Author Archive

The Future of the Sales Profession

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Need a Job

Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Salesmen.

I recently read an article titled How Many Salespeople Will Be Left by 2020? by Gerhard Gschwandtner in Selling Power. In it, he stated a popular opinion these days that I’m not entirely sure I agree with: the sales profession is doomed, computers are taking over.

In specific, the article referenced three factors supporting this postulate:

  • The growth of on-line retailing, especially on Amazon, where no salesperson is involved.
  • The work IBM is doing with their Watson computer and its ability to answer questions quickly and accurately.
  • B2B adoption of B2C models with customer service teams to answer inquiries after online sales are executed.

The article offered a lot of statistics to support the theory, and I have not done any research into these to verify them; I am taking them at face value, as published. For example:

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Getting Sales Done #3 – The Sales Process

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Yes No Maybe

Ed. As you might have noticed, the “Getting Sales Done” series is slowly getting re-published in the “Best of” every Saturday. This week, we’re up to number 3 where we look at David Allen’s Process stage in Getting Things Done. The entire series is listed and linked at the end of the article.

In the previous installment, we equated David Allen’s “Collect” to identifying your leads and the need to collect every scrap of information that might result in a sales opportunity. In Allen’s Collect process, you capture every task that clutters your mind to free it from stress. In sales, you capture everything that affects your sales opportunities to increase your success, and at this first stage in selling, that means leads.

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Categorize Your Customers For Better Results

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Personal Styles

“While personal selling as a communication vehicle has the advantage of allowing salespeople to treat each customer differently, in practice, salespeople cannot take the time to treat each customer in a totally unique manner.”

This is a quote from a 1988 article by Dr. Harish Sujan, Barton Weitz, and Mita Sujan titled Increasing Sales Productivity By Getting Salespeople to Work Smarter. I wrote an earlier article on this and noted that the authors had “10 Ways To Increase Salesperson Productivity.” The first of these is “teach salespeople to better categorize customers,” and the above quote is the first sentence of that recommendation. I wouldn’t argue with that, but maybe I can expand on it a little.

The remainder of this first way to increase productivity is spent discussing the social styles of the individual customers as defined by Merrill and Reid in their 1981 study and publication, and the need for salespeople to be versatile in their own social styling to gain rapport with the customer. Again, I wouldn’t argue with that, but is that really the only customer categorizing we need to do? I know there are nine more ways to increase productivity in the article I’m referencing, but none of them deal with other categorization techniques, so I am assuming the authors only felt this one was necessary.

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“A Sure Fire Remedy for Discounting”

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Back on March 30, John Barrows posted a blog on his site that I’m going to re-post here with some comments. I like the topic John addressed, discounting, and I liked his solution – be in a position where you don’t have to. It’s an answer to the temptation to offer discounts to fatten your sales numbers at the end of a reporting period.

But there is another discounting pressure besides your end-of-period report – winning the individual sales opportunity. It’s coming to a close and you’re sure you’re not in a position to win, so you drop your price and even if you still don’t win, at least you’ve cut into the competition’s profit margin when the customer uses your price to leverage a discount out of them.

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Increasing Sales Productivity by Getting Salespeople to Work Smarter

Written by on . Posted in Miscellaneous Productivity, Sales Productivity 1 Comment

The Thinker

How’s that for a title? Straight out of what we’re all trying to do today with tools like sales automation and CRM; with devices like smartphones and tablets; with interactions by webinars and web conferencing in addition to phone and email; with Big Data and Drip Marketing and High-Velocity Selling; and with training in the principles of adaptive selling.

Wait. Adaptive selling? What’s that?

Before I explain, I have a confession. The title of this article is plagiarized. Yes, I stole it verbatim from three PhD’s – Harish Sujan, Barton Weitz, and Mita Sujan. It appeared in the August, 1988 edition of the Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management. Is there a statute of limitations on plagiarism, because that makes the title nearly 25 years old.

Anyway, back to the question, what is adaptive selling and how can I learn to do it and work smarter? Well, according to their paper, adaptive selling is altering your “sales approaches based on the nature of the customer.” That seems pretty basic, doesn’t it? But is it so basic that the term is gone? Google it. From my computer the first five hits were for simplistic definitions from Investopedia and The Business Dictionary, a referral by the American Marketing Association to a 1990 paper in some other journal, a scholarly paper from 2nd World Conference on Innovation and Computer Science held in Kuşadası, Turkey, and this paper. Not exactly your top search term, apparently.

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What Does Sales Certification Certify?

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Training Certificate

I recently got involved in a LinkedIn group thread that led me to rant a little on college and university sales education – specifically on the lack of any respect by sales professionals for a college degree. That, in turn, led the CEO of the Institute of Sales & Marketing in the UK, Stephen Wright, to contact me. He told me they are a UK-based professional and government-approved awarding body that develops qualifications for professional certification under the regulation of the UK government.

He went on to tell me that their qualifications have been adopted by a number of organizations in different countries and asked about such qualifications here. My answer could have been delivered by Sergeant Schultz in the old Hogan’s Heroes television show – I know nothing.

It was an interesting question, so I set out to find some answers. I did a Google search for sales certification and here are the top five hits for getting yourself certified:

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The Week In Review – April 28, 2013

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April Week 4, 2013

This week in 1564, William Shakespeare was born. Now, I don’t want to presume anything but if he was writing today about sales, he’d be published here. Also, according to Johannes Kepler, in 4977 BC, the universe was born. Not sure we’d invite Johy to expound that theory here.

Monday – Does the Solo Sales Rep Need Sales Automation?
SFA is not just for big companies and sales teams. Solo sales reps can find advantage in a sales automation app that will let them compete more effectively with those larger competitors. And business owners can practice effective sales with tools to help with the sales process.

Tuesday – Free Sales Automation Done Right E-book Part 2 – The Core Competencies
The four competencies of sales are contact, account, territory, and sales cycle management. In Part Two of the free e-book Sales Automation Done Right, Keith Thompson examines why these must be addressed by your CRM and Sales Automation systems.

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Book Review: Cracking the LinkedIn Sales Code

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Cracking The Linkedin Sales Code

I’ll keep this short. I have to, otherwise it would take you longer to read this review than to read the actual e-book.

This is a very useful book. Download it. Read it. Use it. There, all done. Everything after this is filler. I get paid by the word. (Not really. If I were, I’d be reviewing Cryptonomicon, 1,168 pages.)

This is an e-book, you download it for free and there are eighteen very short pages of actual text, so there is no excuse not to read it except you’re being obtuse. LinkedIn is one of the most important sales tools available to us, and when you read the book, you’ll find out that people aren’t using it! You know what that is, don’t you? An advantage. A head start. A boost. Who would have thought that this far into its history, LinkedIn would still be underutilized by professionals who have something to gain from it?

This is a what-to-do book, not a how-to-do it. You’re on your own there, but its inconsequential because the LinkedIn site is pretty intuitive, and if you do what Jill Konrath and Ardath Albee (the authors) tell you to, the how is pretty obvious and easy.

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The Week In Review – Apr 21, 2013

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April Week 3

This week at The HUB we welcomed a new columnist – our own marketing and social media specialist, Marianna Loza. Her article got posted a little late because someone screwed up. I’m not saying who, but his initials are Ed. We’ll let it slide this time, but if it happens again, I’ll punish him personally.

Monday – Does Size Matter?
Customer relationships and sales process are important ingredients to your success whether you are $5 million of $5 billion dollar company. So why does anyone try to tell you you don’t need modern CRM and sales automation tools to be successful?

Tuesday – Sales Effectiveness in CRM and Sales Automation
According to CSO Insights, sales effectiveness is the number one objective of sales managers. What should we expect from our CRM and SFA tools to gain effectiveness? Start with a workable method and a process to implement it consistently and constantly.

Wednesday – The Professional Salesperson’s View of a College Education
The sales profession itself seems to disparage higher education as having any value. A recent LinkedIn thread illustrates that situation, and here are some reasons not to buy into that school of thought.

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Getting Sales Done #2 – Collect: Gathering Opportunities

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The Best of today brings back Number Two in the Getting Sales Done series. We look at David Allen’s time management step one, Collect/Capture, and discuss its relevance to sales. Not to time management in sales, but to opportunity management.

Collect (or Capture) is the first stage in David Allen’s popular time management process, Getting Things Done. In this stage, Allen emphasizes that everything in your mind that is task-focused must be recorded somehow in a place that isn’t your brain. A scrap of paper, a diary, your computer calendar or task list, text messaged to yourself, just somewhere external that can be later processed.

I won’t go into the background of Allen’s reasoning for this. You would be well-served to read his book for that, and for a lot of other valuable advice that doesn’t apply to our look at his concepts related to opportunity management. The purpose here is to see if there are analogous stages in sales that can be defined and implemented to make you more successful.

In sales, what do we collect that is specific to opportunity management? Leads. They are the raw material of your manufacturing process, and the product you produce is wins. Leads come from everywhere, and depending on what your customer acquisition process looks like, they might well come from you.

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