been applied to the core meeting, so these extra meetings are pretty much for free. With good planning it may not be too difficult to get three or four extra meetings into much the same time. Of course, it doesn’t always work out, but it’s worth planning and striving for. The snake comes into use when you have a distance to drive to see a prospect or customer. Build a journey plan that allows you to make sales visits on the way there and/or on the way back. It may be a slightly snakier route and may involve some stop-offs, but it might turn one call into two or three – a significant impact on sales activity. Time-box your sales activity Much has been written about the inefficiencies of jumping from task to task. This applies to sales professionals as much as to other disciplines. Try to block time. One highly effective seller we know used to make appointments on the run. She ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
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now figures out how many appointments she needs for the coming period and allocates three blocks of time to make calls. The first is for the initial calls and the second two blocks are for follow-ups. She still has to make some random calls to catch people, but over 80% of her phoning is now in time boxes. An entrepreneur with a very busy schedule applies this by working on the cadence of his week. Wherever possible he uses Mondays to work on the business (admin, finances, planning). He keeps Fridays for his creative work. He then allocates Tuesdays to Thursdays for selling time. Again, not every week works out according to this plan, but now at least half his weeks do. There is good evidence that disciplined use of social selling has a significant impact on the sales result. One social selling convert we work with has decided that he will spend the first 45 minutes of his working day (he’s an early riser) responding to posts, building his network and contributing to groups and individuals. He finds this blocked time increases efficiency and effectiveness. Time-boxing may also mean ensuring that non-selling activities are removed from core selling time. One bank we worked with took this seriously by removing internal meetings from core selling time. It was not easy, but it made a big difference. PROPOSAL So, here’s a summary of suggestions to lift your own or your team’s activity to the optimum level: l Understand what will have the greatest impact on your result. Is it a change of activity? Is it better concentration of focus? Is it improved effectiveness? One way to do this is to do the quick and free ACE diagnostic at our site, saleslevers.com l Think through what the optimum level of sales activity is for your role or your team. It’s not always about maxing this out (“drive faster, sleep shorter”) but your activity targets may have been imposed or inherited from a view of what good looks like that may not be relevant for today’s selling l For sales teams, it may be necessary to consider your coverage model. l Analyse what the benefits would be of increasing your sales activity to this level l Identify what can be removed or reduced to create more space for selling. Never forget the principle of displacement – in order to do more of one thing you probably need to do less of something else. Time is not infinitely elastic l Think about “reluctance to sell”. What are the emotional and psychological barriers to increasing your or your team’s sales activity? PLAN Set time aside over the next month to work on this. If you lead a sales team or division, then build in time for an upcoming sales meeting or conference. WINNING EDGE 35
FEATURE | CREATING VALUE
UP, UP AND AWAY! STACEY DANHEISER describes three ways to boost the sales experience and uncover customer value
ong gone are the days when buyers had to wait to gain information about a product or service from their salesperson. In fact, according to Gartner, today’s B2B customers spend 45% of their time researching solutions independently – both online and offline – and only 17% of their time meeting with potential vendors. This means your prospective customers are sifting through copious amounts of information – from websites, to peer reviews, to articles – to understand their problem better, get a feel for possible solutions out there and, in some cases, fully decide what they want, before reaching out to a vendor to place their order. It doesn’t matter what you sell, the fact is that today’s B2B buyers are faced with an enormous amount of choice. Take all of the marketing technology “solutions” as an example. In 2011, there were roughly 150 different suppliers – from advertising platforms to email marketing automation to data management. In 2018, that number ballooned to around 7,000 different options (source: Chiefmartec.com). But while more options may seem to create opportunities and choices for buyers, they also present customers with a major problem – choice overload. As Sheena Iyenger addresses in a recent Ted Talk, as consumers we like to be presented with a lot of options, but too many choices lead us to become quickly overwhelmed when it comes to making a decision, which makes us more likely to: l Delay our choice, even if it’s in our best interest l Make poorer decisions l Choose things that make us less satisfied. Now, put yourself in the shoes of your B2B customers. While searching for a solution, your customers are inundated with information – often 36 WINNING EDGE
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receiving the exact same story and promises from every vendor in the industry. When every company sounds the same, your customers are left utterly confused as to which solution will best meet their needs. They may just avoid making a decision (ie. by continuing with the status quo), choose the one with the lowest price or, worse, choose a solution that is inadequate or ill-matched to their situation. CUSTOMERS WANT VALUE Before we get into how to uncover customer value, let’s define what value is. In my co-authored book, Value-Ology: Aligning Sales and Marketing to Shape and Deliver Profitable Customer Value Propositions (Kelly, Johnston, Danheiser, 2017), we suggest: Value = relevant and distinct benefit – (minus) total cost of ownership Simply put, value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. While you can speculate on the possible value your solution may provide, your customer can only ever decide if the benefit they are being promised is worth paying for. Because value can mean different things to different people, even within the same company or department, it’s critical to “walk in your customer’s shoes” before pitching a product or service. If you don’t, you may end up proposing a solution based on your assumptions of what matters to the customer, rather than on reliable information. Merkle, a marketing specialist, recently surveyed B2B buyers to understand what their greatest frustrations are during the buying process. What it found is that 65% of respondents say, “Vendors/ sales reps are more interested in selling their products/services than listening to my needs.” The key to connecting with potential buyers is first to understand that the only reason they are willing to take a call or meet with you is to
“It’s critical to ‘walk in your customer’s shoes’ before pitching a product or service”
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FEATURE | CREATING VALUE
discuss how you can solve their problem. This looking for a guide – someone who acts more like a involves listening to customers to truly understand doctor or consultant and can help them diagnose their needs, their goals, and potential challenges the problem before jumping in to offer solutions. they are facing, before pitching a solution. Customers are also looking for someone to The question isn’t “What product can I sell to my educate them, provide insights, and even challenge customer?” but rather, “What problem can I help their way of thinking. CSO Insights’ latest sales my customer solve?” performance study finds that the most successful This seems like a straightforward question, but sales reps present customers with ideas and thought many companies cannot answer it. This is leadership to advance their thinking, increasing the evidenced by the fact that most companies think likelihood of becoming a strategic partner. their unique selling proposition As a salesperson, are you (USP) has everything to do helping to educate your “79% of business buyers with what their product is, and customers on how they can want their sales reps to nothing to do with why a solve their problem in new and be trusted advisers who customer would want to buy it innovative ways? In other in the first place. Things like words, are you taking on the add real value” “256 GB of storage” and “over role of a teacher, developing 60 integrated solutions” don’t and leading your prospect into explain to a potential customer what value they will discovering something new? And think about how get from using your product or service. your interactions with prospective customers provide Take a look at most marketing and sales value. Does your prospect gain knowledge about collateral out there and you’ll see that it’s littered their problem, the upsides of fixing it, and with product-centric jargon and company-focused the implications of delaying a decision? Given this shift in expectations to both educate messages. Even customer case studies – which by and deliver value to your customers, let me propose definition should explain a specific customer problem, describe the solution and the results a new word – salespeople need to become “valuecators”. That is, someone who approaches achieved – often only provide surface-level benefits each interaction with the customer as an delivered to the customer. But platitudes such as opportunity to advance that customer’s thinking “improved customer experience” or “significant cost savings” only leave the customer wondering, and provides value above and beyond what the customer expects. Ultimately, your reward for by how much? And will it work for my company? playing this role is a long-term and loyal customer. UNEARTH CUSTOMER VALUE IDEA 2: Discovering what your customers value isn’t nearly as simple as asking them. Often, they may not be AIM TO QUANTIFY THE VALUE able to express clearly and precisely what value they OF SOLVING THEIR PROBLEM Research by IDC finds 95% of executives require would like to get from using a product or service such as yours. For example, if you sell an financial justification before they make a purchase, accounting software package, your prospect may yet according to marketing academic Malcolm say, “I want to spend less time manually following McDonald, only 5% of companies are providing up on outstanding invoices.” But the real value they this. When working with clients, I often hear that seek is to free up their time from mundane tasks it’s “too hard” to measure or track the value they (like following up on invoices) to work on more are providing to customers, or that the leadership meaningful projects that will ultimately help them team is too paranoid to make a value-based claim. enhance their career and get promoted. Without a substantiated claim, however, it comes To uncover customer value and boost sales, across as an empty promise rather than a credibility consider implementing these three ideas. booster. After all, couldn’t every company assert to “grow revenue” or “improve productivity”? IDEA 1: Getting to the heart of what to measure requires RETHINK YOUR SALESPERSON ROLE understanding exactly what your prospect (and the There’s a shift happening in the role of the various decision-makers involved) are trying to salesperson today. Yes, you are expected to be an accomplish. It starts at the top – what are your expert in what you’re selling and what’s happening customers trying to achieve at a business level? in your industry, but you’re also expected to be How are they looking to provide more value for competent in how and why your customers buy. their end-customers? Often, we assume that our Salesforce, the CRM firm, has found that 79% of customers want the same thing we are offering – business buyers want their sales reps to be trusted “network connectivity across the globe!” – when in advisors who add real value, due to the complex reality they want to implement better technology to nature of B2B purchases. These customers are reduce customer complaints and improve retention. 38 WINNING EDGE
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CREATING VALUE | FEATURE
A great starting point to begin to understand a customer’s top priorities and challenges is its annual report. This reveals the big initiatives it is focused on, and also discusses what it perceives are its top challenges and barriers to achieving success. These are both insightful pieces of information to understand how to position your solution, either as something that will enhance the customer’s likelihood of meeting its top goals or as something that will help it mitigate risk. Additionally, when talking with customers, ask questions that help you and them understand how you will measure success. Here, it can be helpful to lead the conversation based on what your customer has stated they care about (eg. growing revenue) and what can truly be measured by both of your organisations. Here are some questions you might ask your prospective customer to quantify what they value: l What are your financial objectives this year? l Which metrics are you/your department measured by? l What are the top challenges or barriers to success you’re facing? l What would you be able to accomplish if these barriers were removed? l What does “good” look like? l How would we measure success? (eg. grow revenue by x%, cut costs by x%, get x more sales meetings, etc.) l What are the implications if we don’t solve this problem? (eg. lose x customers, delay launching new products by x months, lose our best employees) l How will this solution impact/improve your endcustomer experience? IDEA 3: MAKE FRIENDS WITH MARKETING Creating valuable and relevant tools, assets and content for your customers is truly a team effort. Yet many organisations continue to struggle with sales and marketing alignment. Based on a B2B marketing and sales survey we conducted last year with Huthwaite International and Sheffield Hallam University, we found that organisations that perform above their targeted sales goals do a few things differently to deliver superior results. First, organisations recognise that marketing and sales must build a relationship where role clarity, respect and responsibility for actions are the foundation. They acknowledge that the relationship is two-way, and one will not be successful without the other. Marketing conducts industry research, shares it with sales and, in turn, sales shares what it learns from customers with marketing. Next, the two teams share a common language; for example, agreement on what value is and how it will be measured across the firm. Otherwise there can be contention. Take the definition of a “lead” ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
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– sales continues to want more leads from marketing, but according to the CSO Insights study, less than 30% of companies have a definition of what a lead is. It’s difficult to deliver more leads when everyone has a different idea of what one is. Lastly, we found that the most successful companies perform a win-loss analysis – a deconstruction of a sales opportunity after it has closed (regardless of whether the deal was won or lost). This can feel a bit daunting to perform after losing a deal, as nobody likes to relive their defeat, but it can be an incredible source of information for future positioning. Getting clear on why a customer chose you (or didn’t), what value you promised would be delivered, and how the overall buying experience went, helps you gain insight into what’s resonating with buyers and how you can continue to improve your process and offering. Ask yourself, does your company have an established and formal process for collecting feedback from various departments – sales, marketing, product and client services – about the customer? Each team will have a different perspective on how to articulate what the customer (and all members of the buying committee within the organisation) needs to hear at each stage of the buying process. This strengthens your value proposition and messaging and makes it that much more relevant to the customer.
STACEY DANHEISER is founder and CEO of Shake Marketing Group – a global B2B sales and marketing practice – and online course creator at Customer Value Link (customervaluelink.com). She is co-author of Value-Ology: Aligning Sales and Marketing to Shape and Deliver Profitable Value Propositions (pictured below) published by Palgrave Macmillan. Download free resources to help uncover and communicate your value at: shakemktg.com
BECOME A VALUABLE RESOURCE As the CSO Insights’ 2018 Buyer Preferences study found, only 23% of buyers consider working with vendor salespeople as a top-three resource to solve business problems. Instead, they rely on third party resources and subject matter experts (43%), previous relationships with vendors (36%), and vendor websites (35%). Further, 70% of buyers wait until after they have fully defined needs before contacting a salesperson. With sales being brought in later in the buying process, there is less opportunity to influence how the customer defines the problem they are trying to solve and exactly how they will measure success. To turn this perception around, today’s salespeople must be able to demonstrate that they can connect the dots from what the customer cares about to how their solution can help them achieve their goals. Providing this level of value during the sales process requires listening to your customers, educating them on their problem, providing options to solve it, asking questions to help understand what they are trying to achieve, and working together to define and measure value. In the end, customers do not buy products or services, but solutions to their problems. And it’s their experience of a strong value-driven sales process that will ultimately close the deal for them. WINNING EDGE 39
A BLESSING OR A CURSE?
SARAH HINCHLIFFE explores the pros and cons of a central store of reusable information for your bids and proposals
magine the scenario. You are responding to a request for proposal (RfP). You wearily put pen to paper knowing that you’re about to repeat yourself – you had a similar request not long ago. At best, you dig that recent one out and use it as a “starter for 10”. At worst, you begin from scratch. We’ve all been there. Now imagine being able to go straight to a central resource – a library of some sort – where you can pick and choose, slice and dice, mix and match well-written, approved text and diagrams to your heart’s content. Unfortunately, nothing is ever quite that simple. Everything has a price. So, is a bid library a worthwhile investment? A GREAT IDEA IN PRINCIPLE Given that the same information is required for bids time and time again, a bid library should act as the single source of the truth for draft content. If implemented and managed well, a bid library will provide significant benefits that will contribute to higher win rates. The table opposite summarises the most common benefits. Bid libraries are particularly helpful for common, factual responses, often of the due diligence nature found in pre40 WINNING EDGE
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qualification questionnaires (PQQs) or similar. Typical information includes corporate and financial data, policies, standards, certifications and accreditations, and references. For RFPs and invitations to tender (ITTs) that require detailed descriptions of products or services, bid libraries can hold specifications and boilerplate text– standard copy that can be frequently reused with little amendment. Boilerplate text also acts as a solid baseline for tailoring when a bespoke response is required. In such cases, boilerplate text sets the example for writing style, giving a guide to the author and reducing the occurrence of inconsistency. FATAL FLAWS Before we get carried away, good ideas can have significant downsides in practice. Here are the key issues that can arise with a bid library. Lack of customer focus Bid library content is, by default, generic, whereas compelling proposal content is specific to each customer’s requirements and desired outcomes. Bid library content can be that perfect starter for 10, but that’s often where its usefulness comes to an end. ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
SALES PROPOSALS | FEATURE
Over-reliance Related to the previous point, authors under time pressure or with insufficient guidance can get lazy. It’s tempting to cut and paste bid library content without even considering if it answers the question (a guiding principle of bid best practice). Bid library content can often be simply unsuitable – specific questions need specific answers.
descriptions are fine as a starting point. Consider developing short responses – say 300 words (a common word limit in the proposal world) with optional extra wording followed by potential benefits and links to evidence points. Identify what information is valuable for bids but is owned and managed elsewhere in the business. We’ve established that it’s important to avoid duplication, but it’s equally important to have easy access to all relevant information in appropriate formats. For components owned outside this bid library, connect to colleagues to agree the best ways to link up.
Duplication The exact thing you have tried to avoid can pop up. Information that is useful for bids may be held elsewhere in the company. For example, policies and procedures may be held in a quality management system and accounts held in the finance department. It’s important not to duplicate because maintaining multiple versions of the same information is always problematic.
People Every bid library project needs a manager and resources. The manager will set up a plan with tasks and timeframes and regularly measure progress. Each library component will need an owner to create and nurture it.
Currency To be effective, a bid library has to be bang up-to-date. All too often, bid library content starts off in good order, but quickly goes past its sell-by date.
Place You will need to decide where your bid library is going to live and how it is going to be organised. Smaller businesses may simply choose a folder structure on a shared drive. Bigger companies will probably have established collaboration tools or be prepared to invest in software designed to support document or content management. There are too many options to explore in this article – suffice to say you need to find a system that allows easy storage, search and retrieval. Systems with inherent version control and workflow to prompt updating can be helpful if used properly.
PLAN TO SUCCEED With the pros and cons in full view, you are better informed to consider the business case for a bid library. So, now let’s consider the investments and activities needed to get a bid library up and running. A good bid library doesn’t just create itself. Here are the important issues to consider when getting going: Commitment It is essential that a bid library has the support and commitment of senior management – it is going to involve investment to set up and maintain. Strategy Setting up a bid library is tough to do in one big bang unless you have plenty of spare resources or are prepared to outsource content creation. An incremental approach may work better. Decide which way suits you best and set expectations accordingly. Content and structure You’ll need to decide what you are going to store in the library and how to organise it. Thinking of a hierarchical structure can be helpful. Build the main categories, then develop sub-categories and end with a list of components for each subcategory. The diagram on page 42 gives an idea of where to start. Store each component in its most appropriate format – PDFs for fixed information like company accounts, and text or spreadsheet documents for editable content. For boilerplate text, remember that generic ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
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Communication Identify all bid library stakeholders, including contributors, reviewers, approvers and users. Develop a communication plan that will let people know why you are creating a bid library – explain what’s in it for them and what you need from them.
BID LIBRARY BENEFITS BENEFIT
● LESS DUPLICATION ● QUICKER TO FIND INFORMATION ● LESS RE-WORK ● STANDARD RESPONSES CAN BE CREATED QUICKLY ● APPROVED CONTENT CAN BE TAILORED FASTER ● REDUCED INDUCTION AND LEARNING TIME
● FEWER ERRORS AS CONTENT IS CHECKED AND APPROVED ● CONTENT IS CONTINUALLY IMPROVED ● CONSISTENT CONTENT AND STYLE ● MORE TIME AVAILABLE TO IMPROVE WINNING ELEMENTS
WINNING EDGE 41
FEATURE | SALES PROPOSALS
CREATING A HIERARCHICAL BID LIBRARY STRUCTURE Sample bid library categories
Sample bid library sub-categories
Company reference information; organisation; key documents
Contact information; company accounts; insurance policies; credit reports
One category for each common element of company compliance or policy. For example,health and safety, quality, security
Contact information; policies; certification; key records
Templates; writing guidelines; examples
By category – for example, Project Management; Risk Management
Graphics and images
Photos; diagrams; logos; icons
Project documents – templates and examples Quality documents – templates and examples
Case studies; testimonials; third-party reports; auditable statistics
Bespoke responses; responses to unusual questions
By tender name and reference number
Components Company number DUNS number VAT number Directors
Organisation Shareholders Organisation chart Annual reports Key documents
Vision and values
rates by freeing your time to focus on the quality aspects of your proposal – the compelling reasons to choose you. Don’t forget to track the time spent building the bid library (perhaps spread this over a number of years like any other business asset) and the operational costs of maintaining it. Over a period of time this will give you a picture of your return on investment. It’s also important to remember that the reduction in frustration is an intangible benefit to the actual proposal team. It’s hard to measure, but worth its weight in gold.
STAY IN CONTROL Bid library content needs to be controlled and regularly updated. To prevent unauthorised creation, amendment and deletion of content, set up every component with access permissions. Approved authors can edit library content when necessary; others can simply take a copy. To keep content up to date, every component should have a regular, scheduled review and update slot, which is the responsibility of the component owner. Post-bid and post-project review feedback should also be implemented to improve the content. Components updated through these processes may be rescheduled from their planned review slot. Track amendments to components using a manual or automated version control system. For manual systems, the naming conventions need to be clearly documented and shared. MEASURING RETURN ON INVESTMENT The key measure of success for a bid library is whether or not you win more business. Ideally, you will already be tracking your win rates through conversion ratios (measured as number of bids submitted/number of bids won) and capture ratios (value of bids submitted/value of bids won). The bid library will help you improve your win 42 WINNING EDGE
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SARAH HINCHLIFFE is a director of i4 Consultancy and Design, helping companies improve their win rates through sales and bid excellence. See i4salesperformance.co.uk or email email@example.com
TAKING THE PLUNGE The decision to build a bid library shouldn’t be taken lightly. Done well, it will be a business asset that saves you time and cost. It can also improve quality, not just by ironing out errors, but also by freeing precious time to work harder on improving your compelling story. Remember though, it’s not a silver bullet. A bid library needs constant nurturing to stay healthy and valuable. Without due care and attention, it can become a curse – a sprawling mass of old and inaccurate content. So, with eyes wide open, create your business case, commit your resources and build a bid library that becomes a lasting blessing for you, your team and your company. ISMPROFESSIONAL.COM
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ISM MENTOR SCHEME | FEATURE
EXPERIENCE The ISM Mentor Scheme is successfully up and running. Rachael Bourke talks to two of its early participants
What made you decide to participate in the ISM Mentor Scheme? Matt – I saw it on the ISM website and thought it
was a fantastic idea. I’m continually hungry to learn and develop, with the ultimate aim of being able to help my clients, my employers, my colleagues and myself to the best of my ability. I want to learn as much as I can and step out of n 2018, the ISM launched a pilot of the my bubble whenever possible. I’ve been working at ISM Mentor Scheme, which proved to be Valpak for 10 years, and so it’s natural to get used to an instant success. The scheme was created a particular culture. I feel it’s good to branch out. to provide ISM members with the No amount of experience will ever convince me to opportunity to gain guidance and advice stop trying to learn – so for me the scheme was an from senior ISM Fellows, all of whom have absolute no-brainer, giving me the opportunity vast experience across a wide range of sales and to learn from, and with, someone with broad business backgrounds. experience and success – for free. I’m extremely The benefits for mentees participating in the grateful to have had the opportunity. scheme include the opportunity to develop Anna – My initial objective was to help the ISM professionally by gaining launch the Mentor impartial insight from a Scheme successfully. “My initial objective was to help source unconnected to I’m also very passionate the ISM launch the Mentor Scheme their workplace. They about ethical selling, so I have access to senior wanted to help promote successfully. I’m also very professionals with whom this as well. I’ve had a passionate about ethical selling” they may not otherwise good deal of experience have contact. The scheme with mentoring and also contributes towards their required hours of believe it’s a very effective form of professional continuous professional development (CPD). development, so wanted to be involved. I had no For mentors, the scheme provides a means of wider objective, except to support my mentees. putting something back into the sales industry, A voluntary mentoring relationship has a very assisting less experienced professionals and helping different dynamic and focus compared with a to shape their future. Mentors gain satisfaction formal client relationship.
I ANNA BRITNOR GUEST is founder of Alate Business Growth, a consultancy specialising in helping tech companies grow through business-led sales strategy and skills development
MATT BALLER is commercial account manager for Valpak, a consultancy specialising in environmental compliance, recycling, and sustainability solutions
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from helping others, win recognition as experts in their field, and garner fresh industry perspectives. Over the coming months Winning Edge will report on the progress of the ISM Mentor Scheme, and interview a number of mentors and mentees about their experiences of it. Here, we kick off the series by talking to Anna Britnor Guest (CISM), who has recently mentored Mall Baller (EISM). Anna is founder and principal sales growth consultant of Alate Business Growth, which helps tech firms grow through business-led sales strategy and skills development. Matt is commercial account manager for Valpak, a consultancy specialising in environmental compliance, recycling, and sustainability solutions.
Matt, what made you choose Anna as your mentor? Matt – It was a mixture of Anna’s background
experience and her various directorships. Anyone at that level will have had a lot of experience. This was a fairly easy decision for me as Anna was most appropriate for my objectives. I sent Anna an email and we had a discussion to see if we were a good fit for each other – and then we just dived in.
How regularly were you in touch? Matt – We discussed what would work best for
both of us on a regular basis, which turned out to be a call every three weeks for 60-90 minutes. WINNING EDGE 45
FEATURE | ISM MENTOR SCHEME
Anna – That seemed to be the right kind of flow for change your perspective. Our conversations didn’t us. We exchanged regular emails too. From my have specific topics and I didn’t know every detail experience, it’s important to have a structure and of Matt’s situation, so the discussion was not too this seemed the best way in which Matt would prescriptive. We focused on potential options for benefit from support. After each call, we scheduled Matt, but kept it free, allowing ideas to emerge and in our next one, so we solutions to evolve. knew when we were It was fascinating to “You need to be able to commit going to speak again. You learn about Matt’s to mentoring and plan your time need to be able to commit journey into sales, which to mentoring and plan began by his having accordingly – because of the your time accordingly. You preconceptions about potential rewards” have to treat it as being as what sales was and important as your day job overcoming them. It was because of the potential rewards. If you’re interesting to hear how that shaped his journey and overloaded with a big project, it won’t be the best appreciation that he could be both commercially time to try to juggle mentoring too. astute and ethical – the two can go hand in hand, but are often perceived as not doing so. I think that You didn’t meet face-to-face – do you was an important navigation point. It was useful to think it is important to meet? have those conversations with someone I wouldn’t Anna – Personally, I don’t think this is important. have had contact with otherwise. Perhaps it is to some individuals, but generally not. What is the most significant thing that You can do video calls, and as salespeople you you will take away from the scheme? should be comfortable on the phone. It can be quite Matt – Stay humble. No matter how experienced liberating, as you can speak more freely. Matt – I’m a big fan of video chats. People are too you are, you can always learn. Don’t rest on your quick to jump in a car for a short meeting, when it laurels. Look at Anna, she is highly experienced but can be much more convenient to do it on Skype. An is always looking at ways to develop herself. Things hour’s call may sound a lot, but ultimately it’s a small are always changing; for example, there is less investment for potentially significant returns – it’s so hierarchy, a flatter company structure, these days. Anna – I really enjoyed helping a like-minded important to make time for development. individual who shares a similar outlook – someone so passionate about their development. I was able How were you able to balance being a to take a step back and think how best I could help mentor with your other commitments? Anna – Having agreed our parameters upfront, Matt without any company context. The experience Matt was very respectful of my time. We both had was really valuable as it challenged my thinking. client commitments. We organised diaries and If you are committed to the process, willing to be looked at what worked for us both, and then we deeply challenged, and give it a chance, you will committed to it. We were clear and planned ahead, both derive great benefits from it. but also allowed room for ad-hoc questions. Matt – There were no major problems, with Will the mentor relationship continue? Anna – Research into mentoring relationships has appropriate time management. Anna and I agreed shown that a time limit should be set, otherwise it our time commitments, so it didn’t negatively can fizzle out and might not be such a positive impact on either of us. I was more than happy to experience for both parties. When we began, we prioritise the calls in order to help my development. suggested we give ourselves a timeframe of There was no point during the mentoring period 3 months, and then at the end of this period we that I thought, “Oh no, I don’t have time for this.” would decide what the next steps would be. I think Do you think your perspective changed having this timeframe helped to keep us present as your journey progressed? and focused. Without it, there was the risk of not Matt – I was able to step out of my day-to-day having a clear set of goals and outcomes. Matt – In theory, I’d happily have a call every week bubble and access neutral advice. Sometimes you with Anna. But as much as I’ve enjoyed it, I feel it’s need a third party to help you see things in a time for someone else to benefit from Anna’s different way. I also gained reassurance that much expertise and guidance. We will still stay in touch, of what I was doing already was right – with the and we’re connected on LinkedIn, but it doesn’t benefit that I don’t need to focus so much on those need to be a formal process anymore. issues, but simply maintain them while focusing on other development areas. Anna – The world is always changing, and going What are your next steps now? Matt – To continue to put into practice what I’ve on someone else’s journey for a while will inevitably 46 WINNING EDGE
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ISM MENTOR SCHEME | FEATURE
learnt – otherwise what was the point? Time management is my Achilles heel, so I’ll continue to focus on this. Otherwise, I think the advantages will be more general and more subtle, by benefiting from the renewed context and fresh perspectives I’ve gained along the way. Anna – To be available to Matt on an ad-hoc basis, as and when he would like me to act as a sounding board – or to help him in any other ways I can.
their time management, it helps you think about your own too. It allows you to reflect on what you’re doing – a sort of ‘sharpening your saw’ exercise.
Would you recommend the mentor scheme to other ISM members? Matt – Of course. Absolutely. It’s free education
and any opportunity for learning should be embraced. I’m very appreciative to Anna and the ISM. Anyone on the fence about it should hop off Do you think organisations should and do it. It was a really positive experience from encourage mentoring? beginning to end. Matt – Yes. This is important so that people realise Anna – Yes, it’s a fantastic ISM membership benefit mentoring is not a sign of weakness or failure. I think providing the opportunity for learning in both organisations should normalise and encourage it, directions. It offers a sharing experience and both internally and externally. You can learn knowledge transfer with people from different something from everyone. Fortunately, I’ve had companies that you otherwise wouldn’t have had only encouragement from Valpak’s management. the opportunity to spend time with – and this Some people were pleasantly surprised, and it has works both ways. encouraged them to consider it too. It’s clear there are lots of talented members Anna – Mentoring can be a good way to build skills like Matt in the membership, members who are and, when done internally, encourage a learning committed to sales professionalism. Looking at company culture – and it is such a low cost to a mentors, the ISM is uniquely positioned to deliver business. If an organisation wants to drive mentoring to the membership and should be mentoring, it needs to commended for starting create the right culture for the scheme and “Don’t assume you’ve ‘been there, it. Make it a positive supported in making it a done that’ and already have all the experience and not a success. remedial activity. It is also It’s worth reiterating knowledge. There’s a tremendous good for building internal that not only is it a lot to be gained” and external networks. neutral environment, it is The organisation needs also confidential. When a degree of structure around mentoring, to control else would you get the opportunity to work with who does it, as it has the potential to be unhelpful. someone who is completely neutral and on your To put it bluntly, organisations don’t want certain side? You are a good sounding board and you are behaviours being taught, or certain people acting as not going to disclose details to anyone else. You mentors, as they can be disruptive. can say what you like without fear that it would Matt – Good point Anna. Naturally, you can’t do influence or impact on anything else. You don’t find things too differently. If someone junior comes in, this sort of opportunity very often. it’s important they’re not trained in a way that will What advice would you pass on to have a negative impact. Anna – Matt and I share similar values, for example, anyone else looking to become a mentor or mentee? we’re both committed to ethical selling. If we’d been Anna – Be clear on why you want to be involved. It different, it may still have worked but it could also doesn’t have to be a specific goal, but you do need have run dry very quickly. ISM members all abide by a sense of purpose and be aware of how much time ethical standards, but the scope for variation and you can give to it. The timing won’t always be right. incompatibility is still wide. For mentors, my specific advice would be, don’t Overall, have you benefited from the assume you’ve “been there, done that” and already ISM’s mentor scheme? have all the knowledge. There’s a tremendous lot to Matt – It’s enabled me to step outside my typical be gained for you as well. Matt – Leave your ego at the door. Understand daily environment to gain a fresh perspective. From firstly what it is that you’re aiming to achieve, and an ISM point of view, it’s promoting the professional, then select an appropriate mentor. Prepare ethical approach that selling should always embody. thoughtful, open questions and aim to make the There are only benefits to take away from this best of both your time and theirs. process, in my opinion. Anna – For me, it’s been enormously rewarding. It And aim to provide value – don’t just take from has helped me think things through in a different them. Remember – the win-win is the ideal way. For example, when you talk to someone about outcome for both parties involved.
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RACHAEL BOURKE is head of membership at the ISM
WINNING EDGE 47
SALES STRATEGIST Winning Edge meets PETER COLMAN, partner at Simon-Kucher What is your current role, and what are children, so travel and time away from home can be your main areas of experience? both tricky and sometimes leave you feeling guilty I’m a partner and shareholder at Simon-Kucher when you miss a special event at their school. & Partners, where I lead our sales effectiveness practice for the UK and Ireland. Simon-Kucher is a What are your toughest sales challenges? global consulting firm, with over 1,300 employees Persuading a salesforce that they need to increase in 38 offices. We specialise in commercial strategy, prices. No-one in sales enjoys those conversations sales and pricing programmes to help our clients with their customers. Pricing is so important – improve their top and bottom line. it is the biggest profit lever and should be a core I was born and raised in Leeds, state school competence of every firm, but it never is. educated, then did a degree in physics at “I’ve always felt that sales is Nottingham University, followed by a PhD in What have been your most the most important function of electronics at Cambridge University. In 1998 satisfying achievements? I joined BT’s sales and marketing graduate Until a couple of years ago, I would have a business, so it’s great to see programme and then in 2000 made the move picked a particular project. But since the ISM championing sales into consulting, focusing exclusively on investing in the business and becoming an professionalism” commercial topics. I’ve been lucky to work equity partner, I see the growth of the firm internationally, taking the opportunity to live (and our London office in particular) as the and work in Vancouver along the way. most satisfying collective achievement. When I joined Simon-Kucher in 2008 it had an €81m What attracted you to a sales career? turnover – last year we had a €309m turnover. Towards the end of my PhD I decided to move Our partnership model is unique: we have an away from academia. Consulting would have been internal market exchange for shares, all our a common career path, but I decided to apply for partners have to be owners of the company and commercial graduate programmes. My dad hated they steer the business. We are true entrepreneurs. consultants (he’d seen years of the centralise/ decentralise “concertina”) and this influenced me to What are your future ambitions? look for a “real job”. During my interviews at BT, To continue to grow our London office. We still see I had the dictaphone equivalent of the “sell me this lots of potential in the UK market, and want to pen” role-play. I really liked the interviewers, who develop our teams into future partners. Partnership were smart and entertaining, so when the job offer is open to all our consultants, if they prove their came it was an easy decision. It was a great first performance and ability to build the business. role, working in one of the largest account teams, and I still use the lessons I learnt there. Around What advice would you give to an 2000, the dotcom bubble was in full flow, so I made aspiring sales professional? the move into digital consulting, focusing on Think like an owner of your firm by developing a ecommerce and CRM topics, and then in 2008 I margin mindset. As your career progresses, your made the move to Simon-Kucher. thinking and behaviour will have to shift from top line (revenues) to top and bottom line (profit and What do you like/dislike about your role? loss). The sooner you adjust to the old adage, I enjoy the variety and challenge that comes from “Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity,” the better. project-focused work. I’ve always found customer/ commercial topics the most interesting area of What do you like about the ISM? business, so have been lucky to find a firm that I’ve always felt that sales is the most important focuses exclusively on that. I’m also conscious of the function of a business, even if it rarely features on perceptions of some people about consultants, so I MBA programmes, so it’s great to see the ISM like it that our projects make a tangible difference to championing sales professionalism and personal our clients’ profitability. It’s important that I can development. I’m also pleased that we can give look my dad in the eye and be proud of my work. something back to the sector, and really proud that My wife has a career too, and we have young we’re a sponsor and judge at BESMA this year. 48 WINNING EDGE
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ISM MEMBER BENEFITS
Don’t delay, benefit today! Did you know that as an ISM member you are entitled to a wide range of benefits and services? We can help you progress throughout your sales career in a number of different ways, such as by providing learning opportunities through our high quality content and insight from senior leaders within the sales industry
ISM MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS INCLUDE: PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION Displaying your membership designation, such as EISM or FISM, from the leading professional body for the sales industry demonstrates your commitment to ongoing development as a sales professional. It also significantly strengthens your customer proposals and enables you to stand out from the competition QUALIFICATIONS We offer professional and accredited sales qualifications approved by the government’s qualifications regulator, OFQUAL REGIONAL EVENTS ISM events provide great networking and learning opportunities as we invite senior speakers to present on topics relevant to the sales industry CPD SYSTEM Track your continuing professional development (CPD) activities, such as event and webinar attendance, and sales-related reading. Engaging with the ISM’s CPD system ensures that you are kept up-to-date with industry knowledge and enhances your ongoing professional development
ISM MENTOR SCHEME All our mentors are ISM Fellows. They come from a range of sectors and are on hand to provide guidance and support to other members, assisting in their professional development. The scheme operates on a one-to-one basis, with mentees choosing the ISM mentor they would like to be paired with, based on which profile best matches their specific individual requirements SALES LITERATURE Members can borrow the best in informative sales and business books for up to 21 days across a range of titles and topics VIDEO LIBRARY Bite-sized thought leadership interviews with senior professionals from a wide variety of different industries, including both SMEs and large blue-chip organisations
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