The Sales Way Podcast is for anyone working in B2B sales enablement and B2B sales leaders - bringing you super simple tips and insights to help you drive greater sales and marketing success. From how to create your sales playbook, to getting your sales teams social selling, we're here to help you create more success in your sales enablement activities. Brought to you by Contemsa.
The Sales Way Podcast: https://thesalesway.com
Qualifying Sales Opportunities
Qualifying Sales Opportunities
Organizations with sales teams fall into one of two camps when it comes to qualifying sales opportunities or customer deals.
Either you have a qualification process in place, or you don’t.
When we talk about qualifying sales ops, what we mean is that you have a company recognised method of deciding whether a sales opportunity is valid or not – so for example, that could mean, the customer has the budget, the timescales are defined and there is an actual need for your product.
Unfortunately, qualifying sales ops is often seen by sales people as a waste of time – some people see it as an unnecessary admin task – but the truth is that properly qualifying your sales ops is as important to a sales rep as it is to the company’s reporting activities.
If you don’t have a sales qualification process in place, then we’re going to look at why you should. And if you already have one in place, we’re going to talk about why it’s important to check that everyone is on board with why they’re qualifying leads and to have a check in to make sure your sales qualification process is actually working for you.
So, firstly, let’s look at a few reasons why qualifying sales opportunities is so so important. We often create qualification processes for the sake of them, without thinking about why we’re doing it. This can mean we fall into the trap of having an out of date, irrelevant qualification process that no one follows.
So, number 1 – it focuses your efforts on customers who are actually going to buy.
Salespeople can waste a lot of time talking to people who are never going to buy. They’re just kicking the tyres, stringing you along, or perhaps they fully intend to purchase but the reality is they don’t have the budget or authority. They’d love to buy, but they’re just enthusiastic prospects without the means to actually go ahead and purchase your product or service.
Because we get excited when a customer shows some interest, it can blind us to some of the red flags that are missing, namely whether the customer has the authority, budget, business need or deadline by which they need to purchase.
A qualification process reminds us of these red flags and helps us to critically assess a sales situation so that we’re only spending time with customers who are actually going to buy.
Ok, reason number two why you need a qualification process: it helps us to focus on who we should be looking for when it comes to target customers.
Without a qualification process, we can end up with too broad a prospect base to concentrate our limited time and resources on.
With a clear qualification process in place, we can whittle down our prospect list to focus on customers who are more likely to have the budget, scale, authority or business requirement that fits our product or service.
Reason number 3 for having a good sales opportunity qualification process in place is that sometimes, everything can look right on paper, but something is missing in a customer deal. Something just feels off. Having a qualification process in place where you review deals with your manager or senior colleagues gives you a good check in opportunity to discuss and analyse the deals you’re working on.
It gives Sales Enablement and Sales Leaders a framework to discuss customer deals with sales teams – encouraging the sharing of information and insights across the sales department. This not only provides opportunities for coaching to take place, but helps to make sure CRM systems are accurately updated so that opportunities that aren’t properly qualified aren’t being left in CRM tools.
So now we’ve talked about the ‘why’s’ – let’s discuss what you should do if you already have a sales opportunity qualification process in place but are feeling like it’s just not delivering many benefits for your business.
So, step 1: Find out if people are actually using the qualification process
Rebooting Your Sales Strategy After COVID Lockdown
Coronavirus has turned everything upside down – and so it’s not surprising that most sales teams across the world are in a state of flux.
Customers aren’t buying, or maybe they are, but they’re not buying what they’d planned to buy 12 months ago – in fact, in a B2B sales survey on the impact of Coronavirus that we conducted, 73.9% of B2B salespeople said their sales opportunities have decreased over lockdown. Strategies are out of the window, annual reports and multi-year programs have been ditched in order to survive the here and now. Teams have shrunk, some are still furloughed, or maybe staff have been moved around to focus efforts on keeping the day to day business functioning.
So what does this do to your sales strategy?
In short, it’s probably worth throwing out the strategy and goals you put in place 12 months ago and start again. 50% of salespeople said that customers postponing decisions was the biggest struggle they were now facing, so we have to look at how to reach customers when they’re in a completely different place to where they were last year.
Think about your customers: their priorities have likely done a 180 degree turn since Coronavirus hit, so going in focusing on the same projects from 12 months ago, will likely only frustrate your customers and create even more distance between them and you.
Instead, use lockdown as an opportunity to set up calls and videoconferences to all come together and reassess what life looks like now. With increased uncertainty ahead, it’s hard to say that we’re out on the other side of the Coronavirus yet, but now that a few months of the ‘new normal’ has passed, businesses are likely making plans about how they need to operate in order to survive and thrive now.
This brings opportunity for sales teams. The key now is looking at how your product or service can align with your customers’ new goals.
So what are these new goals going to be? You obviously need to get out there and talk to your customers to find out what they are specifically, but if we look at industry in general, the goals will likely centre around:
Reducing operating costs to make the business as lean as possible
Reducing staff and trying to automate more parts of the business in an effort to survive whilst revenues aren’t at 100% normal levels
Looking for new business opportunities as a result of Coronavirus (i.e. videoconferencing solutions, better connectivity to support remote workers, for example)
Implementing remote working and collaboration services
It’s likely that some of the bolder ambitions have fell by the wayside for many customers – those big expansion plans are probably on the backburner right now, and will be for some time as the economy sluggishly recovers, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities. It’s just that how you approach those opportunities is likely going to be different.
Can you show customers how you can help to save them money? How you can improve staff satisfaction levels? How they can better retain their own clients through outstanding service, thus reducing any possibility of customer churn or further revenue loss? Can you come up with new and interesting business ideas to help them make use of existing resources and staff? Can you share your contacts and put customers in touch with other companies and businesses where there are interesting synergies?
So, with all this in mind, here are a few steps to reboot your B2B sales strategy after coronavirus:
Update your product messaging
First things first, get your product messaging right. If you haven’t changed it since before Coronavirus hit, then it’s probably a really good time to take another look at how you can tweak messaging to suit the industry you’re selling into now.
If you’re selling a luxury, nice to have (rather than a cost-saving must have) item, then what can you tweak about how you position your product to make it more relevant to customers
Being an Introvert in Sales
Being an Introvert in Sales
We often think to be successful in sales, you need to be an extrovert.
True, lots of salespeople are extroverts. Sometimes, maybe a little TOO extroverted. We all know that person.
Sales can involve a lot of speaking to new people, engaging an audience, presenting to customers, cold calling, reaching out, interacting, and taking clients out for dinner, for example.
But that doesn’t mean that being an introvert is a bad thing in sales. It can bring with it some great sales superpowers.
So what does the science say about being an extrovert in sales?
Research actually found that in studies of 4000 salespeople, there was almost zero correlation between extroversion and sales performance. (See here and here.)
So, why do we associate extroversion with choosing B2B sales as a career?
It’s probably to do with a number of things:
• Extroverts already working in sales are likely to hire other extroverts – in effect, we are hiring people with traits that we ourselves have.
• Secondly, because we tend to assume that to work in sales you need to be an extrovert, many introverts don’t even consider sales as a profession.
• Thirdly, sales is associated with some extrovert qualities – such as engaging with customers and reaching out to new people – however, in many other types of jobs people have to do these activities too. It’s just more common in sales.
• And finally, and maybe most importantly, our own perceptions of sales are skewed. We exaggerate the extrovert qualities of the typical salesperson, and ignore other, more introverted qualities that are required in sales.
So, how does being an introvert actually help improve your chances of success?
Firstly, you are more aware of what’s going on in your environment by sitting back and listening, rather than jumping in and talking. In effect, you make your customers the centre of attention instead of yourself.
Secondly, this ability to listen means you are great at really hearing what your customers are telling you. Are they saying one thing, but implying something else? Does their body language match what they are saying?
Thirdly, you will probably ask great questions. Your focus will be on asking useful and pertinent questions and considering your customers’ responses, instead of ‘telling’ or ‘talking at’ your customers.
So this brings me to an important point, that buyers probably don’t even like the stereotypical ‘extroverted’ salesperson figure that we are used to hearing about.
Put yourself in their shoes: if you were making a large purchase, would you want a salesperson who was thoughtful and considered in their approach, and was attuned to your way of thinking and intently listening to your answers? Or would you prefer a gregarious, over-confident salesperson who talked over you and told you information rather than trying to ask you sensible and well-thought-out questions?
In reality, many salespeople are somewhere in the middle between full extroverts and introverts. However, we shouldn’t assume that people who are more on the ‘introvert’ end of the spectrum can’t make good salespeople. And we also shouldn’t let our own bias about the ideals of the stereotypical salesperson affect our judgement when hiring into new sales roles. We need to instead understand what our customers need and want from a salesperson, and use that information to inform who we hire – or how we conduct ourselves as professional salespeople.
So, if you’re an introvert, and wondering where you fit in, in the world of sales – remember there are so many qualities that introverts can bring to the table.
Or, perhaps you’re a sales leader and wondering how to manage a team of extroverts and introverts – or you’re concerned about hiring an introvert. Hopefully today’s episode has given you some food for thought about not just hiring based on those stereotypes we have about salespeople.
Links to any r
How to Create an Amazing B2B Case Study
How Do You Write a B2B Case Study?
Link to a FREE guide on creating B2B case studies: https://contemsa.com/sales-hub/closing/case-study/
This week, we’re looking at case studies – why we need them and how to create an amazing case study for your brand.
A case study is your product’s story – it’s the story of how your product is helping organizations to achieve success – how it delivers success, who helped them to achieve that success, what results that success delivered, and so on.
It should take prospects on a journey from where the customer started in their business, through to where they ended up as a result of purchasing your product or service.
Humans learn through storytelling – in fact, marketing and selling is all about telling good stories: stories that show how a product will help you to supercharge your business, stories about how you can help customers overcome their biggest commercial challenges, and stories about how you will help your clients to achieve phenomenal results.
And stories are so important – in fact, nearly 80% of people say they want brands to tell stories in their marketing. Plus, storytelling can make marketing messages up to 22 times more memorable than just presenting facts. That’s a huge opportunity for any marketer!
But many of us aren’t telling good customer stories. And the best way to tell customer stories is with case studies – it’s a chance to tell your prospects and wider industry about how you helped a customer to achieve success by working with you or purchasing your product.
We’re going to take a look at why case studies are so important and what makes a good customer case study.
For a detailed overview of how to create great B2B case studies, take a look at the links in the episode notes where we have a free guide on case studies.
So why should we even care about case studies?
Case studies reassure potential customers – by showing prospects how other organizations have achieved success by working with you. It reassures potential customers to know that other clients, especially well-recognised brands, have trusted you and achieved good business results.
They help to show customers a solution to their problem – by demonstrating how another customer, in a similar situation, overcame a particular challenge.
Case studies show you’ve been there, done that, and wrote the case study to prove it – in other words, it’s a written record that you have actually delivered this product or service successfully.
Case studies can help you win against the competition – by showing why a customer chose you instead of the competition, and what the results were.
They provide an opportunity to talk about your product – without just droning on and on about product features. Perhaps your invoicing software is the most user-friendly in the market – well, show that by referencing that fact in a case study.
One good customer story can create lots of additional content – if you turn that case study into a video, a presentation, a blog post, some PR, and lots of social media posts.
So, now we’ve covered why case studies are so important, let’s look at how to actually create one. So what goes into a good case study?
There are a few key elements you need, and here’s an overview of each area you need to include in your next case study:
Step 1: Explain who your customer is and why we’re going to want to hear about them.
Tell your case study readers who the customer is and why they’re so darn interesting that you decided to feature them. Are they world-class in what they do? Do they serve amazing customers? Do they build phenomenal products?
Well tell us about it!
Step 2: Provide a foundation for the case study to build upon.
Start at the beginning – what did the customer’s life look like before you came into it and swept your them off their feet with your amazing products and services?
Step 3: Talk about what your customer was struggling with bef
Racial Diversity in Sales
Episode 9 - Racial diversity in sales
In this episode, I wanted to talk about an important issue – racial diversity in sales teams.
The more diverse your sales teams are, the more likely they are able to align with your customers – as customers themselves have increasingly diverse workforces, sales teams also need to reflect that same diversity to ensure we’re better understanding our customers’ challenges, their business aspirations, their needs and objectives, and how they operate.
Sales is notoriously a male dominated environment – with not a huge amount of racial and ethnic diversity. I tried finding some specific statistics around diversity in sales specifically, but the data points just aren’t there for everything we wanted to look at. There is data for gender diversity in sales – which we’ll cover in another episode, but in this episode I wanted to focus on what we found regarding racial diversity stats in business.
And the statistics we did find paint an interesting picture – and certainly show that whichever way you look at it, diversity is not just the ‘right’ thing to do, it’s also good for business.
So here are a few interesting stats we found around racial diversity statistics in business.
✔️ In research from McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to achieve financial returns above their national industry average (McKinsey)
That’s a big uplift – and shows that diversity just makes sense for business – it brings in new influences, new perspectives and new thoughts on how to drive the business forward. It stops us working in an echo chamber where the same people, with the same background and same outlook, share the same views.
✔️ The UK does slightly better when it comes to racial diversity at a senior leadership level compared to the US. 78% of UK companies have senior-leadership teams that don’t reflect the demographic makeup of the country’s labour force and population, compared to 97% for the United States. (McKinsey)
So, whilst the UK is ahead of the US in that regard, the racial make up of the majority of companies’ senior leadership teams do not accurately reflect the demographic makeup of the country’s population. In short, many senior leadership roles in companies are not being filled by leaders from a range of different ethnicities.
Drilling down on the UK specifically, more than half of the largest UK companies do not have a director from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background on their board.
Just 9.7 per cent of directors in the FTSE 100 were people of colour, compared to an even lower 5 per cent of FTSE 250 firms.
Clearly more needs to be done from the top down to ensure that there is more racial diversity on company boards, resulting in more diversity across senior leadership roles, and throughout different management layers.
✔️ In the US, there is a linear relationship between racial diversity, & better financial performance: for every 10% increase in racial & ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8%. (McKinsey)
So, that shows a clear relationship between increasing diversity and improved financial performance.
✔️ Companies reporting the highest levels of racial diversity brought in nearly 15 times more sales revenue on average than those with the lowest levels of racial diversity. (Science Daily)
That’s a startling statistic – 15 times more sales revenue than companies with the lowest levels of racial diversity. We cannot ignore numbers like that – because the correlation is so strong that clearly racial diversity within companies – at all levels, delivers financial benefits – in addition to all the important wider benefits that having a diverse workload offers.
So – I’m not here to say what companies should be doing to improve their racial diversity – there are people much more qualified than I am wh
Smashing Stereotypes in Sales
Episode 8 - Smashing stereotypes in Sales:
In this episode, I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the stereotypes we have about what makes a typical salesperson – and why we should be seeking to challenge some of these stereotypes.
We often have a clear picture in our heads of what makes a successful salesperson – they probably look like the salespeople you see in films, in adverts, or on social media posts. This salesperson is usually wearing a dark suit, looking super smart, and the words that are associated with this salesperson are all about being strong, succeeding, being confident, and never giving in.
Whilst these characteristics can be very useful at times in sales, it doesn’t accurately reflect all salespeople – and neither should it – because these stereotypes can actually be damaging to the sales process in some cases.
Because, very often, by pushing this stereotype of what a salesperson should be, we can often lose sight of some of the other valuable skills we should be encouraging in sales – such as being a good listener, being able to pick up on signals from customers, or being able to think critically about customer challenges to come up with creative and engaging proposals that capture customers’ interest.
Sales enablement leaders have a big impact on the type of salesperson that an organisation hires, but also the type of salesperson they seek to develop – through sales training programmes and the sales methodologies that are put into place.
So we as sales enablement leaders need to be conscious of whether we are enabling, or challenging, stereotypes in sales, and ensuring we aren’t simply hiring the same salespeople we’ve always hired, and that we aren’t just training new sales hires to act like our existing salespeople – we have to always be asking the question – what behaviours, skills and culture do we want to train and develop here? And where does that image of the type of salesperson we’re trying to develop come from?
Is that image based on our own biases about what a salesperson should be like? Or is it based on what we see our customers needing?
For example, we often associate salespeople with being extroverted and very confident, but some of the best salespeople I know are often much more introverted than you might expect.
Speaking personally, I am an introverted person and never thought that a career in field sales would be for me – but on a lot of levels, it suited me really well. Being an introvert meant that I was more focused on listening to the customer and watching for subtle hints from their body language, I was very diligent about planning for meetings and researching my customers prior to speaking to them. I made sure I put lots of time into creating business plans for my resellers which would deliver value for them, the customer and my company.
In fact, research actually found that in studies of 4000 salespeople, there was almost zero correlation between extroversion and sales performance. It’s just that we tend to associate more extroverted behaviours with being a successful salesperson.
Today a salesperson is expected to deliver a wider range of services than they were traditionally ever expected to do, so being able to cold call, negotiate and deliver presentations is no longer the be all and end all of the job. Nowadays, salespeople are expected to straddle the line between marketing and sales – and also be adept business managers and create programs and business plans for their customers, partners and companies.
But despite this, many of the sales training programs and strategies out there still seem very focused on teaching those core ‘stereotypical’ sales behaviours. And they can often end up alienating many salespeople who feel they just don’t fit the mold of a typical salesperson.
If you look at any of the advertised sales trainers – it’s all about asserting your power over the customer, or using gimmicks to a
Great teachings from a true expert
I've worked with Contemsa for a few years and always found them very knowledgeable, so I was looking forward to listening to this podcast. It did not disappoint. Very helpful indeed.
Useful introduction to sales enablement
Really simple and useful introduction to sales enablement - looking forward to hearing more!