Monthly Archives: May 2011

Please Read CRM and Leave Me Alone!


Begin rant here…

If you look at it from the perspective of the sales representative, one of the principal benefits of CRM (and I’ve selected, implemented, and used them all – Microsoft CRM, Salesforce.com, Oracle CRM, Sugar, you name it)  is creating a “book of record” for opportunities and client touch points. 

I know where my opportunity stands.  I know the sales stage we’re in.  I know the people making the decision.  I know our allies and our detractors.  I have all my correspondence to and from our buyers.  I have the latest feedback from the  influencers.  I’ve documented our partners on the deal. Ditto the competition. I know our relative strengths and weaknesses.  And, here is the coolest part – SO DO YOU!  In fact, everyone in the organization has this information in one, centralized spot.

This is why my pet peeve is doing perpetual deal reviews for various members of a pursuit team – catching them up.  As the Sales Rep, this consumes  untold cycles of my time.

If you want to know about a deal, please go review the notes on it in CRM! 

Otherwise, why am I doing this typing?  (I’m the one who already knows this information, remember?)

…Rant ended

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Sales People – Play Your *Position (*It’s Changed)


Parents who have watched their children growing up playing soccer can appreciate this.  It’s the phenomenon I call “swarm-ball” where the young kids cluster around the ball, eyes fixed on it, and move as a swarm up and down the field, flitting around to the brink of exhaustion.

Years go by.  Then, something magical happens.  All the coaching sinks in and like a light-switch, the players lock into the concept of playing their position.  Suddenly all the lost energy becomes focused and efficient.  Players are making passes, assists, and goals more often with less exertion and more accuracy.

Sales people have a position to play in a selling process too – and it’s changed.  Radically.

In recent years, as the internet has exploded and buyers are more educated than ever, sales people can no longer afford to just “chase the ball.”  Buyers don’t like it.  They won’t tell you – they just won’t buy from you.

It boils down to this, you are no longer the source of information on your product or service.  Whether they have it or not, clients will come to you feeling as though they have all the knowledge about their purchase (want proof of this trend? Ask your Doctor if Web MD has caused her any frustration in this area with the medically “brilliant” patients she now must deal with).  Clients do their homework first.  We all do this when we buy. 

My respected friend, Ardath Albee (follow her on Twitter immediately if you don’t yet – http://twitter.com/#!/ardath421 )  is a thought-leader in content marketing.  This is the art and science of generating interest, attention, value, and engagement (that leads to YOU and the active selling position you play).   Here is Ardath’s new concept of a sales funnel:

The bottom line is that you as a sales person no longer work the entire funnel.  You and your organization need to need to put good, valuable content out there to capture the interest, gain the attention of, communicate value to, and Engage potential buyers.  This is where your position kicks in.  At this point is where you can make a huge difference as a sales person.  You can have more qualified sales conversations, and close more sales, if you play your position

Don’t to shoe-horn your clients into being “sold” on your product.  Instead, play your position by leveraging content marketing techniques to engage clients in the front end of the funnel while you bring value to buyers in key conversations and their decisions to buy. Be the best possible player you can be from “engagement” onward in this funnel and you will score more goals!

Guaranteed Better Sales Interactions? Plan On It


We don’t always do the best job that we can at preparation.  But one thing is for sure – there is no shortage of meetings each day, especially in sales and marketing.    Due to the collaborative nature of selling today, those meetings burn not only y0ur time, but the time of other valuable people in your organization.  It pays to do them effectively and efficiently.  So when is the last time you pre-planned an important meeting? 

On my better days, this makes the difference between a highly successful meeting or one that lacks specific direction and outcomes.

You can do a pre-meeting plan in a phone call, or more formal written document.  But whatever form it takes, I guarantee that you will have better meetings, and accomplish more in them if you take a few minutes and plan ahead.  It works for non-sales meetings too.

So what comprises a good pre-meeting plan? 

To fit your unique situation, you’ll ultimately need to answer that for yourself.  But here are some suggestions from my “g0-to” pre-meeting plan document to get you started:

1.  Meeting Logistics: 
Communicate the time, date, exact location, attendees from both organizations, dress code, and a reminder to bring business cards.  It seems simple, but at least one or two of these are almost always missed.  By the way, your client will give you points for asking for this information ahead of time. 
Not all their vendors come off this organized!

2.  Client Snapshot:
Include a brief, relevant overview of the client organization to baseline the participants.  Especially in the age of the internet, you never look so unprepared as when a team-mate asks a basic question that they should have known going in. 
You’re on for preparing them!

3.  Client Goals, Problems, Needs:
What does your client need from this meeting?  How often do you go in to a meeting without the answer? Too often if you ask most clients.  Preparing for this item is the only way you can know that you will deliver “in-meeting” value. 
Provide “in-meeting” value or your follow-up won’t matter!

4. Sales Objective for the Meeting:
What do you hope to accomplish from this meeting?  Some people are not comfortable with this prep question.  I don’t know why.  Clients know that we are all in business to give and get.  Don’t just go in for a visit.
What’s annoying to them is you being unclear on what you want!

5.  Main Agenda Topics and Topic Owners:
Being organized ahead of time to avoid confusion or conflict makes a huge difference on the impact of the meeting . The collaborative nature of selling has introduced a variable that did not exist in the “1 vs. world” model of sales meetings.  We all think we’re smart and we all hate silence.  Have this mapped.
Someone will say something dull unless you script it out!

6.  Potential Objections, Planned Responses, and Owner:
If you can do just one item on this list before your next meeting make it this one.  This is the most critical item and most often missed opportunity.  Prepare for objections before you get in there.  Here is a fun exercise to run before the meeting: Ask 4 participants what our ideal answer to a client’s question/objection will be and watch how far-flung the responses are.    Practice this, or at least plan for it, and your meeting will be many times more effective.
A crisp response to a tough question can mean a win or a loss!

So there it is, your starter “Pre-Meeting Plan.”  Now go make it yours and watch your meetings soar.

Good Selling!