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The Army of New Sales CRM Vendors, and Why They’ve Got It Wrong

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We have recently released a new version of ASPEC that has added Accounts, Contacts and Interactions to our Sales Tracking and Opportunity Management functions.  Some call this CRM, others call it Sales Force Automation. I tend to view ASPEC 4 as true Sales Automation.  As usual, however, there is no standard definition out there on what Sales Force Automation actually is – some say it includes inventory management while others define it literally as the automation of sales tasks.

I mention the distinction because there is a resurgence in what seems to be called “Sales CRM.”  Startups and Investors have recognized there is a large market opportunity in CRM, specifically for the sales organization. There are a number of relatively new players in this Sales CRM market, and their focus is almost entirely on sales process and opportunity management.  They all agree one thing – the established current CRM vendors just aren’t cutting it with helping sales people and sales teams win more business, be more disciplined, and be more productive.

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6 Questions to Ask Anyone Who Says Their Sales Cycle Doesn’t End

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When we are talking about the sales process, we ask for the best guess of the sales person as to when the sales opportunity will close. Occasionally, we hear back “I don’t have an end date.” There are legitimate cases where this is true, but more often than not, it’s not only wrong, but is also dangerous. Forecasting will be difficult if not impossible, and the sales people won’t be following a process.

Here are some questions to think about when evaluating if you actually have an end date to your sales opportunity.

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The Usability Guide for ASPEC for Salesforce.com – Part 1: What It Is & How It Works

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ASPEC for Salesforce

In this guide I intend to introduce how ASPEC for Salesforce.com can benefit your business, and specifically how it works. We have previously talked about why we built the app, and have given presentations at Dreamforce ’13 on how we created it – but this guide is on the usability of the app itself.

Installing the App

The quick guide to getting up and running is as follows – this is meant for Salesforce administrators or for anyone with access to a sandbox account:

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Samsung S4 Final Review for Business Users – Is the iPhone Better?

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Samsung S4 Final Review

I’ve now had the Samsung S4 for approaching three months, and have had enough time to really get a feel for it. I’m a former iPhone user, and was originally quite excited to trade into the world of Android. I committed myself – I made the Samsung S4 my primary business phone. From a business perspective, personally I’d rather be using the iPhone. Let’s look at why.

Important for Business: #1 = E-Mail, Calendar, and SMS

For many sales people out there, E-Mail is the most important app on their phone. It’s the #1 reason that BlackBerry fan at the airport religiously defends himself. “E-Mail just works!”

Well, in short, the S4 could be confusing for the average business user. Samsung ships with it’s own E-Mail and Calendar app, which is different than other Android devices, and different from the Google Play edition of the S4. Plus, if you use Google Apps, you can also get native Google Calendar and Gmail apps. Which is a separate set of Google Apps running on a Samsung device powered by Google. Yeah, confusing.

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Building a Windows 8 PC From Scratch

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I’ve been an Apple user for a few years now, and recently switched from iPhone to the Samsung S4 (First impressions here).  I’ve been running solely with a Macbook Pro as my primary computer, but I’ve been wondering what Windows 8 is really like.  That, combined with wanting to catch back up on PC hardware, resulted in my building a new PC from scratch, and I put a focus on value components to see what you could get for under 1k, here in Canada.

Building a Custom PC vs Buying a Finished PC

Building a computer from scratch is the best value overall – it will be the best performance for the best price, particularly in the under $1,000 market.  In the past, a complete system was often cheaper than the separate parts.  It isn’t true anymore, particularly if you consider performance. What I noticed was that complete systems often had last generation technology – an older Intel Core i3 for example.  Further, they cut corners on the power supply and motherboard.

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Sales Forecasting With ASPEC – Part 2: Putting it all Together

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In Part 1, I reviewed the different methods of choosing the numbers that power your forecast – Unweighted, Weighted, and Committed.   ASPEC supports these three methods – and you don’t have to pick just one.  In fact, you can use more than one as a double check to validate the numbers you are seeing.

Let’s talk now about the operational side of using the Forecast function in ASPEC.

For most opportunity tracking tools (either in CRM, or stand-alone), forecasting falls into one of two categories:

1.  Reporting

This is the idea that forecasting is left to a reporting section of the software tool – it is considered output.  The kind of output you run once a month or once a week.  This comes from the pre-historic days of CRM – which many of the current crop of Cloud vendors copy.  Forecasting should be interactive – rather than run a report on a territory and product, you should be able to apply a territory or product filter to your forecast.

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Stage-based Sales Forecasting – Why Won’t this Concept die?

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A popular post I wrote after the launch of the SalesWays Hub was called “Stage-Based Sales Forecasting – It Doesn’t Work.” In it I discussed specifically why it’s a terrible idea to tie probability directly to a linear sales stage. Probability isn’t necessarily, or even generally, tied to where you are in the sales process. Milestones in the sales cycle do not govern your chances of winning. Your product and your performance at those milestones do. I’d like to expand on this, taking on a new model called “High-Velocity Selling.”

High-Velocity Selling

There is a popular (within the entrepreneurial software world) new sales process for enterprise called “High-Velocity Selling.” The concept was first described in a post by a VC, Lars Leckie, back in 2010.  In it, he outlined a new model of thinking for enterprise sales and marketing which is inside sales driven and takes advantage of consumer internet technologies (i.e. marketing automation).

Sounds great – and I love it.  I think it makes a ton of sense, and I tend to agree that the days of the world travelling software sales organization are numbered. Companies such as Salesforce.com and Zendesk have adopted this model with great success.

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Introducing Sales Forecasting with ASPEC – Part 1

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ASPEC Series - Forecast Part 1

Monthly or weekly, or even at times daily, sales teams have to forecast. Before ASPEC, sales forecasts (or “order forecasts”) were often done in Excel or some other simple tool, and sent around with some manual manipulation. With ASPEC, transparency moves to the forefront. Opportunities are entered and managed right in the software – not just for forecasting, but with a focus on creating a complete and inclusive list of all opportunities in order to manage them better and to win more.

I’m going to focus on how to use the Forecast section within ASPEC, with the goal of explaining how it works and how to forecast right from the software, in real time, whenever you want. Rather than wait for the “thumb in the wind” forecast to be sent around, at any point anyone in the team with the appropriate security access can see the forecast. (Note that I said see, not do – ASPEC builds it for you and keeps in constantly up-to-date.)

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First Impressions of Samsung Galaxy S4 – The Home Screen & Keyboard

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Samsung S4 - First Impression

I spent the weekend toying with my new Samsung Galaxy S4, and I have it fairly configured and ready to go. My initial experiences match almost exactly what I expected – more powerful, much more configurable, but with a few core usability issues. It can be quite disruptive to have a phone that you have to learn all over again, especially when habits have formed. For power business users, it starts with configuring the device and adapting to the new keyboard.

Before I get into details, it’s important for non-Android users to know that each Android Device Manufacturer has their own custom user interface, or ‘skin’. For example, Samsung has TouchWiz, while HTC has Sense UI. Further, each device has its own apps for calendaring, photo editing, voice control, on-screen keyboard, etc. So my thoughts on some of the interface elements of the Samsung Galaxy S4 may not apply to other Android devices. Further, Google recently announced they are shipping the S4 and HTC phones with the original Android software (no custom interface elements). I know – it’s confusing.

Common to (almost?) all new Android devices, there are “home screens” – a configurable set of screens for apps and widgets. These home screens are a significant upgrade over the iPhone because of those widgets.

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I Admit I Was an Apple Fanboy, but it’s time to go on an Android Adventure

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Apple vs Samsung

Let’s Compare Android to Apple for Business & Sales People

I’ve been sitting in the batter’s box for a couple of weeks while my colleague played with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.   Now I’m at the plate, ready to review the Galaxy Note, along with turning off the iPad.  However, I’m not going to stop there – I’m also switching from the iPhone 5 to the Samsung S4.

This is a big change.  Well, I think it is.  You see, the iPhone and iPad are not the only Apple products in my life – I’m on the complete Apple stack.  There is my Macbook Pro.  iCloud.  Apple TV.  Airport Extreme.  I am (was?) an Apple Zealot, a card carrying Apple fanboy.

Innovation at Apple – Where is It?

For nearly four years, living totally on the Apple stack was great.  It was integrated.  But now I’m having some doubts.  The last major innovation from Apple was in 2010, with the iPhone 4.  The iPhone 4s was a faster version, and the iPhone 5 was a faster, bigger version.   So neither really count as innovation.  There have been incremental improvements elsewhere – the new Macbook Air for example.  But nothing truly groundbreaking – no iTV or iWatch.  Some may suggest Siri, but it was an acquisition and isn’t quite ready for primetime yet.

Android – “My Opinion has Changed”™

Personally I haven’t been a big fan of Android until recently.  I found the user interface clunky, and didn’t have that luxury feeling that iOS had.  This all changed with the latest devices over the past year.  In particular, I finally had a chance to pick up and play with the Samsung S4.  When I put it down and picked back up the iPhone 5, the iPhone suddenly felt small and old.   The Samsung was light.  The screen was beautiful.  And it was fast.

The Tipping Point for Change

So why now?  Well, as I mentioned, I have my responsibilities for Sales Tech Talk, and that is to review the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.  And then I dropped my iPhone – and shattered the screen.  So here I am, completely unprepared to switch.  But it’s like a bandaid right?

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