Author Archive

Forecasting Analytics: The Sales Cycle Length

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Occasionally, I go to the LinkedIn sales forums to see what’s on the minds of salespeople and the problems they are struggling with. I get frustrated though, because as the owner of a commercial sales application development business, I am frequently not allowed to post my two cents worth because it is “self-promotion.”

Recently, a sales manager was asking, “What is the best analytic I can use to see if my salespeople have good pipelines and my forecasting has a chance of being accurate.”

I know my answer to this probably won’t come up in the discussion thread. The one piece of data that drives information and knowledge about strategy in the sale and creates the best chance of accurate projections is . . . the length of the sales cycle. Let’s see why.

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Sales Effectiveness and Sales Efficiency: A Thought Experiment

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When I write about selling I wince every time I have to use one of the two E words — ­Efficiency and Effectiveness. These occur so much in sales language that we’ve become complacent about their impact and meaning. All salespeople want to sell more — and they can creating more opportunities (Efficiency) or by winning more opportunities (Effectiveness).

I go overboard with the E words in my book, Sales Automation Done Right, (hey, that was written ten years ago, so no apologies). Then I used the simple example of the compounding effect of the building efficiency over effectiveness (E squared, if you are at all scientific.) You can find that discussion in the free e-book in our library. (Scroll down to the five SADR Extractions.)  I finished up that discussion with the proposition that “Effectiveness on top of efficiency produces dramatic increases in sales. It’s the same as compound interest in the bank account.” But something tells me that that discussion is just a little too abstract.

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The Business Apps That Shaped Our Organizations

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Salespeople are the most avid users of business apps, and I think the “Holy Trinity” of business apps would be for Word Processing, Spreadsheets, and Presentations. I might just as well say, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint. Microsoft still dominates the market for Windows-based business applications software. It wasn’t always like that though. I’ve written about Microsoft stifling innovation in a previous article, and I was reminded about how widespread this has been when I did some research on cameras in phones.

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The Evolution of Computational Selling – What You Need To Know About Sales Automation

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Regular HUB readers will know that at SalesWays we are constantly looking to improve sales performance using technology – that’s been a mission of mine since my early career in sales and my first personal computer. This is referred to as “sales force automation” and I’ve never really liked the term. It sounds too military for me—I see images of rows of salespeople lined up in battle formation. SFA spun out from “contact management” which involved PCs maintaining databases of names, addresses and other customer data. Attempts to store details of sales opportunities morphed it into SFA. As the information expanded in scope and involved workflow between other departments in the company, the terminology Customer Relationship Management (CRM) took over and quickly became the norm. Now most people are confused between SFA and CRM—trust me, my company sells both products and we find it hard to quickly convince people of the difference.

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Effective Team Selling – The Culture of Sharing Information

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When the sales department gets automated, spin-off benefits are high both for the individual and the team, or, at least, they should be. An important thing to get right is to ensure a culture of “sharing”. Sharing plays a big role in the effectiveness in CRM, and by default, SFA projects.

I can see eyebrows being raised? Why should there be a problem with sharing? Well, in business (and remember, sales is the business of doing business), sharing is often something that people find difficult to do—sometimes a major shift in culture has to occur to make it happen. Salespeople are by nature competitive—and have to be. Their financial and spiritual reward depends heavily in individual effort, know-how, and tenacity. Knowledge gained from that is prized, and leveraged for career gain and success.

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The Language and Method of Selling

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Salespeople usually get trained by “learning on the job.” Depending on who’s teaching, that may be OK, but it often leads to nonconformity of understanding from one salesperson to another. It’s surprising how many salespeople have little in common with their fellows, as far as understanding the fundamental language of the sale.

Wide adoption of computer technology by sales departments only heightens the problem. If a few hundred salespeople are linked together through a common CRM network, they have to understand the common thread of the sales method that is hopefully embedded in it. If not, they will use it in a myriad of different ways, which usually renders the CRM system useless. CRM is a wonderful way to ingrain sales methodology, but it needs a carefully chosen sales method to start off with.

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Opportunity Management: Why We Built An App For Salesforce

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This week we will be co-presenting at two sessions at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce event in San Francisco. We’ve built a sales app on the AppExchange called ASPEC for Salesforce. Our development team has used the latest Canvas technology from Salesforce to integrate ASPEC’s graphic and gamification design features, to make sales automation fun and easy to use.

Our vision, here at SalesWays, is to make our ASPEC technology as widely available to as many salespeople as possible, whether solo users, small teams, or large enterprises. To make this happen we had to consider the different technology platforms that are currently used. As I write this today, ASPEC itself by our own definitions at SalesWays is not CRM—we prefer to call it sales automation (SFA). 

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The 3 C’s of Groupware: Communication, Collaboration and Coordination

Written by on . Posted in CRM, General Sales Topics, Sales & Technology, SFA No Comments

In my last post I talked about Lotus Notes—how Notes was the first commercially available software application that positively improved the ways teams of people worked together. This new breed of business application was labeled “groupware.” Groupware emerged as computers and networks became universally available across organizations. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sales Automation (SFA) were the first front office applications made possible by groupware.

In business, people work in teams. Teams are designed to address mission critical processes like finance, production, or development. In the so-called “front office” (customer facing) the three core teams are marketing, sales, and service. CRM uses technology to create information across the core teams and to provide an infrastructure for using and sharing it. There’s no doubt that storing and sharing customer information is the central tenet of CRM— if the information is bad, or incomplete, the CRM initiative will fail.

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Does Marketing Kill Innovation? – Part 2

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In my last post, I talked about the best personal productivity software ever created, a program called Ecco. It was so popular that it still has a loyal following 16 years after its owner, Netmanage, axed it. Ways have been found to make it compatible with later versions of Windows. Enterprising hackers have extended its functionality and plugged some of the gaps in its feature list. Thousands of users are still lovingly using Ecco. The lesson is: if software provides genuine and reliable productivity, it is near impossible to kill it off. Which brings me to the next tale of great products being vanquished by the Microsoft marketing machine.

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Does Marketing Kill Innovation?

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Some folks think that the influence of big data on marketing decisions is going to kill off creativity. The thinking is that executives will determine the fate of projects by analysis of data alone and not allow time for the creative juices to really flow and awareness and adoption to develop.

I’m more concerned by powerhouse marketing killing off ideas emanating from small companies—those who don’t have funds to match big guys in getting their story out. This has happened a lot in the technology world, and there are countless examples of really smart ideas and products getting axed through fear of competition from a colossus peddling a less capable offering and using sledgehammer-type marketing campaigns and funding.

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